The contributors at Out 1 recently had the great idea of naming their favorite individual scenes of 2007 so I thought I would chime in with mine. I didn’t want to narrow it down to one so here are ten that really stuck with me. It was a strong year for American cinema so choosing just ten moments was difficult but these really stood out in my eyes. I'm sorry all the photos don't coincide with the scenes but I did the best I could and I have included a few of the clips that were available on YouTube as well.
1. MICHAEL CLAYTON: The closing shot
It is rare these days to find a film that is willing to hold a close up on a person’s face for more than a few seconds but the brave and moving closing shot of MICHAEL CLAYTON does just that to devastating effect. Without saying a word George Clooney is able to communicate all you need to know about the rather amazing journey this man has just taken. Incredible stuff and it’s my favorite moment in a film from this past year.
2. HOSTEL PART TWO: The Bidding Montage
It is a thrilling tour de force moment from Eli Roth where he suddenly switches the focus of the film from the victims to the killers. With some of the best split screen use in a couple of decades, Roth takes an idea that the first film just hinted at, that power, greed and boredom can lead men to the most violent actions possible. This sequence is so good that I can't imagine people still questioning Roth's talents after watching it.
3. WE OWN THE NIGHT: The car chase in the rain
There are very few scenes around now that really feel fresh but this incredibly odd and eerie sequence by James Gray is just that. In a year with some of the most exciting and adventurous car chases in cinema history, this nightmarish rain drenched sequence really stands out.
4. DEATH PROOF: Stuntman Mike talks up his TV work
Obviously the stunt work of the second half of the film is astonishing but it is a short dialogue scene that remains my favorite moment in Tarantino’s film. Kurt Russell has never been better as he lists some of his seventies credits and suddenly realizes the young people he is talking to have no knowledge of the things he is referencing. The look of disappointment and realization that his time has passed him by is extremely moving and is among my favorite scenes in all of Quentin's films.
5. JUNO: Vanessa and Juno bond at the mall
The moment where Vanessa crouches down in front of Juno to feel the baby kick is extraordinary. It is a key moment in the film as it cements the silent bond the two very different women form between each other. The reaction on Jennifer Garner’s face when the baby does finally kick is absolutely priceless...I still can't believe her performance has gotten so little attention.
6. AMERICAN GANGSTER: Russell Crowe and Carla Gugino face off in divorce court
An argument between the once happy couple about the custody of their child suddenly leads to an decisive moment where Russell Crowe’s character realizes he has been a failure at the things that matters most. It’s a tiny moment in a very big film and Crow and Gugino, under Ridley Scott’s direction, play it beautifully. It’s one of Crowe’s great moments in a career filled with many, many great moments.
7. EASTERN PROMISES: Viggo Mortensen’s nude fight sequence
All of the acclaim David Cronenberg and Viggo Mortensen have gotten for this audacious and violent sequence is justified. It’s a thrilling moment in a very great film.
8. DEATH SENTENCE: The Car Garage Shot
I remember mumbling ‘holy shit’ to myself when I saw this incredible sequence from the sorely under appreciated DEATH SENTENCE in a near empty theater earlier this year. I haven’t gotten the DVD yet and I have heard they go into some detail on it on the extras. I almost don’t want the effect that Wan manages here to be spoiled though by an explanation.
9. SMOKIN ACES: The John Cale meltdown
Jeremy Piven is unforgettably shattered in front of the mirror in his bathroom as John Cale’s majestic BIG WHITE CLOUD plays in the background. It is one of the most perfect marriages between music and an image all year, and SMOKIN ACES most masterful moment.
10. PLANET TERROR: The opening pole dance
Tim Lucas has talked about how great this opening bit with Rose McGowan is and I have to agree wholeheartedly. Watching this is in a packed theater opening night with the speakers cranked was positively electric. I have always liked Rose but she became an instant legend with this breathtaking sequence.
Finally one has to mention this mind blowing shot from ATONEMENT which I am leaving out of the list because it has gotten so much coverage already. Still it is a wonderful achievement and I had to mention it even though honestly I prefer the erotic simplicity of Keira Knightley in the fountain at the beginning of the film to this more complicated shot.
My best of 2007 will be posted as soon as I have the chance to see THERE WILL BE BLOOD later this month.