My Top 15 Film Scenes of 2015

19 Jan


Haven’t Seen: Legend, Crimson Peak, Grandma, I’ll See You In My Dreams, Trumbo, Heaven Knows What, James White, Taxi, Arabian Nights, Spy, Breathe, Experimenter, The Forbidden Room, Heart of a Dog, Mustang, The Walk, The Assassin, Chi-raq, Victoria, Li’l Quinquin, Blackhat, Hard to Be a God, Magic Mike XXL, Mr. Holmes, Amy, Bone Tomahawk, Dope, Girlhood, Shaun the Sheep Movie, Youth

HONORABLE MENTIONS: The opening (It Follows), The hospital scene (Me and Earl and the Dying Girl), Long take boxing match (Creed), Rey gets the lightsaber (Star Wars: The Force Awakens), The ending (End of the Tour), Connecticut (Mistress America), Catherine’s monologue (Queen of Earth), Dirty Talk (The Duke of Burgundy), Shootout (Slow West), Selling the Mop (Joy), Eilis gives advice (Brooklyn), Celebrity cameos (The Big Short), Boyz-N-The-Hood recording (Straight Outta Compton), Opening chase (Bridge of Spies), Agu’s final monologue (Beasts of No Nation), Church fight (Kingsman: The Secret Service), Opening sequence (Steve Jobs)

Awesome moment: The Rock flexes off his cast in Furious 7

*In no particular order. Note: there are spoilers for some of the endings to these movies. 

Speak Low, “Phoenix”: Arguably the scene of the year, and a literal drop the mic ending. It’s an inevitable, devastating, and absolutely perfect conclusion that leaves you in stunned silence. It’s also Hoss and Zehrfeld at their absolute best.

The final scene, “The Hateful Eight”: I could choose many scenes from this–Warren’s monologue and the coffee poisoning, to name a couple–but this is my favorite. It’s a surprisingly poignant ending to a brutal and bloody movie, and the symbolism of the Lincoln Letter paired with the beautiful music paired with an unexpected alliance makes this one of the best scenes of the year.

Vienna Opera House, “Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation”: This is just an impressively crafted action scene all around, and the violence is nicely juxtaposed with a beautiful background and music.

The final battle, “Mad Max: Fury Road”: The entire movie just seems like one awesome, extended action scene, but I’ll choose this final chase back to the Citadel as the highlight. This is an example of chaotic filmmaking as amazing filmmaking, and it’s one of the most thrilling movie sequences I’ve seen in a while.


Donut shop, “Tangerine”: This is the scene that brings the various storylines together, pitting everyone against one another in some way through a flurry of entertaining confrontations. It’s also the type of scene I’d describe as ‘chaotic’, but in a good way.

Day of the Dead, “Spectre”: Far and away the best part of the film, it opens with a slick tracking shot and follows Bond both through and above the Day of the Dead parade. The movie’s action brings diminishing returns later on, but this opening is a stellar piece of action filmmaking.


Sex scene, “Anomalisa”: The fact that one of the most realistic sex scenes I’ve seen in film comes from stop-motion animation is a problem. That aside, this is a scene that maintains both an air of awkwardness and an undercurrent of genuine emotion, and it’s extremely well done.

Paul Walker tribute, “Furious 7”: I’m ambivalent about the movie as a whole, but the tribute to Paul Walker is clearly the product of a lot of love, sadness, and appreciation of him as a person. “See You Again” is nothing special as a song, but in this context, it’s without a doubt powerful.

Escape and reunion, “Room”: The two go together, but they have slightly different tones: the former does well by the uncertainty and tension of the escape, whereas the latter is an extremely powerful and affecting reunion between mother and son. Larson and Tremblay are fantastic here.

Final scene, “Carol”: Feel good, poetic, touching, etc. etc. etc. The final scene is the culmination of a movie that comes full circle, and that one last look between Therese and Carol speaks volumes. It’s a gorgeous image to end on.

Bear attack, “The Revenant”: Along with the opening Arikara battle scene, this is the movie at its best, whether it be from a tension or sheer visceral impact or technical standpoint. It’s just absolutely relentless, having you believe that the scene isn’t so bad before it just bludgeons you over the head again and again with BEAR. Shoutout to Lubezki and co. for their work here.


Dance scene, “Ex Machina”: This is the perfect encapsulation of this movie. It seems fun and lighthearted throughout, but this is also the point where you start to realize just how messed up Nathan might be. Also, Oscar Isaac doing anything–let alone dancing–is worth watching.

Anniversary dance, “45 Years”: What a lovely, quietly heartbreaking scene. “Smoke Gets In Your Eyes” is the perfect song choice for this final scene, and the look we’re left with before we cut to black is beautifully played by Charlotte Rampling.


Border crossing, “Sicario”: For me, this is the most tension-filled sequence of the movie, and everything is set up brilliantly before all hell breaks loose. Deakins does a great job of utilizing windows and reflections to build up said tension.

Reunion/”Take her to the moon for me”, “Inside Out”: The most affecting scene of the film for me is Riley’s reunion with her parents, during which she realizes that it’s okay to be sad. It’s the thematic climax of the movie, and it’s wonderful. I’d be remiss not to mention Bing Bong and “Take her to the moon for me”, though.

*Shoutout to Brian Eno’s “The Big Ship”, used brilliantly in The End of the Tour and Me and Earl and the Dying Girl.

Photo credits: A24, Ex Machina, Sicario, Black Label Media, Anomalisa, Starburns Productions, Tangerine, Phoenix, Duplass Brothers Productions, Schramm Film Koerner and Weber

For poll purposes: if your choice is a different scene from one of my selected movies, feel free to either select “Other” or the scene I chose. 


3 Responses to “My Top 15 Film Scenes of 2015”

  1. JustMeMike January 20, 2016 at 11:23 am #

    I loved the scene in Room when Larson tell Tremblay, upon his 5th birthday some of the facts of their situation. And Tremblay says, I don’t want to be five anymore , I want to go back to being four.

    I also like the scene in Sicario when Benicio’s character sits down for dinner with Jefe and his family, the very family he will shortly kill. The tension was intense – I was reminded of the scene in Godfather when Michael Corleone had to sit down for dinner with Sollozzo and the police captain McCluskey.

    Small question – when it comes to doing a favorite list like this – how do you start. Do you work from a list of movies that you have seen and written about or do you have notes from the preparation of your review – sort of an index card file of scenes that you have compiled during the year.

    • polarbears16 January 24, 2016 at 4:28 pm #

      Yup, those were fantastic scenes as well. What I usually do for the scenes list is make my overall movie list rough draft first, then look to see if there were any particularly memorable scenes that stood out. I also like to go to other sites’ best scenes threads or lists to see if I’m missing anything.

  2. MovieManJackson May 11, 2016 at 9:59 pm #

    Went with Mad Max, Spectre, and Sicario. God, I love Sicario.

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