Top 10 Movie Moments of 2013We've waited until the general public had a chance to catch all the big films that hit theaters last year - now it's time to once again look back at the year in movies that has passed us by, and highlight the top 10 moments that we will forever carry in memory.Let's Be Clear: This list is not just comprised of movie moments that we would deem "the best"; it is comprised of moments that may have shocked, awed, frightened, disappointed or otherwise did SOMETHING to make a lasting impression. With that said, let's start the countdown...WARNING - MAJOR SPOILERS FOLLOW!!!!!!!!!
Pistol Throating - Spring Breakers
Aside from the half-naked former Disney gals and exploitative sequences of teenage debauchery (set to dubstep tunes), there's a moment somewhere in the middle of Spring Breakers where two of the girls (Vanessa Hudgens and Ashley Benson) flip the script by forcing James Franco's character, Alien, to deep-throat a couple of loaded pistols.Filmmaker Hormine Korine certainly likes to push buttons (see: Kids, Gummo) and this (brilliant? Disgusting?) reversal of gender roles certainly did that. We'll never look at Franco the same way again...
The Forgot-Me-Sword - Pacific Rim
Look, we could talk about all the plot holes and poor storyline, the inconsistent (or incomprehensible) accents of the lead actors, or the overall silliness of this "Monsters vs. Robots" popcorn blockbuster......But come on, when the Gypsy Danger crew finally remembered that they had a big ass sword up their sleeve, popped that sucker and cut that flying Kaiju monster in half? Yeah, that's pretty much the epicness that fanboys paid to see.Pacific Rim wasn't perfect - but that moment surely was.
Round of Applause - The Conjuring
People claim that horror movies aren't scary any more, but director James Wan pretty much murdered that theory with his throwback horror flick The Conjuring, yet again proving that good horror just requires creativity and precision, not CGI monsters and viscera.Using a simple children's game based on sound location and handclaps, Wan led Lili Taylor's Carolyn Perron on not one, but two rounds of clap-game frights, culminating in a chilling moment that required no blood or gore to make everyone in the theater nearly mess their pants.
Hangin' Around - 12 Years A Slave
While some may be scarred from the brutal scene of favored slave Patsey (Lupita Nyong'o) being beaten by a coerced Solomon Northup (Chiwetel Ejiofor), the scene that stands out to us is when Solomon is left partially hung from a noose for an entire day - his "salvation" from death arriving on the technicality that he is still his master's property.Director Steve McQueen let the camera linger on the scene so long it eventually made us feel like WE couldn't breathe. The sight of Solomon desperately dancing on his tip-toes as onlookers pass by (either too indifferent or too scared to help) pretty much encapsulates the ugliness, absurdity and injustice of American slavery in a way we will never forget.
Reverse Khaaaaan - Star Trek Into Darkness
Personally, I predicted that this would happen long before the movie was released - but for those who didn't see it coming, the reversal of Star Trek II's most iconic quote was quite a doozy.Some people loved it, others really, really, REALLY hated it - and some people didn't know what the hell all the commotion was about. Regardless, the filmmakers behind Star Trek Into Darkness chose to boldly go where others had already gone, and the reaction was a strong one - for better or for worse.
Smaug Alert - The Hobbit Pt. 2
Between Game of Thrones and The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey it seems like we've been waiting (im)patiently for some popular fantasy series to deliver some kick-ass dragon action. While The Desolation of Smaug didn't quite deliver as much dragon fire as we would've liked, getting to know Smaug turned out to be quite a joy.The design and CGI rendering of Tolkein's iconic dragon/menace/hoarding addict was impeccable - as was the choice to have "New Khan" Benedict Cumberbatch provide the villain's smoky baritone. A dragon who is as cunning as he is fierce? Daenerys Targaryen better take some parenting notes...
Super Quaaludes - Wolf of Wall Street
Thanks to the unexpected onset of some powerful quaaludes, Jordan Belfort's (DiCaprio) short drive home becomes a grotesque struggle to stop his inebriated friend Donnie (Jonah Hill) from spilling the beans to the FBI over a tapped phone.Even Hithcock would be proud of Scorsese's creation of dramatic tension using a telephone, a short distance, and two characters who are bat-**** crazy on drugs. It's arguably one of Wolf of Wall Street's grossest and most depraved moments - but it also happens to be a hilarious, horrifying and clever sequence - and one of the most impressive bits of physical acting we saw all year. The Popeye reference was just icing on the cake.
That's Not the Mandarin - Iron Man 3
It's been talked about so much we're nearly sick of saying it now, but once again it demands acknowledgment.Ben Kingsley wasn't the real Mandarin; it was all just a subversive fake-out by director Shane Black and writer Drew Pearce; and depending on your level of experience with Iron Man comics, it was either a deal-breaking betrayal by Marvel Studios, or a hilarious twist that made the movie more enjoyable.You've probably already debated ad nauseam with friends and enemies alike - all we're saying is that if nothing else, it was memorable.
R.I.P Zod - Man of Steel
The climatic moments of Man of Steel had a profound effect on viewers, and started a debate that has extended well beyond the borders of the cinematic or comic book zeitgeists.It doesn't matter if it happened the same way in Superman II or in Superman comic books; seeing the Man of Steel kill General Zod challenged people's core beliefs about who this character was, is, and will be going forward into modern times.And that debate is still ongoing...
Opening Sequence - Gravity
Nothing this year even comes close to matching the awe-inspiring opening sequence of Alfonso Cuarón's Gravity. One-take tracking shots have become the director's signature, but a nearly twenty-minute, one-take 3D sequence set in outer space pretty much out-classed anything we've seen in cinema for the last few years.It is so very rare these days that we see something that makes us remember the magic of movies as opposed to a checklist of technical tricks and cliches - but right from the outset (and on through the conclusion) Gravity had our jaws drooping as we kept asking ourselves, "Howhedodat?"
Honorable MentionsWhen making this list, we found there were quite a few moments that stuck out in mind. Here are a few that fell just short of the Top 10:
- Evans as Hiddleston - Who didn't love that little Avengers Easter egg in Thor The Dark World?
- Cruise vs. Cruise (Oblivion) - Maybe you saw the clone twist coming, maybe you didn't. Either way, it was cool to see Tom Cruise kicking his own ass.
- Train fight (The Wolverine) - The trailer made this sequence look bad, but in the finished film it was pretty sweet (even in 3D).
- Awkward Dinner (Only God Forgives) - Kristen Scott Thomas' monologue in that scene seared our brains and probably helped clear the room at Cannes.
- Rusty Interrogator (Olympus Has Fallen) - Gerard Butler made stabbing a man through the face a LOL moment. We're not sure that's a healthy thing.
- "Fly a Kite" song (Saving Mr. Banks) - This catchy and iconic Mary Poppins tune is showcased twice in the film; first it'll bring a smile to your face, later, tears to your eyes.
Follow me @ppnkof