Best of 2010: Best Shots of the Year

Best/Coolest/Favorite Individual Shots of 2010
beware of visual spoilers…

Mother–It’s probably not coincidental that my favorite shot of the year comes from my favorite movie of the year. This brilliantly composed shot is indicative of Bong Joon-ho’s unique style seen throughout the film. On one hand it’s hilariously random. On an other it’s meaningful, and on yet another it’s just technically great to look at. I love how this shot represents the character as well. As the enabled mamma’s boy peeing in public, his mother not only looks the other way but insists he drink… well, whatever the hell he’s drinking; some kind of “medicine,” which, if you know what this mother has done to her son in the past, might not be a good idea to consume. After this shot, the son runs off and the mother feebly kicks sand over his pee. A great touch.
Monster–Alien sex. Yes, the screencap is two aliens banging, or I guess it would be called tentacleing in their world (or certain Japanese porn circles). This ends up being one of the best moments in the entire science fiction genre. Really! After two hours of action-less dread and anticipation we realize that the aliens that have “invaded” are creatures capable of tenderness, perhaps even love… just not towards humans. It is at this moment that we realize that perhaps these are not monsters after all. The lead characters sees this and are touched. I like how in this shot we see front and center the tiny human spectator dwarfed by nasty aliens doing the, um, nasty. Moments later we see tears in the human characters eyes. How quickly that feeling turns back to dread once again as the towering, post coital aliens pose as deadly a threat as ever.
Ghost Writer–This is the final shot of Ghost Writer. Papers floating down the street just as their author is murdered by the CIA off screen. It is as if his life force has been transferred into his his work which is ultimately also his undoing. Behold, the power of the written word! Polanski holds on this shot until the film ends. Ah, a perfect final shot. Iconic. These are the kind of big and splashy final scenes/shots that movies just don’t do anymore. A classic final moment right up there with Polanski’s own Chinatown.
The American–There are so many fabulous shots in The American. Seriously, almost every shot hits you like a really good album cover. People go so caught up in the slow pacing that they forgot to sit back and simply enjoy what was on screen. In addition to cool moments involving guns and/or Clooney’s butterfly tat (very metro), there are gorgeous Italian vistas to behold. My favorite however involves Clooney sitting alone in a restaurant. Think the ending to The Sopranos minus the family (and Journey–thank god) but plus the paranoia. That’s what Clooney’s life is! He is destined to be this guy, in this shot, at this time. He is a ghost, the anti-Danny Ocean. I love how ill at ease yet cool he looks. Something Clooney totally pulls off. The dude looks cool in almost any situation unless, of course, that situation is wearing a bat suit (I kid, I kid).
Black Swan (tie)–Perhaps I should have gone with Natalie Portman and Mila Kunis making out but, oh well, the shots that stuck with me are, first, the wing sprouting transformation on stage followed by the swan’s final fall plunge into the void. “I’m perfect” are the performer’s final words. A great big beautiful bombastic moment. She has achieved total perfection and used every last ounce of life to do so. Life and death culminate into an orgasmic moment of totality. The filmmaker hits you over the head with the heavily symbolic final act but it’s the exact right thing to do. One of the best final sequences of all time.
Greenberg–As much as I love the many shots of Greenberg walking around L.A. I feel a certain shot captures not only the essence of the film but represents Baumbach’s single most artistic expression to date. The shot is simple. A hose spirals aimlessly in a pool. Of all the great shots in this movie this one stuck with me. It’s a throwaway shot but one that captures the essence of the character and the world he lives in. Greenberg’s life is like that hose, spinning around in a meaningless balled of random movement.
Scott Pilgrim vs. The World–The punch heard round the world. Scott and his sucky band are on stage during a battle of the bands and stunned when Scott is singled out and challenged by Ramona’s first evil ex boyfriend. “Didn’t you get my e-mail?” the villain says to a clueless Scott. He has no idea what to do but just then his roommate screams “fight!” And like a robot that has just been activated Scott does just that, punching the advancing ex with an emphatic thud. Director Edgar Wright captures this kinetic moment brilliantly. We can practically feel the contact. One of the most visceral action movie moments of all time does not need blood or viscera but just a good sense of humor and a mighty wallop. Roadrunner would be proud. Moments like this exist to let Chris Tucker say “You got knocked dafuckout!”
I Am Love–The birds and the bees. I Am Love is a film full of beautiful sets and costumes and drama. All the period movie repressions are let loose in this shot/scene and the feeling is both sexy and liberating. Two naked lovers embrace outside. Nature, flowers, bugs and boobs. Primordial extacy.
Dogtooth–Party! Music! Balloons! Crazy people!
Scott Pilgrim vs. the World–Sorry for the crappy resolution (and the visible pause sign) but I captured this show on my iPhone. I just had to. Because a really funny throwaway gag is always appreciated. And just think, the film has a funny shot like this every few seconds! While I’ve been a fan of Chris Evans since Cellular (and of course Sunshine) I loved his ability to poke fun at himself and big name actors like Tom Cruse (Action Doctor is vintage Mission: Impossible). So, yeah, here are some of the movies you can expect to see Lucas Lee in. My favorite is I Hope There’s a Heaven because it looks like something Zach Ephron just starred in. As fake movies within movies go, these are some of the best.
Inception–Very last shot of the movie. The top is spinning and nobody will ever know if it will stop (reality) or keep going (dream!). A coy way of ending a coy(er) film to be sure but one that is iconic and went on to grab everyone’s attention in 2010. Personally, I could care less to explore the narrative significance involved in this shot because the film didn’t earn my interest up to this point but I know a great moment/shot when I see one. It will be in people’s minds long after the meaningless plot fads away into obscurity.