My Favourite Film Scenes Volume 2:
12) Brother vs Brother (Warrior)
Tommy (Tom Hardy) and Brendan (Joel Edgerton) are estranged brothers who unknowingly enter the same high-stakes MMA tournament with their final clash leaving the audience conflicted in their expectations and aspirations. When Brendan dislocates Tommy’s shoulder he refuses to surrender, forcing Brendan to further damage his brother if he wants to save his family. The final round is no longer about the fight – it’s about loss, a lack of love, and childhood trauma. For an awful moment, it looks as if Brendan will kill Tommy but three simple words (‘I love you’) make Tommy do the unthinkable – he taps out. It’s a deeply emotional and moving moment as the two brothers walk out of the ring together whilst their alcoholic father (Nick Nolte) watches on as they symbolically leave the pain of their childhood behind by silently agreeing to be the loving, supportive brothers they always should have been.
11) ‘It’s Hard Out Here for a Pimp’ (Hustle and Flow)
A talented but unfulfilled rapper/pimp (Terrence Howard) attempts to make his first big hit but has to work from the ground up – building the beat, bribing the neighbours to shut up and getting one of his girls (Taraji P. Henson) to sing the hook. Henson shines as an uncertain woman who after being pushed delivers the vocals that set up Howard’s rap. Highly personal and lyrically accomplished Howard’s verses lift the song and as we listen to this brilliantly addictive track for the first time it’s even more rewarding having seen it come together piece by piece even if the producer’s negative comments remind us that music-making is not that easy. The chemistry between Howard and Henson is terrific and as their characters find musical and personal purpose the scene foreshadows their relationship on televisual phenomenon Empire a decade later.
10) Yippee-ki-yay (Die Hard 4.0)
Thomas Gabriel has captured McClane’s daughter whilst the defiant Matt (Justin Long) is being forced to decode data for the criminal’s plans. Enter Bruce Willis who gets a few shots away but following the ruckus (including his daughter performing the legendary McClane headbutt) is left with a gun pointed at his head, closer to death than he has ever been. “On your tombstone it should read, ‘Always in the wrong place at the wrong time’” says Gabriel – moving the gun to shoulder-height – “How ’bout… Yippee-ki-yay, mother******!?” retorts McClane shooting through his own shoulder and into Gabriel’s heart, sending him crashing into a windscreen, defeated and dead. Matt takes down the remaining villain, then a wounded McClane touchingly reunites with his daughter. We simply don’t see the iconic catchphrase coming and when combined with McClane’s daring and selfless act it creates one of the most bad-ass moments in movie history.
9) Cocktails for One (Nocturnal Animals)
After receiving an intoxicating novel from her estranged ex-husband Edward, Susan (Amy Adams) is enticed into seeing him again. Knowing that Susan aborted their child and cheated on Edward, the audience is intrigued by his motives for this meeting. A ring-less, lipstick-less Susan appears to have rejected her superficial life as she orders a cocktail and waits for him to arrive. Time passes and whilst Susan looks glamorous through the restaurant’s window, in close-up shots she begins to look shaken by Edward’s non-appearance. As she drinks her second cocktail she realises that Edward was never coming. This ‘date’ was the ultimate revenge story, he has shown how superficial she still is by luring her back with a Pulitzer-standard novel and leaving her utterly exposed and alone. Deeply unconventional, this closing scene has us rethinking every detail of the film and Edward’s hugely symbolic novel as we dissect his ingenious revenge.
8) Years Pass (Interstellar)
Travelling on the spaceship Endurance, Joseph Cooper (Matthew McConaughey) has been unable to watch his children’s messages for decades. When he finally sees them, he watches his son grow from a boy to a man with a wife and child. In his devastating third message his son has been broken by the death of Cooper’s father and his own child, whose death Coop learns about just thirty-eight seconds after becoming aware of his existence. His son says he has to let his dad go and both men sob lightyears apart knowing they will probably never talk again. Coop’s daughter leaves a single no-less impactful message where she heartbreakingly explains she is now the same ages as her father was on his departure and he has still not returned. Throughout the scene, McConaughey is astonishing, capturing every inch of the anguish and pain, leaving the audience reaching for their tissues.
7) Raisin Bran for Dinner (Silver Linings Playbook)
Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence both give the performance of their life in this scene where two mentally-ill people go on a ‘date.’ Simultaneously upsetting, amusing and terrifying the dialogue is bang-on with the pair’s unpredictability (Cooper’s character orders cereal to show it’s not a date) making for gripping viewing. They talk about love, lust and their conditions but just as they really start to open up to each other the idea of who is the ‘crazier’ of the two causes offensive and the underlying tension manifests itself in the form of Lawrence storming out of the restaurant. She then exposes Cooper’s flaws in a brutal monologue although once the chaos dies down it is telling that the pair support and forgive each other due to a mutual understanding of their situations. Two A-listers completely disappearing behind beautifully flawed characters, this is a scene for the ages.