In celebration of the Oscars this weekend, an approximate “Top Ten list” of my favorite movie moments; it should be noted, we’re not talking favorite films necessarily – although some on my Top Ten list are represented here – rather those singular moments. In some cases the moments are scenes, in others just a single shot.
[Note: when I originally wrote this post, I had links to almost every item listed here; apparently most of these have been taken down (damn copyright laws); I've tried to find suitable replacements, but I presume many of these will eventually be taken down; your mileage (and bandwidth) may vary...]
1) In the Heat of the Night
Sidney Pontier, Larry Gates, Rod Steiger – the slap; powerful for its time, and probably one of the first instances of an person of color showing strength, resolve, and dignity that I can recall seeing in popular culture. Directed by Norman Jewison.
2) Big Night
Stanley Tucci, Tony Shaloub, Marc Anthony – the final kitchen scene, all one take; I wish more American films would embrace the power of simply rolling camera and pointing it at a group of actors so immersed in their characters that we will sit spellbound watching them eat breakfast (understanding that there is subtext – a reconciliation happening just below the surface). Directed by Campbell Scott.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v7kOyt9dPB4 [this cuts out before the real end, where Tucci puts his arm around Shaloub, but it was the best version I've found]
3) The Verdict
Paul Newman, the summation (“today you are the law”); written by David Mamet. Directed by Sidney Lumet.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o15uqb30Fq8 (not great quality)
William Holden and Faye Dunaway – when Diana breaks up with Max (“why is it that a woman always thinks that the most savage thing she can say to a man is to impugn his cocksmanship?”); written by Paddy Chayefsky; Directed by Sidney Lumet.
5) tie: 2001 A Space Odyssey
ape to space transition and blue danube sequence:
& Bowman re-entering the Discovery sequence; Directed by Stanley Kubrick
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0NbkF9_T0Eg [apparently shot hand-held on someone's TV showing the film… but, heck it was the only one I could find...]
6) Local Hero
Peter Riegert walking over the hill carrying his shoes, then cut to his watch being over-taken by the waves on the rock where he left it with the alarm going off…
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e96Uv7P8Sq0&feature=related [taken offline]
7) 13 Conversations About One Thing
Alan Arkin and Matthew McConaughey in the bar, “show me a happy man” (ok, basically Alan Arkin’s whole performance); Directed by Jill Sprecher
8) Raiders of the Lost Ark
the opening sequence (and yes the whole film still stands as my favorite action-adventure film of all time); directed by Steven Spielberg
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DpCSFKF_9as [taken offline?]
9) 25th Hour
Ed Norton, the “FU” monologue; directed by Spike Lee
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hthimFxKQ0o [taken offline]
the final shot, where a blind Kyoami walks along the cliff, near to the edge, and his stick drops off, allowing him to catch his balance just before doom and then he turns around and continues on his way (this image captures the whole movie we’ve just watched into a single moment: the human race comes close to its own destruction, but somehow manages to recover and avoid complete annihilation); Directed by Akira Kurosawa
[can’t for the life of me find this online…]