In many ways, not a lot has changed in my life over the past 10 years. At the beginning of 2010 I was a single 21 year old man who worked in the theatre industry and lived with his parents. 10 years later, and I’m now a single 31 year old man who works in the theatre industry and lives with his parents. (Urgh, how depressing.)
Perhaps living such an empty life is why I focus so hard on movies. They’re an escape. A chance to fill the damning void of life with moments of laughter, fear, sadness, disappointment and satisfaction. So what follows below is not a list of great movies, but rather specific moments that resonated with me to such a level that they will most likely stay with me for the rest of my life.
Spoilers ahead. (Obviously!)
First Flight – How To Train Your Dragon (2010)
This may be a view that many would disagree with, but “inspiring” is not a word that I would usually associate with animated movies. They can make you laugh, cry, stir you to anger and give you great comfort. But not in anyway “inspiring.”
And then I saw How to Train Your Dragon.
Specifically the scene where Hiccup (Jay Baruchel) is learning to fly on the back of his dragon. No where else in the last 10 years has there been a perfect combination of animation, cinematography and editing. And the cherry on top of this utter brilliance is the accompanying music by John Powell. Truly a bombastic sequence that lifts you out of your seat.
Saying Goodbye – Toy Story 3 (2010)
I was already mildly traumatised by the near-death experience earlier in the film; but the ending of Toy Story 3 pretty much destroyed me. And not just me. This was probably the first screening in my life where EVERYONE was crying. The old man next to me. The two ladies in front of me. The male teenagers sitting behind me.
I suppose that just goes to show how universal the closing moments of Toy Story 3 are. We’ve all experienced that moment where we’ve had to accept we were no longer children and adulthood was upon us. But Pixar helped show us that even though the past has to be left behind, it doesn’t necessarily need to be forgotten.
Was It A Dream? – Inception (2010)
True, the first 147 minutes of Inception were already a mind-blowing extravaganza of science-fiction cinema. But then that final minute happened. Seeing Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio) run towards his children and embrace them gave me the impression that it was going to be a happy ending. But then the camera pans downwards. The top is still spinning and I am glued to the damn screen. Then cut to black.
I remember my brain legitimately being unable to process what happened. That was then followed by a huge groan from the audience and the title card appearing on screen. It was only then I realised that I had been concentrating so hard on the screen that I had physically moved forward in my chair.
In other words, it was one minute of film that quite literally made me sit on the edge of my seat. 🙂
He Speaks! – Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011)
Robocop, Hellboy, Ghostbusters, The Mummy. The list of movie reboots over the last decade is seemingly endless. And, as far as I can remember, only two of them ever came close to being successful: Mad Max: Fury Road and Rise of the Planet of the Apes.
I was already a big fan of the original Planet of the Apes movies; and the 2011 reboot weaved such a intricate tale of human (or is that ape?) emotion, it was easy to see it as a worthy reboot to the originals.
And then THAT scene happened.
Totally unexpected, that scene caused all three audiences I saw it with to fall into stunned silence. You could have heard a pin drop. Not only is it one of the most cinematically powerful scenes ever made; but it elevated the movie into a far superior installment than the originals.
What A Line! – Pacific Rim (2013)
There are two things I love to see actors do. The first is watching them switch characters effortlessly within a single scene. The second is hearing a line of dialogue that is objectively terrible, and yet it is delivered so brilliantly by an actor that the line becomes awesome. That’s exactly what Idris Elba does when he manages to take the dumbest line I’ve ever heard; and delivers it with such passion that I’m still repeating it 7 years later.
I’m Sexy And I Know It – Ex Machina (2015)
BECAUSE IS THERE ANYTHING BETTER THAN A DANCING OSCAR ISSAC?
The Perfect Chase – Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)
Mad Max: Fury Road currently holds third place on my list of “Most Times Seen At The Cinema.” (The first is The Phantom Menace. Seven Times!)
So while I do love the film as a whole, my heart would pound extra fast every time the film showed the chase sequence through the canyon. Similar to the above mentioned How to Train Your Dragon sequence, what Mad Max: Fury Road pulls off in this chase sequence is nothing short of astounding. AND it manages to do it in live-action!
With confident direction by George Miller, superb editing by Margaret Sixel, balls-out cinematography by John Seale, and a thundering soundtrack by Junkie XL; this single three minute sequence is easily the best action sequence of this decade.
A Silent Death – Everest (2015)
After nearly 30 years of movie watching, it’s safe to say that the number of deaths I’ve seen onscreen must number in the tens of thousands. Because of that, deaths that stick in my memory tend to be increasingly epic or over-the-top.
But Everest did something different. It gave me a death that was so silent and sudden, that even five years later I haven’t been able to forget it.
Last Ones Standing – Rogue One (2016)
Once LucasFilm was purchased by Disney in 2012, my main takeaway was the realisation that I would not live to see the final Star Wars movie. Surely Disney, one of the biggest movie companies in the world, would not only merchandise the shit out every Star Wars movie they ever released, but would also make sequels galore?
But no. Completely unexpectedly, Disney made a story decision in Rogue One where it would be impossible to make a Rogue Two. Not only was this one of the biggest shocks that I had experienced, but it also gave me hope. Hope that Disney were not simple toy sellers, but actual storytellers.
His Real Name? – Solo (2018)
True be told, I didn’t have high hopes for Solo. But even I didn’t expect Disney to wipe out 35 years of Star Wars history by telling the world that Han Solo’s name wasn’t real.
Sure, most names in Star Wars are pretty stupid, with an almost child-like level of obviousness. But it’s not as if people were going around saying “Man, I love that Han Solo character! Shame about the name!”
It truly baffles me that multiple people behind-the-scenes read that scene and thought it was a good idea. Why take something so established in people’s hearts and mind, and change it JUST for the sake of changing it?
While other Star Wars fans were broken by The Last Jedi or Rise of Skywalker, for me Solo was the ultimate Star Wars disappointment.
The Big Screen! – The Right Choice (2018)
Considering I was this film’s sole producer, it’s actually quite odd that I didn’t see it on the big screen until 6 months after its world premiere. But that’s show business for you.
It was a wonderful experience nonetheless. Getting to hear real people laugh at jokes I had written and responding to their questions during the Q&A. A lot of fun for all involved and an unforgettable memory. You can watch the entire short below!
It’s Hammer Time! – Avengers: Endgame (2019)
When you think about it, the massive desire to see Captain America hold Mjölnir hasn’t been in popular culture for very long; having only been introduced in 2015’s Avengers: Age of Ultron.
And yet the thrill that went through me when Mjölnir flew into his hand was indescribable. Not just me, but my entire cinema erupted. A truly wonderful way to end the decade.