2 of 10
Marina Abramovic vs. Gatz’s Gatsby-Reading Scott Shepherd

An endurance face-off.

Hours spent performing per week
Abramovic: 52:36 Shepherd: 24:40

Average daily audience
Abramovic: 21 sitters Shepherd: 199

Mid-performance meal breaks
Abramovic: 0 Shepherd: 1

Total length of performance
Abramovic: 736 hours, 30 minutes; Shepherd: 752 hours, 20 minutes

Photo: Photo-illustration by Gluekit; Photographs, from left: Joan Marcus/Courtesy of the Public Theater, Patrick McMullan

Avatar

Yes, technically it was released in 2009—December 18, to be exact. But subtract that half-month of revenue and it was still the top-grossing film of 2010—and of all time. Prior to the film’s opening, one skeptical article asked, “Can a movie studio make money on a film based on an original and unfamiliar story, with no Hollywood superstars, a vanishing DVD market, and a price tag approaching $500 million?” Answer: Yes.

Photo: ILM and © 2009 20th Century Fox Film Corporation

Boardwalk Empire and The Walking Dead

In 2010, network TV showed the perils of playing it safe: The big four trotted out a fall season that was distressingly familiar (jolly fat-person sitcoms; cops shows upon cop shows) and failed to produce a single breakout hit. (Maybe viewers no longer even look to networks for risky drama: The ambitious Lone Star lasted just two episodes.) Meanwhile, on cable, AMC and HBO pushed all-in on huge bets like the hypergory The Walking Dead and the hypergorgeous Boardwalk Empire, which had an estimated budget of $30 million—and that was just for the Martin Scorsese–directed pilot.

Photo: Top: Abbot Genser/HBO; Bottom: Courtesy of AMC

Inception

Here’s an idea: Why not follow up your sure-thing, box-office-topping Batman movie The Dark Knight with a convoluted, complicated, based-on-nothing-but-your-own-twisted-imagination thriller with a title that sounds like a movie about IVF treatments? Yet Warner Bros. gambled $160 million on Christopher Nolan’s Inception, the only 2010 summer blockbuster that wasn’t a sequel, a franchise, or a reboot. It made $823 million globally.

Photo: Courtesy of Warner Bros.

The End of Lost

The show’s finale reminded us that sometimes the biggest gambles don’t pay off, especially when they’re spread out over six and a half years. Lost—the greatest shell game in TV history—ended not with a bang but a shrug, as long-invested viewers wondered if they’d been conned. (Series creator Damon Lindelof felt the same way about Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part I, which allowed him to forgive Lost’s critics: “It doesn’t make you any less a fan. In fact … it just makes you honest.”) Still, in one sense, the Lost gamble was a winner, as evidenced by the fact that each new season still brings a blatant clone, including this year’s The Event.

Photo: Courtesy of ABC

OK Go’s “This Too Shall Pass”

How do you exist as a band in a post-label, post-single, post-band world? Apparently the same way you get nearly 20 million views on YouTube amid a sea of competing distractions: with a riveting, militaristically choreographed, single-take video involving a Rube Goldberg sculptural-art installation. The video with the dogs was pretty awesome too.

Lea Michele

In its second season, Glee’s crowd-pleasing engine began to run at high efficiency, fueled by the teeny-tiny Lea Michele and her great big voice. For her, 2010 will be remembered for two big gambles: a risqué photo shoot with Terry Richardson and a lollipop. And, more in the spirit of the Grand Theatrical Gesture, a balls-out rendition of “Don’t Rain on My Parade” on the 2010 Tony Awards. Michele chose to wrestle a legend (Barbra Streisand), and she not only held her own—she brought down the house.

Photo: Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images

Kanye West’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy

You’ve heard nothing about him this year, right? Us neither.

Photo: Wenn/Newscom

How to Make a Splash on Broadway

Estimated budgets of the year’s most expensive Broadway shows.

The Longest Sentence

At 305 words, from Jonathan Franzen’s Freedom, the big novel that made the world safe for big American novels again. (It opens the chapter called “Mountaintop Removal.”)

Slide Header

Address, date, or similar info here.

For me, the high point of the show is this, which manages simultaneously to be a painting, a force field, and an electromagnetic visual discharge. This is an artist sloughing off old consciousness, making something he doesn’t even know is art, giving up nearly all known languages of painting, and maybe violating the laws of nature by making something that seemingly puts off more energy than went into making it.

Photo: © 2010 The Pollock-Krasner Foundation/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/Courtesy of the Museum of Modern Art, New York

Slide Header

Address, date, or similar info here.

For me, the high point of the show is this, which manages simultaneously to be a painting, a force field, and an electromagnetic visual discharge. This is an artist sloughing off old consciousness, making something he doesn’t even know is art, giving up nearly all known languages of painting, and maybe violating the laws of nature by making something that seemingly puts off more energy than went into making it.

Photo: © 2010 The Pollock-Krasner Foundation/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/Courtesy of the Museum of Modern Art, New York

Slide Header

Address, date, or similar info here.

For me, the high point of the show is this, which manages simultaneously to be a painting, a force field, and an electromagnetic visual discharge. This is an artist sloughing off old consciousness, making something he doesn’t even know is art, giving up nearly all known languages of painting, and maybe violating the laws of nature by making something that seemingly puts off more energy than went into making it.

Photo: © 2010 The Pollock-Krasner Foundation/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/Courtesy of the Museum of Modern Art, New York

Slide Header

Address, date, or similar info here.

For me, the high point of the show is this, which manages simultaneously to be a painting, a force field, and an electromagnetic visual discharge. This is an artist sloughing off old consciousness, making something he doesn’t even know is art, giving up nearly all known languages of painting, and maybe violating the laws of nature by making something that seemingly puts off more energy than went into making it.

Photo: © 2010 The Pollock-Krasner Foundation/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/Courtesy of the Museum of Modern Art, New York

Slide Header

Address, date, or similar info here.

For me, the high point of the show is this, which manages simultaneously to be a painting, a force field, and an electromagnetic visual discharge. This is an artist sloughing off old consciousness, making something he doesn’t even know is art, giving up nearly all known languages of painting, and maybe violating the laws of nature by making something that seemingly puts off more energy than went into making it.

Photo: © 2010 The Pollock-Krasner Foundation/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/Courtesy of the Museum of Modern Art, New York

Slide Header

Address, date, or similar info here.

For me, the high point of the show is this, which manages simultaneously to be a painting, a force field, and an electromagnetic visual discharge. This is an artist sloughing off old consciousness, making something he doesn’t even know is art, giving up nearly all known languages of painting, and maybe violating the laws of nature by making something that seemingly puts off more energy than went into making it.

Photo: © 2010 The Pollock-Krasner Foundation/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/Courtesy of the Museum of Modern Art, New York

Slide Header

Address, date, or similar info here.

For me, the high point of the show is this, which manages simultaneously to be a painting, a force field, and an electromagnetic visual discharge. This is an artist sloughing off old consciousness, making something he doesn’t even know is art, giving up nearly all known languages of painting, and maybe violating the laws of nature by making something that seemingly puts off more energy than went into making it.

Photo: © 2010 The Pollock-Krasner Foundation/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/Courtesy of the Museum of Modern Art, New York

Slide Header

Address, date, or similar info here.

For me, the high point of the show is this, which manages simultaneously to be a painting, a force field, and an electromagnetic visual discharge. This is an artist sloughing off old consciousness, making something he doesn’t even know is art, giving up nearly all known languages of painting, and maybe violating the laws of nature by making something that seemingly puts off more energy than went into making it.

Photo: © 2010 The Pollock-Krasner Foundation/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/Courtesy of the Museum of Modern Art, New York

Slide Header

Address, date, or similar info here.

For me, the high point of the show is this, which manages simultaneously to be a painting, a force field, and an electromagnetic visual discharge. This is an artist sloughing off old consciousness, making something he doesn’t even know is art, giving up nearly all known languages of painting, and maybe violating the laws of nature by making something that seemingly puts off more energy than went into making it.

Photo: © 2010 The Pollock-Krasner Foundation/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/Courtesy of the Museum of Modern Art, New York
Advertising