Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Moments of 2011

In conjunction with my favorite films of the year list, I offer up some moments out of 2010 films that made an indelible impression on me. Older online buddies will recognize this as a recurring event. This list is a collection of film dialogue, gestures, camera movements, moods or looks and ideas within a given scene. This list is inspired by Roger Ebert's list of movie moments as well as the once great (now dead) yearly wrap up in Film Comment. Possible spoilers so beware!

1. Elle Fanning trying to apologize for her father in a long take, as black and white movie images flash across her face. A star is born…. “Super 8”
2. Shadows fighting on the pavement. “Drive”
3. The look of James Mcavoy as he overlooks the chaos being caused by a president’s body being carried through the street in “The Conspirator”
4. In Michael Winterbottom’s “The Trip", Rob Brydon and Steve Coogan exchanging Michael Caine impersonations over breakfast
5. The abrupt way in which Paul (Mimi Branescu) tells his wife that he’s having an affair, and her quiet reaction, soon becoming an explosive confrontation in an astounding 12 minute long take. The Romanian New Wave does it again, creating unbearable tension out of the mundane in Radu Muntean’s “Tuesday, After Christmas”
6. “I feel all gushy down there….” Ellen Page in “Super”
7. The downright disturbing voice captured on a baby monitor walkie talkie in James Wan’s hugely under appreciated “Insidious”
8. The lateral pan following Javier Bardem along a street, over a bridge and then up into the sky as he watches a flock of birds dance in the sky. “Biutiful”
9. In “Take Shelter”, the extremely violent eruption of emotion as Michael Shannon overturns a table at a community pot luck dinner, and the ensuing silence as everyone watches
10. The entrance of Jeremy Irons and his boardroom discussion of what exactly is going on with his company in “Margin Call”. Surely the scenes that a best supporting actor award are made for
11. Through a breath of tears, the way Ricky Tarr (Tom Hardy) mumbles… “she wasn’t even my type” when telling the story of his overseas affair. “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy”
12. A plane gently crashing into the water. “Road To Nowhere”
13. The night time meeting on a beach between two brothers and a shimmering city poised directly above them…. Something the film has been building towards for over 90 minutes in Gavin O Conner’s lovingly crafted “Warrior”
14. A lost calf quietly dying under a tree and the slow fade to winter time in “The Four Times”
15. The way Michael Fassbender’s body collapses under his own disappointment as he climbs off a woman, unable to make love with her in a hotel room and the way director Steve McQueen frames him just off-center in the next shot in “Shame”. Technique as psychology
16. In “Young Adult”, the little snarl laugh Mavis (Charlize Theron) gives off when asked “what’s wrong” by Patrick Wilson as she stands with coffee spilled on her dress in front of a party
17. The beautifully constructed pawn shop robbery in “Drive”… editing and point of view rendered with utmost clarity. And the camera never even goes inside the pawn shop
18. The final scene in “Carancho”…. a long take of spiraling vehicle crashes and distorted gunfire.. And then a woman (Martina Gusman) trying to resuscitate her lover on the street
19. A terrified glance straight into the camera and then… “what was that guy doing”. Abrupt cut to black in “Martha Marcy May Marlene”
20. “No, he’s not my husband.” “Good because I’m gonna climb that like a tree”. Melissa McCarthy in “Bridesmaids”
21. The point of view shot of a daughter (Evan Rachel Wood) blocked by three bodies as they descend towards her mother in “The Conspirator”
22. A punishing experience from start to finish, but the indelible black and white images of a bombed out city in Chuan Lu‘s “City of Life and Death”
23. A girl crying uncontrollably on the porch. “Putty Hill”
24. A group of women in a 1900 era brothel cavorting and laying around, timed to Lee Moses’ funky tune “Bad Girl” in "House of Tolerance"
25. “Now what”… cut to Pearl Jam. “50/50”
26. The eyes and smile of Emily Blunt in “The Adjustment Bureau”
27. In the midst of Armageddon, a small community dances and enjoys each others company. “Stake Land”
28. A confrontation in the hallway of a burglarized house between John Hawkes and the owner… And the quiet suspense that builds between them. “Martha Marcy May Marlene"
29. Aryton Senna’s mother kissing his racing helmet at a funeral… the image that probably got to me more than any other this year in “Senna”
30. “Margin Call” and Paul Bettany explaining exactly how one spends 1.5 million dollars a year
31. A slow motion fireball engulfing two people as they stare into each other’s eye in Duncan Jones terrific “Source Code”… a sci-fi companion to “Groundhog Day”
32. In the film’s most pivotal moment, a slow tracking shot into a vehicle from across the street, leaving the conversation to our imagination in George Clooney’s “The Ides of March”
33. The complete look of disillusion on the face of a young boy when he sees a variety of phone numbers scrawled on a girl’s hand in “Myth of the American Sleepover”
34. With downtown Los Angeles glimmering in the background of a living room apartment, the Driver (Ryan Gosling) and Irene (Carey Mulligan) exchange a long, pregnant pause… “Drive”
35. Rhoda (Brit Marling) telling a story about a Russian cosmonaut and that persistent thumping coming from his ship… “Another Earth”
36. Smiley (Gary Oldman) talking to an empty chair and the straight stare into the camera…. Talking is the most precious commodity in Tomas Alfredson’s intelligent spy re-working of “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy”
37. In “Hanna”, the long tracking shot as Cate Blanchett walks up to a car, gun in hand, as it sits at the end of a road in flames
38. The almost paternal relationship over the phone between Kate Winslet and Laurence Fishburn in “Contagion”- “when’s the last time you ate something that didn’t come out of a vending machine?” “Taco Bell?”
39. “Courtney, quit f***ing around with those children!” and the absurdity of the opening scene in David Gordon Green's “Your Highness”, a film that I laughed at more than any other this year
40. The nervous jump as a meat clever hits food behind him and a desperate phone call that never reaches Irena (Svetlana Chodchenkova). “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy”
41. The ten minute storm cellar scene in “Take Shelter” and the crescendo of music as Curtis (Michael Shannon) finally opens the door
42. The lateral pan as Fassbender jogs across owntown New York, and the way the camera patiently waits with him at the crosswalk in "Shame"
43. In "The Descendants", the abrupt kiss on the porch and the stunned look on the face of Judy Greer
44. The t-shirt of Rooney Mara, expressing a very nihilistic worldview. "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo"
45. The smash cut onto the face of a prostitute (Alice Barnole) as her face is cut apart... her screams breaking the tranquility of an 1899 Paris bordello. "House of Tolerance"

1 comment:

Bob Turnbull said...

Another vote for that incredible scene in "Tuesday, After Christmas". I just wrote about it in a post I published yesterday.

Love "The Four Times" as well (that dog!) and that plane crash in "Road To Nowhere".

And Emily Blunt...My goodness she has presence on screen. Great chemistry between her and Damon.

Also, I have got to find "House Of Tolerance".