The Ford On Film End Of Year Awards 2014: Best Scene
‘The performance’ from We Are The Best!
‘Alcoholic stepdad’ from Boyhood
‘The Beach’ from Under the Skin
‘Quicksilver demonstrates his powers’ from X-Men: Days of Future Past
‘Dinner date’ from Nightcrawler
*MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD’
‘Reading the book’ from The Babadook
Jennifer Kent’s The Babadook was by far the scariest film of the year (Exorcist director William Friedkin claims he’s “never seen a more terrifying film”), and there was no scene more unnerving than the film’s defining moment; the first appearance of the nightmarish titular children’s book. As well as being as tense and disturbing as any scene I can remember in the last decade, and being a masterclass in gothic style, this scene is so spectacular because it sets the ground rules for the rest of the film and foreshadows major events to come.
‘Beach confrontation’ from Calvary
In Calvary’s riveting opening scene, Father James (Brendan Gleeson) is threatened by a mystery assailant with murder the following Sunday. The rest of the film is a slow burn in which James tries to make his peace with the world while facing a cavalcade of morally vacant locals. On the Sunday, James walks down to the beach, where he comes face to face with the man he’s known all along to be his killer; Chris O’Dowd’s seemingly idiotic local butcher. The following scene, where O’Dowd reveals his abuse at the hands of Catholic priests and why Gleeson has to die, is staggering in its rawness and honesty. Despite the film being about the threat of James’ murder, when the moment comes, it’s still a gut punch of a shock.
‘Prison yard fight’ from The Raid 2
Gareth Evans’ The Raid was the best action film of the last decade, so it only made sense that the follow-up would raise the bar even higher. 150 minutes of insane camera moves, insane fight choreography and some of the most brutal violence seen onscreen all year, there were a huge amount of scenes from The Raid 2 that could have been ranked. Ultimately, no scene could top the riotous prison yard fight for me. The sheer level of choreography, energy and planning that must have gone into the scene is jaw dropping, and Evans’ flawless direction is more proof that he is the greatest action director of his generation.
‘I Love You All’ from Frank
When I first reviewed Frank, I claimed that the film’s flaws lied in its ‘too sudden’ tonal shifts; after a few re-watches, however, I think this is Frank’s greatest strength. It starts off fairly light, a bizarre oddball comedy, before slowly becoming more reflective and making some really interesting points about mental health and the pursuit of fame and talent. Rather than some of the lighter, funnier moments of the film, such as Frank’s most likeable song ever or the first Soronprfbs gig, it is the final scene of the film, perhaps the film’s most emotional, that is its very best. The song, a nonsensical but dramatic indie ballad, is magnificent, and Michael Fassbender’s performance, finally free from his giant mask, is wonderfully touching. A triumphant and fitting ending to one of the weirdest films of the last few years, and a scene that might just bring a tear to your eye.
‘The bar fight’ from The Guest
One of the year’s most unexpected triumphs, Adam Wingard’s fantastic 80’s homage The Guest was a fast paced, funny and mysterious action film that built from very little into a full blown thriller. After a slow opening in which former soldier David (the terrific Dan Stevens) ingratiates himself with the family of a deceased army friend, the film truly kicks off with this scene, in which David helps out the teenage brother (Brendan Meyer) of his friend by taking down a group of bullies in a bar. Along with Stevens giving one of the coolest performances of the year, as he cockily dismisses the bullies and flirts with their girlfriends, it’s one of the most pulse-raising action scenes of the year; super soldier David easily takes down the larger group with pool cues, cocktail glasses and each other, before casually tipping the waiter and leaving. Similar to cult Ryan Gosling film Drive, The Guest is simply cool-for-cool’s sake, and the bar fight is more entertaining and stylish than any other scene this year.
By Harry J. Ford
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