Firstly, let me just warn of potential spoilers in the next ten of some of the Memorable Movie Moments of 2015. And the next ten for that matter, coming shortly. What I would also say is see these films, whether you have seen them already or not – just see them. The following scenes ought to be remembered and treasured as essential parts of the movies, embraced over and over again as some of the best moments of the year. So go ahead, and do so.
Aloha – Daughter & Father
Cameron Crowe has done himself no favors in regard to rebuilding a once truly credible reputation as a film-maker. In the final scene of the flat, distant Aloha, Crowe executes a scene so poignant it transcends the whole movie and becomes a beauty all of its own. Amidst a girl’s hula class, a father and daughter’s relationship is realized for the very first time, emotionally played out via Crowe’s so-long-missing grasp of blissful story-telling, Cyril Pahinui’s version of the glorious song “Ipo Lei Manu”, and a teary, film-stealing performance by Danielle Rose Russell. That’s how you end a film.
Girlhood – Diamonds
The basic portrayal of a particular side of Parisian life at one hand and a powerful coming of age story of Marieme (Karidja Touré) within that on the other. Girlhood is filled with some strong individual moments but there is one almost breathtaking in its larger implications and acute understanding of the rhythm of its characters. A full rendition of Rihanna’s song “Diamonds” which the group of closest friends lip sync to in a hotel room stay. A joyful release in such closeness of much painful reality they face in their on ways. They are bathed in sharp blue light. The joy on their faces and their overall swiftness in this shared moment is replicated in the emotional beats of the viewers.
Inside Out – Memory Dump
After Joy (voiced by Amy Poheler) realizes her mistake with how she abandoned Sadness (Phyllis Smith), she and Riley’s imaginary friend Bing Bong (Richard Kind) have to escape the Memory Dumps, a wasteland of forgotten memories that deteriorate over time. There are so many ways you can interpret this scene – from how optimism can be found even in the worst of situations, to the acceptance of having one’s dreams not coming to fruition and finding peace with it, but I do believe it really is one of the best sequences Pixar has come up with in their long, storied history of making animated movies.
The Intern – Hotel Room
You just know you are in a Nancy Meyers with this one, tackling the older generational relationships with light-hearted drama, comedy, and romance. The romance here is more female business ambition and success – another Meyers trademark. As 70-year-old intern Ben and fashion company founder Jules, the chemistry between Robert De Niro and Anne Hathaway is refreshingly strong, and they both get to flex their acting muscles marvelously in one hotel room scene. Before De Niro’s Ben sheds a tear to an old movie playing on the TV, Jules pours her frantic heart out about a personal dilemma, and might I add Hathaway is heart-breakingly brilliant.
Clouds of Sils Maria – Lines
Maria, an established acting diva, runs lines with her assistant, Valentine, in preparation for a play that’s being revived in which she played the younger lead twenty years earlier. That may not sound particularly exciting, but Assayas has given us a scene (a couple, actually) that has more layers than a wedding cake. Juliette Binoche (Maria) is an actor of such skill and presence that she can create her own weather, and Kristen Stewart not only holds her own, but harmonizes perfectly in what turns into a glorious acting duet that gives us a glimpse of professionalism, personal insecurities, friendly support and competition, even grief. That this film and its two leads aren’t more present in Oscar talk this year is a travesty.
Youth – That’s Enough
In an attempt to convince Fred (Michael Caine) to compose his music and have his wife sing his songs in front of her majesty the Queen, at her request, a royal emissary tries his luck again. Fred is not budging though, there is too much of an emotional attachment for him, but is struggling to get this guy to take no for an answer. Fred is polite but absolute in his responses, his frustrations at the emissary’s persistence rise to the surface and he is forced to explain, choking a little, the personal reasons he has so many times emphasized as to why it is not possible for his wife to sing his songs. Caine is at his emotive best in moments like these.
Fifty Shades of Grey – Negotiations
Fifty Shades of Grey is far from being a great film, let alone even a good one, but it has one scene that defies the rest. Anastacia and Christian sit down to discuss a contract about what sex scenarios Christian can perform on Anastacia. At one point she says “strike out vaginal fisting”. I mean, come on! This is hilarious in how it’s trying to be a serious moment, yet it only comes off as funny and even a bit repulsive. It the kind of moment that would normally be classified as “too much information.” The best moment of all comes when Christian tells her “I’d like to fuck you into the middle of next week.” OMG.
The Lobster – Blood And Biscuits
There’s an array of outlandish moments available in Yorgos Lanthimos’ chillingly original The Lobster. One of several laugh-when-you-shouldn’t moments is when a resident of the hotel known for her fondness for gifting others biscuits is found actually having gone through with her idle notion to leap to her own death from a window. The horrifying shrieks and image of the bloody woman flat on the floor, still alive but unable to move, is truly alarming. In contrast the subsequent exchange between our protagonist and the despicable woman he is trying to become a match with is surprisingly funny. Her heartless comment that “There’s blood and biscuits everywhere.” is so impulsively humorous, and forms just a small part of the film’s observant and disturbing tone that makes you cringe as much as it makes you laugh.
The Hateful Eight – The Major Tale
The editor (Robin) told me that we contributors have the right to go into spoiler territory with our favorite moments in film for the year. But for this one, I’m not going to, because I want you to go into this one dumbfounded and shocked as I was, when Major Marquis Warren (Samuel L. Jackson) gets into a conversation with General Sandy Smithers (Bruce Dern) about the whereabouts of his long, lost son. Suffice to say that it makes the scene in the basement of Zedd’s pawn shop in Pulp Fiction look tame by comparison. It also highlights that Jackson’s character is as unlikable and detestable as the rest of the seven strangers held up in Minnie’s Haberdashery.
Testament of Youth – This Is Real
Such a shame people are not talking about the compelling, if rather melancholy, Testament of Youth this awards season. Telling the portion of Vera Brittain’s life engulfed in love and loss during the first World War, Alicia Vikander turns in yet another endearingly powerful performance. One of the stand-out moments here then comes when Vera is finally reunited with her love Roland (Kit Harington) on his leave from war. But he is distant and cold towards her, war has damaged him, before she has to force him to acknowledge her: “Here, look at me, this is real, feel it.” she implores, making him touch her. It’s an honest, spontaneous out-pour of pure emotion under the most painful of circumstances, perfectly executed.