20. Pennywise in the Sewer (IT)
Sometimes we know something is a very bad idea but we do it anyway. It’s just part of the human condition. We’re all Booboo the Fool on a regular basis. And when it feels appropriate to comment on this aspect of our nature in meme form, Storm Drain Pennywise is here for you. And the children. Presumably to eat them, idk. The particularly ingenious thing about this meme is that it managed to wait until a news story broke about a woman crawling into a storm drain to rescue a kitten (with pictures) to put the pieces all together into a quality meme that truly encapsulates the way we really do just the darndest things.
19. Russell Crowe as Javert (Les Miserables)
Sometimes, casting is bad. Sometimes, casting is good. Other times, casting is so bad it’s practically genius. There are very particular levels of absurdity that must be carefully coordinated to reach this last state of being, so it’s a small but coveted bunch, and Russell Crowe’s casting as grudge-holding police inspector Javert in the 2012 adaptation of Les Miserables is arguably the best example of this particular phenomenon in recent memory. Sometimes unexpected casting surprises you, with actors revealing hidden skills and unexpected range, but this was not one of those times. Many of us went into the film wondering, wait, can Russell Crowe actually sing?, and discovered that the answer is kinda, sorta, not really, though. Crowe looks quite lost throughout the whole film. What am I doing here? his vaguely despairing gaze seems to wonder. Why isn’t this Master and Commander 2? Regardless of how the situation came to be, the internet immediately saw the meme potential and ran with it, most frequently using images and GIFs of this one particular scene of Crowe looking out the window with a particularly forlorn expression. Oh, internet. You’re not all bad.
18. “What If I Told You…” (The Matrix)
Remember way back in the early heyday of memes, after I Can Has Cheezburger had already peaked but before Twitter et al. really hit their stride? While there are several older memes on this list from this early golden era, “What if I told you…” is the first that really belongs to a specific, largely defunct class of memes known as Advice Animals — Advice Dog, Philosoraptor, and so on. This one, in particular, is pretty self-explanatory in the sense that it deals with stuff that’s supposed to blow your mind, or is used sarcastically with content that’s relatively obvious, much like the movie it’s sourced from. Self-explanatory, but no less entertaining for that, mind you.
17. Pacha Reaction (The Emperor’s New Groove)
I wasn’t even aware this meme was a thing until I asked my FSR cohorts to suggest their favorites and multiple people brought it up. And I have to admit, it’s a good one — and an excellent example of why it’s best to go on a bit of a fact-finding mission before putting together lists such as this one, because no matter how well-versed you may think you are in a subject, at the end of the day you’re still not all-knowing.
16. Mister Police (The Snowman)
This is probably the one and only time The Snowman will ever feature in a list with “best” in the title, but it’s well deserved. Basically, the marketing campaign for this movie is what happens when people realize they’re fucked and decide, when doomed to failure, you might as well bomb as spectacularly as possible. After all, the production was such a mess that they weren’t able to shoot the whole script, resulting in a film so bad the press tour felt more like an apology tour. Which begs the question, what’s a marketing team to do? Some might keep calm, carry on, and make something deceptively sleek. But the promotional material for The Snowman takes a decidedly different approach. Featuring what might be the most miserable excuse for a snowman in all of human history (but seriously, though, was it drawn in MS Paint?), the posters for this film are ungodly eyesores. And that’s even before we get to the killer’s “nefarious” warning: “MISTER POLICE. YOU COULD HAVE SAVED HER. I GAVE YOU ALL THE CLUES.” It’s the cherry on top of a trash fire sundae. In case it’s not already perfectly clear, I love these posters dearly. To steal Marie Kondo’s line, I love mess, and this is just about as messy as it gets. Unsurprisingly, Film Twitter loved them, too, and the memes are glorious.
15. “I Just Wanted to Take Another Look at You” (A Star is Born)
For what is ultimately a romantic drama of the decidedly tearjerking variety, the fourth iteration of A Star Is Born sure did spark a whole lotta memes. The standout was also one of the earliest to hit the internet, thanks to being featured in the film’s theatrical trailer. The moment appears rather early in the film, after jaded country rock star Jackson Maine (Bradley Cooper) has just spent the night falling head-over-heels for aspiring singer-songwriter Ally (Lady Gaga). It involves Maine finally dropping Ally off at home, and only when she’s made it halfway up the path, he calls out to her, causing her to turn around. “What?” she asks. “I just wanted to take another look at you,” he answers. And thus, a meme is born. Occasionally, the meme involves Cooper stopping Gaga only to tell her something other than “I just wanted to take another look at you,” but most variations instead swap out Gaga and have Cooper flirting with various other people and/or things.
14. “Well, That Escalated Quickly” (Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy)
Like many memes from movies released prior to the rise to prominence of Twitter and Tumblr, the online presence of this highly popular Anchorman quote blew up suddenly but quite randomly well over a decade after he movie first premiered, joining online film meme canon circa 2012. A meme near the border between “actual meme” and reaction GIF, the thing that pushes this over the edge is that if you just stick the phrase “Well, that escalated quickly” on top of any image, viewers will hear Will Ferrell’s voice saying the words.
13. “Hello There…” (Star Wars: Episode III — Revenge of the Sith)
This is the last Star Wars prequel meme on the list, I swear (there were three others that made it to the shortlist before getting chopped, but sacrifices had to be made). It features Ewan McGregor again because his presence is what elevates most of the trilogy from sad-bad to joyously bad. His take on Obi-Wan Kenobi is wonderful, even if it does beg the question what the hell happened between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope to morph him into white-haired Alec Guinness in less than two decades, but that’s beside the point; the point is that there are maybe 20 good lines in the whole prequel trilogy and Obi-Wan Kenobi has like 18 of them. And in addition to those good lines (“you don’t wanna sell me death sticks” is a great line, and I will die on that hill), there’s also a bunch of decidedly not great lines made hugely entertaining. “Hello there…” is hardly the worst of the bunch, but it’s also a pretty uninspired greeting — and yet, McGregor manages to make something special of it. And the internet brought the whole thing to the next level with help from some truly glorious memes.
12. “My Desires Are Unconventional” (Fifty Shades of Grey)
This is one of those memes that really does most of the work for you. Even though literally everyone going into Fifty Shades of Grey knows it’s about BDSM, Christian Grey showing his, erm, playroom to Anastasia is technically a “big reveal” moment (suspension of disbelief, people). Most versions of the meme feature Christian saying, “My desires are unconventional,” and Anastasia responding with, “So show me,” which isn’t technically correct, although some will go for the accurate combo of “my tastes are very… singular”/”enlighten me, then.” Either way, the build-up is so perfect that all you need to do is swap out the punchline for the unconventional desire of your choosing. Et voila. Internet comedy gold.
11. “Oh, Hi, Mark” (The Room)
There are movies that unexpectedly spawn memes. There are movies that feel like they were born to generate memes. And then there’s The Room, which is basically one long feature-length meme. While I was willing to make an exception and include a whole trailer because, well, it’s the Cats trailer, I’m not going to include an entire film. As such, I picked what I figured is the most iconic meme-able moment from that mind-blowingly strange movie, featuring none other than the one, the only, the man most likely to secretly be an alien visitor disguised in a man-suit (who isn’t Nicolas Cage), Tommy Wiseau.