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The 10 Best Film Scenes of 2014

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The 10 Best Film Scenes of 2014

It’s not very hard to determine what makes a great cinematic moment. A more than efficient barometer for judging such things is simply if an audible gasp, a bewildered stare, or even a small laugh was unconsciously produced. These moments can be wholly visceral in nature or challenge what we’re seeing and have seen (sometimes even a little bit of both), ranging from technically extravagant escapism to minor gestures that induce an overwhelming emotion or past memory—occasionally with the capacity to be seen on its own, regardless of context. (Then again, where’s the fun in not experiencing the entire film?) From Stray Dogs’s penultimate marathon take to Force Majeure’s avalanche sequence, 2014 saw no shortage of aesthetic pleasures. Here are 10 essential moments that kept our eyes open and thoughts racing more than any other.  Wes Greene

The 10 Best Film Scenes of 2014

Man Cry: Force Majeure

Outside their hotel room, Tomas (Johannes Bah Kuhnke) breaks down and tells his wife, Ebba (Lisa Loven Kongsli), that he’s a victim too, “a victim of my own instincts.” The snow avalanche, the film’s most underlining narrative element, has already taken place. But it’s here that the real tragedy materializes, or dematerializes, as the phallic rock that’s supposed to prop up a family is reduced to ashes before the horrifying eyes of the woman, who’s now humiliated and groundless. It was a mirage all along.  Diego Costa

The 10 Best Film Scenes of 2014

Kiss of Death: Godzilla

After Godzilla’s purposely inconsequential first half shifts into a ballsy pop treatise on man’s non-relationship with nature, the real kicker in Gareth Edwards’s film comes in one stunning shot wherein Godzilla breathes a nuclear blast into the mouth of his adversary. Edwards tempts the romantic notion that Godzilla has “saved” humanity with such a beautiful and operatic image, which slyly exposes our inherent self-interest in the process. In reality, Godzilla, like the rest of nature, doesn’t care if the human race even exists or not; he’s simply doing what he’s hardwired to do.  Greene

The 10 Best Film Scenes of 2014

Prison Break: The Grand Budapest Hotel

Wes Anderson has long faced accusations of self-parody. But this scene, along with Moonrise Kingdom’s storm sequence, unequivocally proves that the opposite is the case. In shot after shot (notably, the shadows on the wall showing our heroic quintet of inmates sneaking past the sleeping prison guards), Anderson pushes the limits of his creative expression while never abandoning the strictures of his distinct visual style.  Tomas Hachard

The 10 Best Film Scenes of 2014

Because I Love You: The Guest

The banal violence that keeps America American plays itself out ever so gratuitously when David (Dan Stevens) comes into a diner, asks the waitress, Kristen (Tabatha Shaun), about Anna’s (Maika Monroe) whereabouts, and, when she can’t really say, he “never minds” her with a bullet straight through the heart. At which point Steve B’s “Because I Love You,” a scarcely believable soundtrack cut to be playing at such a diner, is turned up. David is about to leave, but knows better, so he heads back inside and throws two hand grenades on the floor. Because he can.  Costa

The 10 Best Film Scenes of 2014

Ending: The Immigrant

Two characters locked in a relationship both symbiotic and parasitic depart from one another at the end of James Gray’s The Immigrant, but the shot, focusing on a wall bisected by a window and a mirror, optically creates the impression that they’re moving in the same direction. It’s a simple, almost Melies-like cinematic trick, and in a movie less in tune with the complexities of its characters one might call it schematic, but Gray builds to it so organically that it becomes an expressive synecdoche of the entire drama.  Carson Lund

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