Thursday 31 December 2015

Top 5: Scenes of 2015

2015 is coming to a close, and though I still have to rundown the top ten films of the year, before then I have another list of the top five moments of the year. From tension to comedy, heartbreak to happiness these scenes were the ones that had me on the edge of my seat, laughing more than any other or even cheering at the screen.

5: Spotlight (6%)

 Having called a psychiatrist who has spent the last few decades researching the psychosis of priests abusing children, the spotlight team receive news that leaves them stunned beyond words as the expert tells them he has deemed it a genuine ‘psychiatric phenomenon’ and concludes that he estimates that 6% act out sexually, equalling 90 priests in the Boston area alone (opposed to the team’s estimates of 13). The reporters sit in stunned silence, the actors expressions conveying all the emotions and the subtle direction and use of silence further drawing attention to them. Powerful and deeply shocking.

4: Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation (Hunt’s plane flight)

 Rarely has spectacle and comedy been mixed together so well. The setup is simple, the plane is taking off with valuable cargo and the IMF must stop it. Options are quickly suggested and dismissed, leaving Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) with no option but to jump onto the wing of the plane and pleads for Benji Dunn (Simon Pegg) to open the door. The pane takes off with Hunt clinging to the outside, and as the huge rear door opens, Hunt screams ‘The other door’. It is amazing how such a simple idea becomes so magnificent to watch and is so comedic, the impossibility of the situation, the fact that it really is Cruise on the side of a plane and the snappy dialogue all come together magnificently.

3: Kingsmen (the church scene)

 What is it about watching Colin Firth murder an entire hate church that is so satisfying? While in context it is a superb scene just from the script alone (with Firth finding the perfect way to annoy the community, and then having that annoyance amplified by Valentine’s devices) it’s the way in which Vaughn directs in what resembles one continuous take, only broken by the horrified expressions of Taron Edgerton as he watches it unfold. A fast and ferocious display of action, violence and comedy all within the space of a few minutes.

2: Steve Jobs (Woz and Steve’s final confrontation)

 There are many amazing moments in ‘Steve Jobs’ particularly in its third act in 1998, acting as the emotional climax of multiple storylines. Perhaps the most impressive is Woz (Seth Rogan) once again asking for a shout out for him and his team during Jobs’ (Michael Fassbender) newest product launch. He refuses and what follows is an entire working relationship laid bare, accompanied by such a sense of experience and frustration as they each have their reasons for their actions. Accompanied by Sorkin’s superb dialogue and Boyle’s marvellous direction it becomes an astonishing display of filmmaking. Perhaps the most impactful line comes when Woz states ‘I’m tired of being Ringo, when I know I’m John’.

1 Sicario (the bridge scene)

 During their investigation into a drug ring operating in the Mexican border, Emily Blunt and her team are crossing back into the U.S, but are halted by a traffic jam. Without any obvious prompting, no dramatic or sudden developments, both the characters and the audience become aware that they are in great danger. Cars slowly crawl past them and the tension continues to rise. Denis Villeneuve employs a masterful sense of direction as he plays with perspectives and viewpoints to disorientate you and leave you stunned as the action unfolds at a painfully slow pace. Even when the threat is discovered there is a lasting sense of dread as you want to know what happens next, even though you are already sure of what will. The fact that Blunt, a competent professional, cannot contain her panic only hammers in the point. Tense and slow, yet somehow immensely enthralling and pulse pounding, that one scene from ‘Sicario’ is better than a dozen feature length films released this year and is the standout moment of the year.

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