31 December 2013

Top 10 Scenes of 2013

Here's the next of my end of year lists, my top 10 film scenes of 2013. First of all, a reminder that all the films included are ones that received a UK release in 2013 so there are some films on here that got a US release last year. With that out the way, here are my 10 favourite film scenes of 2013.

10. Mandarin Reveal - Iron Man 3 - This is one of the great bait-and-switch reveals of the year and whilst many hate this aspect of the film, I loved it. The performances by Ben Kingsley and Robert Downey Jr in this scene are hilarious, especially Kingsley who just steals the scene, Shane Black's writing is excellent and the success of this scene is what makes the whole plot twist regarding the Mandarin work so well.

9. The Pub Brawl - The World's End - This is a great stroke of mixing fight choreography and character in the same scene. Whilst most of the actors do serious fighting (Nick Frost dual-wielding bar stools being a highlight) and Eddie Marsan's Peter Page tries to hide, Simon Pegg's Gary King fights and tries to drink his pint at the same time, ending up fighting one-handed. This is a great piece of physical comedy from Pegg and the best comedy action scene of the year.

8. Air Compressor - Nebraska - This is a case where a single line of dialogue can change the whole tone of a scene and make it so much funnier. Bruce Dern delivers that line of dialogue perfectly, with the subsequent interaction with Will Forte and Bob Odenkirk being a great piece of comic writing and the later part of the scene with June Squibb being another great piece of comic delivery. All the actors get a chance to shine in this scene, aided by the great writing, making it one of the funniest scenes of the year.

7. Hamburg - Filth - Both one of the funniest and one of the darkest scenes of the year. The performances by James McAvoy and Eddie Marsan are excellent with the sight of Eddie Marsan raving being one of the funniest shots of the year and when the scene goes darker at the end, McAvoy and Marsan go all out in showing the downside of drugs with McAvoy even providing his own vomit for the scene.

6. The Argument - Before Midnight - This is quite possibly the best acted scene of the year. The power behind the performances of Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy is incredible and this feels like the most realistic portrayal of an argument between a couple on screen and, having seen the other Before films, is absolutely heartbreaking to watch.

5. The Smallville Fight - Man of Steel - There are many things that went wrong with Man of Steel but this action scene was not one of them. Every single aspect of this scene is done right, the directing is spot on, the performances by Henry Cavill and Antje Traue are excellent, you get a great sense of the power all of the characters fighting have with every single punch thrown being felt and the use of every aspect of Smallville (despite the distracting product placement) is great. One of the best action scenes of the year.

4. The Dinner - Django Unchained - This is a great show of how the script and performances can help change the whole tone of a scene without the audience really noticing. Whilst Jamie Foxx and Christoph Waltz are excellent in this scene, the real standouts are Samuel L Jackson, who creates a great amount of menace just through his facial expressions and tone of voice, and Leonardo DiCaprio who gives his all during this scene, literally putting his blood into the scene at one point. This is a great feat of writing.

3. Hit Girl vs. Mother Russian - Kick-Ass 2 - For a hand-to-hand fight scene, nothing could top this fight from Kick-Ass 2. The choreography is excellent, there's a sense of threat throughout the entire thing as there are points where you think that Hit Girl will be killed and the fact that most of the scene was done by Chloe Grace Moretz and Olga Kurkulina makes this scene incredibly impressive to watch.

2. The Opening - Gravity - This scene is a triumph of visual storytelling and long shots. The whole opening scene is filmed in a continuous take lasting well over 10 minutes and containing one of the most elaborate visual setpieces of the year and, once again, it's all done in one take. I'm still trying to figure out how a lot of this was made and that alone makes this one of the scenes of the year.

1. The Hong Kong Fight - Pacific Rim - This scene is just pure fun. Everything about this scene is done perfectly, the direction, the acting, the humour, the effects, all of these elements come together to create one of the most fun experiences I've had watching a film in a long time.
Honourable Mentions:
  • Thor vs. Malekith - Thor: The Dark World
  • The Rescue - Captain Phillips
  • The Heist - Trance
  • The Rope - A Field in England
  • The Talk at the Lake - Monsters University
The next list will be my top 10 performances of 2013.

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