Saturday, January 10, 2015

Top 10 Film Sequences of 2014

Hello, Bloggers! As I promised, I have now posted my list of what I consider to be the top 10 film sequences of 2014. The criteria is based on all or most of the different angles of filmmaking, ranging from the acting to the cinematography to the editing. Here we go:

*Potential Spoiler Alert*

*-random image from film because I couldn't find video or image of the scene.

10. The 'Stay With Me' Number from Into The Woods: Perhaps my favorite musical number from Into The Woods, the 'Stay With Me' number from Ms. Meryl Streep was sung by her with such power that I almost cried. Much like Anne Hathaway when she sang 'I Dreamed A Dream' in Les Miserables, Streep not only sings the song, but she emotes it.

9. 'Be A Shoe' monologue from Snowpiercer: That one scene, in a nutshell, tells us everything we need to know about Tilda Swinton's character Mason. As she rambles on about how the poor people should be in the tail end of the train and 'be a shoe', we realize that she is no more of a shoe than they are as she tries to contact her apparently benevolent boss Wilford. Plus, the costume design on Swinton and the poor people is a great demonstration of class difference.

8. Binge Eating Scene from Foxcatcher: Everything about this scene is haunting from the bleak cinematography to Channing Tatum's performance. Tatum never utters a peep, but he still showcases his brutal intensity as he starts punishing himself by slamming his head against the mirror after a bad loss and binge eating. While watching Tatum on screen, I would not have wanted to hear his character's thoughts.

7. Opening Confession from Calvary: As soon as the film opens, we are introduced to our main character, Father James, played by Brendan Gleeson. The central conflict is even established once the unseen man explains he will kill Father James and Father James is engulfed in the darkness, symbolizing how his inner darkness will slowly be revealed despite him being a figure of compassion and understanding. Even in the opening scene, where the killer breaks the news to him, James never freaks out. Like the rest of us, he just wonders "Why?"

6. Last Shot Of Stranger By The Lake: After Franck hides in the bushes once his lover Michel starts killing, he comes out of it at night and as the film comes to a close, like Franck, we are literally being led into the darkness. Franck keeps calling out for Michel and we are left wondering if he'll come back to kill him or if he even ran away. This has to be one of the most haunting sequences of the year, if not the most haunting.*

5. Car Scene from Two Days, One Night: Both Sandra (Marion Cotillard) and her husband Manu (Fabrizio Rongione) are driving as they go from place to place for Sandra to convince her co-workers to give up their bonuses to keep her family off the streets. As they are driving, the camera keep focusing on these two and a song plays on the radio that Sandra wants to listen to and her husband tries to turn off. While the song keeps playing, Sandra tries to force a smile, but on the inside, doubt is still running through her mind. As I said in my Top 15 Female Performances list, this is one of the first French language films of Cotillard that I have seen, but the way Cotillard expresses her character's doubts need no translation.

4. 'You're Right, It Sucks' from Boyhood: In the scene where Olivia (Patricia Arquette) yells at her daughter Samantha (Lorelai Linklater) after she drops her off at a new school and after they leave her alcoholic husband, while I first saw this scene, the first person to pop into my head was my own mother. Not to get too personal, but my sister and mother always had quite a bit of battles and watching this scene made me think of one time where my mom would yell at my sister. So, I loved the authenticity of this scene as well as the authenticity of Arquette's performance. If she lands an Oscar nod, Arquette's clip will probably be her final 'thought there would be more' scene, but this scene stuck with me as much as that one did.*

3. 'Relevant' monologue from Birdman: If Emma Stone gets an Oscar nomination, this scene for sure going to be her Oscar clip. In this scene where Stone's character, Sam, tries to tell her father the real reason why he is doing this play, the camera keeps focusing on Stone's face and even gets closer as her eyes start blinking yet showcase such fury. As her rant finishes, however, she has an "Oh, crap" look on her face and apologizes to her father without ever actually having to say sorry.

2. Final Scene from Starred Up: I now get choked up whenever I revisit this scene. Just watching Neville comfort his son Eric after Eric almost gets lynched just breaks my heart. In that scene, we, along with Eric himself, now realize that despite being with one of the "big boys", he is still just a kid. At this moment, Neville really gets to be the father he tried to be before. Apparently, this scene was unscripted and both Jack O'Connell and Ben Mendelsohn were actually crying to release tension while filming. Incorporating it helped the emotional punch that the movie brings.

1. Final 15 Minutes from Whiplash: At the end, just when we think that Andrew (Miles Teller) is going to accept defeat after his teacher Terrence humiliates him on stage, he then goes back to the stage and the drum set with a vengeance as he engages in psychological warfare with his manipulative mentor. During the opening title, there is the sound of heavy poundings of drums, which director Damien Chazelle wanted to incorporate to show how the film becomes like warfare. Now that I think about it, it is like a foreshadowing of the last 15 minutes, which had me holding my breath until the screen cuts to black. Everything about this scene, from the snappy editing to how the camera focuses on Andrew playing the songs as he is starting to sweat to the performances by Teller and Simmons is just tops.

So, that was my list of the top 10 film sequences of 2014 and please feel free to share your own top 10 in the comments section. I would love to hear your own thoughts. Thanks for reading!