Top 10 Movie Moments of 2010

10. John Malkovich vs. a Rocket Propelled Grenade

Judging by the title of this entry I’m sure you can already agree that this scene from RED belongs on our list. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that any time you hear the words “John Malkovich” and “Rocket Propelled Grenade” in the same sentence, you should probably just go ahead and agree – sight unseen – that the subject in question is awesome. Just saying.

While I’m laying down recommendations: don’t ever call John Malkovich an old man. He doesn’t like it and all you’re likely to do is piss him off. One CIA assassin made this mistake, thinking that her RPG launcher was big enough and bad enough to let her get away with some down and dirty trash talk. After all, Malkovich was only holding a revolver – so where was the danger?

Well, if you sweep up all the little bits of that agent off the concrete, I’m sure she’ll tell you first-hand that:

A) When you talk trash John Malkovich, nothing on Earth is going to protect you.

B) John Malkovich knows how to handle his revolver like a surgeon does a scalpel. Thanks to his character, Marvin Boggs, men of a certain age everywhere now have a new catch phrase: “Old man my ass.”

9. Eli’s Walk of Faith, Not Sight

The Book of Eli started off the year on a relatively good note, as Denzel Washington once again displayed the no-nonsense swagger of a classic leading man, this time in the Hughes Brothers’ meditation on the power of faith and/or religion in society, via a post-apocalyptic scenario involving a skilled warrior on a sacred quest (Washington), and a totalitarian intellectual (Gary Oldman) bent on controlling a small oasis of civilization.

The film was entertaining enough as your standard dystopian action flick (the fight scenes were certainly well staged), but it was the moment near the end,when it is revealed that Eli is in fact blind, and that the bible he carried was written in braille, that gave The Book of Eli a nice thought-provoking twist to set it above(?) other films of the same vein.

Don’t believe that moment had an impact? I can tell you first-hand that since The Book of Eli came out, use of the phrase “I walk by faith, not by sight,” has increased to an almost obnoxious degree. But hey, can’t blame Denzel for that – the way he said it will forever remain badass.

8. Revelations of the Shutter Island Lighthouse

Many people said they saw it coming a mile away, while others are still debating it in the comment thread of our Shutter Island Ending Explanation post. It doesn’t matter if you believe that Teddy Daniels (Leonardo DiCaprio) was actually Andrew Laeddis, or if you believe that the Shutter Island doctors “brainwashed” him into believing that fantasy; regardless, there is no doubt that the memory finally revealed to Teddy/Andrew in the lighthouse on Shutter Island was truly a chilling one.

I personally thought actress Michelle Williams deserved high accolades for her brief yet powerful scene as Andrew’s wife, Dolores. Williams perfectly captured the sweet and terrifying face that insanity can wear – a woman who thought she was being a good mother by drowning her three children in the lake behind her house. The scene only gets that much more chilling when Andrew arrives home and finds Dolores dripping wet, seemingly oblivious to the horror of her actions as she suggests they arrange the dead kids around the table for a family dinner. It’s almost an act of mercy as Andrew pulls out his revolver and shoots his deranged wife through the heart – an action that fully explains the complex layers of denial and fantasy Andrew created to protect his mind from the trauma (and keep us guessing for two hours).

Yes, a lot of us saw what was coming at the end of Shutter Island, but we didn’t know it was coming like that.

7. The Expendables’ Final Assault

I sat through much of The Expendables wondering (as many others did) what brand of anvil had been dropped on Sylvester Stallone’s head prior to him picking up the camera to direct this action movie throwback. It seemed like a pretty straight-forward job: get a bunch of tough guy actors together to kick ass onscreen for an hour and a half. Yet, Sly managed to turn an easy task into a film made up of half a story, terrible dialogue, CGI blood by the gallons, and some of the worst photography and digital filming I’ve seen in years.

However, when it came time for the final shootout/knife-throwing/martial arts-fighting/wrestling/MMA battle royale, The Expendables delivered exactly what it promised: ballz-to-the-wall sphincter-clenching action by the boatload.

Jason Statham and Jet Li whipping ass in that underground tunnel was martial arts poetry in motion; Sly, Steve Austin and Randy Couture throwing down in wrestling/MMA slam dancing was about as macho as it gets – and whatever ass all those other guys didn’t kick, Terry Crews cleaned up with his magical big-barreled gun that seemed to blow up everything he pointed it at (why not?).

The Expendables may have been an ugly mess of a movie overall, but man, that last battle sure was awesome. I immediately went out and pumped iron for two hours, then ate an extra rare steak.

6. Hiccup and Toothless’ First Flight

Dreamworks’ How to Train Your Dragon proved that there is indeed another animation studio besides Disney/Pixar working at the top echelon  of the CGI animated feature genre. Dragon took a classic narrative archetype – a kid and his beloved pet – and transformed it into an epic movie experience that was equally exciting, fun and moving.

When Hiccup (Jay Baruchel), a scrawny Viking wannabe, finally befriends Toothless, a Night Fury dragon with an injured tail, the two don’t firmly cement their friendship until they launch into their first flight together. Hiccup’s ingenuity and inventiveness provide Toothless with a prosthetic tail flap, which allows the crippled dragon to take to the sky once more.

Beyond that touching moment of symbiotic friendship, the first flight sequence of How to Train Your Dragon firmly drew a line in the sand between those filmmakers who are using 3D right, and those who are using it as a cheap gimmick to sell more expensive tickets (Clash of the Titans, looking at you). Because the Dragon team  knew how to use 3D in the immersive, captivating way James Cameron did with Avatar, Hiccup and Toothless’ flight together made us feel like we were right on board for takeoff. Movie magic to the fullest.

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