Thursday, 25 June 2009

What if the Best Picture changes happened five years ago?


The announcement that the 2010 Academy Awards will feature ten Best Picture nominees has sent shock waves through the film industry. It's a huge change and it seems to be dividing people, with some arguing it is devaluing the award and others saying it gives more recognition to deserving films. I am very much in the latter group. In recent years the category has become too clogged with Oscar bait films and animation and foreign languages are often discarded and left to compete their own respective categories. This an opportunity for great films that would not usually get recognised to get their time in the spotlight. It may not change the winner, but a nomination is ample reward.

This also got me thinking about past films that missed out that would have benefited if the 10 nomination system had been in place in their year. This list features films that could have been nominated over the last five years if there were 10 slots. They consist of films that would likely have been nominated, genres that would normally be ignored, and a few pieces of wishful thinking.

2009

What was nominated:

Slumdog Millionaire (winner)
Milk
Frost/Nixon
The Reader
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

What could have been nominated:

The Dark Knight - The clear choice. Not the Academy's favourite genre but a cultural phenomenon.

Wall-E - One of the finest films of the year. It just happened to be animated.

The Wrestler - Popular with audiences and the Mickey Rourke comeback story was creating huge buzz

Gran Torino - Clint Eastwood's acting swan song. Universally acclaimed.

Doubt - It was clearly shooting for a Best Picture nod and just missed so would have made the extended shortlist

2008

What was nominated:

No Country for Old Men (winner)
Atonement
Juno
Michael Clayton
There Will Be Blood

What could have been nominated:

Into the Wild - Surprisingly missing from a lot of award nomination lists. A strong, inspiring and well acted film.

Ratatouille - Another Pixar classic that could have made the step up.

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly - Scored a directing nod. An excellent film.

Eastern Promises - Hopeful, perhaps, but one of Cronenberg's bests.

The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford - Criminally under-looked by the Academy, getting only two nominations when it deserved many. This deserved a Best Picture nomination.

2007

What was nominated:

The Departed (winner)
Babel
Letters from Iwo Jima
Little Miss Sunshine
The Queen

what could have been nominated:

The Lives of Others - This was robbed in two respects as Ulrich Mühe deserved an acting nod. One of the best foreign language films of the decade.

Pan's Labyrinth - Another foreign film, and fantasy at that. It did get 3 Oscars though and it was loved by all.

United 93 - Sensitively made film dealing with difficult subject matter. The kind of highly emotive film that the Academy is drawn towards.

Children of Men - This is probably wishful thinking but for sci-fi this was deep and meaningful and very high quality.

Blood Diamond - It got five nominations and would have probably made the shortlist.

2006

what was nominated:

Crash (winner)
Brokeback Mountain
Capote
Good Night and Good Luck
Munich

what could have been nominated:

Walk the Line - Very good biopic featuring great performances.

Pride and Prejudice - Not a personal choice, but the Academy loves a good costume drama.

Cinderella Man - May have been a bit of a box office failure but it was a great film that hit the mark.

The Constant Gardener - Well acted film that had a lot of buzz at the time.

King Kong - Lots of people expected this to get a nomination when it was announced following Peter Jackson's success. It was too long though and that probably killed its chances.

2005

what got nominated:

Million Dollar Baby (winner)
Finding Neverland
Ray
Sideways
The Aviator

What could have been nominated:

Downfall - Possibly the greatest portrayal of Hitler on film.

The Incredibles - Yet another Pixar film. It transcended genres and was one of the films of the year.

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind - Perhaps wishful thinking but Charlie Kaufman was heavily hyped and it was very original.

Hotel Rwanda - Extremely moving. I was surprised this didn't make the original cut.

Vera Drake - Had a lot of critical acclaim. Would have made the ten.


As you can see there are some truly great films that deserved recognition on here and the decision to have ten nominees can only be a good thing. Lets hope this year produces ten films that make the new look Best Picture category an incredibly competitive shortlist.

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The Archive #2: City of Lost Children (1995)


Jean-Pierre Jeunet is one of the most creative directors to emerge in the last 20 years and, as a huge fan of his style, this is likely not the last time I will talk about his work. I will stress however, that I do not consider City of Lost Children to be his best film, but I have chosen it as the first of his films to enter the filmstubs archive. Why? because it needs to be seen to be believed and, frankly, not enough people have seen it. Most people know about Amélie, and most people that know Jeunet recommend Delicatessen to Amélie fans, and A Very Long Engagement, under seen though it was, had the benefit of being Jeunet's first film since the massive international success that Amélie brought him. Lost somewhere between all that is City of Lost Children, probably one of the most bizarre and inventive science fiction films made in recent years, and a product of the distinctly bizarre and inventive partnership of Jeunet and his co-director Marc Caro.

Revolving around a scientist who kidnaps children in order to harness their dreams and slow his aging process (so far, it isn't going well), City of Lost Children stars a pre-Hellboy Ron Perlman as a strongman who's brother has been kidnapped by said scientist and goes on a mission to rescue the boy. You may have noticed that Ron Perlman is not French, but, though not exactly talkative, he delivers all of his lines in a language he didn't even speak at the time and it's testament to his commitment that City of Lost Children is one of his finest performances. Along the way we meet some wonderful characters, including Dominique Pinon, making his usual Jeunet appearance, in multiple roles and providing some brilliant comic relief. It is however, Daniel Emilfork who is the real star of the show, playing the mad scientist Krank. It is probably one of the strangest performances ever captured on screen, with Krank being at once creepy, insecure, volatile and obsessive, all expressed by Emilfork's unique (and frankly terrifying) features. It has to be seen to be believed.

The future world that Jeunet and Caro create is impressive. It is not a mesh of CGI imagery like many modern sci-fi films, nor is it the colourful world we see in Amélie. City of Lost Children's world is grimy and surrealist, a world of varying shades of gray that somehow manages to showcase the unique eccentricities of it's filmmakers. The film is their vision, and the backdrop, the story, the characters we encounter and Emilfork's extraordinary performance make this film so unlike any other sci-fi vision that we are unlikely to ever see anything like it again. For that reason alone, it is something you should see.

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Wednesday, 24 June 2009

A couple of World War II trailers

First up is Inglourious Basterds, which probably doesn't need any introduction. I am a Tarantino fan, but I'm decidedly on the fence about this one. Brad Pitt's accent is grating already, Mike Myers' English officer seems a bit ridiculous, and oddly considering my usually morally dubious attitude towards films, something doesn't quite sit right with me about this film's content. I'll only assess that upon actually seeing the film though and I really hope this is a return to form for Tarantino after the frankly rather dull Death Proof. This trailer gives a lot more info on the plot and it does look like it could be fun.


FIND IT HERE


Next up is a World War II production to really get excited about. "The Pacific," Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks' long awaited follow up to the excellent HBO mini-series "Band of Brothers" has a trailer and it looks like it could well be the most visually impressive TV series ever. I think for events as complex as WWII, a mini-series is a better way of portraying it than in film and "Band of Brothers" was able to go into depth about regular soldiers and their relationship with their peers and enemies in far more detail than any film could. "The Pacific" is set against the backdrop of the war with the Japanese and if it's anywhere near as good as "Band of Brothers" it will be worth watching. The trailer is certainly impressive.

FIND IT HERE

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Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Steve Buscemi can make your film better...


He's widely praised for his fine acting ability, is a cult icon, has made appearances in great movies, and seems to be the most commonly used example for people claiming that "good actors don't have to be good looking." Steve Buscemi is many things to many people and to certain directors and producers he seems to mean an awful lot. He has made multiple appearances in the works of Quentin Tarantino, the Coen brothers, Robert Rodriguez, and...umm...Adam Sandler. These collaborations (not counting those with Sandler) have provided wonderful results, with Buscemi giving memorable performances in cult classic films. But if you tear yourself away from these wonders, you will be reminded of the fact that, like most film stars, Steve Buscemi is fallible, and, like most film stars, he has been in some trash.

This is where we come to the Steve Buscemi factor. Steve Buscemi, traditionally being a supporting actor, rarely gets enough screen time to completely save a movie and some films are simply beyond saving no matter how awesome the star. But, like Christopher Walken (the master of improving bad films) he has the rare ability of making crap films almost watchable by his mere presence alone. This is particularly useful for his appearances in Adam Sandler films but extends to much of his work.

Perhaps the finest example of this is the bloated cheese-fest that is Armageddon. It had its problems from the start, with a cast that, on paper, seemed to be high quality, but any good will towards this was completely negated by the acting of Ben Affleck. It didn't help that they were all given incredibly two dimensional characters either (Peter Stormare's mad Russian anyone?). The only actor to really emerge with any credit was Steve Buscemi, who, despite essentially phoning in a performance as the accident-waiting-to-happen joker of the pack managed to be more entertaining than the rest of the cast put together. He provided some much needed entertainment when Michael Bay realised that once we were past the exciting space mission we had to watch some people drill a big hole for a while and if it had not been for him Armageddon would have failed to convince me that Earth needed saving at all.

Another of Buscemi's occasional stabs at the action genre, Con Air, was saved by the genius who cast him as a serial killer. Nothing against Buscemi here, but he has made a career out of playing the creepy guy (Con Air wasn't his first serial killer role), and someone clearly noticed this and decided it was time to crank it up to eleven by casting him as a guy that wears severed heads as hats. Con Air wasn't an awful concept, it just had to cope with the burden of Nicolas Cage with a ridiculous accent and bad hair (sadly not the last time we would see this). Ving Rhames and John Malkovich made convincing psychopaths, but were nowhere near in the same league as Buscemi. With the exception of Dave Chappelle's skydiving, it was Buscemi that enabled me to see past Nicolas Cage. Perhaps it was the absence of Steve that stopped me from seeing past Nicolas Cage in Ghost Rider or Next.

There are other examples such as the Spy Kids sequels, where Buscemi only has small supporting roles, perhaps neutering his usual style (who thought he belonged in a kids movie!?) where the Steve Buscemi effect can still take hold and raise a smile in a sea of misery. Be it his tour de force as 'Homeless guy' in Big Daddy or his valiant efforts as we stared glum faced at the utter disappointment that was Escape From L.A., Steve Buscemi can make your bad film better by simply turning up (but we'd much rather he stuck to the good ones).

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Sunday, 21 June 2009

2012 looks better than The Day After Tomorrow

Roland Emmerich doesn't exactly make classic movies but if you accept that you're going to get a lot of special effects, not a lot of depth and a huge dollop of cheese you can have a good time with them (or some of them, at least). In my Jeff Goldblum post I implied I was a fan of Independence Day and I must admit I do enjoy Emmerich's brand of cheesy, disaster movie fun.

I liked The Day After Tomorrow more than most people did but the problem I had with it was that its money shot, so to speak, was far too early. Once the twisters, and the tsunami and the big freeze were out the way we had another hour or so of people walking around in the snow and being attacked by terrible CGI wolves. For a summer popcorn movie it just got a little, well, dull. The new trailer for 2012, based on the Mayan prediction of the end of the world in, you guessed it, 2012 looks like Emmerich might have learnt his lesson. There's a lot of action on display here, and an awful lot of planes, which I'm guessing is an important plot point. The cast also seems far better than TDAT. Chiwetel Ejiofor could do with a bit more Hollywood exposure (and an easier to spell name) and I'd believe Danny Glover as the president any day. Well, a lot more than I did Bill Pullman anyway.

Anyway, Yahoo has an exclusive new theatrical trailer over HERE. It doesn't look a classic, but it could be fun.

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Saturday, 20 June 2009

A Tribute to the cigarettes guy in Dawn of the Dead


At the risk of offending Kenan & Kel fans, actors in George A. Romero films do not traditionally go on to great things. This is often fairly obvious from their performances, which with a few exceptions (Scott Reiniger, Ken Foree) tended to fairly over-dramatic or just plain bad. This isn't a complaint at all; bad acting comes with the territory in these sort of films and working within the budgets he had, Romero still managed to achieve amazing things with what he had to work with. More so than not, the acting just makes the experience better. Dawn of the Dead (1978) is one of my all time favourite movies to watch with friends as its one of those few films that manages to be both schlocky and just plain brilliant. It's one of the greatest horror films ever made but there are a few scenes which just makes the group crack up.

Which brings us to the cigarette guy, aka "Officer at Police Dock", aka Randy Kovitz. This guy always raises a cheer for a just plain bizarre performance in his minute or so on screen. He is a part of the gang who confront our heroes as they ready for their escape about 20 minutes into the film and somehow manages to become the most unsettling character in a film full of zombies. In his time on screen he manages to shout all his lines unnecessarily, run back and forth on screen like he's about to break into song in a stage musical and ask for cigarettes with a cross-eyed stare, over-expressive facial movements, followed up by the most unsettling grin imaginable. He's little more than an extra but somehow me manages to leave an impression on the movie. To this day I still cannot figure out whether the character was intended to be a faintly psychotic fool or Kovitz just showed up one day and decided that was how he was going to play him.

Funnily enough, Kovitz seems to have had more of a career than most of Romero's other actors. Even more surprisingly considering his cigarette guy character he seems to have carved out a career playing doctors. Go Figure.

But anyway, I for one will always remember him for his unique performance in Dawn of the Dead. It will always put a smile on my face and for that I salute you, sir.

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Friday, 19 June 2009

More 'stubs

I'm pleased to announce that filmstubs now has a sister site going by the name of gamestubs, which is, appropriately enough about games. I'm not actually running the site seeing as my knowledge of gaming is limited to the occasional Wii game (recovering Smash Bros. Brawl addict) but the admin, going by the name of RW, is an expert in the field and will be posting news, opinion, reviews and debate on gaming and gaming culture with input from other writers and maybe even yours truly.

Its definitely worth a look and you can check it out HERE

Additionally, we'll be looking to set up a musicstubs in the near future, and there may well be a couple of new writers contributing to filmstubs at some point.

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Thursday, 18 June 2009

The archive #1: M (1931)


Starting a semi-regular feature of short articles recommending classic films, hidden gems, or the just plain misunderstood, is M, Fritz Lang's masterful crime thriller. Whilst Metropolis may well be his most famous work, M is his masterpiece and a far more complete and engaging work. Following the hunt for a child-murderer by police, the local community and even fellow criminals, its subject matter was extremely provocative for the time; dealing with issues that are still disturbing for modern audiences. It is a film that was years ahead of its time and it remains one of the pioneers of the film-noir genre, employing a dark style and ingenious use of shadows.

What is remarkable about this film, is that 78 years later it still has the power to shock and get under your skin. This is not least because of a star-making turn from Peter Lorre as the villain, who makes one of cinema's greatest ever speeches, including the now legendary (translated) line: "Who knows what it's like to be me?" I won't give away the ending, but more than anything else the film is a remarkable study of human nature, both in the mentality of a murderer and the way a community reacts to him. In an ever paranoid and vigilant society, the content of the film is still incredibly relevant today, and the actions of the characters remain highly believable.

This is arguably the greatest film to ever come out of Germany and if you ever happen to stumble across it, watch it, and you will not be disappointed.

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Wednesday, 17 June 2009

In case you haven't seen it elsewhere...

This has been popping up in a few places in the last week but I absolutely love it.

To celebrate its twentieth anniversary Empire has commissioned a piece of artwork that contains references to 50 hidden films and challenges you to name them all. Its very similar to something Virgin Digital did a few years back with band names, which got me completely hooked at the time and I've spent ages on Empire's version now. Anyway, I got to 42 before I went looking for answers. Close, but no cigar.

Empire's Cryptic Canvas

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Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Can we put Jeff Goldblum back in blockbuster movies?


If someone were to ask you what you think of when asked about 90s blockbusters what would you say?

I'd have to give a number of replies to answer that, ranging from bullet time to that ginger kid with the mullet in Terminator 2 but someone who would definitely appear on the list is Jeff Goldblum. For some reason I think of him before I think of Schwarzenegger and Willis.

However, upon researching this article, it was to my great surprise that I discovered that the image I had of Jeff Goldblum cropping up in just about every big budget movie of the decade was actually a slight mental exaggeration. This was probably due to the fact that the last two 90's blockbusters I re-watched were Independence Day and Jurassic Park. But to my even greater surprise, Jeff doesn't even do very much in Jurassic Park. I admit it had been a few years since my last viewing, but I seemed to remember him doing more than sitting around injured and arguing with Richard Attenborough. It had got to the point where my brain had created its own improved version of Jurassic Park where Jeff Goldblum was knocking out velociraptors with a strong right hook and the children weren't in the film at all. In reality the guy from 3rd Rock From the Sun probably had a more important role than Jeff.

So it says a lot of Goldblum leaving his mark on the few big films he appeared in to make me think of him as synonymous with big 90's movies. Those years, however, seem long gone and Jeff has moved on to TV and theater work and the odd movie here and there, which is fine, but I don't think I've watched a film with him in since 2004's Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou. Which is too long, frankly.

It seems in the noughties blockbuster age, Jeff Goldblum's dryly delivered and stuttering brand of irony has been replaced by Shia LeBeouf's yelping and just plain annoying brand of irony. It's to be expected of course; I'm not suggesting a 56 year old Goldblum should replace LeBeouf, but there seems to be a shortage of fun actors around at the moment. I don't mean comic actors necessarily in this respect, but talented actors that can bring their own brand of personality and humour to a role; a certain uniqueness that makes them stand out from the crowd. Robert Downey Jr. is the best example of this kind of actor around at the moment and much of the success of Iron Man was down to his natural, irreverent charisma. It helped make Iron Man a movie that was focused on being fun, which in the post-Lord of the Rings age where blockbusters are falling over themselves to be "darker" than the last is actually a far rarer thing than it was in the 90's.

In his best performances, Goldblum had a very similar tone to Downey Jr; he may not be his equal but he could certainly be entertaining enough to stand out. Spielberg saw it when he gave him the lead in The Lost World; Jurassic Park was well cast, but audiences seemed to connect well with his character. It was perhaps surprising in itself that he was in such films; he never looked like an action hero, and his quirky style seems more suited to offbeat drama. As long as he's still in movies, I'd love to see him crop up in some decent films of any genre, but it would truly be great so see him once more utter the lines "must go faster" as he flees from the dinosaur/alien/giant robot/army that happens to be chasing him.

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Saturday, 13 June 2009

About time...Christopher Lee Finally Gets a Knighthood


It is with great joy that I read the news that Christopher Lee is to be bestowed with a knighthood in the Queen's birthday honours list. It has been a long time coming but it is well deserved.

Lee may not be this country's most decorated actor and of his hundreds of credits more than a few should be forgotten, but nevertheless Christopher Lee is one of the most iconic of British actors. He possesses one of the most commanding screen presences of any actor; at once being able to appear authoritative and patriarchal and with his instantly recognisable voice he can quite often be plain terrifying. It is little wonder then, that he was the perfect fit for his most iconic role of Dracula in the Hammer Horror series of films.

It was after all, the performances of Lee along with Peter Cushing that really made Hammer Horror what it was. Their films may not be regarded in such high regard as, say, the Ealing comedies and there was often limited funds available but they are remembered fondly and it was arguably Lee and Cushing that provided the quality that allowed many Hammer films to rise above their often campy tone.

My personal favourite Lee performance, however, is in the Wicker Man. His natural booming voice and menacing demeanor were the perfect fit for Lord Summerisle. It is the ability to believe that Lee's character could lead a group of Pagans to perform the eventual sacrifice that makes The Wicker Man as unnerving as it is. He is utterly convincing, and despite his numerous other horror roles, this is Lee at his most terrifying and demonstrating an acting talent beyond the limitations of his Hammer Horror roles.

Lee as Lord Summerisle in The Wicker Man

I do not believe that Lee would have received the knighthood he so richly deserves if it had not been for the Indian summer that his career has been enjoying. It is remarkable that at 87 he can still make so many appearances, not least in two of the most commercially successful franchises of all time in The Lord of the Rings trilogy and Star Wars prequels. His Saruman introduced him to a whole new generation of fans and his omission from the Return of the King (and the baffling inclusion of the many epilogues) was one of Peter Jackson's few mistakes in making the trilogy.

However, the fact that he is working so regularly is testament to the respect he has gained in the industry as a truly talented actor. Tim Burton is a notable fan and has given him several small roles in his films and whilst his appearances are briefer as he gets older he can still be relied upon to provide a good performance and I hope that he continues to act for as long as he enjoys doing it.

So congratulations to Sir Christopher Lee, for a long and prolific film career well rewarded.

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Saturday, 6 June 2009

The Best Scenes of the Decade (So Far)

So we're halfway through 2009 and the time is very nearly upon us when we can look back at the noughties and reflect on what the decade gave us. Opinions seem divided on its overall contribution to cinema. Most people I've talked to agree that this decade hasn't produced as many classic films as the nineties but recognise that movies have come a long way in the last ten years. There have been plenty of films that will be remembered for many years to come but it has also been a decade of great moments; individual scenes or sequences that stand out in the memory even if we forget most of the rest of the film. This list of personal favourites could very well be dominated by the many visual effects sequences of technical brilliance that have occurred over the last ten years but instead is focused on innovation and excellence in areas such as acting, camera-work, direction, dialogue and most of all their emotional impact. These are the scenes that play out in your head long after you have seen them...

Oh, and there may be some minor spoilers along the way.



10. The Pale Man- Pan's Labyrinth (2006)



Why? In a film that inspired the imaginations of almost everyone who saw it, this scene highlighted the shear inventiveness of Guillermo del Toro and his design team. The Pale Man's eyeballs-in-hands are perhaps the defining image from the film and this incredibly tense and dark scene beautifully sums up this very grown-up fairytale.

9. Ritchie Tenenbaum's suicide attempt- The Royal Tenenbaums (2001)


Why? Wes Anderson has always incorporated dark themes into his offbeat world but with this scene he took things a step further. It's wonderfully edited and in Elliott Smith's 'Needle in the Hay' you have a perfect use of music in film that's difficult to beat. It packs a powerful emotional punch.

8. Winkies- Mulholland Drive (2001)


Why? It's a masterclass in tension and one of Lynch's greatest surreal moments in a career of great surreal moments. This scene has found its way on to several 'scariest moments' lists and for good reason; you know damn well that there will be something around that corner, you prepare yourself, and every time it still makes you jump.

7. "Call it"- No Country for Old Men (2007)


Why? Anton Chigurh is one of the best villains to emerge this decade and this scene demonstrates Bardem's superbly menacing performance. The Coens lift Cormac McCarthy's brilliant dialogue and showcase it with a directing flair that made them well worthy of their Oscar.


6. Anton Ego's flashback- Ratatouille (2007)

Why? I had to include something from Pixar in this, and choosing which scene was extremely difficult. They may have taken animation to the next level but it's in their storytelling that Pixar really showcase their genius. In this scene, scornful food critic Anton Ego is taken back to his childhood by a simple dish served up by aspiring chef Remy the rat. Its the sort of emotive and truly touching moment that Disney was so good at in their glory days. Never dismiss it as 'just animation;' this is one of the most moving scenes of the last ten years in any film.


5. "I drink your milkshake!"- There Will Be Blood (2007)


Why? People got so caught up in the meme surrounding this that many of them forgot how good a scene it was actually from. In it we feel the full force of Daniel Day-Lewis's performance; the best of the 21st century so far and a strong contender for one of the greatest ever. Don't forget Paul Dano's performance in this either. All in all a demonstration of great acting and dialogue.

4. Battle tracking shot- Children of Men (2006)

Why? The tracking shot in the car earlier in the film could quite easily have made this list too but this scene takes a truly thrilling approach to the absolute mayhem occurring on screen. We follow Theo as he races to rescue Kee in the middle of an intense battle. It's not actually a continuous shot but it is testament to the editing and CGI trickery employed that it appears to be completely seamless. A thoroughly different approach to an action scene.


3. Guiding the blind man- Amélie (2001)


Why? It can make you smile every time. It's such a simple thing, but it takes a lot of skill to create such a feel good moment. Take Amélie, one of the most lovable characters in film history, performing one of her kindest acts and combine it with the unique cinematography, the colourful market scene and the look of joy on the blind man's face and it all adds up to a big, satisfied grin on even the stoniest of faces.

2. Hallway fight- Oldboy (2003)


Why? The best fight scene of the decade. The progress is slow and the fighting may not be pretty but it is filmed with such innovation that you feel yourself becoming physically exhausted with Dae-su Oh. It may seem more brutal than skillful but the sheer amount of fight choreography that must have gone into such a long take would be immense. On top of everything else the hint of black comedy that counteracts the violence really makes this scene.

1. The 17 minute single shot- Hunger (2008)



Why? Simply stunning. This may seem like an odd choice; the film was well received but is probably the least well-known on the list but there is no scene as integral to plot and in possession of such brilliant acting and dialogue as this one. In it, hunger striker Bobby Sands discusses his past and morality with his discouraging priest and for nearly seventeen minutes we see the two, sat at a table and having a conversation in a single shot. Actors Michael Fassbender and Liam Cunningham briefly moved in with each other and practiced the exchange continuously for days on end to get it right, stretching their acting skills to the limit, but it truly pays off. Oh, and if you're wondering if two blokes having a conversation about morality can really be that absorbing don't worry. The dialogue is compelling and incredibly fluid and provides an insight into Sands' mentality and determination that is absolutely crucial considering the harrowing scenes that follow this conversation. In a film that is brutal and often difficult to watch, this scene is utterly compelling.

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