Gru and Dru Impersonate Each Other from DESPICABLE ME 3
After a period of bonding, former Supervillain Gru (Steve Carell) and his bumbling estranged brother Dru (also Carell) decide to make a family dinner a little fun by dressing up as each other. Sure, this scene might be a little random, but it’s so enjoyable to watch these two try to imitate each other.
I included this scene thanks to Carell’s impressive voice acting. Rarely do you hear a voice actor portray one character impersonating another character they also voice. To pull this off, they can’t sound like the later character, they must sound like former character trying to impersonate the later character. One perfect example is the scene in the Looney Toons Cartoon Rabbit Fire, when Bugs Bunny (Mel Blanc) and Daffy Duck (also Blanc) pretend to be each other to trick Elmer Fudd (Arthur Q. Bryan). When Bugs impersonates Daffy, you don’t hear Daffy’s voice. You hear Bugs doing his best Daffy impersonation. The same goes the other way. Carell pulls off the same affect with the characters. When Dru imitates Gru, it’s more innocent compared to Gru’s snarkier imitation of Dru. Such is a challenging task for a voice actor, and Carell pulls it off with graces.
The Aging Montage from A QUIET PASSION
This brilliant montage starts with each member of the Dickenson clan sitting in front of the camera like they’re posing for a portrait. When the camera closes in on Emily Dickenson (Emma Bell as a teen, Cynthia Nixon as an adult) and her family, they age right in front of our eyes. Director Terrence Davies is not known for using special effects, but the way this film flawlessly ages up the characters from one actor to another is breathtaking.
10) Wonder Woman Enters No Man’s Land from WONDER WOMAN
As if I need further explanation. It’s Wonder Woman strutting in the middle of a battle field! And she’s dodging bullets with her shield and bracelets! And she’s kicking German soldier’s asses! All to the tune of her awesome theme song (courtesy of composer Rupert Gregson-Williams).
Of course, it wouldn’t have worked without Gal Gadot’s performance as Wonder Woman. Not only does she give off the presence of a true warrior, but you can feel the conviction as DC’s greatest heroine steps into battle, ready to defend the greater good.
9) The NASCAR Heist from LOGAN LUCKY
Steven Soderbergh is a maestro when it comes to filming a heist scene. Watching a Heist unfold in Ocean’s Eleven and the sequels were always a blast to watch. He proves he still has the moves with Logan Lucky, where he brings a blue-collar spin to the tropes.
This time, the masterminds are the unlucky Logan brothers (Channing Tatum and Adam Driver) who plot a heist on NASCAR with the help of demolitions expert Joe Bang (Daniel Craig). Of course, they must break Joe out of prison to accomplish this goal. And it must be done quickly so Jimmy (Tatum) can be on time for his little girl’s beauty pageant. So not only do we see a heist unfold, but also a prison break, and a riot to boot. It’s just as glorious as the Heists in the Ocean’s movies.
There are also a lot of funny moments surrounding this sequence, from Clyde’s (Driver) prosthetic arm getting stuck in a tub to Joe stopping a heist to explain the science of using gummy bears to make a bomb.
8) That Plot Twist from SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING
To me, what made Spider-Man so special was Peter Parker’s struggles to balance his personal life with his superhero life. He had enough problems being bullied at school and having money troubles at home, but getting super powers only added complications to his life. Sure, Peter earns the glory of beating up bad guys as Spider-Man, but it comes at the expense of letting people down in his personal life. It made matters worst when those dangers found their way to his doorstep. Case in point: this plot twist.
WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD
Peter Parker’s (Tom Holland) second life as Spider-Man has taken its toll on his social life, making it near impossible to socialize with Liz (Laura Harrier). Despite missing multiple events, Liz finally gives him a chance when she becomes his date for the homecoming dance. Just when everything’s coming up Parker, his joy comes crashing down when he finds out Liz’s father is Adrian Toombs, aka the Vulture (Michael Keaton). Now Parker’s faced with a dilemma; go through with his date and let Toombs get away with his heist or stop Toombs and ruin Liz’s life.
When Marvel movies were criticized for being too predictable, this plot twist took everyone by surprise. I was at a preview night for this movie, and never have I heard an audience sound more shocked by a twist in my life.
7) The Opening Bank Robbery from BABY DRIVER
Of course, we can’t talk about the best scenes from 2017 without mentioning the years’ best car chase.
From the opening scene, we witness the precision Baby (Ansel Elgort) puts into his driving as he helps bank robbers (Jon Bernthal, Jon Hamm and Eliza Gonzalez) evade police while listening to John Spencer Blue Explosions’ Bellbottoms. It’s always fun to watch a heist unfold in movies, but this car chase is a sight to behold. This scene plays more like a musical number the way the car sways gracefully in tune to the song. And the way that car swerves around that tight alleyway is a beauty.
6) All the Bomb Disarming Scenes from LAND OF MINE
These are among the most intense scenes of the year. You can’t help but be on the edge of your seat while young German POWs try to diffuse millions of landmines on a beach.
Yes, they’re Nazis, but they’re also frightened kids. They all dream of going home, yet they are stuck in a village that despises them. You sit there with dread knowing that one wrong move and Kaboom! These kids have to maintain a steady hand, but many of them are fidgety from terror. You are always anticipating an explosion, yet every Boom comes as a shock in this movie.
5) Run Rabbit Run from GET OUT
Is it just me or does easy listening Rock N’ Roll music make horror films more unsettling? Notice how creepy Robert & Johnny’s We Belong Together sounds in Christine, as if it’s emphasizing the car’s obsession with its owner. And then there’s the infamous X-Files episode “Home”, when the sound of Johnny Mathis’ Wonderful Wonderful warned of the mutant monster’s oncoming attack. What makes these innocent sounding songs work so well in moments of terror? One reason is how the director plays on the irony of the upbeat music playing over a terrifying scene, as if to taunt the heroes. Another reason is how the lyrics an unintentionally further the tone of the film, as indicated by the former.
A most recent example is how director Jordan Peele uses Flanagan & Allen’s Run, Rabbit, run in the opening scene of Get Out. First, the chorus is almost warning innocent bystander Dre (Keith Stanfield) of oncoming danger. Second, the uppity tune is as unassuming as the suburban environment, adding more suspicion to the world around Dre. Finally, it introduces the reoccurring theme of running which includes the creepy scene of the Armitage’s groundskeeper Walter (Marcus Henderson) randomly running around at night.
And I haven’t even started on the brilliance of how the film was shot. Shot in one take, Peele has the camera circle around Stanfield as he walks alone at night (never a good idea in horror movies). And then we see a white car U-turn right behind him and follow him and you know the shit’s about to hit the fan. Then the camera circles around him, we realize the car’s door opens and out of nowhere, a man in night’s armor knocks him out and drags him into the car. This scene is a lesson on how to build suspense.
There’s also a satirical element in how it takes the stereotype of white people’s fear of black neighborhoods and turns it on its head.
4) The Opening Fight Scene from THE VILLAINESS and the Stairway Fight Scene from ATOMIC BLONDE
The reason I put these two together is they share a theme of female assassins fighting multiple killers within a confined area. And they are both shot in one take. What separates them is how they are filmed; one done with stylized glamour and the other with gritty realism.
Let’s start with the Korean action film and learn how to start an action movie.
This Korean action film hits the ground running with our anti-heroine Sook-Hee (Ok-bin Kim) going John Wick on a group of gangsters. Facing off armed and sword-wielding assassins, She shots and slices across a seedy alleyway through a hallway. All shot from Sook-Hee’s point of view.
That’s nothing compared to when they take the fight to the gym. In an environment surrounded by mirrors, cinematographer Jung-hun Park deserves credit for keeping the camera out of sight. Then in a moment of master filmmaking, we see Sook-Hee’s POV as her head smashes into a mirror and then the camera switches to a third person perspective. How they managed to pull this off is a miracle.
While director Byung-gil Jung was looking to impress through camera work, Director David Leitch was looking to impress through choreography with Atomic Blonde.
While trying to transport key witness Spyglass (Eddie Marsan), MI6 Agent Lorraine Broughton (Charlize Theron) finds herself ambushed by two KGB agents. And so, commences a brawl that leave all battered, bloody and exhausted. But just when it seems like Broughton is done, along comes more Agents to open fire on her.
The camera follows Theron and the villains as they try to shoot at each other, throw each other down the stair and pummel each other to bloody pulps. It offers a more realistic portrayal of brawls. In most action films, the hero takes down thugs with ease. But like the Hallway scene from Daredevil, when henchmen get knocked down, they get back up and deliver their own hard blows. This not only humanizes the protagonist, but makes the action more gripping.
3) Remember Me from COCO
Okay, it’s more of a song than a scene. But this song is special in how its meaning changes throughout the film.
Remember Me is the most famous song of Miguel (Anthony Gonzalez)’s late idol Ernesto De La Cruz (Benjamin Bratt). Trapped in a family with a draconian “no-music” rule, the song embodies Miguel’s passion for music and his longing for escape. But as the spirit realm reveals the downsides of a music career, the song’s meaning changes in Miguel’s mind. By the end of the film, the song showcases music’s power to connect loved ones. It also serves the film’s theme of the importance of remembering loved ones after they’re gone.
On the lighter side, the song was also used to make fun of overplayed songs like Disney’s own Let it go.
2) The First Rehearsal from A LONG TIME RUNNING
In the first day of rehearsal for the Tragically Hip’s final concert, late singer Gord Downie returns from cancer treatment bearded and frail. From the recorded footage, you can see the rest of the band unsure of what to do. And then guitarist Paul Langlois begins the first notes of Escape is At Hand for the Travelling Man, and the band follows suit. In this moment, we watch Downie in suspense, waiting to see if he’ll have the strength to go on. But then he sings the first lyrics, he slowly reveals the charismatic front man Canada has grown to love.
While we already know the Tragically Hip final concert goes off across Canada without a hitch, this documentary still has us in suspense in this moment. This moment feels like a moment of triumph for Downie, who is using his last ounce of strength for his last hurrah. With the recent passing of this extraordinary front man, this scene has more weight to it.
1) The Ending from Dunkirk
No film ending has left more of an impact than this haunting, beautiful conclusion to the year’s best war movie, Dunkirk.
After spending nearly two hours on the edge of our seats, we are finally relieved to see the 300,000 soldiers finally rescued from Dunkirk. In this moment, Zimmer finally breaks the cycle of intensity to deliver a beautiful melody of triumph. To the soundtrack of a Winston Churchill speech, we are treated to a series of haunting images, from Commander Bolton (Kenneth Branagh) staying behind while his fellow men leave to a newspaper article declaring George (Barry Keoghan) a hero.
But none compare to the conclusion of Farrier’s (Tom Hardy) storyline. There’s something awe inspiring about the image of an airplane slowly landing on a beach during sunset. Add Zimmer’s music and it almost brings a tear to your eyes. There’s also the image of the heroic pilot standing alone as he sets his plane on fire. Add the fact that not only does he have no way to get home, but he ends up captured by German soldiers and this scene stays with you forever.
 Which was written by Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez, who also wrote Remember Me.