CC Issue 16 / Film / TV

My Top Ten Favorite Movie Scenes (Part One)

It’s Oscar Sunday! Today is the day the world celebrates movies. It’s shallow. But it’s my “Super Bowl”.

2011 (as I told you in my year-end review) was a pretty lame year for movies. It has been a similarly bleak year for the Oscars. There were very few movies this year that blew me away and none of them were nominated for Oscars. (I’m looking at you “Drive”.) But in honor of the big day I thought I’d do something special. I’m going to list my 10 favorite movie scenes of all time! And today you get the first five!

This list was very difficult for me.  I like a lot of movies and it was really hard to narrow all my favorite movies down to just ten favorite scenes. So I thought a lot about it. And before we start I’ll give you a little bit of the groundwork that went into choosing.

For starters I had to make a few rules for myself. They are as follows:

1) The scene must be self contained (i.e: No cross-cutting, or parallel narratives, or asking people to just watch PART of a scene etc.)

2) The scene must feature the movie’s protagonist(s) or antagonist(s) (ie: No fantastic scenes with minor characters – like the opening scene of Pulp Fiction for example)

3) Only one scene per director (otherwise this whole list would be made up of moments from about 3 director’s films). This rule is really what made the list possible.

Taking these rules into consideration some great movies missed the cut – either because they were SO full of great scenes all blending together (i.e: Dumb and Dumber) or because they were so precious to me that I felt like it would dishonor the movie to take one scene out of context (i.e: Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind)

Also –  Spoiler Warnings abound! If you haven’t seen the movie – you may not want to watch the scene.

Ok. Let’s get on with it.

I present to you my 10 favorite movie scenes of all time! Starting with 10-6.

**WARNING** (The following scenes may contain violence and profanity, sometimes in quantities that could make some people uncomfortable. Being my favorite scenes of all time I have made no effort to censor them but you have been warned.)

#10: This Is What You Get!

In a movie full of great scenes this is my favorite. Even while I was capturing it for this blog I was dying laughing. This scene is so great because it perfectly embodies the spirit of the whole film: great dialogue, unbelievable situations, and continuous misunderstandings that lead to disaster. If you’ve never seen this – please watch it! (Author’s note: I couldn’t find this scene on youtube that wasn’t blocked. Sorry about that. Please just find the movie and watch it)

The Big Lebowski. Joel and Ethan Coen. 1998

#9: Say It Louder!

Sometimes there’s one scene in a film that wins the actor an Oscar. There are a few of those scenes on this list and this is certainly one of them. In theaters this scene undid me and I was overwhelmed and amazed by Daniel Day Lewis’ extraordinary talent. But credit is also due to Paul Thomas Anderson (who really deserves his own list) for crafting this masterpiece and nailing this particular devastating and immaculate moment.

There Will Be Blood. Paul Thomas Anderson. 2007

#8: The Enemy Deserves No Mercy

So many classic things about this scene. The suspenseful prank with the hose. Ralph Macchio shedding his Shower Costume as he jumps over crashing cars. The Skeleton Costumes. The line “I think he’s had enough Johnny!” that has stayed in my head for my whole formative life. Other than the Cats in “An American Tail” this was easily the most scared I ever got while watching a movie as a kid. (Authors note: I had to replace my custom made video with one found on youtube… somehow their video escaped the copyright issues that plagued mine… it’s not the complete scene but it has the best part.)

The Karate Kid. John G. Avildsen. 1984

#7: You Were Saying Something About “Best Intentions”?

Samuel L. Jackson has had two careers. The one before this scene – and the one after it. I almost don’t need to say anything else about it. Maybe I’ll say just one more thing. The real Ezekiel 25:17 says this: “I will carry out great vengeance on them and punish them in my wrath. Then they will know that I am the Lord, when I take vengeance on them.” Just for the record.

Pulp Fiction. Quentin Tarantino. 1994

#6: I’m Great

Ok. I’ll admit it. I cheated here a little bit. The very first moment of the clip below (of the window being rolled down) is my single favorite moment in the whole film. It also happens to be RIGHT before my favorite scene so – even though they are technically not connected according to the rules I’ve listed above – I included it. In this short scene – the shortest on my list – Kevin Spacey sits at the kitchen table and gives maybe the best movie performance I’ve ever seen. A lot of actors can chew up the scenery by weeping, dying or shouting great dialogue. Instead, Spacey plays Lester Burham with a very quiet, very subtle, very real quality. Watch closely for the moment when Angela asks Lester how he is – and see how masterfully Spacey plays the reaction.

American Beauty. Sam Mendes. 1999


Stay tuned for Part Two, which will cover my top five movie scenes of all time!

One thought on “My Top Ten Favorite Movie Scenes (Part One)

  1. Pingback: My Top Ten Favorite Movie Scenes (Part Two) « Checkerboard Collective

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