Martin Scorsese’s Oscar winning crime drama is one of the director’s most nerve-wracking efforts. There are many scenes in the film in which undercover cop Billy Costigan has to interact with the vicious mob boss Frank Costello, trying to keep the truth under wraps. In one moment, Costello is suspecting there’s a rat in his crew and he questions Billy about it. Reading the script, Jack Nicholson didn’t think the scene was tense enough and decided to pull a real gun on Leonardo DiCaprio while filming. Leo did a great job portraying a character who is always on edge, but sometimes the reactions were just natural.
The Dark Knight Rises
Christopher Nolan is known for his grand scale, and he didn’t leave anything on the table during the conclusion for his Batman trilogy. A key set piece is set at the Gotham City football stadium, which was filmed at Pittsburgh’s Heinz Field. Explosive squibs were placed on the field surface to simulate the collapse that’s seen in the film. 10,000 extras were also called upon, including several Steelers players. Wide receiver Hines Ward is most prominently featured retuning a kickoff for a touchdown. It helps that the film’s executive producer Thomas Tull is a part owner of the team and could pull some strings.
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
This heart-wrenching tale isn’t just a bittersweet romance film; it’s also one of the most visually impressive sci-fi works to date. With the small $20 million budget, the filmmakers couldn’t rely too heavily on CGI and had to do much of the production practically. That includes a sequence where Joel appears as a child in the same scene as an adult Clementine. Director Michel Gondry used the same forced perspective techniques Peter Jackson employed on Lord of the Rings, where camera and actor positioning can alter the size of the actors so they look smaller than they really are. It’s a neat trick and definitely feels more realistic than digitally shrinking Jim Carrey.
Who knew a movie about drum lessons could be as intense as a war drama? When your instructor is J.K. Simmons, learning music can be rough, but Miles Teller was more than up for the challenge. The actor has been playing the drums since he was 15 and played for real during Whiplash. He has the blisters on his hands to prove it. While a visual double was used, all of Andrew’s drumming was performed by Teller to pre-recorded tracks. His own drumming accounted for roughly 40 percent of the film’s soundtrack. He may not cut it for Simmons, but Teller is certainly playing our tempo in this film.
Back to the Future
Marty McFly gets to live out his dream when he rocks the crowd with Johnny B. Goode before going back to the future. As talented as Michael J. Fox is, he’s not really doing the performance himself. Mark Campbell was the one who provided the vocals, and while Fox can play guitar, he merely finger synched to the chords. Guitarist Paul Hanson taught him the chords, and then Fox emulated the movements while filming. Tim May was the one who played the riff and the rest is history. Credit to Robert Zemeckis for aligning all those pieces properly, as this became the moment of the film.
Captain America: Civil War
The third “solo” Captain America film featured the largest ensemble in a Marvel movie to date, and directors Joe and Anthony Russo made sure they delivered on the action fans craved. No doubt, the centerpiece of the production was the now-famous “splash page” sequence where Team Cap squared off against Team Iron Man at a German airport. The sequence was shot on Pinewood’s back lot and on location at the Leipzig/Halle Airport. It involved extensive visual effects, including digital doubles of the actors and extensions of the setting. They also used drones to get certain camera angles and had to balance several schedules of premier talent. All that hard word paid off in the end.