20. Setting the Stage
Scene: (Spoilers for Nightcrawler) Lou Bloom contacts the police to inform them of wanted criminals who have entered a fast food restaurant. He sits across the street waiting for the showdown to begin in order to video the events. Things escalated quickly leading to a high speed car chase.
Why it made the list: This scene felt wrong for all the right reasons. Keeping the camera zoomed back as we peaked in on this restaurant knowing only horrible things can come from what we are witnessing. The decision to keep the situation at a distance really enhanced the voyeuristic feel, and all the anticipation spilled out in one exciting car chase.
19. End Credits
Movie: 22 Jump Street
Scene: As the movie ends we get an end credits sequence the covers the potential future of the 21 Jump Street franchise.
Why it made the list: Simply put it’s really funny. We live in the world of meta and 21 Jump Street is a great representation of that. From the first installment it was clear it was a movie series that was clearly able to make fun of itself. Here we get some great jabs at the Hollywood culture we live in including a specific great moment of how big stars are easily recast due to contract disputes.
Scene: Mike, who has just recently joined the cast, runs through a scene Riggan during which he gets into the intricacies of acting and what makes a true performance.
Why it made the list: This was just a masterclass of acting on display with the rapid fire dialog that places both actors in multiple roles simultaneously. As someone who has zero acting talent whatsoever being able to look into the processing of acting was quite the experience.
17. “How much of a plan?”
Movie: Guardians of the Galaxy
Scene: The Guadians stand on the edge of a crossroad, but Starlord feels he has found a way out. Rocket Racoon is not so sure and challenges just how much of a plan Starlord actually has.
Why it made the list: One of the best things about Guardians of the Galaxy is how its best moments are not found in crazy action sequences, but rather in the interplay between its characters. Here we get great comedy that allows each character to shine.
16. Car Chase
Movie: The Raid 2
Scene: As simple as it sounds. A high speed car chase that only gets crazier as it goes.
Why it made the list: I can see why Gareth Evans makes movies overseas because I’m sure a scene like this violates nearly every safety regulation US films have to abide by. I advise checking out the behind the scenes to see how this chase was shot. At one point a person is dressed up as a car seat just to get one specific shot, and it is that crazy thinking that makes this one of the best car chases in years.
15. Fiery End
Movie: Under the Skin
Scene: (Spoiler for Under the Skin) After Scarlet Johannsson’s character is assaulted by a random stranger her skin begins to peel. Shocked by the creature he sees before him he sets it a blaze.
Why it made the list: This is the moment where the themes of Under the Skin come to their boiling point. Its commentary of gender roles is clear as we see what trying to thwart those expectations can lead to. We finally are able to see what is under the skin and it is shocking, bizarre, and uniquely beautiful. The charcoal gray skin in an pale white landscape makes it stand out even more. That reveal followed so quickly by the fiery destruction is shockingly tragic. Slowly the ashes consume the screen as this complicated life is forced out.
14. Final Shot
Movie: The Immigrant
Scene: The Immigrant’s closing frame, one still shot of two characters heading into two very different directions.
Why it made the list: The Immigrant is another movie I had mixed feelings on. This final shot went a long way in making me fall on the positive side. At first I didn’t fully notice what I was watching. In my head I was just waiting for the credits to begin. Then as the shot remained I became engulfed in what I was witnessing.
13. Exploding the Dam
Movie: Night Moves
Scene: Everything is going well as the group is attempting to set the explosive in front of the damn. A sudden development occurs that puts the mission in jeopardy and everyone in danger.
Why it made the list: I love when even the best plans can go to hell because of the most mundane issue. How someone who has no knowledge of what is even happening can undue everything just because they are at the wrong place at the wrong time.
12. The Classroom
Scene: While traversing through the train we enter into one of the most surreal classrooms of all time. Here we learn a quick history of the Snowpierecer, and how this classroom is used to keep the societal status quo.
Why it made the list: Bong Joon-ho is excellent at tonal shifts, and this scene has many within a very short span of time. There are moments of utter hilarity that are quickly matched with extreme violence. In many ways this shouldn’t work, but its wiliness to just go for it makes it charming. Not to mentioned it works as a great piece of exposition without bogging down the pace of the film.
11. Boast Rescue
Movie: Captain America: Winter Solider
Scene: Captain America and other members of S.H.I.E.L.D. enter a terrorist controlled ship to rescue a group of hostages.
Why it made the list: I greatly enjoyed the first Captain America film and The Avengers, but what both failed to do was capture Cap’s phenomenal fighting ability and leadership. This first scene did just that, showing how Cap will literally dive headfirst into confrontation. It starts with a stealth assault with creative uses of Cap’s shield. It all leads to a hand to hand showdown between Batroc and Cap that shows how badass Cap really is.