Wednesday, April 5, 2017

AFT Awards: Top 15 Scenes of the Year

This is a special category of the 10th 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.

Please note: The opening and ending of La La Land are easily two of the best scenes of the year, but I’ve already acknowledged them in those categories.

The introduction of Shia LaBeouf’s Jake is an entrancing moment, as he locks eyes with Sasha Lane’s Star near the checkout counters and proceeds to dance along to the words of “Yellow Diamonds,” climbing up on a counter to show Star just the ride she is in for over the next two and a half plus hours.

Star’s voyage across the country is filled with colorful, memorable moments, and none is more intoxicating than when she hops in the car with three men in cowboy hats and challenges herself to accomplish something that no one else will ever know she did just to show herself that she can.

It’s something about that song, and Riley Keough’s Krystal knows it. The energy of the film is well represented by the excitement all of the van inhabitants express when Krystal turns up the music as she pulls the van around to drop her salesmen off.

Amy Adams’ Louise has such a fascinating approach to interacting with the aliens, and it’s no more evident than in the first scene where she realizes that the squid ink shapes created by the aliens represent their version of language.

This Tribeca entry managed to do something exceptional in the way that it presented its alluring love interest, Breeda Wool’s Rayna, to Lola Kirke’s bored and malcontent Joey, exemplified best by a scene of passion set in the barn.

The film’s poster and token photo shows the sense of wonder present in this creative family drama, a humorous display of inappropriate color to best underline the unconventional nature of the Cash family when they show up to a funeral in normal society.

For the entirety of this film, Timothy Spall’s David Irving thinks that he’s in the right, and always perceives that he’s winning the case since what he can change the conversation to a specific question he seeks to prove or disprove at any moment. When the tide shifts, the look on his face, however fleeting and quickly replaced by stoicism, is extremely telling.

There’s a certain politeness to the way that the Howard brothers commit their bank robberies, and one of their earlier holdups is particularly representative of their Southern charm mixed with the deadly seriousness of what it is that they’re doing.

The extended shootout that populates the film’s second act is a marvelously-paced, suspenseful sequence that, like its slow-moving, calculating criminals, is in no rush to get anywhere and most intent on showing the quietness of the desert.

So many lines uttered by Julian Dennison’s Ricky are instant classics, thanks in no small part to his enthusiastic delivery. There’s something, however, about him being described as “a real bad egg” that takes the cake and sets the stage perfectly.

The sheer immense nature of Saroo’s journey as he travels so far from home is crucial to this film and its entire story, and seeing it all through a young boy’s eyes only makes it all the more daunting and effective.

My favorite movie of the year is filled with emotional, heart-wrenching moments, but nothing compares to the sight of a distraught Lee, played tremendously by Casey Affleck, grabbing a police officer’s gun in a moment of devastation, ready to end it all rather than go on living.

I enjoyed this film, which I saw at the Tribeca Film Festival last year, apparently more than a number of critics. What was most exciting was when the future famous footballer first debuted his fantastic footwork on the field, introducing a whole new revolution of daring and occasionally successful creativity into the game.

I still can’t get the terrifying “Brace! Brace! Brace!” being shouted by the flight attendants while the plane was going down out of my head. For all the times that this film almost showed what happened when the plane hit the water, there’s nothing more breathless and stirring than actually watching it in action.

In contrast to the high-pressure intensity of the moment, the simulations put on during the investigation are almost too easy. That’s what makes Sully’s challenging of the metrics, adding in a good deal of response time that accounts for the human factor, land in such a resonant and undeniable manner.

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