We all have them in the back of our minds; those moments that make us think "man, this is what the movies are all about". We relive those moments in our mind's eye, remembering them and dissecting them and adoring them. They come in all shapes and sizes, from all types of films, and yet they all share one very important aspect; they define why we love the movies. It could be the way that the moment is cut; the way it's edited together. It could be the way the moment uses it's actors to evoke a powerful emotion from us. It could be the way that music floods the scene and draws us even closer to the moment in question. It could be a grand climax, a breathtaking introduction or a simple interchange. It could be any and all things, because for every film lover, the list is different.I, uh, started making this list the day the blogathon was announced and found that I could not stop. And as more and more people started posting their lists, I began cursing myself for not including certain things! As usual with lists - even unranked, representative lists as opposed to ranked, ordered, definitive lists - I want it to be perfect. So I kept adding, and then replacing, and moving around... and finally I just said FUCK IT. Here are 50 Great Cinematic Moments, some of my favorite moments in movies. For your reading (and viewing, where possible) pleasure.
Here are the ten I mentioned on the original post:
Amelie turns into a waterfall (Amélie, Jen-Pierre Jeunet) Takes a feeling we've all had, visualizes it singularly and perfectly.
Elephant Love Medley (Moulin Rouge!, Baz Luhrmann) Like love exploding all over the screen.
"YOU SHALL NOT PASS!" (The Fellowship of the Ring, Peter Jackson) Chilling. Nothing else in Middle Earth has ever topped this.
Race along the bridge (Jules et Jim, Francois Truffaut) This film is alive and never more so than here.
Dream Sequence (Sherlock, Jr., Buster Keaton) How did such a perfect meta-cinematic moment arrive so early in the history of the medium? A triumphant feat of editing.
Angkor Wat (In The Mood for Love, Wong Kar-Wai) As swoon-worthy as Wong's images are, his use of sound is just as impactful, nowhere more so than here. A secret told, a promise kept, a soul cleansed.
One last playtime (Toy Story 3, Lee Unkrich) I could go as far as saying the entire last twenty minutes of this (as far back as the incinerator scene). Also, that now-famous Boyhood "I just thought there would be more" thing? Pixar did it first. And better. But the last scene is really where it's at. Cue crying in 5... 4.. 3...
...and here are ten more:
Rooftop Fight (The Matrix, The Wachowski siblings) Two Words: Bullet. Time. "Dodge this," indeed!
Becoming the Black Swan (Black Swan, Darren Aronofsky) Never has a dance sequence so thrillingly put you the shoes of both the performer and the audience.
"You can see now?" (City Lights, Charlie Chaplin) Doesn't need audible dialogue to resonate.
Opening the door to Oz (The Wizard of Oz, Victor Fleming) Pure magic; it's only after you've seen it a million times that you even realize Dorothy is actually in color.
The bridge shot (Manhattan, Woody Allen) STANDING FUCKING OVATION. Glorious.
"We are infinite." (The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Stephen Chbosky) Perfect encapsulation of what it feels like to be a teenager.
Final Scene (Nights of Cabiria, Federico Fellini) So beautiful. Sometimes all you can do is smile through the tears. Even when we don't want to, life goes on.
...and ten more:
Parting the Red Sea (The Ten Commandments, Cecil B. DeMille) To this day the cinema's most majestic special effects shot.
Opening at the Opera (Senso, Luchino Visconti) Is there such a thing as political romanticism? If so, then Visconti perfected it here. And in glorious, glorious technicolor.
Windswept Kiss (The Quiet Man, John Ford) Eroticism at its peak.
Marylee's Mambo (Written on the Wind, Douglas Sirk) This "forbidden dance" has never felt more forbidden. The intermingling of sex and death has never been more potent.
"Hey, Boo" (To Kill a Mockingbird, Robert Mulligan) Tears. Again.
Figure Rising from the Dark (Vertigo, Alfred Hitchcock) Most understated scare in cinema.
Loretta walks home from Ronny's (Moonstruck, Norman Jewison) Falling in love is such a high - even when it's someone with whom you know you shouldn't be falling love.
"No photos, please" (L'important c'est d'aimer, Andrzej Zulawski) The whole first scene, really. Heartbreaking look behind the mask of an actress pushed to her brink - she will demean herself to do this in order to keep acting? (Sorry for lack of subtitles in the clip - if you don't speak French, the director keeps yelling at her "Sens-le!" or "Mean it!", and what she says in that heartbreaking close-up translates, very roughly, as "Please don't take any photos. No, I'm a real actress - I used to do good things. I need the money, that's all. Please. No photos. Please.").
"Springtime for Hitler" (The Producers, Mel Brooks) Absurdly, gleefully profane.
...and ten more:
Cody Horn watches Channing Tatum strip to Pony (Magic Mike, Steven Soderbergh) Sometimes watching someone watch something is just as fascinating as watching it ourselves. And oh, yeah, the thing she's watching? Is pretty ridiculously hot.
Funeral Procession (Imitation of Life, Douglas Sirk) TEARS. OMG THE FUCKING TEARS.
"Beauty and the Beast" (Beauty & the Beast, Gary Trousdale and Kirk Wise) Picture-perfect fairy tale beauty.
Off the Cliff (Thelma & Louise, Ridley Scott) Suicide pact as Girl Power? Who cares. It works.
What Happens to the Victims (Under The Skin, Jonathan Glazer) Haunting, terrifying, and beautiful. (MAJOR SPOILER)
Art Gallery (Step Up Revolution, Scott Speer) Single-handedly justifies modern use of 3D. In the theater, this was STUNNING.
Making a dial tone (Adaptation, Spike Jonze) Inspired lunacy
Through the Mirror (Orpheus, Jean Cocteau) What was a good but rough effect in the earlier Blood of a Poet here becomes a fully realized, stunning passage to another world.
Married Life (Up, Bob Peterson & Pete Docter) Puts most live-action films to shame over the course of four minutes. Fuck that, over the course of the last two edits. Every time that house got so much as a nick in its paint over the course of the film, I gasped and teared up, and all because of the groundwork laid right here.
...and ten more:
Clementine slides away (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Michel Gondry) Takes my breath away every. Damn. Time.
"Do you believe in an afterlife?" (Cloud Atlas, The Wachowskis and Tom Tykwer) The Wachowskis' grand, ambitious folly is often thrilling, but this particular scene so brilliantly encapsulates the ideas at the heart of David Mitchell's book and the perfectly cinematic way they chose to adapt it. It also makes me weep buckets for no good reason, since James D'Arcy and Doona Bae can barely emote through all that makeup. But the emotion still comes across somehow. D'Arcy in particular just slays me. This is the scene where the movie finally clicked for me, and shifted it into All-Time Favorite status.
Beth's final scene (Little Women, Gillian Armstrong) A RIVER OF TEARS (This is the first scene that ever made me cry. It still does.)
"The Blower's Daughter", reprise (Closer, Mike Nichols) Not so much tears as supreme melancholy. Horrible people get their comeuppance - but do they really deserve it?
Roxy watches, and then joins, "All That Jazz" (Chicago, Rob Marshall) Brilliant re-imagining of a stage musical, single-handedly re-energizing an entire genre.
"Define dancing" (WALL-E, Andrew Stanton) Makes me grin from ear to ear. This is my happy place.
First Flight (How to Train Your Dragon) Some kids have always wanted to go to Hogwarts. I have always wanted to have a pet dragon. This is why. God bless Roger Deakins for this!
The Bride vs. O-Ren Ishii (Kill Bill, Vol. 1, Quentin Tarantino) Perfectly shot, edited, and scored. The second that Santa Esmerelda song kicks in, it's all over - I'm giddy at the prospect of what's to come.
"That's How You Know" (Enchanted, Kevin Lima) Ladies and gentlemen, the power of musical numbers, writ large. Pure, unadulterated joy (with a perfect dose of disbelief courtesy of Patrick Dempsey).
...and ten from TV (because the small screen can be cinematic, too!)
The Mother of Dragons Emerges (Game of Thrones) Reborn from the fire, newfound strength. Now the journey really begins. Bow down, bitches.
"Don't Stop Believin'" (Glee) - Easily the most iconic television moment of my lifetime, and one that still retains its elemental power to thrill even after the terrible horrible no-good very bad mess of wish fulfillment that show became.
The Prom Video (Friends) "He's her lobster!" SWOON
"Let Me Be Your Star" (Smash) Most thrilling musical number, audition sequence, and final scene of a pilot in recent memory - and it's packed with info about every major character. Gauntlet: THROWN.
The Fate of Donna Noble (Doctor Who) AN OCEAN OF TEARS. It's not fair.
The end of "Time Enough at Last" (The Twilight Zone) No really. It's NOT. FAIR.
The entirety of "White Bear" (Black Mirror) The most scathing indictment of modern culture yet put on film - and the most wicked twist of an ending. A gut punch, and then a twist of the knife. And then it just keeps twisting.
The "threshold of revelation" (Angels in America, Mike Nichols) You cannot improve on this scene. Everyone should just stop trying.