So each year, as part of my review of the twelve months gone by, I’ve traditionally looked to break down the top 30 scenes of the past year. Each year this involves faithfully trawling through various video sites to see if I can find the clips I was thinking of in my head, and then taking the usual list of 40 or 50 clips and trailers and gradually pruning them until I come up with a top 30.
As I didn’t start writing the review of 2015 until the start of 2016, I thought I’d save time this year by just doing a top 10 scenes. There really is no reason to do a top 30, it’s just an arbitrary number, so I started putting together a shorter list to reduce to 10. The problem was, I had a list of 18 and couldn’t really part with any of them. Right, I’ll make it a top 20 instead, I thought – and lo and behold I now have 26 clips.
So top 30 it is again.
I have made one difference this year to liven things up (and to save a little bit of time): rather than sort them into a ranking from 30 to 1, I’ve left them in chronological order, which turns this into a nice little meander through the past 12 months from January to December. Even more nicely, the first clip is from the very first film I saw in the cinema way back in January and the last is from the 164th and final film I saw in cinemas on the day before New Year’s Eve.
My usual warning at this point – clips may contain violence, strong language and spoilers for the film concerned. If you’ve not seen a film and wish to remain unspoiled, don’t watch the clip – no further warnings will be given.
Birdman – Taking flight
Although I wasn’t taken with Birdman as a film, finding it rather exhausting thanks to the continuous shot gimmick, a few moments did soar; none more so than this random, unexplained flying scene.
Whiplash – Not quite my tempo
Ruthlessly efficient storytelling is the order of the day, but this scene is also key to establishing the true nature of J. K. Simmons’ Terence Fletcher.
Ex Machina – Get Down Saturday Night
Who couldn’t fail to love a bit of Oscar Issac doing his thang?
Kingsman: The Secret Service
Yes, there are some dodgy moments in the latest Mark Millar comic book that Matthew Vaughn has got his hands on, but who wouldn’t love to see Colin Firth going medieval on some thugs in the local boozer?
Inherent Vice – Scream
There’s a theory in comedy that you can overplay something until it isn’t funny, and then overplay it more until it becomes funny again (think Sideshow Bob stepping on rakes in The Simpsons). In Inherent Vice there’s a similar principle, but instead with the cast going over the top with their acting and reactions.
Selma – Church bombing
I had barely taken my seat in the cinema at this point, and the shock almost caused me to spill my English Breakfast tea all over my lap.
The Duke Of Burgundy – Opening credits
Just as the opening titles did for Berberian Sound Studio a couple of years ago, Peter Strickland’s latest has such glorious opening titles I had to include them here, although I could have found a place for almost every scene.
It Follows – Opening scene
The first moments of It Follows do a fantastic job of setting up the eerie mood for what’s to come, a horror film content to operate in broad daylight and to defy a whole host of other conventions.
Mommy – Wonderwall
The film which made the most of its Instagram-style 1:1 aspect ratio not only uses that narrow screen focus very effectively, it also makes great use of the moments when it expands its horizons.
Wild Tales – Pasternak
A delicious half dozen tales of revenge in this Argentinian thriller, this is from the pre-credits sequence which makes up the first and is the moment when the characters start to realise something’s up…
Force Majeure – Avalanche
The pivotal moment in this Swedish character study comes when the ominous, ever-present threat of the snow forces the family to show their true colours.
John Wick – Clubbing
The benefits of two stuntmen taking on the directorial mantle shows throughout the film, but in particular in this extended sequence as he works his way ruthlessly through a nightclub in search of answers.
A Pigeon Sat On A Branch Reflecting On Existence – A handbag?
Often it’s the background detail which proves most interesting in Roy Andersson’s films, but the humour in this early scene is front and centre.
Mad Max: Fury Road – Sandstorm
George Miller’s triumphant return to the world he created over 30 years ago has a number of great set pieces, but this chase through the sandstorm is a visual stand-out.
Tomorrowland – House attack
While not one of Brad Bird’s finest moments, there are plenty of individual scenes in Tomorrowland which still set the pulse racing, including this attack on George Clooney’s reclusive home.
Ant-Man – Thomas The Tank Engine
Couldn’t find a better clip to illustrate this, sadly, but the final fight in Marvel’s Phase 2 closer is glorious and the Thomas The Tank Engine moments had me clapping with glee.
Slow West – Arrow
A surprising Western, this is perhaps its most literally surprising moment.
BEST SCENE OF 2015:
Inside Out – Take Her To The Moon For Me
A rollercoaster of emotion, skipping from punch-the-air triumph to “I think I have something in my eye” in a matter of mere seconds.
Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation – Opera fight
While the plane stunt got all of the attention, Chris McQuarrie still had plenty of tricks up his sleeve for the rest.
45 Years – Next Of Kin
A beautifully acted film, Andrew Leigh shows the power of two people talking in a room.
Bill – King And Queen
It’s difficult to know which is more delightful, Ben Willbond’s King Philip or Helen McCrory’s Queen Elizabeth.
Legend – Irritated
This scene highlights Tom Hardy as his best in both of his roles as the Kray twins.
The Walk – Edge of the void
While I didn’t feel that Robert Zemeckis’ fiction worked as well as James Marsh’s documentary Man On Wire, there’s no denying the visuals are spectacular.
Macbeth – Banquet Scene
A particularly fond scene for me as I’ve sung concerts with a choir in the room where this was filmed.
The Lobster – Sign Language
Perfectly capturing the bonkers nature of Yorgos Lanthimos’ English language debut.
The pre-credits sequence is up there with Bond’s finest, so it’s all the more disappointing that the rest of the film failed to live up to it.
Saoirse Ronan may have carried the film, but it was humorous moments such as this which kept it so light and watchable.
The Good Dinosaur
Sam Elliott as a Tyrannosaur telling campfire stories? Sold.
In a film so rooted in its visuals, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that I’ve picked a scene which brings them to the fore.
The Forbidden Room
And we end with the year’s most disturbing earworm.
The Top 30 Scenes Of 2014 – WINNER: The Wolf Of Wall Street, Quaaludes kick in
The Top 30 Scenes Of 2013 – WINNER: Iron Man Three, The Mandarin reveal
The Top 30 Scenes Of 2012 – WINNER: The Muppets, Man Or Muppet
The Top 30 Scenes Of 2011 – WINNER: Mission: Impossible Ghost Protocol, Burj Khalifa