Yes, it’s almost the end of January and yes, I’m still cranking out these lists. I still have to see Another Year, Biutiful, The Illusionist and Inside Job (at least those are the most prominent absenses right now). The scenes that also made the song usage list will not have explanations to them since I already covered them in that list. My classes finally start tomorrow!
20. Kathy and Tommy visit Madame – Never Let Me Go
This is the scene where the overgrown hope that Kathy and Tommy have desperately clung to is shot down. The audience can see it coming but the point is that the characters cannot. Seeing Mulligan and Garfield slowly realize their dream will not happen is crushing and devastating.
19. “Pocket Full of Sunshine” Montage – Easy A
A showcase for Emma Stone’s comedic abilities and instinct, this montage near the beginning of the film is hysterical. The quick transition of Olive hating the song to becoming addicted to the song as well as her lazy weekend comes out of nowhere and is the highlight of the film.
18. Mari’s Temper Tantrum – Babies
Baby Mari from Japan is sitting in her room, playing with a toy. For no reason whatsoever she melodramatically throws her toy into the air, starts sobbing and rolls around on the ground. Then she does the same thing with a book. It is the funniest temper tantrum I’ve ever seen on film or even in real life.
17. Breaking up with Mark – The Social Network
Consistently sited as the standout scene in the film, Erica’s breakup with Mark is an exhaustive doozy of an exchange, setting the tone for the film as well as establishing the presence of Sorkin’s trademark dialogue.
16. Hiccup wins over Toothless – How to Train Your Dragon
John Powell’s Academy Award nominated score enhances this charming sequence which brought me to tears (what can I say? I’m a sap) After much time and effort, Hiccup finally starts to win Toothless over and the bond they establish is truly touching.
15. Prison Breakout – Mesrine: Killer Instinct
Mesrine plans one of his many prison escapes in a seemingly impossible situation. How is he going to pull this off? The answer to that question provides top quality action and suspense in one of the year’s most exciting scenes.
14. Car Accident – Let Me In
A completely new scene featured in last year’s remake in Let the Right One In which shows that horror films can still set up a sequence that pays off in every way. This already has an iconic feel; it’s the kind of scene horror fans will cite 20 years from now as one of the great set piece suspense scenes in recent horror. It’s that good.
13. Malik’s First Murder – A Prophet
In this brutal and essential scene, Malik is forced to follow his first tough order from Cesar. Malik’s fear and nervousness transfers to the audience in this scene which greatly effects the rest of the film and Malik’s psyche.
12. Beginnings and Endings – Blue Valentine (explanation on Song Usage list)
11. Plaster Mask – Somewhere
Sofia Coppola has a talent for knowing how long to keep the camera on her subject. Here, she captivates with a very slow zoom which observes Johnny who in the middle of a face mask fitting. I lost myself in this shot which forces us to wonder what’s going on in Johnny’s head and literally shows how trapped he is.
10. Home? – Inception
The reason this is on the list is Hans Zimmer’s score. It is the perfect accompaniment to the finale which has Cobb returning to the States as Saito keeps his promise. But is it real? That’s up to the viewer to interpret. Zimmer, joined by Johnny Marr on guitar stir up a hell of a number which builds in intensity, managing to be incredibly moving and triumphant yet foreboding underneath the surface. It is my favorite score composition of the year and provides the perfect emotional note for the film to end on.
9. “I Wanna Be Your Dog” – The Runaways (explanation on Song Usage List)
8. “Running with Explosives” – Four Lions – The funniest scene from a film this year (in competition with other scenes from the same film) came from this outrageously funny comedy from the UK. Omar, Waj, Barry and Faisal carry bags of dangerous explosives in their hands and have to get to their destination as quickly as possible without dropping anything. This results in some wonderfully absurd physical comedy that ends in comic tragedy.
7. The Black Swan Emerges – Black Swan
Nina’s eventual emergence of the “black swan” in the premiere of “Swan Lake” is like watching an animal in heat. Portman’s a force of nature here and the camera’s energy gets right in there with her with its almost delirious movements.
6. Qin Cracks – Last Train Home
All of the tension boiling underneath Qin comes to the surface in an explosive scene from this doc. The sacrifices behind China’s capitalism is depicted through one family. The result is tragic and even difficult to watch as the relentless efforts of two parents fails and the justified rebellion of one daughter comes to a head. What makes this scene even more discussion worthy is that it is doubtful (IMO) this explosion would have occured had the cameras not been filming. The presence of the camera clearly exacerbates everything and adds in entirely new layer to this unintentionally disruptive example of “direct cinema”.
5. “Anniversary Dance” – Dogtooth
This scene which shows the physicality of the Eldest’s unraveling mental state is funny and strangely poignant. The fact that it is doubtful she understands her own behavior makes the scene even more enigmatically appealing.The wacky choreography is also very notable.
4. Andy Gives Away his Toys – Toy Story 3 – It’s difficult to explain the impact this had on me; I honestly don’t know if I can. Seeing this happen was surreal and marked an end to an franchise that I grew up with. I was 8 when Toy Story was released. Seeing Andy grow up into the next phase of his life was almost painfully bittersweet. As I said in my review, Toy Story 3 dealt thematically with issues I have a really hard time with. Time passing, growing up, not being a kid, etc. They hit hard; so hard in fact that I don’t know if or when I can watch the film again anytime soon. The only film that I had the same extreme emotional reaction to was Never Let Me Go. Toy Story 3 more than earns this sentimental scene because it is executed to perfection and covered in sincerity, significance and finality.
3. Emma’s Decision – I Am Love
The jump the shark moment for some, this final scene in Luca Guadagnino’s somewhat divisive film revels in the melodrama. For those of us who did love the film, this scene swept us up in its grandeur. The film manages to make us feel how Emma feels in that moment. We are caught up in her decision as if it were our own; a rare accomplishment, in large part thanks to John Adams lush score.
2. Harry Dances with Hermione – Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 (explanation on Song Usage List)
1. Mia Says Goodbye – Fish Tank (explanation on Song Usage List)