As part of EdgarReviews’ 12 Days of Christmas, a Top 10 will be posted every few days from 14th December to 25th December.
WARNING: This post contains major spoilers for many films released this year.
10. THE WOLF OF WALL STREET – QUAALUDES
Released in January here in the UK, Scorsese’s latest was a fun, if uneven and at times tedious romp that showcased both DiCaprio and Jonah Hill in fine form. The stand-out scene of the film epitomises their performances with a drug-fuelled segment; DiCaprio, after taking too many Quaaludes, hits the deck and limply traverses towards his car, which he then has to try and not damage. He then wrestles with Hill – also affected by the heavy-hitting drugs – in order to protect himself from the FBI, immediately followed by saving Hill’s life to the image of Popeye. It’s an insane scene – even for the film’s vulgar standards – that leaves the audience either dumbfounded or in tears with laughter.
9. 22 JUMP STREET – CAPTAIN’S DAUGHTER
22 Jump Street managed to build on the success of 21 with witty self-references and abundant slapstick; hilarious in equal measures. Its funniest scene arrives at the point where Schmidt (Jonah Hill, yet again) is revealed to have gone missionary on the Captain’s (Ice Cube) daughter. What makes this scene work is the side-splitting reaction of Channing Tatum – showcasing his diversity in acting with a hugely popular comedic performance – where he parades around the Jump Street headquarters with disbelief. Both Hill, Ice Cube and the audience can only watch on as Tatum delivers one of the best comedic scenes of the year.
8. THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 2 -TIMES SQUARE BATTLE
There’s no denying that The Amazing Spider-Man 2 wasn’t that great a film. Even so, it managed to have a surprisingly excellent set piece in the form of Electro and Spider-Man’s (Jamie Foxx and Andrew Garfield respectively) first standoff. Afraid and unaware, Foxx stumbles into Times Square and is immediately bombarded by police; a tragic figure surrounded by foreign faces, Spiderman takes it upon himself to reason with Foxx. A foolish sniper strike quickly puts an end to the discussion and Electro unleashes his fury around all of Times Square – a slow-motion spidey-sense save being a particular highlight. The scene is held together with a fantastic Hans Zimmer score that fully fleshes out the epic scope.
7. CHEF – FAVREAU’S OUTBURST
Chef was the best feel-good film of the year – there wasn’t a cynical bone in its body. All the moments of heartwarming family connection and cuban sandwiches are juxtaposed by scenes of brutal, delicious anger, and Favreau displayed such acts in a scene nearing the end of the flick’s first act – which serves as a catalyst for his decision to work in a food truck. After feared critic Ramsey Michel (Oliver Platt) rips into his restaurant’s boring, reserved menu, all the pressure leads to a stunning outburst from Favreau where he spews superlatives at Platt’s face, corrects his culinary knowledge and slams chocolate lava cake all over the table while shouting “It’s fucking molten!” and “You’re not getting to me!”. It’s hilarious and relevant to the film industry and critic system in equal measures – a neat allegory to Favreau’s Iron Man 2 reception.
6. THE INBETWEENERS 2 – POOP CHUTE
Though let down by a lack of fleshed out characters and any fulfilling resolution, The Inbetweeners 2 is funnier than its prequel and it owes that attribute to scenes such as this – Will (Simon Bird) bum-shuffling down a slide away from an upcoming hazard in the form of Neil’s (Blake Harrison) excrement. The chase ends with an unaware Will – thinking that he’s escaped – promptly being smashed in the face by the brown stuff. Cue an outrageously disgusting segment where he helplessly spews into the surrounding pool as sickened tourists flee from the scene. It’s surprising that such a vulgar scene can shock the audience – even when you’re familiar with the antics of The Inbetweeners.
5. BOYHOOD – LETTING GO
Boyhood is a stunning, relatable film that generates its power by resonating with the audience. It’s an understated, subtle tearjerker, made all the more prominent by a particular scene where Mason (Ellar Coltrane) leaves for college and his mum (Patricia Arquette) reacts with devastating rawness, breaking down and displaying every rush of emotion felt at the sending off of one of your beloved. It speaks volume of Linklater’s directorial capabilities when the utterance of the line “I just thought there would be more” hits so deeply with the audience. Boyhood is a great film, and with the inclusion of this scene, is made a masterpiece.
4. NIGHTCRAWLER – FINAL CHASE
Nightcrawler contains one of the best finales of 2014. This scene is a buildup of the brooding LA tension and Gyllenhaal venom that is prominent throughout, and as the bubble bursts following a shootout, a terrifically staged and shot car chase plays out – ending with the betrayal of Lou Bloom’s companion and intern (Riz Ahmed). It’s a scene that encapsulates the film as a whole – dangerous, unforgiving and brutal – Gyllenhaal is here to win the game, at all costs.
3. THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL – MUSEUM
There were so many fantastic scenes to choose from in The Grand Budapest Hotel – a cat being thrown out a window, the prison escape and the winter olympics chase. I settled, however, on a brilliant museum scene that follows Deputy Kovacs (Jeff Goldblum) attempting to escape a hitman (Willem Dafoe) through a museum. A shrill score, fantastic use of shadows and Wes Anderson’s signature style creates an intense, suspenseful chase that leaves the audience on tenterhooks. Heart in mouth, and hopeful of Goldblum’s survival, the scene crescendoes with a startling swift shut of a door and sever of the poor Kovac’s fingers – muffled screams signifies the character’s demise. The shocking nature of his death is made all the more surprising by its goriness – a rare sight by Wes Anderson that highlights the fact that he’s not fooling around. Up until this scene, The Grand Budapest Hotel had been an enjoyable, harmless flick. With this scene over, the film is elevated completely with the knowledge that no-one is safe.
2. X-MEN DAYS OF FUTURE PAST – TIME IN A BOTTLE
Any reservations Marvel fans had over Quicksilver’s portrayal were quickly put away by the stand-out scene of the film – the remaining runtime seemingly anticlimatic in comparison. With the mutants – Fassbender, Jackman and McAvoy – in danger as guards point their guns towards them and shoot, Quicksilver (Cheekily played by Evan Peters) takes it upon himself to save them and have fun in the process. With the integration of stunning effects, slapstick humour and a fitting, witty song to boot, this scene highlights X-Men’s light-hearted side of affairs, adding relief to an otherwise more serious flick.
1. INTERSTELLAR – DOCKING
Like The Grand Budapest Hotel, there are so many fantastic scenes to choose – from giant waves to tear-jerking messages and extra-dimensional tesseracts, Interstellar was one incredible set-piece after another. However, it had to be the epic docking scene that takes the number 1 spot as this year’s best scene – with the Endurance spinning out of control following Mann’s death, Cooper (McConaughey) decides to match rotation and lock onto the Endurance’s docking mechanism – a feat that is deemed impossible. McConaughey’s response – “No, it’s necessary” – promptly followed by Hans Zimmer’s booming No Time For Caution score creates a scene so epic and powerful that my mouth opened agape for its entire duration – all three times I watched the film. The stunning effects too help to solidify this scene’s colossal scope., and solidify this scene as one of the best in a very long time.