Monday, February 13, 2012

AFT Awards: Top 15 Scenes of the Year

This is a special category of the 5th Annual AFT Film Awards, my own personal choices for the best in film of each year and the best in television of each season. The AFT Film Awards include the traditional Oscar categories and a number of additional specific honors. These are my fifteen favorite scenes of the year, listed in alphabetical order by film title. Click here to see previous years of this category. Beware spoilers for these films.

The Artist

In a film full of showboating and great theatrical moments, the standout is Peppy’s imagined romance with George, expressed with his hung-up tuxedo. The closing musical number is a close second.


This lovely movie is strongest when its two main characters meet at a costume party, with a laryngitis-stricken Anna communicating only with written notes to an enchanted Oliver. Dog subtitles and explanations of what the world is like now were also wonderful.

Crazy Stupid Love

This comedy is at its best with this hilarious scene that exemplifies its cleverness, connecting the dots for the players when they all come together, all of whom are hopelessly out of the loop. The one-night stand between Cal and Marisa Tomei’s Kate was quite funny as well.


If ever a movie had to explain itself within its first few minutes, this is how it’s done. The unnamed driver explains his policy and executes the perfect getaway as a superb score from “The Chromatics” breathes life into this awesome film.


In its quiet, subtle manner, this film identifies a threat to the driver while he’s in an elevator with Irene, prompting him to grab her, kiss her, and then kick his face in repeatedly.


Christina Hendricks’ Blanche appears so briefly in this film, but her demeanor is perfect for this extremely sudden and violent scene, in which the driver springs into action and manages, as always, an unlikely but clean getaway.

Fast Five

This movie contains some of the best action scenes in recent years, and by the far the most exciting – and hilariously awesome – is when Dom and Brian manage to ditch the car mid-heist just before it takes a deadly plunge into the water far below.

In a Better World

Nothing is starker in this heart-wrenching drama than when Anton is with his two children and finds himself intimidated – and physically attacked – by another father, and refuses to fight back, trying to set an example for his kids to tell them that bullying is wrong…

In a Better World

…and then later treats a wounded dictator and allows the terrorized and tortured people the opportunity to get their vengeance, washing his hands of responsibility for his fate.


Its beginning and end are mesmerizing, confusing, depressing, and impossible to define, but what resonates most is the tragic, terrifying realization by Kiefer Sutherland’s John that his calculations were wrong and the end is impossibly near.


Billy sure can talk, and watching him make call after call via a stunned Peter to execute the perfect trades was nothing short of magnificent.

Romantics Anonymous

This film’s delightful spirit was evident in the hysterical personalities of its protagonists, and their dinner date, in which Jean-René leaves multiple times to change his shirt, was the most whimsical and enjoyable.

A Separation

Though its entire narrative is gripping, its opening scene is a magnificent, honest lens into the justice system in Iran, but more importantly, the entire lives of two people as summarized by an unhappy, unfulfilled wife, and her impatient husband.


Brandon’s visual undressing of a woman on the subway is scored superbly by Harry Escott and highlighted by the sudden showing of the wedding ring on her finger, culminating in a frantic chase that results in a missed opportunity.

Turn Me On, Goddamit

This film’s opening scene frankly introduced Alma, who, with her hand down her pants listening to “Sex Telefon,” instantly made an impression and established herself as an off-kilter unlikely hero, and the film as an unusual yet exceptional portrait of teen angst.

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