Halfway through this glorious year of film that we call 2015, we’ve decided to take stock and write about our favourite movie moments so far. We’ll save worrying about the best films of the year until December. For now, we’re here to celebrate the moments that have made the year.
WARNING: Spoilers ahoy!
Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens – Teaser Trailer – Eddie
It only took a two-minute trailer to get the world frothing with excitement. Even in light of Lucas’ perhaps unfairly maligned prequel trilogy there is no question that J.J. Abrams has quite an unenviable burden of responsibility resting upon his shoulders. Stepping out with what has to be the biggest trailer of the year, it seems that Abrams is bringing the same confidence and charm to this cherished property as he did to Star Trek. From the opening shot of a crashed Destroyer to that final spine-tingling line, it is clear that Star Wars’ legacy is in safe hands.
Although it’s ultimately a bleak tale, the fraught domestic drama in Xavier Dolan’s film depicting a just-about-fictional Canada is broken up with generous skateboarding scenes which express a sense of freedom at odds with the film’s narrative.
In combination, gradually tightening tracking shots centred on protagonist Steve and an unashamed use of poppy ‘90s ballads evoke a feeling of boundless joy – even before the celebrated change in aspect ratio. This is amplified by the soundtrack’s mismatch with what Steve hears through his headphones; the director’s own style is unable to contain Steve’s joie de vivre and sheer force of personality.
In her full-length debut, Ana Lily Amirpour delivers a viciously visceral calling card. Pulsating with calm and cool, the film hits its emotional zenith at the halfway point. Arash Marandi, a dreamily quiffed biker punk, lays drugged-up and drunk upon the vampire’s bed. Our vampire, Sheila Vand, meanwhile puts on a record.
So far, the film has been formidably, untouchably cool. Yet as the song builds, a wonderful moment of humanity sweeps in. As the disco ball twirls, the romance blossoms. As the song goes on, the intrigue builds. A perfect scene from an excellent movie.
Age of Ultron completed a circle which began with New Mexico’s sword in the stone. Unliftable in the hands of the unworthy, even Hulk’s strength and Quicksilver’s speed can’t move it. Mjølnir: Thor’s mighty hammer – the Most Valuable Prop of the MCU.
Mjølnir has been a frequent source of might and mirth for its wielder. In Ultron, Captain America gives Thor fleeting fear as he imperceptibly lifts it in a party game, and the crowning shot of Vision passing the hammer to Thor with no difficulty cemented the new character’s worth and gave audiences one of the franchise’s biggest laughs.
When Kingsman hit our screens in February, it became a talking point for a number of reasons, not all of them altogether that tasteful. One scene, however, undoubtedly stole the show. Colin Firth walks into a church. Roughly three minutes later, having used everything from an axe to a prayer book, he walks out again having laid waste to virtually every member of the congregation. All to the tune of ‘Free Bird’ by Lynyrd Skynyrd.
The scene acts as a neat retort to those who have criticised director Matthew Vaughn’s penchant for violence in his films, as Firth’s crazed frenzy is induced very much against his will.
A schizophrenic serial killer breathes his last, trapped in a fire in a bowling alley. As all fades to white around him, the voices in his head – characterised by his pets – make peace with one another and go their separate ways.
In the infinite void, Jerry is reunited with his parents and his three victims. Then Jesus turns up, and everyone… sings a cover of a song from 1979 by the O’Jays.
It’s a sequence that succinctly sums up the 107 minutes that precede it: a balancing act between high camp and bleak horror.
Mad Max roared away down the Fury Road in a storm of fire, fuel and fight scenes that in any other film would have been the template for a familiar dose of grunting machismo. Not anymore. As Furiosa, Charlize Theron led the way as a modern, feminist action hero.
One quiet moment that roared louder than any war-rig engines could muster was the sniper shoot-out in the deepest blue of the desert night. Max fires once, twice, to take out the enemy’s searchlight, and misses both times. Instead of failing again he hands the rifle to Furiosa, offers his shoulder as a support, and CRASH. Success. A defiant, long-overdue statement telling men everywhere that anything we can do, women might just be able to do better, and there’s nothing wrong with that.
Dragon Blade – Jackie Chan vs. Adrien Brody – Andrew
As the army led by John Cusack and Jackie Chan clashes with Adrien Brody’s mighty Roman legion, Dragon Blade comes to a close with this clash between the mighty titans of Brody and Chan.
Tagged as the biggest and most expensive film in Chinese history, the nail-biting finale is nothing if not spectacular as Brody brutally dismantles a wounded and weakened Chan, swinging his Roman blades whilst Chan valiantly fights back for his life against the foreign invader. As Brody is stabbed by Chan, this brutal one-on-one battle between the two generals decides the ultimate fate of China’s Silk Road trading route. Brody’s ego takes a Herculean fall as he finally drops to his knees, choking on his own blood, whispering the national Roman anthem. Climactic. Powerful.
Joshua Oppenheimer follows his BAFTA-winning documentary The Act of Killing with The Look of Silence, a film which licks at the same festering sore of genocide as its predecessor, but this time with a rougher, more intimate tongue. Adi, whose brother was butchered in the Indonesian killings of the 1960s, calmly treads a harrowing path into the past over 103 minutes, eerily so considering it has been tarmacked with the gore of half a million souls.
Oppenheimer’s documentary reaches its zenith as his subject interviews one of the slaughter’s perpetrators; a vampiric geriatric, quivering involuntarily from the oncoming storm of a stroke, with burning coals for eyeballs. He furiously recounts glugging pints of blood, freshly spluttered from his victim’s yawning throats, to stave off the crawling fingers of insanity.
An incredible sequence in a startling piece of work.
Miles Teller’s nine-minute-long all-or-nothing ‘fuck you’ solo at the end of Whiplash is a venom-spitting retort to J.K. Simmons’ Machiavellian plot to crush any hope of a music career, and it is glorious. Director Damien Chazelle ingeniously uses music, not words, to explore the complex emotions surging between the two musicians; hatred and respect vie for dominance as Teller’s blood sweat and tears quite literally drip from the drum set. Chazelle left the scene intentionally open to interpretation, but one thing will be universally agreed upon: your feet won’t stop tapping for the whole nine minutes.
Agree with our Top 10 Movie Moments? What have been your cinema highlights of 2015 so far?