10. The Lunch Tray - Spider-Man
What You Thought
One of the most memorable beats in Sam Raimi's original Spider-Man sees Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire) not only catching MJ (Kirsten Dunst) when she slips over in the cafeteria, but also using his Spidey-sense to catch her entire lunch tray without dropping a single item.
Given the film's already CGI-heavy nature, it was easy to presume that Raimi simply had Tobey Maguire catch the falling lunch tray and added all the lunch objects digitally in post-production, right?
The Actual Effect
Incredibly, this was achieved entirely practically and in-camera, with Raimi filming 156 takes over 16 hours before Maguire successfully managed to catch the tray and its contents.
In fact, there's only one aspect of the shot that can even be called a special effect - sticky glue was applied to Maguire's hand to ensure that the tray stuck to his fingertips, giving him a fighting chance of actually catching all of MJ's food.
Now, just consider if Kirsten Dunst had forgotten her "Wow, great reflexes" line that follows the successful catch.