1) Fallng Slowly – Once
I don’t know you, but I want you.
True magic takes place in this breathtaking scene from Once. “Guy” (Glen Hansard) plays guitar in the street and “Girl” (Marketa Irglova) plays piano in a music store during slow business hours. The two meet and she takes him to the store where he shows her the music and lyrics to one of his songs. He plays it for her and she joins in on piano and harmony. As the song builds, you realize you are witnessing one of the greatest moments ever put on film. The scene (and film) is perfectly constructed and executed. The song, “Falling Slowly” is beautiful (Oscar for Best Song) and resonates within you for days.
2) Dunkirk Beach – Atonement
Dearest Cecilia, The Story Can Resume
This brilliant scene is a 4 ½ minute long single tracking shot through Dunkirk Beach during the retreat of the British and French soldiers from France during WWII. Joe Wright had virtually no other choice than to shoot the scene in one shot. He only had a few descriptive lines from Ian McEwen’s novel to work with for the scene. He also had the extras for just one day and the tide was to wash the set away that evening. The shot follows Robbie through the beach as horses are shot to make room for the return trip home, machines are sabotaged, and the wreckage of the town stands in the background as a battleship lay stranded on the shore. He takes us in a circle back through a gazebo full of soldiers singing a song that compliments the score beautifully. In just a few minutes thousands of emotions are whispered to us out of the desperate surroundings.
3) Strangling The Deputy – No Country For Old Men
The Ultimate Bad-Ass!
The deputy has just brought in Chigurh as prisoner. The deputy, in focus, sits at the desk with his back to Chigurh, out of focus. Chigurh is in the back ground standing straight up. Chigurh slowly lowers and raises himself, bringing his cuffed hands from behind his back to his front. As the deputy talks on the phone, Chigurh calmy walks toward him, drops his cuffed hands over the deputy’s face and around his neck. Just as he hangs up the phone Chigurh pulls the chain of his cuffs in to the neck of the deputy, lifts him up and slams both bodies on the ground; Chigurh on his back and the deputy on Chigurh. The deputy is writhing, kicking and spurting blood. Chigurh is looking to the side and breathing somewhat heavily, but calmly. As the deputy’s legs stop kicking, we see the scuff marks on the floor from his boots.
4) Baptism- There Will Be Blood & Bowling – There Will Be Blood
Give Me The Blood!
These two scenes are put in the same slot because they must be viewed side-by-side like pictures of pelvic bones hanging on an x-ray light. The film itself, is one long pissing match between Daniel Plainview and Eli Sunday. Throughout the film, Plainview is constantly getting the better of Sunday by taking his land, taking the attention from his church members, not allowing him to bless the drill and beating the everyliving crap out of him in the mud. In this scene, Sunday sees his opportunity to finally get back at Plainview for his humiliation. In front of the congregation, Sunday forces Plainview to confess over and over again his sins, including the abandoning of his son. Sunday then makes him beg for the blood. He is then smacked and slapped for the whole congregation to see. After the baptism we see an incredible shot of Plainview and Sunday shaking hands, Plainview whispering something in Sunday’s ear and Sunday with a look of dread on his face.
I Drink Your Milkshake!
Plainview has not forgotten his baptism when Sunday comes by his mansion years later. Sunday has been destroyed financially and spiritually from the Depression. Sunday asks for the money owed to him for the land and tells of a portion of land that remains undrilled. Plainview proceeds to explain that all of that oil is gone because he drained it (drank his milkshake). He then puts Sunday through a sort of “anti-baptism”, forcing him to confess, yell and repeat that his religion is nothing but a superstition. This is a mirror-image of the baptism scene. Plainview even tells Sunday to imagine is congregation in front of him. The roles are reversed, the bowling alley is the church and the oil is the blood of the lamb. A chase ensues where an angry Plainview is running after and throwing bowling pins at a frightened Sunday. At the time, this seems rather humorous until Sunday trips and Plainview bludgeons him to death with one of the pins (expect nothing less from PTA). At this point, the laughter dies and the jaws drop as Plainview ends this masterpiece with the instantly famous line “I’m finished.”
5) Hal Holbrook – Into The Wild
When you forgive, you love and when you love, God’s light shines upon you.
“I had an idea. You know my mother was an only child. So was my father. And I was their only child. Now, with my own boy gone, I’m the end of the line. When I’m gone, my family will be finished. What do you say, you let me adopt you. I could be, say, your grandfather.” Ron Franz (Hal Holbrook) says to Chris McCandless (Emile Hirsch) as a tear forms in his eye. The scene takes place in his jeep just before he drops Chris off for his final adventure, Alaska. Chris replies that they’ll talk about it when he gets back. It is here that we see Ron’s heart break into billions of peices. This amazing acting job by Holbrook coupled with fantastic editing garnered him the Supporting Actor nomination.
6) Oil Drill Explosion – There Will Be Blood
There’s a whole ocean of oil under our feet! No one can get to it except for me!
H.W. is on a small landing above the drill watching its movement. Daniel is in his office yards away. The drill finally strikes oil after days of churning and sets the whole mechanism on fire. H.W. is blown back to the roof of a side room and Daniel’s first reaction is to make sure he is okay. The score drums and ticks suspensefully as Daniel runs to the drill, picks up his son and embraces him as they run for cover. Once H.W. is laid down on a table resting in the office, and deaf, Daniel goes back to gaze at the drill “blowing gold” all over the place. He is mesmerized by the site of the burning drill spewing oil. This is the only thought that encompasses his brain at this point. Once he finds out that H.W. is at least alive, his priorities ajdust accordingly. Daniel’s close advisor asks if H.W. is okay to which Daniel replies “No”. The advisor immediately leaves the scene, assuming to check on H.W., and the camera rests on Plainview as he is unmoved, gazing at the flaming drill.
7) Taxi Ending Credits – Michael Clayton
Do I look like I’m Negotiating?
For the duration of the film, Michael Clayton, a corporate janitor, has been beaten up by the big man corporation. Now that his good friend and coworker has been murdered, he is the only one with the information to bring down the corporate bad guys. All he has to do is prove it. He’s a father, he’s divorced and his brother is a low-life moocher. Michael is tired of cleaning up the messes of the higher-ups. He shows up at a shareholder’s meeting where he pretends to negotiate with the chairwoman of the company but in actuallity is just buying himself time. He walks away as the Feds show up to bring them down. He leaves the building and gets in a cab. The ending credits role as the cab drives off and we see Clayton looking straight ahead. The look on his face speaks volumes. After seeing what he’s just gone through, we know how he truly must feel by the look on his face and body expressions as he sits in the cab. Kudos to Clooney for this one.
8) Call It – No Country For Old Men
What’s the most you ever lost in a coin toss?
Anton Chigurh is a ruthless killer; that’s been established. What we learn in this insanely intense scene is that Chirgurh doesn’t just kill uncontrollably. There’s a method to his madness. Oddly enough, he has principles and ethics to his ways. The flip of a coin. Chigurh enters the gas station to pay for his gas and peanuts (which in and of itself is interesting because why should a cold-blooded killer ever pay when he can kill) and then preceeds to ask the cashier how much he’s ever lost in a coin toss…perfectly setting up the standard by which we view Chigurh the rest of the film. This standard also works to make him seem infinetely more scary. The cashier finally calls “heads”. This was the correct answer because, much to the subtle eye-rolling of Chirgurh, he lives. Chigurh is the executioner, the coin is the judge and we’re all in serious trouble.
9) Ratatoille Perspective – Ratatouille
…you know what I’m craving? A little perspective.
Anton Ego is the most feared food critic in France. He is heartless, dark and solely responsible for the loss of 2 stars from Gusteau’s 4-star restaurant. Remy, the rat, is responsible for the recent rave reviews that the restaurant has been getting from other critics. The time has come for Ego to see what the buzz is all about and once and for all, end this reputation. He orders “perspective”, which makes everyone in the kitchen freak out because they have no clue what wine goes well with it. Remy, pulls out the recipe for Ratatouille, a very simple peasant dish that is pretty much the worst thing you can serve to the biggest critic around. He prepares it and it is served to Ego who has been sipping his wine, looking bored and ready to leave. He cuts into the ratatouille and puts it in his mouth. Immediately, his eyes bug out and face tightens up and we are all sent into a flashback of a young boy being called into the house by his mother for supper. She has fixed him ratatouille. Perspective is exactly what he got. By one taste of the food Ego was shot into his past, digging up a memory he probably hadn’t remembered in years. In a Proust sort of way, he recalled the moment in his life that stands for the whole basis of his love for great food. This is a scene that has stuck out in my mind throughout the year.
10) The Bathouse – Eastern Promises
I’m Just A Driver.
I’ll try not to give anything away. Viggo is being tricked. Two hitmen have been told that he is someone else and that he’s waiting in the bath house for them to kill. He is attacked and his towel falls off. He then beats the everliving crap out of and kills the two hitmen while completely buck-A-naked. He is vulnerable to the very literal sense. He is running, slipping, punching, stabbing and flopping all over the place. The gore matched with nudity make the entire scene unforgettable. A quick note: if you’re looking at the part of the screen that you should be looking at during this scene, then you won’t see anything “offensive”…depending on what you find offensive.
Other Notable Scenes
Green Dress Much? – Atonement
Come Back To Me
This dress has quickly gone down in the annals of costumes in film history; comparing it to the iconic black dress that Audrey Hepburn wore in Breakfast At Tiffnay’s. It’s absolutely stunning. The dark green with a sheek and shiny texture brings a little light to the darkly lighted (and written) dinner/night scenes in which it exists.
Race For The $$ – No Country For Old Men
You know how this is going to turn out, don’t you?
The chase ensues soon after the film begins and stop just a few minutes before one of the greatest endings of all time. No Country contains scene after scene of a gut-wrenching game of very suspenseful cat-and-mouse.
The Letter – Atonement
In my dreams I kiss your- WHOAOA!!
It’s amazing how one tiny mistake can change your whole life and the lives of others around you. This sequence is shot beautifully, jumping back and forth from Robbie typing a letter at his desk to Cecilia smoking a cigarette at her vanity. We see what he types in one rough draft as a joke to himself and we see him type the real letter. We then watch as he inserts the former page into the envelope to be delivered.
Atoning – Atonement
Just do what we’ve asked of you. Write it all down!
This is another scene that is extremely well done, but this time with use of the actors’ blocking and body language. Brionny has to come apologize to Cecilia and Robbie, neither of which can stand the sight of her. Robbie realizes Brionny is there after he has walked out the door. After a moment, he reenters and then starts to go off.
Redgrave Pulls The Rug – Atonement
I’m sorry, could we stop for a minute?
Throughout the whole film I was standing on a beautifully crafted rug. It was colorful, well structured and very big. Out of nowhere Vanessa Redgrave walks up to the edge, kneels down and gathers a clump of the edge of the rug in both fists. She shakes it a bit to spread it out as I continue to stand in the middle and look at her with wonder. She stands up ever so slightly and yanks the rug out from under me. The rug flies towards Vanessa and I fly backwards, landing on my side.
Andy Griffith – Waitress
Oh I love living vicariously through the pain and suffering of others.
Nobody can describe a pie better than Andy Griffith. On old grumpy man who owns the diner and hates everyone but really doesn’t. After this speech you’re mouth and eyes are watering. This was one of the better supporting actor performances of the year.
When Your Mind’s Made Up – Once
So, if you want something and you call, call then I’ll come running.
Glen gathers a few guys he knows that play on the street to help record his album. They go to the studio to begin. The sound technician is watching the inexperienced musicians setup. He is bothered by the amateurs and has other things on his mind, like cell phone calls and the newspaper, but as they begin the second verse and the drums come in, you sense the astonishment that comes over him as he realizes the talent and quickly begins to adjust the soundboard, hoping to fully capture the music.
Heath Ledger – I’m Not There
It’s not about me anymore, it’s all about him.
Heath Ledger is Robbie Clark, a movie star playing the role of Jack Rollins (Christian Bale) who actually represents 1 of the 6 Bob Dylan characters which includes Robbie Clark. Heath’s role in the movie is very well done. He meets a girl, falls in love with her, has kids, goes through the movie star trials, divorces her but still in love with her. A memorable performance.
Tin Foil – Bug
I Am The Super Mother Bug!
We see the horror of mind manipulation through something as natural as someone else’s paranoia. Agnes is thoroughly convinced that bugs have entered her body and are living inside her. She has adopted this theory because her lover claimed that the army experimented on him with bugs and the government is covering it up and trying to kill them. Since they had relations of the intimate nature, Agnes is now infected and believes she is harboring the mother of all the bugs. In Act 3 they line the whole of their house with tin foil, douse themselves with gasoline and blow themselves up because it’s the only way to rid the bugs living in their skin.
Waking Up – The Diving Bell & The Buttefly
I can’t speak? Why can’t you hear me?
This is a great scene because it is when Jean-Dominique Bauby finally comes to after his stroke. He cannot move or speak save his left eye, but he doesn’t know this because he’s answering all of the doctor’s questions and can’t seem to figure out why they can’t hear him. You realize with Bauby the nature of his injury, emotionally as well as visually because at the same time, you’re seeing what he sees; life through one eye, watery and fuzzy and blurry as if you had just woken up from a comma. Very innovative cinematography going on here.
CGI Birth – Knocked Up
Rear Your Child!
This birthing scene doesn’t stop above the hospital gown. It goes straight to the womb with baby crown poking right out there. Everything. And before you can look away it’s gone. To my knowledge it’s the first visual effect birthing scene.
Games With Ghost Children – Orphanage
Uno, Dos, Tres, Toca La Pared
In order to channel the ghosts of her former playpals, Laura dresses up like the old nurse and plays the old game they played when they were little. She closes her eyes, faces a column in the house, says “uno, dos, tres, toca la pared” and knocks 3 times on the wood. She then turns around where the children will have taken several steps closer. Now, the first few times she does it, nothing appears. Then, out of nowhere, the 3rd time she says it and turns around, you can make out the outlines of children in the dark. Each time she repeats, they get closer. It’s the scariest scene of the year.
May You Be In Heaven 40 Days – Before The Devil Knows You’re Dead
All of my parts don’t add up to one…one me.
…however, there’s one part that adds up to someone else…HELLO!! This movie starts off with a bang…no pun intended. The scene begins in mid-“getting it on” and just as you least expect it. No time to pull out now ZOOM ZOOM ZOOM!!. They go all out complete with slamming pillows and staring at oneself in the mirror. Hoffman and Tomei seem to really be enjoying themselves. A startling scene to say the least.