Friday, 29 March 2013

Encore Awards (2012 in Review): Memorable Scenes, Top 10

As I mentioned the write-up on the runners up, choosing my memorable scenes finalists is more about choosing scenes I’ve personally responded to that examining 2012 cinema to find the “best” scenes – an impossible task, really. These are the scenes which I’ve pondered on long after I saw the films, the cinematic moments I’m most liable to recall from the year – some moving, some shocking, some uncomfortable and all of them impressive.

#10: Anna Karenina / “I don’t think my nerves can stand another Alexei.”
From Vronsky’s first entry, which is cut short to Anna’s own nervous entry to the Princess’ party in that lavish red dress this scene signals its importance. The lovely fireworks make way for Vronsky’s (re) entrance and one of my favourite random bits from Taylor-Johnson as he smoothly whispers to Anna - Courage!. Of course courage is something this film is not lacking. The headiness of the movement and blocking – Princess Myagkaya’s story, Karenin’s appearance, Vronsky’s ardent lovers plea all underscored by the tittering ladies it’s an lavish, elaborate scene as the film but not lacking in electricity of emotion.

#9: Holy Motors / Monsieur Merde
I hesitate to call the entire Monsieur Merde sequence a scene, but it’s difficult to separate pieces in the sequence into “scenes”. The entire of Holy Motors succeeds in being a heady mind-bending experience but the moment where dubious Monsieur Merde bites the assistant’s hand in this sequence is a simply fascinating set-up for the a entrancing sequence.

#8: Killer Joe / Chicken Leg
It feels counterintuitive, somewhat, including this on a list of what would portend to be a collection of “best of” so I’m lucky it’s more memorable than best because this extended scene is something gruesome. Still, it’s impossible to deny the sheer effectiveness of this gruesome movement between tension and horror. From many McConaughey gets major points for his steeliness, and my personal Supporting Actress winner Gershon has received the accolades she deserves but key points to Hayden Church who is perfect as the bumbling cuckolded husband doing wonders with the most difficult part in the scene. Of course, key points to Friedkin’s direction too.

#7: The Hobbit / Riddle Game
It goes on longer than you expect it to but the tension and magic is sustained throughout. For all that The Hobbit gets right the work on Gollum and Freeman’s performance are towards the top of it and Jackson trusts his facilities enough to let the moment develop organically and charmingly as necessary. It’s to his credit that a scene of words only turns into such a fine encapsulation of tension and excitement.

#: 6: Moonrise Kingdom / “What kind of bird are you?”
Sam and Suzy’s first meeting is the meet-cute to end all meet-cutes and as we watch their romance develop miles apart through montage Anderson ably captures the winsome nature of storybook young love while giving us key insights into the characters of our two young lovers, keeping the funniness intact but not shielding us – or them – from the ever-present darkness around them.

....go below the jump for the top 5.... conversations, preparations for battle and a dance...

#5: Killing Them Softly / A conversation
It’s the most unassuming scene of the top ten, and there are great moments in Killing Them Softly which depend more on the visceral or the conventionally exciting but no moment in the film thrills me as much as that taut conversation when the two divergent halves converge and Jackie Cogan walks into that bar to surprise Frankie. It’s my favourite moment of McNairy’s in the film, who is just marvellous here, but Pitt is no slouch here either. McNairy’s nervousness against Pitt’s aloofness makes for an excellent combination.

#4: The Deep Blue Sea / Molly Malone
It’s funny. The first few times I saw The Deep Blue Sea as enamoured as I was with scene it still wasn’t my favourite musical moment in the film (that’s the sombrely romantic “You Belong to Me”) and the more I pondered I realised that the effectiveness of this scene comes not from the centrepiece of that admittedly excellent flashback but the bookends of present-day Hester contemplating life and death. Wiesz utters no lines in the scene, but that image of Hester’s expressive face turns a good flashback into a scene of overwhelming profundity.

#3: Les Misérables / “One Day More”
On one hand “One Day More” is so easily the prototypical song from the musical it’s difficult to imagine any production not seeming like a benchmark moment. On the other hand, though, musical scenes done via montage are difficult even if it’s a great musical. And, when one considers having to a musical montage with about a dozen characters singing basically every song thus far from said musical in counterpoint – I’d imagine there are easier things. Kudos, then, that Hooper and company manage not just to accomplish this but to legitimately achieve dramatic tension, the rat-tat-tat joy of the moment and a nice preceding moment to the “Do You Hear the People Sing” change in scene moments after.

#2: The Impossible / Swept Away
For emotion I’d probably single out the family’s reunion or Henry’s phone call as top tier moments, but for sheer scope and effect The Impossible does not get better than that first – horrific – hurtling of the waves towards the hotel. As the moment goes on, longer than you expect it to, there are so many moments which exemplify the thrust of the film. The image of Henry trying – foolishly even – to shield the boys is the basic indication of how parenthood works. The ghastly fade to black and the realisation that it’s not over (ace sound-work) as bodies are tossed about like toys. It’s early on but it’s the highpoint of the film .

#1: Anna Karenina / “Dance with Me”
It really helps that in Dario Marianelli’s gorgeous score the “Dance with Me” track actually is the most beautiful. So, as we watch Anna and Count Vronsky impossibly drawn to each other over a dance we’re just as hypnotised by the moment as the lovers are. The inherent danger in the scene is not making it too fanciful and not making it seem to go on too long, but with all the aspects of the film coming together – music, photography, editing, acting, direction, sound work (the heightened scrape of the heels on the floor is a favourite effect of mine) the way Wright convinces me of the earnestness of emotions here is something exemplary.

Which scenes of 2012 do you remember most readily?

Previous Citations: Actress / Audacious Cinema / Cast and Casting / Cinematography / Forgotten Characters / Openings / Sound and Music / Supporting Actor / Supporting Actress / Writing


Brittani Burnham said...

Great list!! I loved the dance scene in Anna Karenina. I just kept thinking how hard it must have been to learn all those steps. I loved the one you picked from Moonrise Kingdom as well, it was so cute. And Killer Joe...I'll never forget that scene. That's for sure.

Alex Withrow said...

Great list here. Numbers 9 and 8 were memorable for such disturbing reasons. But I agree, the chicken leg scene is crazy effective. No arguing that.

And number 5, ah, whatta great moment.

Andrew: Encore Entertainment said...

brittani< the anna karenina scene was an easy #1 for me, it works on a technical level and is still adding much to the narrative. it really works as a meet-cute even though the two aren't saying anything to each other.

alex glad you liked #5. that scene more than anything else depended on the solid work of the actors and both mcnairy and pitt come through.

Colin Biggs said...

Only a brave man includes the chicken scene in a best of list. Well done, sir!