All jabs aside, here is my list of top 20 movie scenes. Unlike the others, though, I have no way of listing them an any kind of order. The top three are my actual three favorite scenes, but after that they are in no particular order.
1) Paul’s confession of love (“Breakfast at Tiffany’s,” Dir. Blake Edwards)
I have always liked dramas, romantic comedies and the likes. I get flack, and I’m sure I’ll get it with this being by favorite scene of all time. But that doesn’t bother me. Of all the movies I’ve seen with a confession of love, this one is the most powerful.
There is just something about the exchange between Paul Varjak (George Peppard) and Holly Golightly (Audrey Hepburn) that makes it unforgettable.
“Holly, I’m in love with you.”
“So what? So plenty!”
2) Expectations vs Reality (“(500) Days of Summer,” Dir.Marc Webb )
This instantly became one of my favorite movies of all time, and this scene stands out in a movie full of memorable scenes. As Tom Hansen (Joesph Gordon-Levitt) approaches the apartment of Summer Finn (Zooey Deschanel) for a rooftop party with the hopes of rekindling a relationship, the screen splits into two side-by-side versions of the same event: Tom’s expectations for the party, and reality. As the viewer, you get to the subtle differences — a hug instead of a kiss, a pat on the shoulder instead of a hug — all before reality comes crashing down on Tom’s expectations as he learns that his true love is engaged to someone else.
I’m sure not all of us have had our hearts broken in such a way, but we’ve all spent seemingly endless nights playing out events in our minds, building our own expectations.
3) Opening credits (“Watchmen,” Dir. Zack Snyder)
I loved the opening credits of this movie months before it was even released (thank you, Internet!). I watched them countless times, moving from one website to another as the trailer was taken down over and over again. Set to Bob Dylan’s “The Times, They Are a-Changin’,” the opening credits show the progression of masked vigilantes, from heroes praised by all to outcasts shunned by those who need them most, on the background of real historical events and a fictionalized version of history.
• “Oooohh ffffffuuuuuuuuudge!” (“A Christmas Story,” Dir. Bob Clark)
If there was one movie as a whole that I could pick as a favorite scene, it’s “A Christmas Story.” When Christmas Eve rolls around and TBS hosts the annual “24 Hours of ‘A Christmas Story,’” I will watch repeatedly. It’s unlikely my television will at any point be on a different channel during that 24-hour period. That being said, I have to choose one scene, and that scene is Ralphie Parker(Peter Billingsley) uttering “Ooooohh ffffuuuuuudge...” Only he didn’t say “fudge.” He said “The word. The big one. The queen mother of dirty words. The F dash dash dash word.” Priceless.
• Imprisonment of Evey/V’s Gift to Evey (“V for Vendetta,” Dir. James McTeigue)
This is a movie I never get tired of watching (as the 5th of November draws nearer, I look forward to the required watching). As Evey (Natalie Portman) is tortured in what she believes is a government prison, you, for the first time, understand why the hero of the story, V (Hugo Weaving), is hell-bent on overthrowing the oppressive government. And when she’s released from the prison and realizes what has really happened to her, it’s one of those great “Holy cow!” moments. As for V’s gift to Evey: classical music + big explosions = awesome.
• Chain Reaction (“Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” Dir. David Fincher)
In this scene, Benjamin Button (Brad Pitt), as the narrator, presents a number of seemingly meaningless events. A girl forgetting her coat as she leaves the apartment, then answering a phone, delaying her departure. The girl missing the first taxi she hailed, settling for the second. The same girl, waiting in a store for a package that should have been wrapped the night before but wasn’t because the employee had broken up with her boyfriend and forgot to wrap it. All these little things happen, and if any of them had changed, the taxi driver would have arrived to his destination earlier and Daisy (Cate Blanchett) would not have been dancing in the road as the taxi approached. But they all happened, and Daisy was in the road when the taxi came.
It is a great little narrative demonstrating the butterfly effect ( a whole better than the movie by that name, I might add).
• Chocolate Cake Girl (“Spider-Man 2,” Dir. Sam Raimi)
Ask any nerd about Chocolate Cake Girl, and they will probably know exactly who you are talking about. It’s a short scene from “Spider-Man 2” in which Ursula (aka “Chocolate Cake Girl” Mageina Tovah) barges into the room of a sad-looking Peter Parker (Toby Maguire) and asks if he wants a piece of cake. Then they eat cake together. That’s it. Seriously. I’m not entirely sure why I find this scene so appealing. Is it the awkward cuteness of Mageina Tovah? Am I subconsciously attracted to cake? I just don’t know, but I love the scene.
• “You bow to no one.” (“Lord of the RIngs: Return of the King,” Dir. Peter Jackson)
I have talked about this with Jason, and he is in the same boat. And no, we are not ashamed. This is one of those scenes that will make a grown man teary-eyed.
• Hallway brawl (“Oldboy,” Dir. Chan-wook Park)
One of the best foreign flicks around, “Oldboy” is a twisted revenge story with a stomach-churning twist. It also offers the most epic one-on-a ton brawls in film history. Dae-su Oh (Min-sik Choi) walks down a long, narrow hallway beating guys with a claw hammer. The whole scene is shown from the side, as if you’re watching an old side-scrolling video game.
• Peter’s song (“Forgetting Sarah Marshall,” Dir. Nicholas Stoller)
Jason Segal is my favorite comedic actor/writer, and scenes like this are why. Near the end of the movie, after breaking up with his long-time girlfriend and ruining a budding relationship with a new girl, musician Peter Bretter (Segal) has a musically charge emotional breakdown entitled “Peter, You Suck.” Hilarious.
• Fish tacos, beer and Andre the Giant (“I Love You, Man,” Dir. John Hamburg)
This is another scene I have watched repeatedly on the Internet when I need a good laugh but don’t have time to sit through the whole movie. In this bro-mance flick, Peter Klaven (Paul Rudd) and Sydney Fife (Jason Segal) hang out for the first time, dinner at a local bar. They get drunk, start rambling, and that leads to the best Andre the Giant impersonation I have ever heard. It had me in tears from laughing the first time I watched it.
• Bruce’s revenge (“Bruce Almighty,” Dir. Tom Shadyac)
Another scene that cheers me up no matter how many times I watch it. I’m watching it on YouTube as I type this, and still it makes me laugh. Bruce Nolan (Jim Carrey) uses his god-like powers to change what news anchor Evan Baxter (Steve Carell) sees and reads from the prompter. Nonsense follows.
• King Arthur vs. The Black Knight (“Monty Python and the Holy Grail,” Dir. Terry Gilliam/Terry Jones)
This is the funniest movie ever made, in my opinion. More than 30 years later, and it is still hilarious. As a youngster, I watched this every time it was on television. The scene that stuck out the most was the fight between King Arthur (Graham Chapman) and the Black Knight (John Cleese). The Black Knight’s shrugging off lost limbs like it’s no big deal is classic.
• D-Day (“Saving Private Ryan,” Dir. Stephen Spielberg)
I don’t think there is a lot to be said about this scene. We all know what it is and how gruesome it is. If there is one scene that is worthy of the word “epic,” it’s this one.
• Final showdown (“Unforgiven,” Dir. Clint Eastwood)
Pissed-off old guys make for a great movie. It’s just a fact of life. The final scene of “Unforgiven” is the epitome of pissed-off old guys getting the job done. Bill Munny (Clint Eastwood) walks into the bar, kills everyone in sight (with the exception of the author), and leaves. End of movie. Eastwood has set the standard for all old guys to live up to.
• Karaoke (“Lost in Translation,” Dir. Sofia Coppola)
My favorite scene from my all-time favorite movie isn’t even important to the whole story. It’s a short karaoke scene in which Bob Harris (Bill Murray) sings Elvis Costello’s “(What’s So Funny ’Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding.” It always puts a smile on my face. If I need cheering up, this scene does the job.
• Opening (”Wall-E” Dir,. Andrew Stanton)
Many will disagree, but for me, “Wall-E” is the best Pixar film. The animation is the best out of computer-animated films out there, the characters are lovable, and the story is one many of us experience ourselves (the searching for love part). Watching Wall-E rummage around an abandoned Earth, completely fascinated by objects left behind by people is… well, at the expense of my manliness, cute.
• Mickey O’Neil vs. Gorgeous George (”Snatch,” Dir. Guy Richie)
Arguably Guy Richie’s best movie and Brad Pitt’s most memorable role before “Inglorious Basterds” came out. So many great lines in this flick. It’s one of those movies that I can talk right along with the characters. I’ve watched it countless times. The fight between Micky (Brad Pitt) and George (Adam Fogerty) sets up the entire rest of the movie. There is just something satisfying about watching the little guy (Micky) purposely get beat up, then turn around and drop the bigger guy with a single punch.
• Bathtub Fail(“The Money Pit,” Dir. Richard Benjamin)
Funny scenes tend to have the longest-lasting appeal for me. Comedy isn’t my favorite genre, but if a movie can bring me to tears from laughing, I remember that. The first time I heard Tom Hanks’ maniacal laugh after his bathtub falls through the floor in “The Money Pit,” I lost it. The whole movie makes my side ache from awesome ’80s Tom Hanks humor, but I can watch that tub fall through the floor over and over.
• Hitler’s Outburst (“Downfall,” Dir. Oliver Hirschbiegel)
Here’s the thing: “Downfall” is a great film and this scene is very powerful. But my loving this scene and watching it over and over again has absolutely nothing to do with the movie as a whole. I love this scene and watch it repeatedly because of what people on the Internet have done to it. Tons of versions of this scene can be found on YouTube with edited subtitles. Who would have thought Hitler would be so upset when Kanye West interrupted Taylor Swift’s MTV VMA acceptance speech? Or that he really, really hated “Avatar?”