In the spirit of all the 2016 best-of lists out there right now, I couldn’t resist putting together a list of my favorite scenes of the last year. My blogiversary post covered my top films seen in 2016, but what about the individual scenes that served as highlights for the year? You know, the scenes that make good movies great and bad movies worth watching anyway. And these don’t necessarily have to be from my favorite films of the year either; even films that didn’t make my official List are eligible for this one.
Remember, these don’t have to be from 2016 films either (since I’m sure there are plenty of good ones I have yet to see) but are scenes that I personally saw for the first time in 2016. And keep in mind also that these videos could contain spoilers, especially #8 and #1. Let’s see what cinematic remembrances await….
- Final Performance – Pitch Perfect 2
I enjoyed the second Pitch Perfect far more than the first, but one thing they both feature are some fun a cappella mash-ups of pop songs, and IMO, the finale at the A Cappella World Championships is the best number.
- “Starman” montage – The Martian
The Martian had a great soundtrack of 1970s tunes, and a stand-out was David Bowie’s “Starman” played over a brilliant montage of NASA working to resupply the Hermes shuttle for its return trip to Mars. The only video of the scene I could find has Spanish dialogue so I guess you could call this El Marciano.
- Final chase – Mad Max: Fury Road
The most recent Mad Max reboot had no shortage of explosions, but the high point of the pyrotechnics comes during the big chase at the end as Max, Furiosa, and the women they’re protecting make one last dash for freedom.
- Backwards time – Doctor Strange
No video for this scene yet, but Doctor Strange excelled at its mind-bending visuals. My VC loved Strange’s gravity-defying chase in the Mirror Dimension, but my money’s on the scene toward the end where Strange makes time rewind while battling the villains in forward time. It sounds confusing, but it sure looked cool.
- Beastie Boys – Star Trek Beyond
Speaking of looking cool, the most recent Star Trek may have gone a little overboard with its use of the Beastie Boys’ “Sabotage,” but boy, did they do it in style! I love it when a movie makes me say “whoa” in the theater.
- Sniper fight – Skyfall
Sam Mendes’ artistic eye shone forth in this exceptional scene from Skyfall, my new favorite James Bond movie. As Bond and a sniper wrestle for a gun in a high rise, their scuffle in silhouette is mesmerizing.
- Mami vs. Homura gun battle – Puella Magi Madoka Magica: Rebellion
I may have been deeply disappointed in the third film in the Madoka Magica franchise, but Rebellion does feature one of the series’ best action sequences, pitting two fan-favorite characters against each other with dazzling use of Homura’s powers of time manipulation. (No subtitles in this video, but it’s mostly action anyway.) Now the question remains: are they exceptionally quick to dodge bullets or are they both just bad shots?
- Quicksilver again – X-Men: Apocalypse
Evan Peters stole the show as Quicksilver in X-Men: Days of Future Past, and he did the same in Apocalypse, singlehandedly saving Professor X’s student body in slow-mo, backed by the Eurythmics’ “Sweet Dreams.” The movie itself may have been disappointing, but I thought this one scene was worth the price of admission.
- “Death, Be Not Proud” explained – Wit
Perhaps a lecture on poetry isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but this flashback’s profound exploration of John Donne’s “Death, Be Not Proud” has changed how I view the poem, which I memorized long ago in elementary school. It’s also a testament to the importance of punctuation!
- “Drive It Like You Stole It” – Sing Street
The feel-good high point of the year, this dream sequence from Sing Street reveals just how talented a ragtag band of Irish schoolboys can be. It sounds like a perfect hit from the 1980s, and I sincerely hope it’s not snubbed by the Oscars just because it rocks!
- Scarif battle – Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
Again, it’s too soon for a genuine video of the latest Star Wars spinoff’s epic finale, but Rogue One did not disappoint in the action department. Recalling the space-and-planet offensive of Return of the Jedi, the shoot-out on the tropical planet of Scarif is a pure blend of bittersweet and awesome, especially the part with the two Star Destroyers.
- Airport fight – Captain America: Civil War
Considering Civil War was my favorite film of the year, it’s not surprising the best scene is #1 here too (brief language warning for the video). The epic clash of six heroes against six heroes at the Leipzig airport may be the coolest fight of the MCU so far, pairing off the combatants in clever mini-confrontations that provide plenty of geeky thrills.
As you can see, I’m more drawn to scenes of spectacle, but other great scenes I saw this year include:
The dangers outside the bunker – 10 Cloverfield Lane
Dog scrapbook – The Age of Adaline
Battle scene – Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy
Space station escape – Armageddon
Ending – The Babadook
Three-way confrontation with Batman, Joker, and Red Hood – Batman: Under the Red Hood
Gaelic Christmas song – Brooklyn
Piano scene – Coming Home (2014)
Desk set conversation and the final scene – Dead Poets Society
Hugh Jackman’s 90m jump – Eddie the Eagle
Otter distraction – Finding Dory
Oscar Isaac’s one against fourteen gun battle – For Greater Glory
Ferris wheel roll – Goosebumps
King Louie’s temple collapse – The Jungle Book (2016)
Waking up to a bloodbath – King of Thorn
Pie baking – Labor Day
South African embassy – Lethal Weapon 2
Apology song – Music and Lyrics
Any scene with a flying pirate ship – Pan
Final performance – Pitch Perfect
Singing the Pokémon theme – Paper Towns
Escape – Room
Dam burst – San Andreas
Anti-Nazi conversation (about an hour in) – Sophie Scholl – The Final Days
Opening continuous shot – Spectre
Romantic dance behind curtain – Strictly Ballroom
Tightrope between the Towers – The Walk
Tanker explosion – Waterworld
Twilight meeting – Your Name