Needless to say, 2015 is full of cinematic beauty radiated in thousand minutes we saw. This list is dedicated to the most radiant of them all – to some minutes which might not be able to Best Picture a movie, but might steal some best celebrated moments in cinema. Since it’s a list of specific scenes, spoiler might be your worst enemy. Please read, on your own risk, Sinekdoks’ Best Scenes of 2015 with bonus best posters.
- Dance with the machine – Ex Machina
An out-of-the-blue dance scene involving Caleb (Oscar Isaac) and Kyoko (Sonoya Mizuno) might sound like a discord in the middle of harmonious sci-fi thriller built upon Ex Machina. It is vibrantly choreographed and shot with red flashing light dominating. Not only it serves a comic break from the invisible tension along film, it also sparks a new perspective about Caleb for Nathan (Domhnall Gleeson) securing the turning point of the story.
- Take the last walk – It Follows
Like a sexual transmitted disease, the ghastly entity resembling any person will always follow people with the curse – which can only be passed on to other person by committing sexual intercourse. For the whole film, Jay (Maika Monroe) has been followed by the creature in many forms before Paul (Keir Gilchrist) volunteers himself to save her and then transmits it to some other hooker. Yet, the final shot of the film sees Jay and Paul walk down an aisle while someone walks slowly behind. Not only it opens a question whether that one is the entity or just a normal person, it also leads to questions about our protagonist’s final fate. Even more, it leads to questions whether Paul really transmits it to some hooker or he really has no guts for it. A pretty clever, ambiguous ending.
- Rock is on the corner – Creed
On the first fight with Rocky (Sylvester Stallone) at his corner, Adonis Creed (Michael B. Jordan) only finishes his opponent on the second round in a dynamic, slick one-take scene. The fight is beautifully choreographed and shot; but the real deal of this scene is the feel of real boxing. There’s a connection between the boxer and the coach, but in the ring, it’s invisible as if only the boxer matters. Every movement, every slight decision matters; and this scene really plays it out.
- The dawn of men – Sicario
Sicario saves all the thrills and tension in every corner of the film – thanks to Dennis Villeneuve’s gripping direction and Roger Deakins’ slaying cinematography. However, the best scene in Sicario – visually and philosophically is the sunset in the desert scene, where the sun sets away at the horizon, at the same time the task force gradually sets to the darkness. This scene embraces the sense that their mission has just begun; and each of them literally sinks into the dark side which leads them to the boundary.
- Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow – Macbeth
The whole pictures in Macbeth is a grandiose – Justin Kurzel’s visual magnum opus of a famous Shakespearian tragedy. A Scottish Play is only as good as Macbeth character and Fassbender kills it. Yet, among all the beauty, the most intriguing is the well-known Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow monologue delivered by Macbeth in lamenting his dead wife. Look at Fassbender’s eyes and there lies the loss, the fear, the emotion, and the ambition of Macbeth.
- Italian dinner – Brooklyn
Brooklyn is always about a transformation of a shy girl into a stong-willed, independent Irish immigrant and the turning point is the dinner scene at the Fiorellos’ house. Prior to the dinner, Eilis (Saoirse Ronan) is only another person; she doesn’t even know how to eat spaghetti properly. Yet, that dining table witnesses a transformation – showing a very brave Eilis taking over a room full of Fiorellos and winning her love. She can even eat spaghetti properly!
- Break free! – Mommy
In Xavier Dolan’s Mommy, aspect ratio plays important roles in story-telling. Traditionally presented in square ratio since the beginning, it effectively tells a story of constriction. There are some sparks of hope which gradually leads to optimistic thought. Then, we know that aspect ratio matters when Steve (Antoine Olivier Pilon) breaks his own constriction by literally breaking the square aspect ratio to be expanded to a wide version, symbolizing hope.
- Speak Low – Phoenix
In a wake after the holocaust, Nelly (Nina Hoss) finally found her husband, Johnny (Ronald Zehrfeld) – who unluckily failed to recognize her and secretly betrayed her prior to concentration camp terror. Upon learning that her husband is staging another betrayal, Nelly still is eager to play the role of his wife – which she actually doesn’t need to pretend. The ending shows Johnny played a piano and Nelly sang their song, Speak Low, which rendered Johnny speechless and motionless before fading with a bitter revelation. It’s possibly 2015’s best ending.
- Church Melee – Kingsman: The Secret Service
Staged and choreographed beautifully, this is the most massive fight scene of the year. Resembling the bone-crunching idealism of The Raid with more elegant touch, fancy Colin Firth brutally slaughtered a church full of people under Samuel L. Jackson’s influence. Banned in some country, and cut from some screening, this is possibly the best and most controversial one vs. many scene of 2015.
- Iwrestledabearonce – The Revenant
The most intense scene of 2015 is a literal cinematic wonder – 2 whole minutes of a brutal, visceral and uncensored depiction of a man versus a cranky bear on a bed of frozen tundra. It was so very quick, real, effective, well-staged, well-acted and well-edited that we could feel how eerie it is. Some people call it ‘bear rape’ scene, but there’s more to it; it’s one of the most pivotal scenes in The Revenant. Mama Bear only rampages against Hugh Glass (Oscar-winning Leo DiCaprio) because she feels in need – to protect her cubs from Glass if anything. It’s basically only a parental instinct. Then, what Glass has done to the bear isn’t merely an act of violence or vengeance – it’s only a survival instinct of a man under a threat he barely controls. After all, this scene is the whole plot of Revenant, isn’t it?
As a bonus, I also present my 10 personal best posters of movies released in 2015 in the slideshow below with my comments on the caption.