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The 20 Best Film Scenes of 2015

The 20 Best Film Scenes of 2015


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Cinephilia originates, per the title of Rashna Wadia Richards’s recent book, in “cinematic flashes,” those moments where consideration for an entire film’s merit takes a backseat to unflinchingly immersing oneself in the proceedings. Even fleeting instances within sequences—a glance, a soundtrack cue—sometimes have the power to eclipse entire films. For the surrealists of the 1930s, finding these instances, even inside of bad films, was an end goal. See Joseph Cornell’s Rose Hobart, from 1936, as the ultimate example, where the feature-length film East of Borneo, from 1931, is edited into a 19-minute short with only scenes featuring the titular actress. Though feature filmmaking often purports to proffer the set piece or non sequitur in service of a greater narrative, here are 20 scenes ranging in length from thirtysomething seconds to over 20 minutes where the occasion enraptured us as much as, or more than, the final product. Clayton Dillard

About Elly, “Kite Flying”

In a film where tiny lies destabilize a small community, here is a moment of truth. Elly (Taraneh Alidousti), a stranger among friends, helps a child get her kite airborne and experiences a moment of piquant liberation. While held tightly in the frame, Elly thrills to and reaches at a vision we can’t see. The truth sets her free, and leaves the rest of us in the dark. Christopher Gray

The 20 Best Film Scenes of 2015

Carol, “The Second Dinner”

The two significant shoulder touches in Carol’s opening dinner scene (which ultimately turns out to be a flash-forward in its chronology) play out in a pair of precise, pregnant framings: one facing Rooney Mara’s Therese, and one from behind her back. When the scene replays an hour and a half later, Haynes executes a few minor variations that bring all the pain and longing largely suppressed up to that point into sharp, devastating focus. Carson Lund

The 20 Best Film Scenes of 2015

Chi-Raq, “Oh Girl”

This sequence from Chi-raq exhilaratingly embodies Spike Lee’s flair for emotional misdirection. Initially, it’s amusing when male characters suggest blaring erotic music over loudspeakers so as to get their women to stand down from the sex strike. But when the plan’s actually initiated, with the Chi-Lite’s mournful “Oh Girl” wafting through the air, we see the women swaying and singing with such startling longing as to briefly stop the film in its tracks, the early absurdity of the setup long forgotten. Bowen

The 20 Best Film Scenes of 2015

Creed, “Dirtbike Training”

The single-shot fight scene is, too, a winner, but Adonis Johnson’s (Michael B. Jordan) supremely cheesy, tear-jerking late-film training run through North Philadelphia encapsulates the “If you fight, I fight” ethos of Creed: Ludwig Goransson’s upgrade of Bill Conti’s score pulses before reaching a crescendo, local dirt bikers adopt Adonis as a native son, and they all honor the fighter who brought them together. Gray

Eastern Boys, “Home Invasion”

Sexual tensions run high in director Robin Campillo’s Paris-set drama, but they’re positively on fire in a 20-minute sequence where a bourgeois man’s apartment is turned into a makeshift rave, invaded by rent boys who loot the joint, but not before the place’s high-dollar speaker system gets a workout from electro beats, as eyeline exchanges and swaying bodies speak louder about the environment’s economic disparities than words ever could. Dillard