Year in Review: Top 15 Movie Moments of 2013

     December 20, 2013

The Ax – You’re Next

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You might have missed seeing this indie in theaters, but chances are good you seen some of its marketing, in the form of creepy white-washed animal masks.  The masks played a key visual element in the home invasion thriller, but the best surprises came by way of Sharni Vinson’s survivalist character, Erin.  In an effort to protect herself and take out the assailants, Erin rigs a number of Home Alone-type weapons meant less for laughs than outright maiming.  One particular contraption, an ax suspended above a doorway, gets set up relatively early on but then just waits, and waits, and waits, all the while building the tension until… Man, I’d rather people seek this film out than get the moment spoiled here, so go check out You’re Next to see what happens! – DT

Zod’s Death – Man of Steel

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It would have been hard to avoid the knowledge of this pivotal moment in Man of Steel as the reaction sparked fervor from both supporting and opposing camps.  Superman (Henry Cavill) battles Zod (Michael Shannon) throughout the city, finally subduing him in a vice-grip.  While it looks like Zod has been defeated, he trains his heat vision on an innocent family, forcing Superman to end his life with a snap of Zod’s neck.  While I was squarely in the “pissed off” category when I first saw this, a proponent of Supers’ “No Kill” policy, I’m now in favor of the decision because I think it will pay dividends to the Batman vs. Superman storyline.  Time will tell whether or not Superman’s decision to kill will be handled properly going forward, but it was certainly one of the more polarizing moments of 2013. – DT

Danny McBride’s IntroductionThis Is the End

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Has there been a better character introduction in recent memory?  Though Danny McBride misses out on the initial apocalypse action in the very funny This Is the End, he gets not one but two fantastic intros.  His first introduction, though, is pure McBride, as directors Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg cue the perfect needledrop to slowly reveal his character’s presence—but even before McBride’s face appears, the swagger with which this unknown person carries himself can only belong to one person. – AC

Opening SceneGravity

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The long lead-up to the release of Alfonso Cuaron’s Gravity was paved with plenty of whispers and rumors—verging on legend—about the nature of the secretive film.  Chief among them was talk of an extended, uninterrupted opening shot, and when audiences finally got a look at Gravity, indeed Cuaron had crafted a 13-minute uncut tracking shot to open the film.  The length is only the tip of the iceberg on this shot’s magnificence, though, as Cuaron lulls the audience into a sense of comfort and awe before sending us a jolt of adrenaline with the initial debris collision.  We’re there, in space, as we feel the intensity of the disaster at hand with the same confusion and terror that Sandra Bullock’s Ryan Stone is experiencing.  Now that’s filmmaking. – AC 

Hotel Room FightBefore Midnight

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Quite possibly the unlikeliest trilogy in history, it had been nine years since audiences last caught up with Ethan Hawke’s Jesse and Julie Delpy’s Celine when director Richard Linklater released Before Midnight.  As we’re already invested in the relationship of these two from the previous films, the relationship issues that Jesse and Celine work out in Before Midnight are almost hard to watch—it’s a bit like watching Mommy and Daddy fight at the dinner table.  It all comes to a head in the hotel room scene an hour into the film, where Jesse and Celine launch into an extended fight that’s been brewing since the opening car ride.  The performances from Hawke and Delpy in the scene are fantastic, as the two range from passionate to depressed to angry in a matter of minutes.  But as nasty as things get, there’s never a moment when you don’t believe that these two truly love each other. –AC

Bathroom BrawlThe World’s End

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Though there have been plenty of hundred-million dollar blockbusters this year, the bathroom brawl sequence in Edgar Wright’s terrific The World’s End just might be the most impressive action sequence of 2013.  Wright has been crafting great action sequences for a while now, but the visceral and character-centric nature of this particular scene is a thing of beauty.  You feel every punch and head crack, but the key to the scene is that character rules all.  Wright’s long take style flows from actor to actor, and the way each behaves when confronted with the unruly teenage Blanks almost tells the audience more about the characters than any monologue ever could.  It also helps that the sequence is loads of fun. – AC

Solomon Sings “Roll Jordan Roll” 12 Years a Slave

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It’s tough to pick just one memorable moment from 12 Years a Slave.  Director Steve McQueen’s deeply affecting drama is chock full of emotionally charged moments, but one of the most absolutely devastating scenes comes fairly late in the film.  After being kidnapped and forced into slavery, the free Solomon Northup has been living his life as a slave for a few years, but through all this time he’s maintained the tiniest glimmer of hope that this wrong will be righted.  And then, during a funeral for one of his fellow slaves on Edwin Epps’ plantation, the group begins to sing “Roll Jordan Roll”.  We see Solomon standing with the group, stone-faced, as they have now erupted into song, and Chiwetel Ejiofor plays the moment with this look of utter desperation and defeat as we see him relent and start singing along as well.  Solomon is accepting that this is his life now, he is a slave, and it’s utterly gut wrenching. – AC

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