26 March 2015

Thirty Perfect Cinematic Moments

When Andrew at A Fistful of Films posted his Ten Perfect Cinematic Moments, my mind immediately went to one thought: This should be a Blogathon.

Lo and behold! He went there. It's A Fistful of Moments Blogathan! So, I'm playing along. 

The Rules 

The rules are super simple, so simple they may as well not be rules, just suggestions.

1) Pick a number between 1 and 100 (any more than 100 is just gaudy)
2) Choose that many cinematic moments that are either your all time favorites or ones that could, on any given day, be your all time favorites
3) Post them on your blog (or Tumblr or whatever) with the above header (or one you create for yourself)
4) Send me the link by either posting it here in the comments or getting ahold of me on Twitter ( @fististhoughts )

So, I just want to clarify what I consider a cinematic moment before we continue.  To quote my previous post:

We all have them in the back of our minds; those moments that make us think "man, this is what the movies are all about". We relive those moments in our mind's eye, remembering them and dissecting them and adoring them. They come in all shapes and sizes, from all types of films, and yet they all share one very important aspect; they define why we love the movies. It could be the way that the moment is cut; the way it's edited together. It could be the way the moment uses it's actors to evoke a powerful emotion from us. It could be the way that music floods the scene and draws us even closer to the moment in question. It could be a grand climax, a breathtaking introduction or a simple interchange. It could be any and all things, because for every film lover, the list is different.

A Note from Speaks:

It's hard for me to make lists. Like, really hard. I will undoubtedly forget some of my favorites and will be kicking myself, I'm sure, over the next couple weeks as even more important movie memories flow through me. No matter. I've got a list of thirty for you. 

Thirty has been a big number for me since last September, since I turned that many. Therefore, I've decided to go with Thirty Perfect Cinematic Moments, moments from movies that mean a great deal to me and, to me, are perfect for one reason or another. In doing this little project, I've found this will tell my readers quite a bit more about my particular tastes than anything else I've ever posted. It has been an autobiographical experience. I hope you enjoy it.

Here we go!

Click That Perfect Moment to link to clips. Sorry, I couldn't find a clip for all of them. 

1. Jaws (Steven Spielberg, 1975)

That Perfect Moment when Chief Brody (Roy Scheider) backs up and lets Quint (Robert Shaw) know about the size of his boat. Absolutely nothing beats seeing this on film on a big screen as I did last summer at the Esquire Theater in Denver. 

2. Close Encounters of the Third Kind (Steven Spielberg, 1977)

That Perfect Moment when Roy Neary (Richard Dreyfuss) realizes what he's been looking for. I can't find a clip of this scene for the life of me, but I did find the mashed potato scene, which is almost as awesome. 

3. Annie Hall (Woody Allen, 1977)

That Perfect Moment when Alvy and Annie don't say what they really think. 

4. Raiders of the Lost Ark (Steven Spielberg, 1981)

That Perfect Moment when Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford) simply draws down. 

5. Amadeus (Milos Forman, 1984)

That Perfect Moment when dying Mozart dictates the Requiem Mass. Oh, the sounds!

6. Field of Dreams (Phil Alden Robinson, 1989)

That Perfect Moment when James Earl Jones lets us know what baseball is all about. Oh, how this scene moves!

7. Goodfellas (Martin Scorsese, 1990)

That Perfect Moment when Billy Batts tells Tommy "go home and get your fuckin' shine box." The use of Donovan's "Atlantis" just really seals up the greatness. 

8. JFK (Oliver Stone, 1991)

That Perfect Moment when New Orleans DA Jim Garrison lays it out there: "We're through the looking-glass here people." If you watch the clip, the magic happens at 1:56. 

9. Rudy (David Anspaugh, 1993)

That Perfect Moment when The Irish won't play without Rudy. If you watch the clip, the tears start rolling at about 1:25. I'm actually getting chills and some tightness in my throat right now. 

10. The Shawshank Redemption (Frank Darabont, 1994)

That Perfect Moment when Andy Dufresne (Tim Robbins) gives nary a fuck and puts some Mozart on the PA. The sweeping shot of the yard. The smile on his face.

11. Jerry Maguire (Cameron Crowe, 1996)

That Perfect Moment when Dickie Fox tells us how it is, and Bob Dylan's "Shelter from the Storm" carries us out. Thanks, Cameron Crowe!

12. Boogie Nights (Paul Thomas Anderson, 1997)

That Perfect Moment when Dirk Diggler reveals the goods, throws some karate punches, and bows out. ELO's "Livin' Thing" doesn't hurt with the cut to credits either. 

13. Rushmore (Wes Anderson, 1998)

That Perfect Moment when Max gives Herman his Punctuality pin.

14 and 15. Magnolia (Paul Thomas Anderson, 1999)

That Perfect Moment (or sequence of moments) when the theme of coincidence is forced upon us before we even meet the first character. 

That Perfect Moment when Claudia Gator (Melora Walters) cracks the faintest smile as the guitar riff kicks in on Aimee Mann's "Save Me" at the cut to black. 

16. American Beauty (Sam Mendes, 1999)

That Perfect Moment when Lester Burnham (Kevin Spacey) is sick and tired of being interrupted. 

17. Three Kings (David O. Russell, 1999)

That Perfect Moment when David O. Russell opens his masterpiece by having his lead actor ask "Are we shooting?"

18. Wet Hot American Summer (David Wain, 2001)

That Perfect Moment when camp cook and Vietnam vet, Gene (Christopher Meloni) asks Gary (A.D. Miles) where the powder packets are for the "bug juice," and then remembers they're next to his bottle of dick cream. The magic happens on the clip at 0:38. 

19. The Royal Tenenbaums (Wes Anderson, 2001)

That Perfect Moment when Wes Anderson and Robert Yeoman jaggedly zoom the camera on a whistle from Royal Tenenbaum (Gene Hackman) while Bob Dylan's unheard-of tune "Wigwam" plays on the soundtrack. It's so hard to find Wes Anderson clips online. But this scene is exactly 40 minutes into the movie. 

20. Y Tu Mamá También (Alfonso Cuarón, 2001)

That Perfect Moment when Julio, Tenoch, and Luisa dance the night away and then some. Maribel Verdú is possibly the sexiest woman alive, and this is one of the Ten Greatest Movies Ever Made. The way the camera moves in this scene is nothing short of perfection.

21. Adaptation (Spike Jonze, 2002)

That Perfect Moment when Charlie Kaufman (Nicolas Cage) attempts to write the journey of the flower into a screenplay. The editing here is one of the most amazing feats in movies. If this wasn't the best movie of 2002, then I give up. 

22. Punch-Drunk Love (Paul Thomas Anderson, 2002)

That Perfect Moment when The Mormon Brothers crash into Barry's car, the silence inside the car, the spin of the car, the trickle of blood on Lena's forehead, and the aftermath. Spectacular!

23. Minority Report (Steven Spielberg, 2002) 

That Perfect Moment when Chief Anderton (Tom Cruise) schools Danny Witwer (Colin Farrell) on predetermination. 

24. 25th Hour (Spike Lee, 2002)

That Perfect Moment when Jacob (Philip Seymour Hoffman) can't believe what just happened. Man! This shot is cool! The moment is at 4:58.

25. Kill Bill, Volume 1 (Quentin Tarantino, 2003)

That Perfect Moment when Tarantino puts a bullet into the head of his lead actress in black-and-white in the opening minutes of his movie. I can't begin to describe the emotions I felt in the theater that night. 

26. The Departed (Martin Scorsese, 2006)

That Perfect Moment when Billy Costigan (Leo) escorts Colin Sullivan (Matty Damon) off the elevator. Mind blown! Watch the clip only if you've seen the movie. The moment starts at 3:08. 

27. Children of Men (Alfonso Cuarón, 2006)

That Perfect Moment when Chivo Lubezki pulls off a four-minute shot of All Hell Breaking Loose inside a very small car. 

28. No Country for Old Men (Joel and Ethan Coen, 2007)

That Perfect Moment when The Coen Brothers straight up end the movie. 

29. Moonrise Kingdom (Wes Anderson, 2012)

That Perfect Moment when Suzy and Shakusky kiss for the first time, expressing love in the truest of ways. This scene will never leave my mind or my heart. 

30. Inherent Vice (Paul Thomas Anderson, 2014)

That Perfect Moment when Bigfoot kicks Doc's door down, enters, eats a tray of weed, and a single tear streams from Doc's eye. It is the reason this movie is my favorite of 2014. 


  1. I haven't seen a lot of your picks, but The Shawshank Redemption scene was wonderful. I did not expect what would unfold in the elevator scene in The Departed.

    1. Shawshank is full of perfect moments. This one being the most iconic. That scene in The Departed literally took my breath away.

  2. What a wonderful post! I haven't seen all these movies, but so many of these -- including Magnolia, The Shawshank Redemption, 25th Hour, and American Beauty -- are perfect. I love watching Lester Burnham reach the point where he is all out of f*cks and done with being controlled by his wife.

    1. I love that scene in American Beauty. It is one of the finest displays of acting between a lead actor and actress, like, ever.


  3. Excellent choices! I love so many of these. I'm glad to see The Departed Elevator scene made your list as well.

    I especially love your choice for No Country For Old Men because I was so afraid Tommy's character was going to randomly get shot in the head, and it didn't happen.

    1. Thanks!

      I remember people seeming pissed off as I left the theater at the end of No Country. So quiet and abrupt. I was in awe and still am.

  4. I'm so honored that you went all out for this, thank you so much!


    That Jaws moment is just perfect, that Raiders moment...it's my favorite Indy moment, period! Moonrise!!! Y Tu Mamá También, my GOD what a scene...and we share Children of Men!

    1. This is a great idea! I had to. 30 for 30 bro. And not the ESPN thing.

      As I wrote up there, I got to see an actual (flawless) film print of Jaws last summer in Denver over Fourth of July Weekend. OMFG! It is literally the most fun I've ever had in a movie theater. Place was packed. People cheered and laughed and gasped. When this moment happened, the place literally exploded with cheers. That is what modern cinemas are missing.

      Y Tu Mama También is just the realest thing ever, man. That scene!

  5. Seen most of these and they're all just perfect. Really happy to see you call the ending of No Country perfect. I certainly think it was, but my wife hated it and for a short while hated me for suggesting we watch it. Great post.

    1. My wife feels about the same way I think. We almost went knockdown drag-out over Malick's Tree of Life. I certainly remember quite a few people in my screening of No Country seeming ticked. I thought it was amazing!

  6. LOVE. I am so excited to see all the posts from this blogathon. I think my favorite of these is that scene from Y Tu Mama Tambien - perfectly, perfectly done.

    But I love all the ones you've included that I've seen. So inspiring.

    I hope I actually stop making my list at some point. I feel like I could go on forever...

    1. Thanks! I love that scene. So perfect, so sexy, so fucking real.

      Glad I could inspire. I had to just pick a number and do it, man. Just know you'll miss some (I'm already wishing I'd gone 50). What you throw down will be awesome, I'm sure!

  7. I saw the gifset of that moment from Inherent Vice and I think I really need to see this one :) Excellent choices!

    1. You really do. It is a beautiful, strange, funny piece of cinema.

  8. I'm glad someone here digs Inherent Vice. Strange movie but a damn good one. I need to see it again.

    1. I listed it as my favorite of last year for both of those reasons...strange and damn good. Just a fantastic movie.

  9. I'm nodding excitedly at Magnolia, Jerry Maguire, Annie Hall, Punch-Drunk Love, and Kill Bill. Man, those moments are awesome.

    1. Thanks so much. I was so inspired by this blogathon. So many great ones. So many more I could've added.

  10. Are we related? Man, I think our movie shelves are practically identical. Or you live in my basement. Reminds me - I should go down there more often, have a poke around. Fair warning.

    1. I'd already hit the road by the time you got down there. We do have good taste, don't we?