The Best Movie Moments of 2013

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Posted December 26, 2013 by Kristian Lin in Blotch
From the opening of "Gravity."From the opening of "Gravity."

Welcome to my list of the greatest moments in the movies of 2013. I don’t do this list every year, but this year I felt like posting this. At a time when everybody else is listing the year’s best films, this exercise reminds us that even bad movies (and some of the movies listed below are quite bad) sometimes generate moments that are memorable for one reason or another. This is the first in a series of blog posts recapping the year in cinema, so stay tuned for further lists of the year’s best performances and documentaries. Besides links to reviews we’ve run over the past 12 months, I’ve also included links to the footage in question, when I’ve been able to find it.

• The opening 13 minutes of Gravity. Just when you thought filmmakers couldn’t do anything more with space, Alfonso Cuarón makes it beautiful and terrifying again.
The first 11 minutes of Post Tenebras Lux: A little Mexican girl wanders in a field of cows at dusk, saying “¡Vacas!” I have no idea what it means, but this shot is so beautiful that for a few minutes, we’re as awestruck as that little girl.
The opening sequence of The Great Beauty, the best party scene in a year filled with great cinematic party scenes.
• The opening of The Last Time I Saw Macao, with a drag queen lip-syncing to “You Kill Me” in front of two caged tigers.
The opening sequence of John Dies at the End: A nightmare of the undead ends in … a question about grammar.
• Ushio Shinohara creates a painting with boxing gloves during the opening of Cutie and the Boxer.
The opening of A Touch of Sin: An attempted highway robbery, three murders, an overturned apple truck, and an unexplained explosion.
• The exorcism goes bad in Beyond the Hills.
• Jessica Chastain turns on the kitchen light in Mama and finds one of her kids crouching on the counter.
• Hugh Jackman finds out who the real bad guy is in Prisoners.
• The prison guards’ eyeless masks in Escape Plan.
• Silence hanging in the air before the bullets start flying in Lone Survivor.
• At the end of World War Z, Brad Pitt takes a leap of faith.
• Brit Marling realizes she’s taking part in a mass poisoning in The East. She phones her boss for advice. The boss doesn’t care.
• Tyrese Gibson and Sung Kang get their asses handed to them in Fast & Furious 6.
• Handcuffed to a refrigerator door, Lee Byung-hun still takes down a room full of Russian cops in Red 2.
• The deaf brothers shoot it out with the cops in Drug War.
The fight on top of the train, The Wolverine.
The fight on the train platform, The Grandmaster.
The Lone Ranger’s Buster Keaton-inspired climax with our heroes leaping from train to train.
• Amy Acker falls down the stairs in Much Ado About Nothing.
• Italian fans swarm the track after Niki Lauda’s triumphant return to racing in Rush.
• Mike Wazowski arrives at Monsters University and knows that he has achieved his lifelong dream.
• A tearful little boy keeps vigil outside his dead best friend’s house in The Selfish Giant.
• Miles Teller’s meeting with his long-lost dad in The Spectacular Now. As soon as the guy shows up, you know it’s going to end in disaster.
• Greta Gerwig turns a pirouette on the street in Frances Ha, because she’s 28, and why the hell not?
• Cate Blanchett in Blue Jasmine: “Anxiety, nightmares, and a nervous breakdown. There’s only so many traumas a person can withstand until they take to the streets screaming.”
• A 16-year-old girl (Elle Fanning) can’t say that her father is having sex with her best friend in Ginger and Rosa. “If I say it, I’ll explode.”
• Brie Larson, looking utterly miserable and alone as she fails to tell her boyfriend what happened to her in Short Term 12.
• Brie Larson looking up from her smartphone to register what’s going on around her in Don Jon.
• Matthew McConaughey despairs on the road to Mexico in Dallas Buyers Club.
• In Byzantium, a vampire (Saoirse Ronan) serenely explains to the psychologist who’s analyzing her how she’s going to kill her.
• Prisoners acting in Julius Caesar conspire to kill Caesar in the halls of an Italian prison in Caesar Must Die.
• June Squibb finally stands up for her husband in Nebraska.
• Keri Russell realizes something is very wrong with her young son in Dark Skies.
• Michael Shannon lowers his chin slightly in The Iceman, and you know that Chris Evans is a dead man.
• Gaby Hoffman recalls something bad that happened to her in high school in Crystal Fairy and the Magic Cactus, and a hippie caricature suddenly becomes a wounded girl.
• The contrite look on Analeigh Tipton’s face in Warm Bodies as she rescues her best friend by putting a gun to John Malkovich’s head: “I am so sorry about this, Mr. Grigio.”
• James Gandolfini confesses “You broke my heart” in Enough Said.
• A conversation in a lesbian bar between a blue-haired artist (Léa Seydoux) and an intrigued girl (Adèle Exarchopoulos) in Blue Is the Warmest Color.
• The prison flashback in Fruitvale Station, as Michael B. Jordan goes from joking with his mama to raging at another inmate.
• The old Greek lady’s poetic monologue in Before Midnight.
• Readings of Morton Downey Jr.’s poetry in Évocateur.
• Sunlight streaking across the lovers in the field in Ain’t Them Bodies Saints.
• The horror-movie basement in Stoker. The heroine even swings the bare lightbulb back and forth to give the place that extra bit of atmosphere.
• In Leviathan, the camera follows the sea birds from under the water to high in the air.
• The ground undulates like a choppy sea during a catastrophic earthquake in The Wind Rises.
• The shot of Paris Hilton’s shoe closet in The Bling Ring.
• The hero of No demonstrates a fuzzy grasp of politics: “I’m not a communist. I’m, uh, the other one.”
• In You’re Next, the heroine nixes the idea of hiding from the killers in the basement. “They can pour gasoline down the steps and throw in a lit match.” Everybody looks at her and wonders how she knows this.
• Simon Pegg does not approve of Nick Frost drinking water on a pub crawl in The World’s End. “A man of your legendary prowess drinking fucking rain! It’s like watching a lion eat some hummus.”
• Chris O’Dowd gets carried away by the power of Motown music in The Sapphires.
• Dwayne Johnson didn’t sign on for killing people in Pain & Gain. Mark Wahlberg thinks a hug will solve everything.
• “Look at all my shit!” — Spring Breakers.
• An actor mistakes a two-bit producer for Alfonso Cuarón in Instructions Not Included, resulting in a parody of Gravity two months before Cuarón’s movie comes out.
Bill Hader stops having sex (only not really) with Rachel Bilson to shake hands with her dad in The To Do List.
• This exchange late in Iron Man 3: “Am I going to be okay?” “You’re in a relationship with me. You’ll never be okay.”
• A house full of men goes into hysterics when Chloë Grace Moretz has her first period in Movie 43.
• Emma Watson swings her axe in This Is the End.
• Jason Sudeikis does his Bane impressionWe’re the Millers.
• Under the influence of Quaaludes and needing to get home, Leonardo DiCaprio rolls himself out to his car in The Wolf of Wall Street.
• Will Ferrell reveals in The Internship that his tattoo is Sanskrit for “Make reasonable choices.” Says Owen Wilson, “That’s an odd thing to get tattooed on your neck.”
• Will Ferrell singing his love song to Doby in Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues.
The Great Gatsby: Leonardo DiCaprio throws his shirts on the floor while Lana Del Rey sings “Young and Beautiful.”
• Oscar Isaac is plunged into music hell in Inside Llewyn Davis as he collaborates on “Please Mister Kennedy.”
• “Hush Child (Get Me Through This Silent Night)”: Four lost souls express their holiday anguish in Black Nativity.
• Kristen Bell sings “For the First Time in Forever” in Frozen.
• In American Hustle, Chicago’s “Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?” plays on the soundtrack while Amy Adams turns around.
• The guys dress up and dance to New Edition in The Best Man Holiday.
Merry Clayton blows away the Rolling Stones on “Gimme Shelter” in 20 Feet From Stardom.
• Chiwetel Ejiofor sings “Roll Jordan Roll” in 12 Years a Slave and finally lets out all his anger and despair at his own plight and the plight of the people around him.
• The drug-addicted heroine of Evil Dead kills her evil self to survive.
• A White House servant offers to show Forest Whitaker to the Oval Office at the end of Lee Daniels’ The Butler. “I know the way,” he says.
• Kristin Scott Thomas gets her comeuppance at the end of Only God Forgives.
• The villains of Side Effects gets their just reward at the end.
• The hilarious final revelation in Stories We Tell.
• Tom Hanks breaks down at the end of Captain Phillips.
• Anwar Congo has an acid reflux reaction in the same courtyard where he strangled hundreds of people in The Act of Killing.
• The end of Sightseers, as what looks to be a suicide pact turns into something else.
• The final shot of In the House. The film’s story opens up onto a dozen others.
• The last shot of The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. Jennifer Lawrence rules.
• In the closing credits of Her, the film’s dedication to James Gandolfini, Harris Savides, Maurice Sendak, and Adam Yauch.


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