There are a lot of big movies out at the moment. Big names, strong plots and enjoyable cinema experiences waiting to be had if you’re ready to hand over your money and a couple of hours of your time.
Here’s a question for you though…. Have you ever watched a movie, enjoyed it thoroughly but been blown away by the power of one single scene buried deep amongst the rest of it. You might not even know why it hit you so hard. Maybe it was the acting. Maybe it was the intimacy of the moment or the visual spectacle on display but there was something visceral in that one moment of celluloid that snuck a knife into your gut and lit a match into your memory. Well I have.
So in honour of such fire-brand moments, here’s a short list of the sucker-punch scenes from movies out right now that took my breath away; scenes you might just want to look out for…
Wish I was Here: Mandy Patinkin is always going to be good value for money, we all know this. But a one-on-one hospital scene between his character and Kate Hudson’s daughter-in law right in the middle of this indie drama is an absolute powerhouse of acting. Truthful, kind and heart-wrenching relying solely on dialogue and close ups, it’s a great example of the reasons independent cinema has finally earned its place on the big screen. It’s truly awesome and I dare you to keep a dry eye after watching it.
Gone Girl: I’m not gonna spoil anything for you guys since the mystery element is this film’s biggest pull but if you do end up buying a ticket for Gone Girl I’d ask you to keep your eyes peeled for one scene in particular. I can’t say too much but it’s another one-on- one deal although this time instead of intimacy the scene’s brimming with wide-angle cameras and the media. Just one line of dialogue punctuates the thing- ‘You fucking bitch.’ And let me tell you, that’s all that needs to be said. Because god-damn, if it ain’t a hammer blow to the head!
Pride: It’s a British character-actorpalooza! And props to all of them obviously for telling a wonderfully uplifting tale of the fight against prejudice in the Eighties. There’s a lot of beautiful moments to showcase here but for me Bill Nighy’s laconic Cliff making one last ditch attempt to turn Maureen away from her homophobic campaign of hate late one night on her own doorstep makes the entire movie. The flicker of doubt that crosses her face for a moment is astounding to watch and his obvious disappointment when she refuses to back down is worth the price of admission alone.
Lucy: I know, I know this is silly sci-fi action at its most ludicrous. But, in amongst the special effects and dubious science, I actually found one of the earliest scenes to be the most important. Before Lucy has become anything more than your average schmo, there’s an argument that occurs with her boyfriend where he asks her to do a drop off for him. Standard movie fare you might think and you’d be right. But…And it’s an important but…. Unlike most ‘movie bimbos’ she actually shows some real street-smarts in refusing to do it, repeatedly turning down all the offers he makes her. The fact that he then cuffs the briefcase to her wrist after all this, taking away any choice in the matter makes the horrors that happen from then on all the more tragic. It’s a small moment, understated when held up against the rest of the action but it also shows the human cost of what was taken against her will. Most people probably won’t even remember it but for me at least, it gave the movie an edge it wouldn’t have had otherwise so…it goes on the list.
Guardians of the Galaxy: “We are Groot” came close. Coz let’s face it, Groot is immense! But for my last entry I’m going to place my chips on the opener again, when a young Peter Quill comes face to face with his dying mother in her hospital bed, unable to take her hand or even unwrap the present she’s given him because…well, he’s a kid and he’s scared beyond anything he’s ever felt before. The colour palette is sterile, the details shadowy and the fact that this moment impacts Quill’s entire life from then on (no matter how crazy it gets and hell, it gets pretty crazy) speaks for how important a moment it is. But alongside that, the fact that James Gunn uses this very human moment to draw us into a plot chock full of large improbable things like spaceships, aliens, planets and talkin’ trees gives it a significance beyond your average superhero origin story. It’s desolate and bleak in all the right ways and used as it is as an emotional touchstone for the audience and the protagonist it’s a scene that just can’t be ignored.