This was a hell of a decade for film. Superhero movies had a stranglehold on the box office, A24 corned the market on low budget cinema, Blumhouse made horror great again, moviegoers finally embraced foreign film (kinda) and critically acclaimed movies were being shot on cellphones. The age of the mega-blockbuster brought with it many pros and cons (Disney and their competitors essentially destroyed moderately budgeted films but independent filmmakers were given the opportunity to direct big movies, which in turn, afforded them the chance to make whatever project they wanted. Jojo Rabbit never would’ve existed without Thor Ragnarok for example) and highs and lows (so much fan service (yay!) and so much fan service (boo!).
It was a time where streaming services provided a wealth of new content (some of it great, some not so great), physical media started releasing every movie ever (right before it dies at the hands of digital) and a new generation of actors was getting ready to replace the movie stars of old. It was a controversial decade but at the end of the day, all that matters is that it provided a ton of great movie moments. This list was a collaborative effort to determine which movie moment was the best of the decade.
These are the 50 Greatest Movie Moments of the 2010s.
50. He Touched My Nipple | This Is 40 (2012)
Melissa McCarthy is this decade’s queen of comedy. And in this unforgettable scene, she throws her unmatched high-heat. As a comicially enraged middle school parent, McCarthy encapsulates the absurdity of helicopter parenting to a perfect degree…and crosses the line into fowl hilarity along the way. The altercation in the parking lot would be funny enough, “I have very high nipples!” is so damn funny but the moment in the principal’s office is raunchy, comedic glory. Three characters sit and behold McCarthy unload a mostly improvised monologue of incredible insults and “Mama Bear” tangents that would make anyone blush–and I mean that with the highest praise. The list of talents that could pull off a flex that remarkable is few. Melissa McCarthy, as she always does, reminds us that she is a versatile force of commanding power and we’re lucky to have her grace our screens. Say what you want about the movie itself this small slice stands up as a deliciously re-watchable treat. (Mitch Roush)
49. I Accept Your Apology | 10 Cloverfield Lane (2016)
After surviving a car accident, a young woman wakes up in a bunker with two men who claim the end of the world looms just outside. What follows is an insanely tense psychological, sci-fi horror film that creates a scenario of extreme claustrophobia and paranoia. John Goodman is stellar as Howard, a wannabe authoritarian who hovers between affable and frightening. The slow burn suspense refuses to let you breathe for the majority of the movie, but it’s the moment of truth between Michelle, Howard, Emmett and a bucket of acid that becomes the film’s standout, leaving you riddled with anxiety, a brief glimmer of hope, and then shock and devastation. (Romona Comet)
48. Neville Defeats Nagini | Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1 (2010)
In 2011, we saw a decade of Harry Potter films finally come to an end. Both Deathly Hallows Part 1 and Part 2 saw plenty of iconic moments come to life for fans of the books and films, but for me, the moment that stands out the most takes place in Part 2, where Harry and Voldemort are locked in their final duel to the death. All Horcruxes have been destroyed (including Harry himself), but for one – Voldemort’s ever-present snake, Nagini. As fans of the series know, it could have very well been Neville Longbottom who could have been in Harry’s shoes, thanks to the uncertainty in the Prophecy, but instead, he spent most of the series inept at magic and a constant target for Professor Snape’s abuse. However, Neville comes into his own after Voldemort’s return, and it’s Neville who bravely swings the sword of Gryffindor to destroy Nagini, saving Ron and Hermione in the process, and damaging Voldemort enough that Harry is able to finally defeat the dark wizard. Harry might have been the Chosen One, but it was Neville who was the hero. (Romona Comet)
47. Van Sing-along | American Honey (2016)
Sometimes a single scene says everything without saying anything. With this two-and-a-half minute road trip sing-a-long session, an entire story is told. Andrea Arnold’s unflinching coming-of-age title is nothing short of a modern American masterpiece. Through a single song, sharp close-ups, wounded glances, and the swelling comradery we sit front row to the shambles of a broken, passionate relationship; to the hopeful potential each misfit longs for; to the carefree sense an open road brings; and to the realization that you are deeply without but at least you’ve got your people…quite astonishing to behold a scene carrying so much while intentionally relying on so little. But that’s the power of raw emotion and a perfectly placed song. (Mitch Roush)
46. Father and Son Say Goodbye | About Time (2013)
The most iconic scene from Richard Curtis’s time-traveling romantic comedy is probably the gorgeous wedding between Tim and Mary, interrupted by an insanely windy rainstorm. It is no doubt a beautiful sequence, but while the movie centers around Tim’s love and courtship of Mary, the movie is also about Tim’s relationship with his father, James. Through their family’s ability to time travel, Tim is still able to see and spend time with his dad, even after James’s death. That is, until, Mary is about to give birth to their third child, and due to some time traveling rules, this means Tim will no longer be allowed to travel back to when his father was alive to visit him. To say goodbye for the final time, James takes his son back in time to when Tim was just a boy, and the two spend the day walking along the beach together. It’s an emotional moment, and one many of us can relate to when we think about what we would give to spend a few extra moments with loved ones who have left us. (Romona Comet)
45. The Monkey Performance | The Square (2017)
The Square’s signature set piece occurs during a pretentious black-tie banquet for an art museum, where the audience is looking forward to a ‘stunt’ from a performance artist. What follows is one of the most awkward and uncomfortable scenes ever put to screen. The so-called artist arrives on the scene, scratching and whopping as he impersonates a monkey. An overly aggressive and lustful monkey. The onlooking audience initially giggles at the novelty unfolding before their eyes, but they soon come to realise it’s not a performance to be laughed at. Glasses are smashed, hair is pulled and women manhandled all before the moment (albeit around 5 minutes too late) when the audience finally has enough and the performer is set upon. (Lee McCutcheon)
44. Time is a Flat Circle | Arrival (2016)
Arguably one of the best sci-fi films of the decade, Denis Villeneuve’s take on an alien “invasion” really has more to do with the power of communication than a war between worlds. At the heart of the film is Amy Adams’s poignant portrayal of linguist Louise Banks as she desperately tries to unravel what the aliens want before the world descends into chaos, all the while dealing with her own haunting memories. Arrival is masterful storytelling from the very first scene, but it’s within the last six minutes when we learn that the past is actually the future, that the film shows its true brilliance. “If you could see your whole life from start to finish, would you change things?” Would you take happiness and love, even if you knew those choices would ultimately bring loss and heartbreak? It’s a devastating ending, but also beautiful in its message. (Romona Comet)
43. Skating Montage | Minding the Gap (2018)
Minding the Gap is a documentary that unveils unkempt truth and addresses skeletons in the closet, it’s the moments of subtle, simplistic beauty that makes it a complete experience of which you can’t wash off. The swelling montages of open skateboarding over a gentle soundtrack and landscape are as beautiful as any shots I’ve seen. Surprisingly emotional, Bing Liu frames the comfort of this hobby-haven with delicacy and tenderness. Because, after all, this is their home; their family. For a film rooted in uncomfortable reality, it’s a boldly empathetic choice to open the the real-life narrative with a sweeping glimpse of home and hope. Liu’s debut non-fiction feature is as moving and poignant as anything I’ve seen in recent memory. The earnest, but always honest, tenderness of which the footage is framed is the sobering reason why. (Mitch Roush)
42. The Pool Attack | The Strangers: Prey at Night (2018)
Many may not have liked this sequel (I know I didn’t) but one thing we can all agree on, is that the pool fight is one of the best that horror had to offer this decade. About an hour into the film, we see one of the victims being chased by the three masked killers into the camps pool area. He is attacked by two of them in a tense and gorgeously constructed set piece. The entire scene is bathed in an 80s neon glow with Bonnie Tyler’s “Total Eclipse of the Heart” pulsing in the background. The fight to death simply adds to the scene as a whole and will make you want to watch it over and over. (Vincent Kane)
41. I Was Perfect | Black Swan (2010)
Darren Aronofsky’s psychological drama about a ballet dancer struggling with perfection is a dark, gruesome look at mental illness and the lengths people will push themselves for their art. Natalie Portman’s pitch-perfect portrayal of Nina Sayers and her descent into madness drives the movie, building in manic intensity until the final performance of Swan Lake, where Nina dances her way to a standing ovation but also loses her grip on reality, and her own sanity, in the process. It’s a somewhat ambiguous ending, but for Nina, loss of herself, and quite possibly her life, doesn’t matter. Because of her performance? “It was perfect.” (Romona Comet)
What do you think of the selection so far? What are some of your favorite movie moments from the decade? Maybe they will show up further on the list!