The Biggest Movie Stories of 2010

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It's pretty hard to keep up with the media cycle these days. Stars going into rehab, big-budget movies crashing, fans stabbing each other at events -- and that's just a typical Friday in Hollywood.

So when you hear the latest shocking news or juicy gossip, it pretty much goes in one ear, out the other and back into the ear of the guy next to you. Ho hum.

But this year there were a handful of stories so compelling, strange, unusual and downright awesome that they demanded our full attention. So here's a look back at the stories we'll be still be talking about in the decade to come: the top movie stories of 2010. 

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"Avatar" Breaks Box Office Record

[February] Thirteen long years after "Titanic" destroyed the box office record, James Cameron finally got around to putting out his much-anticipated sci-fi follow-up, "Avatar." We all know how that turned out: Over $700 million domestically later, Cameron's jaw-dropping, effects-laden epic had smashed the box office record once again -- and once again, Cameron could truly declare himself king of the world.

Kathryn Bigelow Crushes Oscars, Ex-Husband

[March] When the Oscars decided to expand their Best Picture field to 10 nominees, they swore it would open the doors for smaller films that would otherwise be overlooked. Mission accomplished: "The Hurt Locker," which earned a miniscule $16 million, earned both the Best Picture and Best Director awards for Kathryn Bigelow. She not only became the first woman to ever win the award, she also did it by besting a field that included her ex-husband James Cameron's all-time blockbuster "Avatar." That had to feel good.

Megan Fox Fired from "Transformers"

[May] When "Transformers" blew up the box office three years ago, much of that explosive power came thanks to the star-making turn by instant A-list mega-hottie Megan Fox. But in a rare case of the hand that feeds you biting itself, director Michael Bay abruptly fired Fox from the franchise just before filming of the third "Transformers" movie due to a war of words between the two over the direction of the movies. Just like that, Fox was a free agent and film fans were left wondering if "Transformers" can continue without her.

"Harry Potter" Wraps

[June] For the last decade, there has been one constant at the cinema; the "Harry Potter" franchise, which has screen seven blockbuster installments since the series debuted back in 2001. But while one final chapter still remains to be seen by audiences (and will be seen next year), the unofficial end to Potter Mania came this summer when the last scenes were filmed for "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: part 2." Movie studios are already trying to find the next big thing, but all real film fans know the truth: They'll never be able to replace "Harry Potter."

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Andrew Garfield is "Spider-Man"

[July] One of the breakout stars of "The Social Network" had already gotten his big break before the movie even aired, as Andrew Garfield was announced as the new Spider-Man in Sony's blockbuster franchise reboot. Fans may have been wondering who Garfield was when the summer began, but by the end of fall they were just wondering how they would survive the long wait to see him in spandex.

RPattz and K-Stew - Officially On?

[July] Some acting couples just have such amazing chemistry on film that fans are left wondering: Is there something really going on there? And this year, Twi-Hards finally got their answer, as "Twilight's" number one couple, Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart, officially became a thing. Or as official as they could be considering neither is willing to actually discuss it. Still, the media has reported it, so it must be true -- and besides, all you have to do is see them together on screen to see the truth.

"Inception" Mania

[July] In a summer filled with the usual lineup of action blockbusters and event movies -- "Iron Man 2," "Twilight," Prince of Persia" -- it was an unexpected film that ended up sending the country into a frenzy. Thanks to an intriguing premise, mind-blowing special effects and an ending that still has people debating, "Inception" mania swept America, giving Christopher Nolan an unexpected -- and unexpectedly cerebral -- box office smash.

Revenge of the Nerd: Stabbing at Comic-Con

[July] Over the last several years, Comic-Con International in San Diego has become the biggest event in cinema. This year, though, it also became the biggest event in criminal justice when a man stabbed another convention attendee in the eye over a seating dispute at the panel for "Cowboys and Aliens." We sometimes want to stab ourselves in the eye after seeing some of the films that pass for entertainment these days, but that film actually looks cool, so we're not sure what the beef was.

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Mel Gibson Drama

[July-October] Just when Mel Gibson was finally starting to get past his infamous drunken tirade from 2006, this year came along and with it came the end of his reputation; following a series of abusive and profanity ridden rants directed at his girlfriend, he came under police investigation for domestic abuse. And even his attempts to lighten his image blew up in his face, as a cameo in the upcoming comedy "The Hangover 2" was canceled when the film's stars protested to the studio. An all time low for a once great actor.

Rooney Mara is "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo"

[August] It was the biggest cliffhanger of the year: Who would be chosen to play the role of Lisbeth Salander in the American version of Steig Larsson's worldwide literary phenomenon "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo?" While every big-actress in Hollywood fought over the role, in the end it was the unknown Rooney Mara (who also appears in "The Social Network") who grabbed the part -- and instantly became an international star.

"The Social Network"

[October] No film dominated discussion in late-2010 like "The Social Network," David Fincher's acclaimed and incisive look at the creation of Facebook and the social media lifestyle. Critics swooned and audiences debated the actions of the film's main character and prime target, Mark Zuckerberg, who responded by donating half of his billions to charity in a savvy P.R. move. Like Facebook itself, nobody could avoid "The Social Network."

Justin Bieber Brings His Act to Hollywood

[October] He started on YouTube but he's going to end up on the big screen. Yes, the king of the tween twitterati is finally making his movie debut and by all accounts, Justin Bieber is poised to blow the doors off the movie industry just as he has the music business. "Never Say Never" doesn't open until next year (the first trailer hit in October), but from his hair to his personal life, Bieber is already getting the superstar treatment in Hollywood. Are we witnessing the birth of the next movie legend? That's the question that has had pundits and fans enthralled all year long.

"Jackass" Becomes Mega-Hit (and Second Highest Grossing "Documentary" Ever)

[October-November] Documentaries have the reputation of being dry, stuffy and maybe even a bit boring. And then, of course, there's the stunt-shock antics of "Jackass 3-D," which exploded this fall to become the biggest hit in the franchise's history and one of the surprise films of the year. The fact that it also became the second highest grossing "documentary" of all time (second to only "Fahrenheit 9/11"), though, might just be the best prank that Johnny Knoxville and friends ever pulled.

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Chris Evans Beefs Up for "Captain America"

[November] When comic book fans heard that Chris Evans had been cast as the lead in "Captain America," the number one concern was his size. Could Evans really portray the ultimate American hero with his physique? All those doubts were instantly dismissed, however, once fans got a look at the new, incredibly muscular and beefed up body Evans was sporting when he reported for duty on the set of Marvel's blockbuster. And if that's the result, then bartender, give us a Super Soldier Serum -- and make it a double.

James Franco on "General Hospital"

[November] James Franco had himself a year; between staging art shows, publishing short stories and turning in an acclaimed role in "127 Hours," Franco seemed to be the busiest person in the world. Yet it was his most unusual side project that had people of all walks of life buzzing, as he somehow found time to give daytime soap operas sudden relevancy by appearing on "General Hopsital" for not one, but two story arcs (with the second airing this coming February). He called it performance art, we called it awesomesauce.

Animation Domination

2010 will go down in history as the year of animation, as an unprecedented number of critically acclaimed 'toons topped the box office charts -- led, of course, by Pixar's latest triumph, 'Toy Story 3," which was the highest-grossing film of the year and will likely earn a Best Picture nomination to boot. "How to Train Your Dragon," "Despicable Me" and "Shrek Forever" all joined "Toy Story 3" in the box office top 10, while "Tangled," Megamind" and "The Illusionist" helped round out an all-time great animated line-up.

3-D Booms and Busts

Following the incredible success of "Avatar," studios scrambled to find the secret of its moneymaking power. Their answer: 3-D. Before you could snap your fingers, every movie in America was being transformed into 3-D in order to get a piece of the action. But while some films thrived in the new format, a 3-D backlash began among fans burnt one too many times by crappy transfers. By the end of the year, "Harry Potter" was being released in 2-D in order to prevent another shoddy 3-D fiasco and the boom was officially bust. For now.

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