The Wolf Of Wall Street

Review Of 2014: The Top 30 Scenes Of 2014

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Sometimes a film isn’t about the combination of script, director, actors, special effects and the host of other contributions, sometimes it’s about the alchemy of a particular moment that lives long in your memory. Other times it’s just about a cheap fart gag or a stupid dance. Either way, no Movie Evangelist Review Of The Year would be complete without me attempting to pick out the 30 best scenes of the year from a collection of legal and illegal clips made available via YouTube, then getting frustrated when I can’t find the clip I had in mind and discovering that half the ones I did find have disappeared within a couple of months. (When I put my top trailers together last week, one of them had been taken down before I even managed to publish the post. Grr.)

Yes, no review of the year of mine would be complete without this, except my review of 2010 because the first time I did this was in 2011. If I had done a list in 2010, the number one would either have been a bunch of monks having dinner (Of Gods And Men) or the audacious stadium chase where the camera seemingly zooms in from somewhere in the next country (The Secret In Their Eyes). Or possibly the end of Toy Story 3. Or Mary And Max. But now we’ll never know. Anyway, that’s the beauty of variety of these lists.

So after having been back to my countdowns of 2011 to 2013, and then reinstated all the clips that have disappeared since this time last year – this year a total of thirteen clips had disappeared from the last three years – I’ve now been through and assembled thirty of my favourite moments from this year’s finest.

WARNING: Viewer discretion advised. This blog post would be rated at least a 15 if I had to submit it to the BBFC, for several instances of strong language, strong violence, bloody injury detail, and dangerous bears. Well, dangerously cute bears, anyway.

30. Manakamana – Two old ladies eating ice cream

The latest film from the Sensory Ethnography Lab at Harvard is really more of an art installation than it is a film – hence nine walkouts when I saw it in Cambridge – but if you allow yourself to be taken over by its precise rhythms there are many pleasures to be had. It consists of a series of cable car rides on a trip to and from a temple, and by the time you’ve seen half a dozen you have a rough idea of the duration. Watching two women attempt to finish their ice creams before they reach their destination becomes a surprising study in tension.

29. Starred Up – Cell invasion

The British prison drama has energy and anger to burn, and there’s no better example than this scene where Jack O’Connell greases up then arms himself ready for trouble.

28. Muppets Most Wanted – I’ll get you what you want

None of the songs in this sequel quite match the original, but this one probably comes closest. Not sure whether my favourite rhyming pair is second pillow / armadillo or diamond ring / thingy-thing.

27. Edge Of Tomorrow – Truck and roll

Edge Of Tomorrow, or Live. Die. Repeat. Or Groundhog Cruise, or whatever it’s calling itself now, had a lot of fun killing Tom Cruise, and this was as much fun as any of the deaths.

26. Lilting – Awkward introductions

You would think having to have almost every scene in the film translated would be a barrier to the drama, but as this early scene proves, it can actually add to the tension and layers of meaning.

25. Mood Indigo – The pianocktail

Very little this year – with the exception of The Grand Budapest Hotel – brought me as much joy from a single film as Mood Indigo, and I would see a pianocktail as being a fine addition to any room or deranged fantasy film.

24. Alleluia – Kitchen sink opera

Just the trailer here for Alleluia, the latest from Fabrice Du Welz, but this means the scene in the kitchen where Lola Dueñas breaks into song will remain resolutely unspoiled for when you see the film.

23. The Grandmaster – Platform altercation

Wong Kar Wei’s much delayed film had problems in the Weinstein-produced version I saw, and I’m not sure that the original cut would have fixed them, but the experience was worth it for scenes such as these.

22. What We Do In The Shadows – Werewolves not swearwolves

It’s all the little moments – like throwing the stick – that still make me think I may have harshly judged WWDITS when I reviewed it earlier in the year.

21. Kajaki: A True Story – Bomb dispersal

The trailer here gives you a flavour of the film, but most of the last hour or so is an exercise in ratcheting tension that had me gripping chunks out of the armrests. Thanks to a dedicated distribution deal with Vue, this wasn’t as widely seen as it might have been, but the scene where one character is leaping blindly across a valley of landmines was as nerve-shredding as anything seen this year.

20. The Babadook – Bedtime stories

So, you start reading a terrifying bedtime story book – at what point would you have stopped reading? Before this? Yeah, me too, probably.

19. 22 Jump Street – Who’s the daddy?

A collection here of the finest scenes, all featuring Ice Cube, from this summer’s meta-sequel that provided a lot of the year’s biggest laughs.

18. Fury – Sherman vs. German

This making of discusses the highlight of the film, a sequence where a German Tiger tank takes on four American tanks and comes off resolutely best.

17. Godzilla – HALO goodbye

You might recognise the music from this sequence if you saw the re-release of 2001 earlier this year, or if indeed you’re a fan of Lygeti’s Requiem (source of the music in question).

16. Blue Ruin – Headshot

Yep, so I didn’t see this coming when I saw it in the cinema. A film full of small, surprising moments and less conventional choices.

15. ’71 – Kicking off

The second appearance of a Jack O’Connell film in this year’s countdown, and the best moments in the film are when O’Connell is separated from the rest of his unit and forced to go on the run. For some reason this film was criminally underseen this year.

14. Night Moves – Dam busters

Couldn’t quite find the scene I wanted, which is the attempt by Jesse Eisenberg, Peter Saarsgard and Dakota Fanning to blow up a hydro-electric dam in a manner that goes about as smoothly as sandpaper covered in splinters. But this scene also shows how the lack of forward planning and Saarsgard’s laissez-faire attitude undermine the plan from the start.

13. The Guest – Brother from another mother

So this scene is when The Guest kicks into a higher gear, as Dan Stevens shows just how to deal with bullies. For my mother if she’s reading, a bonus scene with Dan Stevens. Apparently Downton hasn’t been the same since he was killed off. Can’t think why.

12. Stranger By The Lake – Ready for drowning

This making of discusses the pivotal scene at the heart of the film, which sees a crucial plot development take place in the far distance with the character watching unable to do anything except sit and be horrified.

11. Inside Llewyn Davis – Opening number

Many of these end of year lists feature Please Mr. Kennedy as their scene of choice, but I was hooked when Oscar Isaac was allowed to sing this in full. Despite not being a musical, having every song at its full length worked very much in the film’s favour.

10. Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes – Tank whirl

Sadly the full clip showing the tank POV shot as the apes attack the human settlement isn’t on YouTube yet that I can find, so instead watch the Honest Trailer, which has bits of it it, but also made me feel ridiculous about even liking the film. They usually do that.

9. Under The Skin – Surface tension

A film that I originally rated 8/10 and thought would be lucky to break my top 40 this year. Then I couldn’t stop thinking about scenes like this for months.

8. Guardians Of The Galaxy – Prison break

Marvel’s blockbusters may have only been mildly revolutionary – although as it turns out Captain America: The Winter Soldier probably saved Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. from an early grave – but in terms of entertainment value, the raccoon and the tree are hard to beat.

7. The LEGO Movie – SPACESHIP!!!!

Hey, at least I didn’t play you the year’s biggest earworm, Everything Is Awesome. ‘Cos you’re thinking about it already, and I’ve only said the title, haven’t I? Anyway, this is how excited I got when I played with LEGO when I was seven. And also last week with my niece. For five hours. Awesome.

Oh, and that thing about not playing the earworm? I lied, sorry.

6. The Skeleton Twins – Starship troupers

This clip not only captures the special bond between brother and sister that persists well after childhood (it would likely be something from the original Now That’s What I Call Music album for my sister and I), but also the frustration that sometimes you have to just scream into a pillow. I might go sale shopping for some more pillows while I think about it.

5. Paddington – Meet and greet

Spending four years at university, trekking from east Kent to Bath every six weeks or so by train, meant that I spent more hours than I’d care to mention on those platforms. Yet now, I aspire to the middle class lifestyle that this short clip clearly represents. The Lost And Found sign over Paddington’s head is a delight.

4. X-Men: Days Of Future Past – Hi yo (Quick)silver

Remember, of course, that filming this at 200 frames per second means they actually had to do everything really quickly. Nice to see Bryan Singer back on the X-Men films.

3. The Raid 2: Car chase fight

This is just part of a longer sequence, but when you watch it, pay close attention to the part around the 4:23 mark. If you can’t work out how on earth they achieved that camera move, the solution in this video is both simpler and more amazing than you realise.

2. 12 Years A Slave – Hanging in the balance

From the year’s most uncomfortable film, a scene I still can’t watch without grasping at my own throat. Or soul, for that matter.

1. The Wolf Of Wall Street – Higher than an eagle

It’s maybe no surprise to see Martin Scorsese still at the height of his powers after forty years in film making, but Leonardo DiCaprio has continued to mature thanks to his partnership with Marty over the last ten of those. This clip has everything: visual style and trickery from Scorsese, the most hilariously inappropriate voiceover I can remember, and Leo showing a gift for physical comedy that probably no-one expected. Let’s hope the pair can continue to find projects to work on together if they’re as good as this.

Previous years:

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

Review of 2013: The Half Dozen Special – 12 Best Trailers Of 2013

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Time to start my fourth annual review of the year, and where better place to start than where most cinema screenings also begin: the trailers. (Yes, technically most cinema screenings start with the adverts, but even I’m not desperate enough to pick out my favourite bits of non-cinematic commercial advertising.) At the start of the year I wrote a post called the Corridor Of Uncertainty, looking fondly at the various ephemera that make up your pre-film entertainment as well as the adverts and trailers and I then tracked that with each review I wrote for three months. The pattern that emerged was that the multiplexes were typically running at around 25 – 30 minutes, where smaller cinemas were coming in at a more leg and bottom-friendly fifteen minutes. It would be nice if what you’re expected to sit through before the film worked on its own terms, but that seems less and less the case.

What has become apparent over the course of the year is that, to quote an old cliché, they don’t make ’em like they used to. Take for example this trailer for The Innocents which is currently in cinemas on re-release.

While there’s certainly an efficiency to modern promos, with their two and a half minute running time, their teaser trailers, their trailer teasers and their ruthless marketing campaigns designed to take no prisoners, I can’t help but feel that something of the character of trailers of years gone by has been lost forever. Finding trailers that I feel make the grade this year feels as if it’s becoming increasingly difficult, but here are what are I consider to be the year’s dozen best films that have been brutally edited down into pocket form for promotional purposes. As always, because this is a cinema blog, some of these trailers may have been on t’internet last year, but you would have been seeing them in cinemas this year.

Best Trailer For A Not Very Good Movie: I Give It A Year

There’s plenty of laughs in this trailer, and often that’s a warning shot to anyone then moving onto the full film that the trailer might contain all of the film’s laughs. What was particularly impressive in this case is that the trailer actually contained more laughs than the film, many of these moments proving less funny in context than they were in isolation and the sour, narcissistic and generally unpleasant tone that permeated the film itself ultimately made it about as enjoyable as hearing a doctor give you a detailed report on the contents of your lower bowel.

Best Trailer Featuring Almost The Last Shot Of The Movie: You’re Next

If you see as many films as I do, then chances are that you’ll end up seeing some of the same trailers over and over again. I still have nightmares about seeing the trailer for Brendan Fraser film Inkheart what must have been over twenty times in the cinema as the release date kept getting pushed back (never did see the film) and consequently I could have played it out word for word. I caught this trailer for You’re Next several times over the summer, and a few moments stuck in my head to the point I was waiting for them to appear in the finished product. I’ll never know if this reduced my overall enjoyment of the film, but there were enough other moments that this was an unnecessary move on the trailer maker’s part.

Best Trailer Earworm: Stoker

Really enjoyed Stoker, so don’t be surprised when you see it in the Top 40 of the year later this week. I also remember coming out of the cinema with the track from this trailer, Dirge’s “Death In Vegas”, still playing in my head; all the more impressive when you consider that it doesn’t actually feature in the finished film. Not to knock Clint Mansell’s score for Stoker, as it’s one of the best of the year, but Dirge had embedded itself so deeply in my brain that when I started putting this list together, it instantly started playing in my head again on a loop.

Best Trailer Earworm Honourable Mention: Frances Ha

If I was a director, then I’d love to be able to pay such obvious homage to the works of others and be lauded for it, other than being accused of simply ripping off the original. I sat through all of the end credits of Frances Ha simply to listen to David Bowie’s classic Modern Love, but didn’t realise until afterwards that the scene is a direct reference to this scene from Leos Carax’s Mauvais Sang.

Excuse me, back in a moment, just off to run jauntily down the street. It’s infectious.

Best WTF Trailer: Only God Forgives

So Drive. You really liked Drive, didn’t you? Yes, I did too, putting it number two in my Top 40 of 2011. So Nicolas Winding Refn’s new film has got Ryan Gosling in again. So yes, you’d expect it to be a lot like Drive again, wouldn’t you? So… ah. Ah right. (Warning: contains violence, karaoke and general weirdness.)

Best Trailer That Actually Contains The Post-Credits Sting: The Pervert’s Guide To Ideology

Having watched this on the last day of the Cambridge Film Festival this year, director Sophie Fiennes was present for a Q & A. On these occasions, often the credits are allowed to play out in the background silently so we can get straight to the discussion; Sophie asked to have the sound back up so we could watch the post-credits sting in all its glory, only to then discover that the whole thing is on the end of this trailer anyway. Still, the trailer does give a flavour of the insight available into Slavoj Zizek’s unique thinking.

Best Trailer That Accurately Represents A Film That No-One Saw: The Kings Of Summer

So, there have been 430 films so far to receive a cinema release in this country, of which I can lay claim to having seen just under a third. Two of them, The Way, Way Back and The Kings Of Summer, felt thematically similar and that’s the only reason I can think of that The Kings Of Summer struggled to find distribution. I caught it at the Prince Charles Cinema in London after a work trip to the capital, and it seemed to be one of the few cinemas showing it. While The Way, Way Back played across the country and took in just under $2.5 million at the UK box office, sandwiched on the list between Sammy’s Adventures 2 and Hitchcock, The Kings Of Summer didn’t fare quite so well.

Top 12 Trailers 2013 1

Yes, that’s $0.024 million dollars. If you’ve seen more than one film on that list, well done you.

Best Editing: Don Jon

Yet another case of the promise of the trailer not being borne out in the film itself, but you feel it’s likely Joseph Gordon-Levitt was probably more hands-on in the process of compiling this trailer than many directors would be. Still don’t get the Scarlett Johansson thing, sorry.

Best Trailer For A Film Not Out Until Next Year: The Wolf Of Wall Street

Stiff competition in this category this year, with many of the later releases including Godzilla having impressive promos, and some of the earlier releases of the season such as American Hustle dazzling with their starry casts. I can also cheer myself up whenever slightly down by watching the Grand Budapest Hotel trailer again. (Card-carrying Wes Anderson fanboy, I guess.) But actually the most interesting promo for a film not due until 2014 is this, the first trailer for Martin Scorcese’s latest; Marty having fun is a none-more-appealing prospect.

Best Trailer Featuring A Scene Not In The Actual Film: Frozen

It’s like a little short film all its own. Sit back and enjoy. (The actual short film that precedes Frozen in cinemas, Get A Horse with Mickey Mouse, is also great, even if it is to actual Mickey Mouse cartoons what The Artist was to silent cinema.)

Best Trailer Of 2013: Gravity

When I saw the film, I spent most of it in terror of dodging debris and of my fear of heights trying to tell me that I was actually 372 miles above the earth and could fall at any moment. However, the trailer manages to capture that feeling of fear in under two minutes. For being able to send me whimpering from the cinema, wanting to scream “Grab the DAMN SPACESHIP!” at Sandra Bullock at the end of the trailer, and for expertly capturing the overall mood of the film without giving too much away, Gravity’s first trailer is my winner for 2013.

Previous years:

Review of 2012: The Half Dozen Special – 12 Best Trailers Of 2012

Review of 2011: The (Half) Dozen Best Trailers of 2011

Review Of The Year 2010: The Half Dozen Best Trailers of 2010