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Dan’s 50 Best Movie Scenes of 2014

Apes

10. “Human Work”

Movie:  Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

Scene:  Caesar explains to Koba why he is allowing the humans into their land. When he mentions human work Koba begins to show the scars on his body that are a repercussion of human work.

Why it made the list:  Who would have thought one of the most powerful human moments this year would come from a CGI ape? Koba was an intriguing character in the first film, but here he stole the show. His actions are morally questionable, but this moment makes his motivation legitimate.

 

Grand Budapest Hotel Ski Slope

9. Ski Slope Chase

Movie:  The Grand Budapest Hotel

Scene:   M. Gustave and his trusty lobby boy Zero are being chased by an evil henchman on sleds and skis

Why it made the list:  Wes Anderson has used stop-motion animation in live-action before, but none of those moments are nearly as fun as this sequence.  It is like a classic James Bond action chase seen through the eyes of Looney Tunes.

 

8.Time in a Bottle

Movie:  X-Men: Days of Future Past

Scene:  As Charles Xavier and Wolverine attempt to break Magneto out of prison they are confronted by a number of security guards holding plastic guns. With Xavier powerless it is up to Quicksilver to save the day.

Why it made the list:  It has been said before, but I had little faith Quicksilver was going to work as a character in X-Men: Days of Future Past. Not only did he work but he gave us the best moment in the entire movie. An assist should also go to the perfect musical choice and some fantastic visuals.

 

Boyhood 2

7. Finding Beauty in Reality

Movie:  Boyhood

Scene:  Mason asks his father if elves are real. Instead of just telling him no he tells him about all the incredible aspects of real life we take for granted, but are truly magical when you really think about them.

Why it made the list:  No one does small moments better than Richard Linklater. It is this conversation that embodies everything Boydhood is about. It is not about the big staple moments of life everyone always focuses on. It is about those moments in-between. The ride home of graduation, the nights just having random conversations with friends, and those moments we remember and we don’t even know why.

 

Nightcrawler dinner

6. Dinner Ultimatum

Movie:  Nightcrawler

Scene:  Louis Bloom has dinner with Nina and things get awkward quickly as he explains to her why she has no other choice but to sleep with him.

Why it made the list:  Louis Bloom is ambition unhinged as illustrated in this scene. Jake Gyllenhaal is creepy in the best ways possible. He takes the skills normally associated with an Aaron Sorkin character and uses them for evil.

 

5. The Creation Scene

Movie:  Noah

Scene:  Noah’s adopted daughter recalls the biblical story of creation.

Why it made the list:  Darren Aronofsky is known for his visual storytelling ability, and this is shown in this scene where the creation of life is depicted. Having the biblical words placed atop scientific images was a dichotic moment that gets to the crux of what the film was about. Religion vs Science is a debate as old as time, and it is displayed here in an elegant fashion.

 

BLue Ruin Arrow

4. Getting the Arrow Out

Movie:  Blue Ruin

Scene:  After being shot in the leg with an arrow Dwight attempts to remove it himself without the aid of a doctor.

Why it made the list:  We have seen people in movies have to perform surgery on themselves for a number of reasons. This stands up mainly due to the set up. Dwight limping his way through a CVS esc store to get a pair of tweezers, to him sitting alone doing to deed, to the final punch of it not going according to plan.

 

3. Death in Seven Days

Movie:  Calvary

Scene:  In the opening of Calvary Father James hears a confession of a mysterious man who threatens to kill him in seven days.

Why it made the list:  In only took a few minutes for Brendan Gleeson to give one of my favorite performances of the year.  All of the focus is squarely on him as a man explains the horrors he endured as a child. Gleeson goes through a cavalcade of emotions as he tries to grasp what is exactly taking place.  Director John Michael McDonagh’s tells us right from the start that Calvary  will be nothing like his previous work.

 

starred-up-bg-4_610_407shar_s_c1

2. Class Session

Movie:  Starred Up

Scene:  Prison members sit in a grungy room discussing their issues. With convicted felons all around stakes are high as saying the wrong thing could lead to an explosion of violence.  Issues become even more complicated when Eric Love’s father attempts to join.

Why it made the list:  The one word that comes to mind during this scene is intensity. The confined space acts as a microwave that slowly builds to an explosion.  Right when you think the final reprieve has come some small gesture will ignite everything even further. We know one small misstep can bring everything these men built crashing down causing the stakes to be tremendously high.

 

under-the-skin-review-3

1. Man with Deformed Face

Movie:  Under the Skin

Scene:  Scarlet Johannsson picks up a man who a clear physically deformity and has a conversation.

Why it made the list:  Up to this point the movie there was a consistent apathetic view of humanity.   Slowly those barriers are worn and sympathy begins to seep into the main characters persona. Slowly a sweetness begins to progress, yet there is a question of the validity of the kindness. Is it real or is it another elaborate trick? We could be witnessing the gentlest moment of the movie or the harshest.  There is also something to how Scarlet Johannsson plays this scene. Speaking to the deformed man with a sincerity he may have never heard before. There is no feeling sorry or apologetic towards him. For perhaps the first time in his life he is being spoken to like he is just like everyone else in the world.

 50 – 41 | 40 – 31 | 30 – 21| 20 – 11 | 10 – 1

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