(Enough of this year business. Let's get to the decadal review! First off, best movie scenes of the decade.)
Think of it this way. Movies:Albums :: Scenes:Songs. Before we start, let's get this out of the way: this is by no means an exhaustive list. And I'm not even sure why I'm putting numbers in front of each scene. Each of these scenes are unique and/or brilliantly shot and/or brilliantly acted. What are the criteria for getting on this list? Well, if it's a scene from a movie that warrants fastforwarding to or rewinding back in order to rewatch, then it's on this list. If it still gives me chills as I'm searching for the clips on youtube, it's on the list. BTW, the scenes that are included should all be considered dangerous if you'd like to eventually see the movie in question. I'm sure I'll miss several of your favorite scenes. Let me know what I missed.
30. Flaming Lips: The Fearless Freaks - Steven Drozd Shoots Heroin on Camera
It's probably the simplest scene on this list. It's unscripted. It's a single, simple camera. Meanwhile drummer/instrumentalist Steven Drozd is talking about his drug use and his agoraphobia while putting a tourniquet on his arm and then shooting up.
29. Cast Away - Goodbye, Wilson
I can easily say that Wilson is the most famous volleyball in history. And when Wilson gets dragged out to sea it was both funny and touching. In fact, it was funny that it was so touching.
28. Almost Famous - "Actually, that you can print."
"I work just as hard or harder than anybody on that stage. You know what I do? I connect. I get people off. I look for the guy who isn't getting off, and I make him get off."
27. Big Fish - Ed Bloom gets carried into the river
This and Batman are the only Tim Burton movies I like. OOH LOOK AT ME! I'M TIM BURTON! I REMAKE CLASSIC TALES INTO CREEPY THINGS WITH JOHNNY DEPP! AREN'T I SO AMAZING? No, Tim. This schtick got old right around Beetlejuice.
Sorry, getting off on a Tim Burton tangent there. Anyway, the climactic scene of Big Fish is wonderfully imaginative.
26. Pan's Labyrinth - The Faceless Monster
You know the scene I'm talking about. Perhaps the most genuinely terrifying scene of the decade. What makes the scene terrifying is what isn't happening, and what you know is going to happen. From the moment the little girl is warned not to take any food off the table you know exactly what's going to happen. And then you see the creature that is going to be the one to enact this curse, and it's not doing anything. In fact, most of Pan's Labrynth is terrifying because of what we're all expecting to happen more than what actually is happening. And that's brilliant moviemaking.
25. Grizzly Man - "I protected the animals! I did it! Fuck you!"
Another documentary scene involving a single camera shot. This time, Grizzly Man is completely losing his mind. Like the Flaming Lips scene, it's brutal to watch, especially knowing how the story ends.
24. Comedian - Jerry shoots the shit with other comedians
Hmmm, I'm loading up on too many documentary scenes here. Oh well.
I loved 2/3rds of the movie Comedian. Every scene with Jerry Seinfeld was funny and/or riveting. Every scene with that other comedian, Orny Adams or something, was awful to watch. I understand what the filmmakers were trying to do, but it didn't work. The story of Seinfeld going back to his roots and getting back into the game was the real story. And the scene where we get an inside look at how comedians act around each other and develop material, at 3 AM at some dive in New York, that's the stuff we want to see.
23. Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby - Highlander won the Academy Award for Best Movie Ever Made
I could watch an hour and a half of Will Ferrell and Sascha Baron Cohen outtakes. And the stuff they leave in the movie is pretty good too.
Wow. I feel like I'm Highlander!
What is the Highlander?
It's a movie. It won the Academy Award.
Oh for what?
Best movie ever made.
This clip isn't that scene (couldn't find it), but it gets the basic Ferrell-Cohen dynamic down
22. Scrubs - Brenden Frasier was dead the whole time
OK, so I'm allowed to throw in TV show scenes. Why the hell not? Just making up the rules as I go here.
Dr. Cox hits a home-fucking run in this scene. It's a good thing too, because if he hadn't the whole two-part episode would have come off hackey. Instead, it's possibly the marquis moment on Scrubs.
21. Shaun of the Dead - Acting like zombies
The run up to this scene of them practicing to be zombies, followed by the actual attempt at zombie-dom is the signature moment from a movie full of signature moments.
20. Super Size Me - When he vomits out of his car
Once again, the unscripted, single camera doc shot rears it's ugly head. And I mean ugly. I'm so glad that youtube has the runnup to the throw up. He seems so excited in the beginning.
19. Zoolander - The Pre-Orgy Dirt Room Conversation
Up until the actual orgy, the dirt room conversation is the most subdued scene in the entire movie, and the funniest (without Will Ferrell). There's the gasoline fight scene. There's the walk-off. But the top scene is the dirt room, pre-orgy conversation.
18. Coffee and Cigarettes - Tom Waits and Iggy Pop
In which we learn that Tom Waits performs roadside tracheotomies. Iggy Pop should have been nominated for an Academy Award for this performance. Full scene below:
17. The Legend of Ron Burgundy: Anchorman - "Boy, that escalated quickly."
Here's a case where the best part of the scene is the scene after.
Boy, that escalated quickly... I mean, that really got out of hand fast.
It jumped up a notch.
It did, didn't it?
Yeah, I stabbed a man in the heart.
I saw that. Brick killed a guy. Did you throw a trident?
Yeah, there were horses, and a man on fire, and I killed a guy with a trident.
16. The Science of Sleep - How dreams are prepared
I'm not really sure why Sleep didn't get the acclaim that Eternal Sunshine got. To be sure, I loved both movies. I find the two about equal in quality, but while ES is all over these decade lists, SOS is nowhere to be found. I certainly thought Gael García Bernal's character was much more engaging and interesting than either of the leads in Eternal Sunshine.
Starts at about 0:55 to about 2:30.
15. In America - The Air Conditioner
It's too hot in their New York apartment. The kids have to take cold showers to cool off. So the father lugs an air conditioner across Manhattan, even through traffic. And now I relinquish my "World's Greatest Dad" title.
14. Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers - Battle at Helms Deep
OK, so this isn't really a scene because it's an hour long. But if you compare its length to the length of the entire trilogy, then it's probably about the right length to be considered a scene.
13. O Brother, Where Art Thou? - Down in the river to pray
The Coen Brothers were able to imply myth and majesty in the Dust Bowl of the 1930s, which is kind of amazing. No scene sums up the talent of these guys better than this scene.
12. Garden State - Good luck exploring the infinite abyss
In which Zach Braff climbs up on a crane and shouts at the darkness. Definitely off his meds.
11. Snatch - The Revenge of a Piker
Brad Pitt getting his ass kicked, then knocking out the guy out. It's chaos and incredibly slick. Oh yeah, don't watch these clips if you don't want to see how the movie ends.
Part 1: The Fight
Part 2: The Pikey had money riding on himself
10. Amelie - How many couples are having an orgasm right now?
9. The Visitor - At immigration
This is the scene that got him the Oscar nomination. And just based on this scene, he probably should have won.
8. The Fantastic Mr. Fox - The Wolf
You'll just have to trust me on this one. Near the end of the movie there's a brief scene with a wolf. I was watching it with Girl Supercomputer and we both kept talking about how it was our favorite scene of the whole move. There's nothing particularly shocking about the scene. It's just the Wes Anderson has proved to be an unparalleled crafter of scenes. And he can apparently do it with puppets as well.
7. Half Nelson - The Delivery
6. Punch Drunk Love - "I have a love in my life. It makes me stronger than anything you can imagine."
It's a shame that this is all we're apparently getting out of Adam Sandler, dramatically. Because PT Anderson gets him to put his best work forth, especially in the final confrontation scene.
Now get the fuck out of here, pervert!
Didn't I warn you?!!!!
Scene is from 1:50 to 4:30:
5. Children of Men - Final scene/shot
It wasn't until the second time I saw this movie that I realized the last climactic "scene" which sprawls out probably 15 minutes, is done all in a single shot. Much of the movie is done in this style. What makes this scene particularly incredible is the method in which it's shot and the content, when everyone puts down their guns in honor of the newborn child.
4. Fog of War - Lesson 5: Proportionality should be a guideline of war
"In order to win a war shoud you kill 100,000 people in one night?"
3. Six Feet Under - Everyone Dies
After the second season of SFU, I had pretty much given up on the show. It was just too damned heavy. Then I was in a hotel in Los Angeles and happened to catch the last 15 minutes of what turned out to be the last episode. As soon as I got home I demanded we plow through the rest of the series, just to get to that final episode.
Another true story: like all good Americans, we have Netflix and we had orchestrated it so we had the last two discs of the series and we were going to watch them. We got through the first disc and all we had left was the last episode on the last disc. WE HAD SPENT MONTHS WATCHING THIS SHOW AND GETTING TO KNOW THESE CHARACTERS! So we put in the disc and IT'S BROKEN! So Mrs. Supercomputer calls around to every Hollywood video in town to find it. It's 1 AM, mind you. And she agrees to go rent it right then and there. She does and once she returns and pops it in, the tears start coming.
It's an incredible way to wrap up a TV series that had such amazing characters. It was also devastating: I am emotionally scarred from ever getting into a HBO series ever again thanks to Six Feet Under. I'm stepping back into the shallow end with Showtime's Weeds, but I'm simply not emotionally ready for another SFU-like series.
Again: do not watch if you don't want to see it!
2. There Will Be Blood - Daniel Plainview's Baptism
This gives me chills. I have nothing to add.
1. The Life Acquatic with Steve Zissou - The Jaguar Shark
I don't get it. Bill Murray gets all sort of accolades for playing himself in Lost in Translation (rightfully so) but there's next to nothing for his much more dynamic and three-dimensional Steve Zissou? In a movie where he actually had to develop and show emotions? Honestly, I think Murray and the entire movie suffered from it becoming not cool to like Wes Anderson anymore. He had made three feature films and critics were turning on him under the guise of "he's not evolving his style" which is a crock of horseshit. He's defined the moviemaking style of the entire decade. Lost in Translation doesn't work without its predecessors, the deadpan Rushmore and Bottle Rocket.
The Life Acquatic was great to see in the movie theater because it's spectacularly colored and layerd. However, that doesn't mean it can't be affecting on the small screen as well. Sure the snazzy looking fish is great to look at, but Bill Murray's character makes the movie great to return to over and over.
So we have two Wes Anderson clips, two PT Anderson clips and two Richard Jenkins clips in the top 10. Although these are just a scant few of a great scenes one can cobble together. Hope you enjoyed them!
Let me know what I've missed!