2010 was a fairly good year for popular culture. I finally learned the secrets of LOST, got confused during Inception, complained a lot about remakes and 3D conversions, went all meta with Community, and finally decided I love Kanye West. These are just a small sampling of the things I loved about this year. What follows are my list of the 30 best pop culture moments in 2010. These are not a list of my favorite shows/movies/albums. They are simply my favorite snapshots that occurred in the world of entertainment and are the things I will always remember most. This is Part 2 of my countdown. For those unlucky enough to have missed Part 1, please go enjoy that first. Expect Part 3 soon, which will countdown my top 10 moments of the year. Lastly, spoilers will occur in this list.
20) The Social Network Opens With a Bang
I went into The Social Network a bit pessimistic. The hype just seemed way too loud for a movie about Facebook. But once that opening scene at the bar finished, I knew I was in good hands for the remainder of the movie and that it would end up as one of my top 5 movies of the year. The layered dialog, jumping back and forth between certain topics was a very inspiring way to open up the movie. I've heard complaints that the dialog was too stylized and not realistic but I find that to be a very weak argument. I love dialog that zips along at an insane pace, going all the way back to the screwball comedies of the 1930s. It may not be how real people talk, but for a movie, it makes for an extremely entertaining scene. It's a little unfortunate the The Social Network's best scene is its first scene, but everything that comes after it is pretty damn close.
19) Patrick Tillman Expresses His Feelings To The Government
I loved The Tillman Story. It was one of the best Documentaries I saw all year and really opened my eyes to how much of a bad situation Tillman's death really was. The movie takes lots of dark turns as you begin to see the cover-up that came after his death and the pain and frustration it caused his family and close friends. So after 90 minutes of fairly dark material, we see a memo that Pat Tillman's father Patrick sent the government, showcasing every lie and misstep that they took in the investigation into his son's death. It's a very elaborate and well written letter, but the closing is what makes this #19 on my list. After being very straight forward and calm in the whole letter, Mr. Tillman ends with "In sum: Fuck you...and yours." It was such a cathartic scene that elicited a much needed laugh throughout the theater.
18) MacGruber's Fatal Mistake
One of the biggest movie related mistakes I made in 2010 was not seeing MacGruber in the theater. What I thought would be a lame SNL movie turned out to be one of the funniest, darkest, and absurd comedies that I had seen in a long time. It was actually hard to pick just one scene from this movie but I think the van explosion wins because it made me laugh the most. Sure it was telegraphed from a mile away, but they spent so much time on showing MacGruber build up his team of experts (all played by WWE wrestlers) only to have them die in one quick explosion that was of course MacGruber's fault. Seeing MacGruber search through the wreckage was priceless. If you haven't given this movie a shot, you need to fix that. Honorable mention goes to the two sex scenes and the MacGruber begging scene ("I will suck your dick...").
17) Tracy Jordan on Cash Cab
30 Rock really bounced back this year after a fairly lame season. I'm not sure what happened but this season has featured some of the funniest scenes that the show has ever had. Out of all of these, nothing tops the scene of Tracy Jordan ending up on Cash Cab while trying to get to the hospital for his child's birth. Tracy Morgan is amazing at random one liners and this scene is the epitome of that. Of course you expect him to do poorly but he ends up getting question after question right. The real humor comes from his reasoning behind knowing every answer. The best example is after he gets a question about Abu Dhabi right, he dryly explains "I knew that because if I go back there again, I'll be executed." 30 Rock may go a little too heavy on the one-note absurdity of its characters sometimes, but in this instance, it made for amazing television.
16) Nicki Minaj is a Monster
I was first exposed to Nicki Minaj at the MTV VMA awards this summer when she performed with Will.I.Am (who was in blackface). My initial reaction was "Oh OK, she is terrible" and I never thought about her again. That is until the reviews for Kanye West's new album ("My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy") started rolling in. I was skeptical of the whole album because I was sick of Kanye's shtick and I also hate anything that people quickly claim to be the greatest thing to come along in years. But as I started listening to it, I slowly realized this actually was a great CD. Once I got to the song Monster, I was a full convert. Nicki Minaj pops in and delivers my favorite cameo in a song I've ever heard. It's a very chaotic verse and contains some great lines (ex: "OK, first things first I'll eat your brains/Then I'mma start rockin' gold teeth and fangs."). I now consider Kanye's CD the second best of the year. As far as my feelings on Minaj? I love her spot on Monster but I still haven't been able to make it through her debut album. It just seems too generic and is missing the strangeness that made Monster so appealing.
15) Kurt's Turn
I quit watching Glee this year after I realized I was able to watch full episodes in about 15 minutes thanks to all the fast forwarding I was doing during bad and/or boring parts. But when I did watch it, my favorite character was Kurt. He always had the best story lines (especially anything with his Dad, played shockingly well by Mike O'Malley). Of all the songs he sang (including the fantastic Glee version of Baby, It's Cold Outside), my absolute favorite was Rose's Turn. It was a song I had never heard before but it was so epically done that when it was over, I felt like that should have been the series finale of Glee because it will never be topped. Sure enough, it won't be.
14) Katy Perry Yearns For Some Penis
Katy Perry released a new album this year to much fanfare. The album has already spawned countless hits and has made her a bona fide music star. When she isn't featured in an about music, she's in the news for having large boobs (journalism!). But really, the only important thing about her this year (aside from the boob stuff) that she made a song called "Peacock" about wanting to see a guy's penis. I've already reviewed the song in depth so I'll just say that I don't think there was a song this year that made me laugh/sad quite as much as Peacock did.
13) Louie C.K.'s Awkward Date
Louie C.K. created the greatest new show of 2010. It's amazing how much creative freedom he was given. Luckily for FX, it paid off because they were allowed to air one of the smartest and funniest shows on TV. I fell in love with this episode right away so I decided to pick a scene from the first episode that sums up everything that's great about this show. The extended scene is of Louie C.K. going on a really bad first date with a woman. Everything that goes wrong is insanely absurd but hits all the right notes for me. While the whole thing is flat out hysterical, it really is the ending that made me fall in love. Louie and the woman are sitting silently on a bench as they both realize this is clearly the worst social experience of their lives. Then out of nowhere, a helicopter appears and a ladder drops down. The woman then runs to the helicopter, grabs on to the ladder, and is safely removed from this terrible situation. That's how you end a bad date.
12) Scott Pilgrim vs. Vegan Superman
I love Scott Pilgrim vs. The World. I loved the graphic novels leading up to the movie, I loved both Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz by director Edgar Wright, and I loved almost everything Michael Cera had done up to that point. So I wasn't surprised by how much I loved this movie. Getting the chance to see this movie in Boston with Edgar Wright in attendance for a Q&A (along with a Flash Gordon screening) was an amazing experience this year (up there with meeting John Carpenter and George A. Romero). Out of all the amazing scenes in this movie, nothing was as cool to me as his fight scene with Evil Ex #3, played by Brandon Routh. From the great opening scene of him keeping Scott floating in the air to the epic ending with the Vegan Police (and their amazing high five), everything about this fight worked. This was one of only two movies I saw twice in the theaters this year (the other being Inception) and the scene held up perfectly the second time around. I could listen to Brandon Routh try to explain his cleaning lady comment for hours. Too bad he got headbutted and turned into a pile of coins.
11) Hit-Girl Fights in the Dark
Kick-Ass was another movie that I knew I was going to love before I saw one frame. Unlike Scott Pilgrim though, I hadn't read the source material, didn't know anything else the director did, and wasn't familiar with most of the cast (other than Nicolas Cage and Christopher Mintz-Plasse). While the movie didn't quite hold up on a second viewing at home, I still think it's one of the best movies of the year. While I was a bit underwhelmed the second time around by any scene that didn't feature fighting, every single time the action picked up I was still in love. Hit-Girl is the best live action character seen on film this year (I'll explain the best animated ones in my top 10). While every fight scene she has is perfect, I have to give the edge to the scene of her attempting to rescue her Dad and Kick-Ass from the mobsters about to kill them. After being shot and left for dead (though we all knew that wasn't the case), she comes storming in (after killing the lights) and begins racking up kills left and right. Then the strobe light gun gets turned on (or as her father, played by Nic Cage, yells from his chair, "Now switch...to KRYPTONIIIITE!!!" Side comment: that is also my favorite line reading from any movie this year). With that one scene, a new iconic character was born on film. It just so happens that character is a 13 year old violent vigilante who curses like a sailor.