Sometimes movies can be made or broken by a pivotal scene. Maybe it’s a knock-your-socks-off performance like A Few Good Men or it is a well-timed twist that you never saw coming a la The Usual Suspects. Good or bad, there have been plenty of scenes in 2013 that stand out about the rest. Here are some of our favorites.WARNING: LIST CONTAINS SPOILERS!!!!
Great movie moments aren’t always the climax of the film or even its most emotional part. They are the scene that you remember forever, and will use to sell a movie to your family and friends. The best example of this is from Jerry Maguire, where the longest lasting memory of the movie is the “Show me the money” scene, not the “You complete me” moment in the film’s climax. Keep this example in mind as you read my favorite moments from movies this year.
Kate Flips Out (Nebraska)
By the time we meet Woody Grant’s family in Hawthorne, we already know that old man is very easy to take advantage of because he has the flaw of believing everything people tell him, and he is always there to help a person in need. So when his white trash family begins to circle him like vultures over an antelope carcass, the audience feels like they should say something to protect him.
Luckily, it doesn’t take long for his wife, Kate, to voice the thoughts of everyone watching. She lays into his family, and says just about everything the audience was ready to scream at the screen. This triumphant moment is made special because throughout the film she is Woody biggest critic, so by her coming to his defense, it shows that despite their issues, there is love in their relationship; even if neither of them would like to admit it. I love moments like this because there’s this special feeling I get when a film knows itself and can anticipate what the audience is feeling at a particular moment. Nebraska does this with a heartfelt scolding rather than a twist in the plot, and that is a very rare thing today.
Danny McBride’s Entrance (This is the End)
In a movie full of great comedic set pieces, the introduction of Danny McBride is the funniest entrance I’ve seen into a movie in a long time. It is almost like a natural way of telling the audience that Act Two has started.
At this point, we’ve seen the introduction of every other character, and witnessed the conflict that they will be facing, but the film doesn’t really get going until McBride arrives on screen and steals the middle section of the movie. It is much better to see it than read about it.
Irving Confesses to Carmine (American Hustle)
One of the beautiful things about American Hustle is how it slowly peels back the layers of Christian Bale’s character, Irving Rosenfeld, and lets us see for a brief moment who he really is beneath the con-artist veneer. No scene captures this better than when Irving must confess to Carmine Polito that he’s been deceiving him. Every single beat is played perfectly by Bale and Jeremy Renner, and for me, it is the most emotional moment in the film.
Irving has lived his whole life scamming people for a living, and has never once let his emotions get to him with a mark. But Carmine was different. After getting to know the Camden mayor, he begins to realize that they are cut from the same cloth, except Polito has tried really hard to do everything legally. By the time Irving figures this out, he is already in too deep and regrets dragging his new friend into a bad situation. His confession is the first time he’s had to hurt someone with the truth, and you can tell it cuts Irving deeply. That is why this scene is the one that brings the entire film together. It forces Irving to change, but he loses a friend in the process, and he gets a very appropriate bittersweet ending.
Bathroom Fight (The World’s End)
The Cornetto Trilogy is known for its ridiculous moments that help kick start the film’s plot. One of the great things about Edgar Wright direction in the three films is that you can never telegraph when this moment will occur. In The World’s End, this scene takes place in a men’s room inside a bar. For the first half-hour or so, you been slowly introduced to the movie’s four main character, and the mission they are on. Then, Simon Pegg’s character, King, goes to the bathroom and picks a fight with a college-aged kid for no reason. In what one would expect to be a scene where King gets his ass beat, the movie takes it first turn. At the end of the fight, we find out the kids are some kind of robots, which I honest did not see coming.
From this point forward, The World’s End switches from a Hangover-like comedy into a top-five movie of the year. It also is my favorite of the trilogy, but mostly because it is the best Simon Pegg character of the series.
Katniss and Peeta’s Visit to District 11 (Catching Fire)
I wasn’t going to choose this moment because I had already mentioned it in the last post, but after a failed attempt to find a moment better, I decided to give in. District 11 is the first stop for the champions from District 12 on the Victors Tour through all of the district leading up to the next Hunger Games.
It is also where our two heroes get a rude awaking into what their victory has caused. The series of bad events start with Peeta going off script and talking from his heart, which is followed by Katniss’s emotional words to Rue’s family, the youngest tribute and Katniss’s friend. Unbeknownst to Katniss, she has become the symbol of hope for the people of Panem, so the words she speaks become a spark that starts the fires of revolution. Once she finishes, the film’s first heart wrenching scene starts, which I can’t honestly express with words. Unfortunately, the clip below is the scene with music behind it, but I think you’ll get the message.
I missed a lot of the major blockbusters this year, otherwise it is possible that this list would look pretty different. I’m also looking to remedy the fact that I still haven’t seen The Wolf of Wall Street. Hopefully, I can get a viewing under my belt before we post our Top 10’s. Anyway, this list is an interesting one because I didn’t think that there was a quintessential moment in the films of 2013. Even in the movies that I thought were the best of the year, I can’t say many scenes stood out as iconic. It may have to do with some of my favorite movies being more performance based, but here are the scenes that stood out the most in my memory.
“Let It Go” (Frozen)
If I had one critique of Disney’s latest animated offering, it may be that there were too many songs. “Let it Go”, however, is the centerpiece of the film and, quite possibly, the best song they’ve had in a long time.
“Let It Go” is a powerful song about self-confidence and acceptance of who you are. Given to the Broadway veteran Idina Menzel, (who originated the role of Elphaba in Wicked), the song elevates itself above the rest of the film. While Kristen Bell’s singing voice is fine as Anna, the difference between an actress that can sing and a singer that can act couldn’t be more apparent. Idina kills the song and is just part of the reason it has become a favorite for the Best Original Song category at this year’s Oscars.
Alien Sings Britney (Spring Breakers)
Spring Breakers is a weird movie. On the surface, it looks like a purely vapid film about spring break excess. Dig a little deeper and it’s an oddly pitch-perfect indictment of the indestructible mentality of young people and the glorification of a life of crime by everyone from music artists to Hollywood films.
Sure, throw some hot young actresses into bikinis and you’ve got your marketing plan, but all of this is overshadowed by the fantastic, oddball rendition of an underrated, oft-forgotten Britney Spears song.
Shark Meets Chainsaw (Sharknado)
Anyone who got caught up in Sharknado-mania probably never saw a single Asylum film beforehand, but I’d like to think I’ve been there from the beginning. I’ve been watching SyFy original movies before they settled on that ridiculous spelling acronym. I can’t tell you how many movies I’ve seen starring Cerina Vincent and Edward Furlong. For a veteran such as myself of such trashy films, Sharknado admittedly underwhelmed, but the ending was absolutely the crowning achievement.
Sharknado proved itself worthy by combining three things: flying sharks, Ian Ziering, and a chainsaw. The rest of the walk-in-the-park Asylum film was vindicated by this moment and even though I still feel we missed an opportunity for a 90210 reunion, there’s always Sharknado 2: The Sharkening (not the official title).
Gosling Gets His Ass Kicked (Only God Forgives)
If you didn’t know, I thought this movie was terrible; easily the worst movie I saw all year. Pretentious? Check. Plodding? You betcha! Pointless? Undeniably. There was no redeemable quality to this movie, but at the same time, it had a single scene that may be remarkably memorable only because the rest of it was utter trash; it’s all relative, kind of like being the most humble Kardashian.
This scene plays out kind of like how any Steven Seagal fight usually does, if Seagal was actually an elderly Thai police officer and not a fat, vaguely ethnic guy with a ponytail. Marquee star Ryan Gosling does not land a single punch through the entire fight. For every attack he tries to land, the old man counters with a better one. It’s almost comical and I refuse to acknowledge any deeper meanings of this scene. Get over yourself. This movie sucks.
Metropolis Gets Destroyed (Man of Steel)
Memorable for all the wrong reasons, the finale in Man of Steel is an exercise in going too far. Remember the fight in Superman 2? Remember how most of the damage was confined to a gawdy Coca-Cola sign and a city bus? This time around, Kal-El and Zod take everyone with them and as the fight drags on, the question is asked just how exactly is Superman helping anyone?
Experts estimate that the fight left Metropolis with a bill of $750 Billion in physical damage, with economic ramifications reaching the trillions. Come to think of it, we should’ve just let Zod do away with him. At least one city would’ve been better off.