Thursday, March 21, 2013

AFT Awards: Top 15 Scenes of the Year

This is a special category of the 6th 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 Avengers
This action film reached its best moment when it brought together all its heroes for one circular fight scene, at which point the film takes a breath in the middle of all the excitement.

Beasts of the Southern Wild
In a film full of awe-inspiring, wondrous moments, there’s none quite as brilliant as the sight of Hushpuppy running around with sparklers while proclaiming the enduring nature of her life and her legacy.

The Dark Knight Rises
The epic conclusion to Christopher Nolan’s time with the Batman franchise has excellent moments laced with action, but one of its strongest scenes comes early in the film, when Anna Hathaway’s Selina Kyle makes her formidable entrance and reveals herself to be something wholly different than what she appears.

After interviewing two prostitutes and living vicariously through them through the length of her film, Anne zones out during an uneventful dinner at home and imagines herself sitting and laughing with the many men the two young women described to her.

The year’s most nail-biting scene came towards the beginning of this film, an astonishing extended sequence in which Denzel Washington’s Whip assumes control of everything and turns a plane upside down to make the most impressive crash landing ever.

The inciting incident of this clever and entertaining film is that wondrous moment where the elder professor mistakenly receives the call telling him that he has won the Israel prize. It’s such a delightful and marvelous scene that sets all of the film’s events in motion.

Les Miserables
Many will say that Anne Hathaway and Samantha Barks’ solo numbers were the heart of this film, but there’s no matching the sheer thunderous power of the final number, which unites all of the film’s characters, living and dead, for a triumphant musical declaration of the French people’s everlasting freedom.

The Master
Many of the scenes in Paul Thomas Anderson’s epic are haunting, and one of the most effective took place in an unusually public setting, when Philip Seymour Hoffman’s cult leader is arrested on his porch and Joaquin Phoenix’s devoted servant fights to defend his rights.

Moonrise Kingdom
This film’s mature interpretation of young love is best represented by the wonderful metered exchange of letters between its two protagonists, short, sweet, and to the point, simply creating and solidifying their plans to be together.

While all of the humans aboard sleep, Michael Fassbender’s cyborg David spends his days aboard the ship practicing a daily routine and learning about humanity, watching old movies and playing around with a basketball to get a sense of what he wants to imitate and emulate to seem more human.

There’s nothing like a good group suicide scene to help a spaceship crew go out with a bang, and the sheer speed with which the crew of the ship decides to sacrifice their own lives to trap the monster they’ve unleashed is magnificent. The movie doesn’t end their, but it’s a bold and extraordinarily enthralling sequence.

The Sessions
The friendship between John Hawkes’ paraplegic poet Mark and Helen Hunt’s sex therapist Cheryl begins with a first meeting, which is occasionally awkward and uncomfortable, but so completely fresh and honest that it’s impossible not to be drawn into the sincerity and calm of the interaction.

Your Sister’s Sister
As he arrives at his friend’s cabin expecting to spend the weekend alone, Mark Duplass quickly realizes that he is not alone. His initial conversations with Rosemarie DeWitt are absolutely superb, full of such wit and banter that it’s even more amazing to see the two actually get together.

Zero Dark Thirty
The long, tense scene in which Jennifer Ehle waits for the contact for whom she has gleefully baked a cake gives “Flight” a run for its money in terms for the most gripping, suspenseful scene of the year. The dread contained in the run-up to the eventual explosion is only worsened by its devastating conclusion.

Zero Dark Thirty
It’s hardly as controversial as the rest of the film, and the raid that actually kills Bin Laden is central to this long-range movie, which clocks in at over two and a half hours. It’s worth the wait, of course, respectfully and tactfully composed in the most powerful, dramatic fashion.

No comments: