I’m not in any way trying to claim that I originated the idea to take a look at the best movie scenes from a given year. Bloggers and websites have been unveiling these types of lists for years. Over the course of the year though, certain scenes from movies were standing out to me more than I had ever experienced before. Perhaps I was just not paying enough attention to individual scenes in previous years but my eyes were opened to this subsection of a movie this year in a big way. The thought came to me during one of the episodes of MWIRE Weekly that it would be a great category to have included in the Oscars. Then I thought to myself, well how many great scenes would you come across in a given year if you really took an in-depth look. Fast forward and you get the blog that you are currently reading. Having seen over 50 movies that were released in 2013 this is a good sampling of what I feel were the standout scenes from the year. Now, please realize that I have not seen EVERY notable film from the year. There are supposed to be some great scenes in Before Midnight, Inside Llewyn Davis, Nebraska, Motel Life and a variety of other films that I have yet to see, so in no way am toting this as the end all list of 2013. As time goes by and I see these other films, adjustments may be in order. That being said, these are the top scenes that really stuck with me for a variety of ways in 2013. Enjoy!!
SPOILER ALERT!! THE FOLLOWING TEXT MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS – READ AT YOUR OWN RISK!
Top 20 Movie Scenes of 2013:
20. The Book Thief
Closing Monologue from Death
I realize that this film was critically panned across the board, something I can’t seem to wrap my head around since, in my opinion this was a brilliant film! An interesting touch included in the movie was an ongoing monologue from a character that can only be described as ‘death’. At no point was this monologue more moving then in the closing scene when we advance in time to see the future of Liesel Meminger. To me, it was the perfect ending to a very moving character piece.
19. Pacific Rim
Jaegar unleashes massive Sword Scene
Perhaps what most would point to as the biggest ‘blockbuster’ of 2013, Pacific Rim delivered everything you could want from a massive scale battle between monsters and machines. In what I would consider the pinnacle of the action we see a Jaegar unleash what is possibly the most massive sword in film history. The scene really leaves you in awe of the world that Del Toro has created. The only question the scene triggers is WHY did they wait so long to use this weapon!!
18. The Wolf of Wall Street
Matthew McConaughey – Fugazi Scene
One of the most surprising things to me about The Wolf of Wall Street was how many scenes Matthew McConaughey was in. Luckily he made all of them memorable, none of which were more memorable than the often seen trailer scene of McConaughey beating his chest and humming after talking to Jordan Belfort about what a Fugazi is. Classic!
17. American Hustle
Opening Christian Bale and a Hair Piece Scene
Perhaps one of the best opening scenes of the year gave us an extended look at the pains it took Irving Rosenfeld to get his hair just right before being seen by the public. The frosting on the cake of course is how quickly DiMaso destroys all that preparation. This scene perfectly sets the mood for the film that follows.
16. Side Effects
An Unexpected Stabbing Scene
This list is full of great opening and ending scenes as often times those are the most critical points of a film. Number 16 on the list however represents a scene that does not begin or end a film but rather completely changes and turns a film to face a completely different direction. It doesn’t hurt that it has a pure shock factor involved as well since you most likely don’t see it coming. Definitely one of the most powerful scenes of the year.
15. Thor: The Dark World
Loki Lives! Scene
The rumors floated throughout the internet leading up to the release of Thor: The Dark World on the potential twist that Loki could die during the course of the film. He was the main antagonist in the original Thor film, had served as the main villain in The Avengers, and now was appearing in somewhat of an enigma of a character in Thor: The Dark World. One could easily convince themselves that he had played his part in the Marvel Universe and now could be disposed of. They even offered us a pretty dang convincing death scene for Loki in this film. However, as Marvel has grown accustomed to doing, they perfectly handled the aftermath of his ‘death’ and in doing so gave us a fantastic scene to reveal that we had not seen the last of this beloved character!
The Perfect Ending Scene
I love ending scenes like we got in Prisoners. These are the type of scenes that greatly anger a good portion of the audience as they leave the theatre and leave a small handful, like myself, just smiling. I can’t think of a better way to end this film than how they chose to end it. I won’t say too much more about it so as to avoid a spoiler in this case, but the image I was able to find for this one should tell those who saw the film everything as far as what scene I am talking about and why I chose it.
13. G.I. Joe Retaliation
Snake Eyes & Storm Shadow Cliff Battle Scene
I’m sure most end of the year lists, categories, awards, etc G.I. Joe Retaliation is left off of completely. So, it is with a sense of pride that I am happy to have found a way to make it feel included in the look back at 2013. We have talked about great twists, openings, endings, but this scene represents a different type of memorable scene completely, the action sequence scene. I can’t think of many action sequences that were more fun to watch and more unique than the cliff battle we were able to witness between Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow!
12. Man of Steel
Superman Snaps…literally! Scene
Now, I realize that a lot of people hated this scene entirely. I also realize that some probably actually liked the scene. Regardless of whether you liked it or hated it the reality remains that you ALL remember it. Furthermore, you ALL probably talked about it throughout the year in any discussion revolving around the Man of Steel. For being one of the most controversial scenes of the year alone is enough for this scene to earn its place on this list. For the record, I liked the scene 😉
11. Iron Man 3
The Real Mandarin Scene
Perhaps fitting that this scene is listed right after the Man of Steel scene, once again we have a scene that divided the audience with extreme feelings of opponents and proponents of what they decided to do with the Mandarin. I for one felt it was a unique and genius move and it also provided a perfect stage to display the overwhelming acting prowess of Sir Ben Kingsley. Regardless of your feelings on the move there is no arguing that this was one of the most talked about scenes of the year!
10. Thor: The Dark World
Portal Madness Scene
The last of our ‘superhero scenes’ on the countdown is also the hardest one to capture in a singular image. With the aforementioned scene from G.I. Joe Retaliation, the portal scene from Thor: The Dark World is a great example of an action sequence that was purely unique and offered its audiences undoubtedly something they had never seen before. As a bonus, this one also added a touch of humor to the action.
9. Oz: The Great and Powerful
The Wicked Witch Makes Her Entrance Scene
The biggest question going into Oz: The Great and Powerful was if they would be able to capture the feel of the original Wizard of Oz while completely reinventing that world. At times they utterly failed at this, maybe never moreso with the look and the makeup for the Wicked Witch. What made it so odd was that the first scene she appeared in was done so perfectly. As the image shows above, that opening appearance that showed the profile of the Wicked Witch was a perfect homage to the original and really added some magic to the film. Unfortunately from this point on all we get is Mila Kunis wearing a bunch of makeup etc.
8. Out of the Furnace
The Hotdog Scene
Although the image above is from an entirely different scene, anyone who saw Out of the Furnace knows exactly what scene I am talking about. Only two scenes over the course of the year literally made me want to turn my head away from the screen. This was one of them. Again, one of the best opening scenes of the year this one does a fantastic job of illustrating the character of Harlan DeGroat. It also accurately sets the mood for the setting and tone of the film that follows. I haven’t had a hot dog since…
7. The Counselor
The Lucky Windshield Scene
This was again one of the most talked about scenes of the year, however it was probably talked about for completely different reasons than most scenes were. It’s hard to tell if it was the fact that it was Cameron Diaz doing the action in the scene, if it was Javier Bardem’s reaction to what was going on as he sat there in the passenger seat or if it was simply because no one had ever seen or even considered the possibility of a car windshield bringing a girl to an orgasmic state. In the end, its bizarre, provocative, ridiculous, intriguing, seductive, and just plain insane. I guess when you put all that together it results in one of the most memorable scenes of the year (from one of the most forgettable movies of the year)
Idina Menzel Letting the Magic Go Back to Disney Scene
The universal critique of Frozen seems to be that its as close as Disney has come in the past twenty years to recapturing the magic of the Lion King/Aladdin/Little Mermaid/Beauty and the Beast era of Disney. If you had to pinpoint a specific scene responsible for this I would point to the scene in which Idina Menzel belts out the instant disney classic, ‘Let it Go’. Part of that magic I was referring to before is completely due to the music that was present in those movies listed. Let it Go is as close to that magic as we have gotten and it was truly a great scene to partake of.
5. The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug
Smaug Awakens Scene
One thing Desolation of Smaug most certainly nailed was the look and feel of Smaug. Everyone I talked to loved Smaug in the movie. While I may have issues with some of the scenes Smaug was involved in, I think the initial scenes of his were epic. From the moment he awakes and opens his eye to the moment he begins to move from underneath his mountains of riches were awe inspiring. He may have quickly turned into a monster of the week from Scooby-Doo but in those initial moments he was every bit of intimidating and awesome as fans could have only hoped for.
4. The Wolf of Wall Street
The Lemon Scene
Although the exact scene I am referencing here came slightly before the one depicted in the image above, together they were still part of a hilarious sequence. Jordan Belfort had a major drug problem and never was this shown more than when we see the delayed effects of his drug of choice render him in a state of paralysis as he loses the ability to speak, stand, walk, drive or anything else you could imagine. What that gives us is a truly hilarious set of scenes in which the pure insanity and immaturity of such a lifestyle is never better portrayed.
Opening Space Scene
I feel like anything I write here is utterly pointless. It’s all been said before by hundreds of reviewers, bloggers and critics. Gravity was amazing from a technical and visual standpoint. This was evident right from the opening scene when we were smacked in the face with a visual experience we had never experienced from the big screen.
2. Captain Phillips
The Ending Death Scene
My partner in crime, MovieRevolt Dan probably put it best in his description of the Best Male Performances of the Year when he described the tour de force that was Tom Hanks acting in the final scenes of Captain Phillips. From the ‘killshot’ to the end of this film was virtually flawless. Emotional, dramatic, powerful, are all words that could be used to describe this scene. In fact, at the time I thought it would be a hard scene to top…..
1. 12 Years a Slave
The Extended Hanging Scene
I wish I could just transcribe what I said about this scene in the MWIRE Weekly episode in which we discussed 12 Years a Slave. There was never any doubt once I watched this film that this would be my selection for the Best Scene of the Year. In fact this may be one of the Best Scenes of the Decade or even of all-time if we were to create those lists. This scene was one which made you want to turn away from the screen but at the same time would keep making you look back. The genius of this scene is probably in its duration and subtletly. It forces you to face the reality of what is going on. It doesn’t let you off the hook or save you by moving on to something else quickly. It marinates with you and by doing so it resonates far longer and greater than you ever think it could. It smacks you in the face with reality and humanity in its purest and somewhat ugliest form. It is far and above the best scene of 2013.