January 27, 2009

Best of 2008: Part 2

Read Best of 2008: Part 1

The Best Scenes of 2008

...they made the movie, and then some...

1. Philippe Petit defies gravity, Man on Wire - Almost certainly the most breathtaking scene of the year, a video clip here would just be wrong. It can only experienced once for the first time - and that deserves to be in a theater.

Andrew Garfield trips on E, Boy A - In one scene, two incredible things simultaneously occur: Andrew Garfield's career jumps another level, and the emotional blood of an entire movie pours out on screen.

Underwater tracking shot, Encounters at the End of the World - Uncut and unbelievable, this was more out of this world than "at the end of the world". I can't speak for what the experience would be like on a computer screen or TV, but in a silent theater and with those haunting Gregorian chants setting the pace, this was a trip.

Young Jamal goes all the way, Slumdog Millionaire - In a movie where bursts of emotion and adrenaline came every 2-3 minutes, this was the one that set the tone for the duration. You could smell the pure...exhilaration emanating from the screen.

Suspicious spies exchange cryptic proverbs, OSS 117: Cairo, Nest of Spies - If you speak French you'll find this a lot funnier than the rest of us. If you don't, just know this was one of the high comedic moments of 2008, in a movie that went surprisingly unnoticed. Heads up for the sequel on the way!

Sabotage at the swimming pool, Let the Right One In - Unfortunately I can't find a visual for this one, but that might be for the best anyway, and those who have seen the movie surely have it stuck in their head already. One of the best final scenes in years.

WALL*E's outer space journey, WALL*E - I found a clip of this scene but it was in such bad quality that I didn't want to taint it in anyone's mind. WALL*E's curious and carefree trip made space look like a playground where you can glide through the stars and fly by the sun without a worry in the world - literally.

Kimberly Roberts rapping "Amazing", Trouble the Water - Spontaneously, from the heart, a woman who's been through unimaginable distress shows us the meaning of true strength. If Hurricane Katrina could have been talked down into submission, Roberts would have been the person to call.

Time-lapse shot of Yangtze river rising, Up the Yangtze - In less than a minute, a history is lost and a culture forever changed. Equal parts hypnotizing and horrifying, this was the scene you hoped you'd never have to see.

Fred Knittle sings "Fix You", Young @ Heart - After losing his singing partner on a major duet, Knittle went solo to deliver a heartfelt, rueful rendition of Coldplay's hit song. The bittersweet irony of the lyrics stung the soul. Knittle passed away this New Year's Day, but not before leaving an unforgettable legacy.

(watch a higher-quality, unembeddable version here)

Honorable Mentions:

Chad confronts Osborne in the car, Burn After Reading
Juan Antonio makes The Pitch,
Vicky Cristina Barcelona
War strategy session,
David Paskowicz sings through the camera at his father,
Philip rides his bicycle blind,

Motorcycle chase, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
Ray confronts tourists on the park bench, In Bruges
Walt shares a meal next door,
Gran Torino
Visit to Henry Waxman's office,
Bigger, Stronger, Faster*
Benjamin learns to walk,
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

The Most Forgettable Movies of 2008:
...I know I saw these, but that certainty is fading - fast...

The Bank Job
Bottle Shock
Brick Lane
The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian
Flash of Genius
Hamlet 2
Harold and Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay
How to Lose Friends and Alienate People
The Incredible Hulk
Jar City
Roman de Gare
Run Fatboy Run
Smart People
Son of Rambow
A Thousand Years of Good Prayers

The Best Endings/Final Frames of 2008:
...now that's how you end a movie...

Silent Light
Chop Shop


The Wrestler

Let the Right One In

The Dark Knight

Slumdog Millionaire
(and end credits)
Quid Pro Quo

Bigger, Stronger, Faster*

Tropic Thunder
(best end credits)

The Worst Movies I Saw In 2008:
...it's better not to ask "why?", but to just move on and try to forget...

Step Brothers
Nobel Son
Bottle Shock
Where In the World Is Osama Bin Laden?

And THE worst - everybody's #1 with a bullet:

The Happening

...to be continued...


  1. Just continuing on...

    There was NO FILM that I saw all year that had better end credits than TROPIC THUNDER.

    No way. No how.

    And I genuinely loved these scenes,too...

    JUAN ANTONIO getting ready to start his engines...and getting VERY different reactions from a highly intrigued CRISTINA and an openly hostile VICKY in VCB

    RAY confronting the tourists on the park bench (hah hah) in IB


    Well done, Danny!!!

  2. Absolutely great series, Daniel. I've been looking forward to something like this (wasn't exactly sure how you were going to do it) since the new year, and you aren't disappointing. I can proudly say I have not seen any of your "worst films" except Changeling, which I decided to watch after its cinematography nomination. Oy, what a bad film.

  3. Danny, I must admit, quite a few of the Best Scenes you list there are favouritse of mine too, especially that night club scene from "Boy A." Even your honourable mentions are great. As are the "best endings." Indeed, well done dude - this is how you do a year end write up!

  4. This is really a fantastic idea, wonderfully executed. I won't even try to add another scene or instance--your presentation is too perect and informed. This is an incomparable way to examine those precious cinematic moments that stayed with you and have defined spending all those hours in the darkness. Your selection and memories are beyond reproach.

  5. "There was NO FILM that I saw all year that had better end credits than TROPIC THUNDER."...were my words as I left the theater as well. Slumdog Millionaire's were a close second, though, and on the topic of credits, RocknRolla's opening credits were the highlight of that movie. Boy I hope Ritchie gets his mind right making Sherlock Holmes.

    And that VCB scene made the list in part because I saw you highlight it. I've capitalized it, which I think it appropriate.

    Thanks again, T.S. and Nick. I had some ideas in mind but wasn't really sure what I would eventually come up with. I had to scrap some lists because I couldn't think of more than a couple examples.

    And Nick - that Boy A scene is really for me and you, since I nobody other than us mentioned it all year!

    Sam, glad you enjoyed it, especially since I know many of these movies made your Top 10 list as well. For these scenes especially, I don't regret spending any of that time in the darkness.

  6. "that Boy A scene is really for me and you, since I nobody other than us mentioned it all year!"

    Au contraire.

    Fifth paragraph.

    You have, however, rightly highlighted it as one of the great scenes of 2008. By the way, your 2008 wind-up pieces are superb. Anyone interested in going about this in the near future need only look at you for guidance and inspiration as the benchmark!

  7. I stand corrected!

    And thanks very much, Alexander. It's been a fun wrap-up, even though I'm too busy to do it the extent that I originally planned.

  8. I'll be robbing some of these scenes for the Muriels ( I was just bending my mind trying to come up with 10 cinematic moments and i TOTALLY forgot about Fix You)

  9. I fully grant you a license to steal. I actually had trouble narrowing it down to 20! (10 + honorable mentions).

    Maybe throw the Speed Racer finale in there for ya?

  10. The final scene of "Let the Right One In" was absolutely perfect. Just the right balance of tenderness and macabre. I loved it.

  11. Totally. And actually the VERY last scene (in the train) is a great one as well. Altogether it's easily one of the best endings of the year.

  12. I was kind of lumping those two together, so yes, I agree. :-)

  13. I can't speak for what the experience would be like on a computer screen or TV, but in a silent theater and with those haunting Gregorian chants setting the pace, this was a trip.

    I saw it on my big Sony in Blu-ray and it looked absolutely amazing. Of course, it never came anywhere near here onscreen.

    This is a great series, by the way.

  14. Now THAT'S as close as you can come, Rick. Especially if you have a nice sound system - which of course anyone with any sense who has a Blu-Ray setup on a massive flat panel would.

    Thanks for revisiting the year here - as I said in Part 1, there was plenty for me to love about this year. Which means I either have really broad tastes or I just saw all the best movies.


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