To celebrate Awards Circuit’s 9-year anniversary, the site will be dropping a new Top 9 piece every hour, on the hour! Each one will take on a different list – from movies, to television, to the Oscars and more. Thanks to all the readers for their continued engagement in our community over the years. We look forward to engaging for another 9!
To commemorate the nine-year anniversary of Awards Circuit, I’ve decided to put together a list of the greatest movie moments of that stretch of time. Enjoy to the fullest…unless of course you haven’t seen the movies listed. Spoilers below, so proceed with caution and do your homework before reading! Relive these moments in celebration of this outlet’s anniversary.
1. “La La Land” (2016) – “What If” Dream Sequence
The modern-day musical classic starring Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone is filled with memorable moments aplenty. However, it skyrockets into the top echelon of movie moments with its stunning finale: a heartbreaking “What If?” sequence. Featuring a reimagining of the film’s prior scenes that aesthetically pay reverence to the golden age of Hollywood and the silent film era, we see a happy future for Mia and Seb that might have been. Then fantasy fades back into reality, and we’re left with the pair gazing at each other with sad eyes but reassuring smiles. Dreams can be fulfilled, but to do so in Tinseltown, that means not having it all. Thanks to Mia, Seb and Damien Chazelle’s sprinkle of magic, the audience was given the “all.”
2. “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” (2015) – Rey Force-pulls the Lightsaber
Fans waited over 30 years for the Jedi to return…again…and Rey made it all worthwhile. Once Kylo Ren cuts Finn down and Rey lies unconscious on a bed of snow, all seems lost for the light side. Then a familiar blue lightsaber whisks through the air until its new wielder is revealed. Seeing Rey clutching the lightsaber like she was destined for it was one of the film’s crowning achievements. Chills of emotional ecstasy coursed through fans, triggered by the momentous occasion and John Williams’ guiding score. “Star Wars” was back in a big way, and now the good guys have a new female champion, fully armed and Force-alert. There’s absolutely no cinematic moment of equal triumph in the past nine years.
3. “Skyfall” (2012) – Shanghai Fight
Move over 007 because cinematographer Roger Deakins has outclassed us all. What’s undoubtedly his towering achievement, Deakins captures an epic Bond sequence, completely stripped down to frenetic silhouette action. There’s a liberating elegance to the choreography that refreshingly contrasts the masculine harshness of most fight scenes. The serene blue hues of the Shanghai rooftops completed what seemed like a wondrous painting of dark fury.
4. “Blue is the Warmest Color” (2013) – Break-Up Argument
This explosive argument felt longer and more passionate than the controversial seven-minute unsimulated sex scene that drew so much ire. Adele Exarchopoulos and Lea Seydoux showcase the finest piece of acting to center around a break-up. What begins as a simple line of questioning from Seydoux’s Emma erupts into a full-blown painful confession. Audiences are left feeling entirely torn, their hearts eviscerated from the dissolution of such tender union. On the one hand, we understand Emma’s anger towards Adele, but also empathize with Adele’s yearning to explore all that Emma unlocked without restraint. This moment alone likely contributed to the two actresses’ unprecedented Palme d’Or honor.
5. “Moonlight” (2016) – Forbidden Kiss on the Beach
Chiron and Kevin’s existential conversation on the beach takes a shocking turn for the humanly organic. Their kiss and subsequent sexual experimenting are moments of unspoken action that contain more truth than most care to reveal in a lifetime. Moreover, Barry Jenkins’ delicate yet passionate direction ensures audiences are swept up in a moment between two young black men – an occurrence that has never been exhibited this openly before – without coming off exploitative or sensationalized. Finally, when Chiron immerses his fingers into the sand post-climax, his momentary liberation transcends so powerfully that we want to hold onto this moment as much as Chiron does.
6. “Interstellar” (2014) – Through the Wormhole
Auteur Christopher Nolan has taken audiences on journeys of unparalleled discovery, wonder and awe. However, nobody was prepared to be flung into space and feel like a true member of the space-faring crew that makes this space-time dimensional leap of scientific faith. The passage through the wormhole upstages all previous attempts at cinematic immersion in space. Between the camerawork and the softly orchestrated music, audiences were submerged in a pseudo-reality most will never experience except through the lens of Nolan. In this instance, spirituality, technical innovation and adventure were intertwined for maximum movie-going bliss.
7. “Inglourious Basterds” (2009) – Hans Landa’s introduction
After 15 long and torturous minutes of a chilly, gleeful and soulfully intrusive interrogation, SS Colonel Hans Landa cemented himself as one of cinema’s most vile creatures. Between his subhuman analogies and creepily charismatic demeanor, Christoph Waltz’s Landa had audiences quaking from line one. Savoring every hellish yet oddly poetic line, Waltz brought out the best in Quentin Tarantino’s script by showcasing the worst in human interaction. Beads of sweat were a commonality among audiences once Landa was done with them. If one Hans Landa could snuff out faith in humanity, just imagine how those under Nazi rule felt dealing with millions of his type.
8. “Looper” (2012) – Final Act of Sacrifice
Usually science fiction films never seem to fulfill their premise potential. There’s always some form of convoluted plotting or cliché finale that tidies the chaos that came before. However, Rian Johnson takes a powerful narrative departure by letting his protagonist admit defeat, and in turn ending the cycle of violent consequence. Turning the gun on himself to prevent his older self from assassinating the telepathic Seth, Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s Joe sacrifices himself to preserve the bond of mother and child. Such heroic selflessness had audiences catching their breath in shock before applauding through tears. With this, a statement can be inferred that the future isn’t predetermined unless it’s all we focus on in the present.
9. “Lee Daniels’ The Butler” (2013) – Dinner Table Slap
It was the slap felt across America for our betterment. “Lee Daniels’ The Butler” showcases the fragility of an African-American household ripped apart by a nation divided along racial lines. No scene amplifies this better than during a generational dispute concerning the importance of actor Sidney Poitier. When the argument escalates to disparaging character attacks meant to provoke, Oprah Winfrey’s family matriarch, Gloria Gaines, steps in. By slapping her son into realization that life for the black community has been a constant struggle – and no one knows it more than those who’ve lived before the Civil Rights Movement came about – it silences all into submission of her wisdom. In sum, the moment is focused into a single and concise message that Cecil’s success and prominence as a White House butler is a testament of his fighting spirit to make strides for the disenfranchised.