MIDDLE OF NOWHERE
Setup: A mother, two daughters and a grandson sit down to have dinner. The mother tries to start a conversation. The daughters would rather not reveal anything honest. Years of resentment, avoidance, unhappiness, disappointment come crashing down.
Why: In one very economic scene the dynamics and history of this family are revealed. You understand tons about these characters. The scene reflects eloquently any family that sometimes is unable to connect.
Setup : It doesn't matter. There's a man, there's an accordion. Several other men with accordions appear. It becomes a parade.
Why : It's a jolting haunting beautiful scene in a movie full of very eccentric scenes. Even if you don't care much for the movie, this one sticks with you. Fanfuckingtastic!
RUST AND BONE
Setup : A woman recovering from losing her legs in a horrific accident tries to remember and heal. Katy Perry starts blaring.
Why : Because of the emotional punch Marion Cotillard throws at you. You feel it in your gut.
Setup : A few male strippers gather in a gym to workout. A seasoned stripper teaches the new kid a few moves.
Why : Because Matthew McConaughey looks fantastic and acts the hell out of the scene. Years of his sometimes charming, sometimes puzzling public persona has lead to this moment. He emerges a great character actor and a star for the ages.
Setup : A few members of the Russian aristocracy gather at the races. A horse falls down. A woman screams with concern for her lover. Her husband watches.
Why : It is unlike anything else we've seen at the movies this year. Joe Wright's choice to film the whole movie inside a theater comes to bright vivid life in this scene. He builds the tension; is Vronsky OK? What will Anna do? How will Karenin react? The visuals are sumptuous and the emotions heightened.
ZERO DARK THIRTY
Setup: Mission accomplished, time to leave the mission site. A lonely hunter boards a plane. Tears stream down her face.
Why : We don't know why Maya is crying. Is it relief? Is it sadness? Does she feel lost? Not knowing what to do next with her life? We don't know and the questions are what makes the scene moving and memorable.
Setup : The sex therapist and her patient finish a session. As they are saying goodbye they both discover the emotional bond that grew between them. They decide to end the sessions. The therapist has a breakdown in her car.
Why : The emotional honesty of the scene. The way Helen Hunt plays it is moving and cathartic. You see all these feelings on her face as she starts crying alone in her car. She is at once happy, sad and grateful. Happy for her patient's breakthrough, sad because she will miss him in her life, grateful to have had the experience.
What were some of your most memorable scenes? Do you agree with these choices? I would love to hear from you.