I know, I know, many of most talked about, popular films of 2015 have not been mentioned so far – and many are not featured here in the final ten Memorable Movie Moments of the year. Nonetheless, the final scenes are all worthy of mention, and once again do contain spoilers. And I mean some really juicy ones. Be warned, and enjoy.
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It Follows – Swimming Pool
In terrible danger set up by the film’s premise, Jay (Maika Monroe) and three of her friends set off to a vacated indoor swimming pool far away enough to set up plenty of electrical equipment poolside in an attempt to await the “it” that follows and destroy it (makes more sense having seen it). This is by-the-book horror though, and things don’t go to plan, as Jay, the only one who can see the human form of the follower, has to evade appliances being hurled at her and being dragged back into the water. The build up, and resulting action, is nerve-racking and chillingly effective.
Ex Machina – Dance
Alex Garland’s Ex Machina is a slow burner, an old-fashioned morality fable about men and women, and man and God, and man and machine. The film asks big philosophical and moral questions but doesn’t give us easy answers. It builds an incredible amount of tension throughout the first half of the film as Nathan (Oscar Isaac), a tech guru genius, uses modest programmer Caleb (Domhnall Gleeson) to test whether the Artificial Intelligence (A.I.) program he has designed is believable or not. Ava the A.I. robot as played by the wonderful Alicia Vikander is more than believable as a human and Gleeson falls in love with her. This angers Isaac, who tries to disrupt the blossoming relationship by tearing up a drawing that Ava drew for Caleb. Caleb confronts Nathan about it, “You tore up her picture.” he says, Nathan responses “I’m gonna tear up the fucking dance floor, dude. Check it out.”. instead of getting into a huge screaming match, as most other films would have done, Nathan instead turns down the lights, turns up the stereo, and begins disco dancing with his female servant. It catches you by total surprise and makes for one of the best moments in cinema in 2015.
Brooklyn – Reunion
Returning to America for the second time, Eilis (Saoirse Ronan) is a much stronger, self-aware woman, and knows what she wants – her sweetheart Tony (Emory Cohen). As she stands and waits for him, he eventually sees her from across the street, his face comes to life in the knowledge she has come to him. They reunite and embrace. This is a simply perfect final scene from Brooklyn, piecing together the affections of the two characters. The moment of their reunion sends you back to what it first felt like to be enraptured by a true cinematic love story. More modern romances need to follow suit.
The Forbidden Room – The Final Derriere
You’ve seen nothing like this before – literally, since Evan Johnson and Guy Maddin set out to make twisted impressions of bizarre lost films of bygone eras, there exists nothing like this. Itself pulled apart, partially destroyed, and pieced back together, The Forbidden Room is Maddin’s circles of madness, his own madness. Its most brilliant, bizarre scene is ‘The Final Derriere’, a piece with scant connection to the surrounding film, though what connections exist from any part of this film to any other are tenuous. It demonstrates astonishing creativity, comedic flair, technical mastery and, chiefly, uniqueness. You’ve seen nothing like this!
Queen of Earth – Musings
Alex Ross Perry’s psychological character horror uses long takes and closeups to great effects. Their use is a process, not stressing on but creating claustrophobic intimacy among the characters and viewers. There is one particular moment which stands out. An unbroken shot nearly eight minutes long that beautifully alternates between the faces of both Catherine (Elisabeth Moss) and Virginia (Catherine Waterston). It reveals so much about the landscape of the characters’ mind, their feelings. The changes in expressions on one to the musings, sharing early stories of heart-strucks and heart-breaks of the other. Effortlessly moving camera and actors performing, an incredible moment in a film with many.
Room – Freedom
After seven years of captivity a mother (Brie Larson) goes to extraordinary lengths to not only escape the room of the title, but also for the chance to make her boy Jack (Jacob Tremblay) as safe as possible. The sequence is hard to take, as a mother risks more than she can imagine, but at the same time performing a purely unselfish act. In the back of Old Nick’s truck, and on the verge of freedom, little Jack is suddenly faced with the vast blue sky, forgetting for a moment any danger he might be in, seeing daylight and the world for the very first time in his life. A wonder of a moment in cinema, and life, you simply cannot comprehend yourself.
Sicario – Convoy
It starts with a bird’s eye view of the border and suddenly narrows down onto the road, where a convoy of 4 black SUVs are driving in unison across the US-Mexico border into Juarez. They are direct in their mission to go into the dangerous city, extract their target, and get out as quickly as possible. Watching them drive through the streets is unnerving, as at any moment, something could go wrong, and it could turn into Black Hawk Down all over again. It’s just something else to watch because director Denis Villeneuve and cinematographer Roger Deakins capture such a pivotal moment so eloquently in this gripping film.
45 Years – Hands
45 Years is maybe the best British film of the year, with Andrew Haigh’s taut and subtle direction and career-best performances from Charlotte Rampling and Tom Courtenay. All this brilliance is brought home by the perfect final moment, after watching the main characters relationship fall apart in slow motion, there is a moment redemption for Courtenay’s character as he gives a speech to his wife that tries to undo the doubt she has. This is a fine scene of course, but what happens next is truly heartbreaking, after a dance, Courtenay holds Rampling’s hand up in the air in celebration, and nothing more needs to be said that the subtle but pointed reaction she has, pulling her hand down. It showcases just why this is such a beautiful film, underneath all its quietness and subtlety is a rich ocean of deep feeling and pathos.
Mad Max: Fury Road – We Are Not Things
I’ve highlighted earlier this year on my own movie blog that I didn’t go ga-ga for George Miller’s apocalyptic action-thriller, but I did love the moment where Immortal Joe (Hugh Keayes-Byrne), realizing that something is amiss when his most trusted servant Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theorn) goes rouge, heads underground to his quarters, only to find that his “wives” – women he selected for breeding children, are gone, with a message written on the wall, saying “WE ARE NOT THINGS!”. The statement is two-fold: it shows that these five young women are denouncing the tyrannical and cruel nature of the patriarchy by saying they are more than just breeding machines for his own ends. On the other end, this is Miller’s statement, chastising Hollywood for regulating women to the damsel in distress trope and several others in films. It perfectly sets up the feminist subtext for the movie and it’s refreshing to see a statement like that put up in a film, and make good on its promise.
Wild Tales – Pasternak
Taking six stories of separate characters and events, the excellent Wild Tales has a vast amount of memorable moments, and rather than give myself a headache I’ll just start from the very beginning. On board a passenger flight, general small talk and conversation gradually begins to turn from curious coincidence to one man’s full scale calculated revenge. It turns out a certain man called Pasternak has been wronged in some way by all on board the plane. It’s a blackly comic, riveting, immaculately filmed opening chapter to a movie that follows on in the same bold, energetic manner right to the very end.