With the end of the 2010’s we’ve all been having fun preparing and counting down what the best these last 10 years have brought us. It begs repeating that this is no official list, it’s just one person’s view and no one else. We encourage everyone to share their favorites, especially if they’re not mentioned here, because 20 just isn’t enough to properly convey how many great cinematic moments we’ve had. But nevertheless, it’s what I’m going with. So, here are my selections for the 20 Best Scenes of the 2010’s.
20. Taxi Massacre – I Saw the Devil (2010)
The funny thing about this scene is that you could argue that it really doesn’t need to be in the movie since it doesn’t relate to much, but damn is it the highlight moment of tension and violence. In a spot where the serial killer finds himself in a predicament with two lesser thugs, all hell is unleashed. Part of what makes the exhilaration of this scene is this is the only murder he commits that doesn’t come to innocents, so we weirdly find ourselves routing for him here. The bloodshed is something to behold and it intensified even more by a 360 camera that moves around everyone as this painful act is taking place.
19. The Ending – The Hunt (2012)
False accusations aren’t as common as many detractors would want to believe, that’s why the instances where these false claims are made it’s decisively hard to convince anyone otherwise. For a moment it seems like the truth is out and Lucas is accepted back into the town’s circles. But then in this final moment an anonymous figure attempts to shoot him dead. Whether it’s literal or metaphoric isn’t what’s important because what we know this lie told about him will follow him forever. People like Lucas are victims, and just like sexually abused victims the effects of these claims can stay with them long afterwards.
18. .03% – The Social Network (2010)
This scene in hindsight shows us the warning signs of what we were going to experience with Zuckerberg and social media. The acting in this moment is top notch by the likes of Eisenberg and Garfield, and that certainly needs attention brought to it. But what grabs us is the sense of a friendship torn apart by power, money, and control. Zuckerberg was insecure, whenever he felt overpowered, he knew he needed to secure power once again. Even at the expense of his closest friends. There’s perhaps no story more telling of the 21st Century than that of Facebook. At the end someone remarks “You’re not an asshole Mark, you’re just trying so hard to be”. I’d say that first part hasn’t held up well.
17. Give the People what they want – Birdman (2014)
The ingenuity of “Birdman” is the way it consistently walks a tightrope between everything, from reality and life, to art and entertainment. The scene in question where Riggan hears his inner voice of Birdman, the character he once played long ago, strikes a unique balance between art and audiences. The ultimate proclamation raised is whether it’s better to give the people what they want to distract from everything else or is it best to follow your passion if its what you need. Normally a scene like this would be out of place but the film is already so dreamlike and metaphoric that it blends in as well as any soul-searching monologue, and to be able to accomplish that with the routines of Hollywood action is pretty remarkable.
16. The Finale – Once Upon a Time in… Hollywood (2019)
If you know your history then you’ll know that Sharon Tate was an unfortunate victim of the Manson murders, when she was two weeks away from giving birth no less. So, as we approach the climax of Tarantino’s film, we have an expectation of what will happen. Tarantino delivers exactly what we would expect out of him. The direction he chose to go in is what brought everything home, the final moment and closing shot in particular. A perfect blend of fantasy and reality that plays out like the kind of fairy tale we wish everything could be. This is what shows Quentin’s love for films and of this time period, that we can dream a little bit and that these dreams can mean something.
15. The Rainstorm – Parasite (2019)
What’s amazing about “Parasite” is that even with showing both sides of the wealth divide with care, it never gets in the way of the distinctions made between the two. The gap between the Kim Ki and Park families is something to behold, Bong Joon-ho directs with incredible passages and sequences to illustrate this. When a rainstorm starts the Park family sit on their couch and enjoy the pleasant site of watching their son set up a tent in the backyard – meanwhile the Kim Ki family are fighting through a flood of water that’s drenched their home.
One family’s enjoyment is another family’s suffering. More than anything, these moments of privilege and non-privilege are what boils the subtle animosity between the two families that explodes in later scenes. As such, this moment serves as the midpoint that solidifies everything that transpires.
14. The Beach – Roma (2018)
Through revolution, riots, divorce, unexpected pregnancy, and suppressed emotions, this final moment is what “Roma” has been building to. In a stunning act of selflessness where Cleo saves the children from drowning despite not knowing how to swim, this moment of relief isn’t felt for long as despite saving those from death she acknowledges to wanting her baby to die as a stillborn. In this one embrace, the film balances between the acceptance of death and the beginning of a new life for everyone involved. Alfonso Cuarón made this film as a love letter to the women in his life growing up, more specifically his family maid. And the love for his family is felt most powerful in this scene.
13. The Bus Massacre – Incendies (2010)
“Incendies” tells a story of war and revolution in the Lebanese Civil War, told from the personal perspective of one woman named Nawal. In one heart wrenching sequence she’s in a bus full of Muslim refugees as they get stopped by Christian Nationalists. They gun down the entire bus and burn all the bodies, sparing Nawal because of her Christian heritage.
It’s in this moment she faces the evil war crimes that are permeating in her country, this moment is when she decides to join the Muslim fighters and oppose Christian Nationalism. These extremes she was forced into confronting only served to push her to more extremes she otherwise never would’ve done. These extremes being committed by all sides in the war, justifying their actions by claiming it in the name of their gods.
12. Leading People to Death – Son of Saul (2015)
I would say this is the greatest use of handheld I’ve ever seen for the way it forces us to confront these acts as a world around us at every given moment, neck deep in the atrocities and gut wrenching ‘chores’ to perform daily. More specifically we follow Saul, one of many Jewish men in Auschwitz who works as a Sonderkommando for the Nazi forces. He goes through the routines of leading his own people bare naked into chambers, knowing they’re going to be killed, collects their belongings, scrubs blood off the ground, drags dead bodies around, and shovels their ashes into a lake.
This is more reason why he goes out of his way to give a proper burial to a boy he claims is his son but isn’t. And these moments make us see why he wants to do this, to give just one piece of order in a world that’s gone to hell.
11. The Sunken Place – Get Out (2017)
There aren’t many films this decade that have created an image so lasting that it’s become a coined phrase in pop culture, but “The Sunken Place” is certainly one of those. The scene itself is set up to perfection with Chris, tears of fear running down his face, falling victim to the most unassuming of weapons as his mind is being penetrated. He sinks beneath the floor as he stares up at his oppressor, now having become a victim. In the moment itself we’re told it’s a cure for his smoking addiction, but we know this is merely a gateway to something far more sinister. The commentary in the film is clear and is heightened more so by the absurdist horror of it, as we watch a family quite literally try to push out black consciousness.