Was 2015 good for movies? Ask again in 20 years, and we’ll see what holds up. But at this point, if you judge a year by memorable movie moments, 2015 is looking pretty terrif.
In a separate story, several Variety staffers have singled out their favorite scenes. Personally, I have a bunch. They include the Detroit concert in “Straight Outta Compton”; the dream-like images in “Mad Max: Fury Road” of men swaying on poles as cars race through the wasteland; Johnny Depp’s quiet menace when he goes upstairs to visit Julianne Nicholson in “Black Mass”; and the last five minutes of “Carol.”
Those films are all mentioned frequently in the awards game. However, there are other films — both Oscar front-runners and long-shots — that offer unforgettable moments.
“Spy”: Jason Statham confronting Melissa McCarthy in her hotel room.
The movie, written and directed by Paul Feig, is filled with funny performances, but Statham steals the show with his intense, deadpan fury. Statham has been a charismatic and talented actor since 1998, but who knew he was so great at comedy?
“Sherpa”: Phurba Tashi Sherpa’s wife talking about his work.
The documentary, directed by Jennifer Peedom, is excellent, but thanks to stiff competition, it didn’t even make Oscar’s shortlist of feature docus. However, it’s hard to come up with a scene this year that was more intimate and moving than Karma Doma Sherpa talking about her family, culture and her concerns over her husband.
“45 Years”: Tom Courtenay’s monologue.
Charlotte Rampling has been the center of awards attention for this film, which she deserves. But Courtenay is also wonderful, with a monologue near the end of the film that is funny, sweet and touching. Andrew Haigh’s writing is expert, and so is the performance.
“Shaun the Sheep Movie”: the restaurant scene.
In the Aardman Animation stop-motion film, a group of sheep venture into the city to find their farmer, who has amnesia and has become a celebrity hairdresser. In one of the many comic highlights, the sheep disguise themselves as humans and go into a restaurant. Does this description make sense? Of course not, but that’s the loopy fun of the movie, written and directed by Richard Starzak and Mark Burton.
“Furious 7”: the finale.
The film features high-octane stunts, including cars that parachute into the mountains, and later jump from one Abu Dhabi high-rise to another. But the real highlight is a montage at the end that bids farewell to the late Paul Walker. It could have seemed exploitative or sentimental, but it’s just right.
“The Walk”: the walk itself.
Can a 30-minute sequence be described as a scene? If so, the wire-walking section near the end of the film is bravura. If you have to pick out one moment, it’s the bird flying near him, which virtually guarantees a heart attack for the audience.
“Mr. Holmes”: the meeting in the park.
Bill Condon offers many terrific moments in the film, but a key scene occurs in the park, as Sherlock Holmes (Ian McKellen) meets up with the mystery woman Ann (Hattie Morahan). It’s like an acting class from top pros.