I launched this film commentary blog with a review of The Town on October 6, 2010. And here we are, 99 posts later. Can’t thank my readers enough for staying on board and reminding me why I love movies so much. It’s as much fun today as it was back then. My tags are tighter, my traffic is heavier, and my hyperlinks are popping! Sorry, blog talk. Let’s get to the list.
Yes, assembling this list was a daunting task. But then I reminded myself of the Jack Kerouac rule of writing: first thought, best thought, write it down. A rule that without, I don’t know if I could have or would have reached 100 blog posts already in my relatively young blogging career.
With that in mind, here are 100 of my favorite moments – not scenes – in film. I did not list any film twice, although obviously in many of these movies, there were multiple moments in them that got me. The order of this list is somewhat random.
100. When Jeremy Renner, wounded and pinned down behind by the paper machine, reaches for the soda cup, in The Town.
99. When John Travolta dances with ‘Elaine’ in the dance studio to Tavares’ “More Than a Woman,” in Saturday Night Fever.
97. When the King responds to his angry wedding guests who have had loved ones slaughtered, in Monty Python’s Holy Grail, “Let’s not bicker and argue over who killed who.”
96. When Richard Gere says to Debra Winger on the beach “Look, you got no problems!” in An Officer and a Gentleman.
95. When Naomi Watts’ ‘Betty’ approaches the dreamy iconic Paramount Gate, in Mulholland Drive. Every actor can relate.
94. When ‘Susan Alexander’ (Dorothy Comingore) says to ‘Charles Foster Kane’ in Citizen Kane “I said if you wanted some hot water, I could getcha some.”
93. When Anne Baxter’s ambitious upstart, ‘Eve Harrington,’ finally gets her comeuppance, in All About Eve. Total facial.
92. When Guy Pearce slams on the brakes in front of the tattoo parlor in Memento and says “Now, where was I?” Christopher Nolan is a genius filmmaker.
91. When Will Smith learns he got the job and tears up, in The Pursuit of Happyness. “Was it as easy as it looked?” his new boss asks. “No sir, no sir it wasn’t.” Gets me every time.
90. When Richard Harris’ Emperor of Rome says to Joaquin Phoenix “Your flaws as a man are my flaws as a father,” in Gladiator.
89. When Marlon Brando claws at the false eye lashes of his wife’s corpse in the morgue, in Last Tango In Paris.
88. When The Natural, ‘Roy Hobbs,’ responds to Glenn Close in the malt shop “I…got sidetracked.”
86. When Tom Cruise stares down ‘Col. Jessup,’ in A Few Good Men. “I want the truth!”
85. When Brendan Gleason kicks open the double doors in the opening sequence of Gangs of New York.
84. When Billy Crystal spits the cherry pits on to the passenger window in Meg Ryan’s car, in When Harry Met Sally.
83. When Derek Luke’s “Boobie Miles” bursts into tears in his uncle’s car after he learns his football career is over, in Friday Night Lights.
82. When Jessica Lange confronts her war criminal father, in Costa Gavras’ Music Box.
81. When ‘Alabama’ stands shivering on the rooftop and tells ‘Clarence’ “I am not what they call Florida white trash – I’m a really good person,” in True Romance.
80. When John Mahoney warns Ione Skye not to be too hard on him after she learns he has been fleecing the elderly, in Say Anything. “Take it easy how bad you make me. I’m the only dad you’ve got.”
79. When Leonardo Dicaprio wakes up on the plane after his dream within a dream within a dream, in Inception. I could watch the final 15 minutes of this film every day for the rest of my life. Did I mention Christopher Nolan is a genius filmmaker?
78. When ‘Dorothy’ tells the ‘Scarecrow’ “I think I’m going to miss you most of all,” in The Wizard of Oz.
77. When Brad Pitt gets misty in his car listening to his daughter’s recording, in the final scene of Moneyball.
75. When Paul Newman struggles with the truth during cross-examination, in Sidney Lumet’s The Verdict. “We’ve been paid to look the other way.”
74. When Mary Tyler Moore chokes back tears to Donald Sutherland’s “I don’t know if I love you anymore,” in Ordinary People.
73. When Meryl Streep reaches for the car door handle as the rain falls at the end of The Bridges of Madison County.
72. When ‘Bonnie’ looks at ‘Clyde’ right before the groundbreaking violent ending to Arthur Penn’s Bonnie & Clyde.
71. When Jessica Chastain locks eyes on her young son on the heavenly beach, in the final sequence of The Tree of Life.
70. When ‘Tony’ first sees ‘Maria’ at the mixer, in West Side Story.
69. When Robert DeNiro goes ape on the pay phone after learning his pal Pesci got whacked, in Goodfellas.
67. When Pam Grier glides into frame on the airport people mover during the title sequence of Tarantino’s Jackie Brown.
66. When the children in What’s Eating Gilbert Grape watch their house burn down, their dead mother inside. Depp’s best film.
65. When Adam Sandler is touched by his daughter in Spanglish after she reads his restaurant’s review. “Look how great you read it!”
64. When Fernanda Montenegro lets her emotions finally spill as her bus pulls away from the boy, in Central Station.
63. When Anthony Michael Hall says to the group “Chicks can’t handle da smoke. That’s what it is,” in The Breakfast Club.
62. When Judd Hirsch tells his son (River Phoenix) to “Get the bike outta the back of the truck,” in Running on Empty. “Now get on it.”
61. When Gyllenhall finally convinces Ruffalo in the coffee shop with salt and pepper shakers that he has cracked the Zodiac case.
60. When Yaphet Kotto rises and kicks back his chair, busted pool cue in hand, in Brubaker. A very underrated film.
58. When Warren Beatty and Diane Keaton reunite on the walkway of the train station, in Reds. Movie magic.
57. When Tom Hanks first gets shell-shocked on Omaha Beach, in Saving Private Ryan. Take a moment to thank a soldier or a vet next time you can.
56. When famished Oliver Platt stuffs a creme puff in his mouth and tells the baker how horrible it is, in The Impostors. “I hate them.” Ever need to be cheered up in a hurry, watch the first 20 minutes of this film.
55. When the beach house of memories crumbles around Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet, in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. On my top ten favorite films list.
54. When a disgusted Eddie Murphy tries to vanquish his disrespectful party guests, in Trading Places. His former jail cell mate: “It was a stone groove my man.”
53. When Terrence Howard turns to Ludacrous in the S.U.V. in Crash. “You embarrass me. And you embarrass yourself.”
51. When Matt Damon slaps the phone number on the tavern window and jams the preppy. “I got her number. How you like them apples?” Good Will Hunting.
50. When Javier Bardem’s Oscar-winning ‘Anton Chiguhr’ menaces the gas station clerk. “You’ll think it’s just another quarter. Which it is.”
49. When Bill Paxton overhears the two L.A. detectives dismissing him, then gets busted eavesdropping, in One False Move. Genuine embarrassment one of the greatest challenges for an actor to achieve. It’s been said that the great Eleanora Duse could actually blush on stage.
48. When Clarence Williams III tells Prince in Purple Rain. “Don’t ever get married.”
47. When Liam Neeson realizes how many more Jews he could have saved for the price of his watch, in Schindler’s List.
46. When Gregory Hines embraces his tap dancing brother after their duet, in The Cotton Club.
45. When Jim Carrey says to the bewildered Matthew Broderick “This is gonna be the best damned karaoke jam ever,” in The Cable Guy.
44. When Steve Martin’s brother gently peeks his head in the door, in The Jerk. “Hey Navin, here’s your sandwich. I wrapped it in cellophane like you like it.”
43. When Dustin Hoffman apologizes to Jessica Lange on the NY street, in Tootsie. “We were getting to be…good friends.”
42. When grown up ‘Salvatore’ (‘Toto’) slumps in his seat in the dark theatre and watches the montage of kissing moments, in the brilliant Cinema Paradiso.
40. When John Goodman turns with menace to Barton Fink, “Because you don’t listen!”
39. When Billy Jack tells the town bully “You know what I’m gonna do? I’m gonna take my right foot and whop you on that side of your face. And there’s not a damned thing you can do about it.”
38. When Daniel Day-Lewis’ ‘Daniel Plainview’ suddenly realizes that the man claiming to be his brother is a con, in There Will Be Blood.
37. When Cary Grant tells Rosalind Russell “You’re a newspaper man,” in His Girl Friday. Trust me, picking one moment from the opening exchange between these two was tough. To abuse a cliché: they don’t make ’em like that anymore.
36. When John Travolta’s ‘Vincent Vega’ blows Uma Thurman a kiss after their near-death date, in Pulp Fiction.
35. When Ferris Bueller tips the valet (Richard Edson) who just took the joy ride in ‘Cam’s’ father’s car. Valet: “You’re a very generous individual.”
34. When Christopher Walken warns the father about skating on the lake in The Dead Zone. “The ice is gonna break!”
32. When Sam Jackson’s ‘Elijah’ tells Bruce Willis “They called me Mr. Glass,” in Unbreakable.
31. When William H. Macy asks his father-in-law what he is watching on tv in Fargo. “Gophers.”
30. When The Godfather, ”Don Corleone,’ stands over his dead son. “Look how they massacred my boy.”
29. When Rutger Hauer fades away on the rooftop in Blade Runner, saying to Harrison Ford “I’ve seen things you wouldn’t believe.”
28. When Joe Pesci asks Matt Damon’s CIA agent about his heritage, “Whatta you people got?” and Damon responds “The United States of America – the rest of you are just visiting.” The Good Shepherd is the best film made about the CIA.
27. When Steve Martin and Victoria Tennant become small children, hand in hand in love, Enya song playing, in L.A. Story.
25. When Ulrich Muhe’s former Stasi agent in The Lives of Others opens the book in the book store and sees that it was dedicated to him.
23. When Sidney Poitier’s ‘Sir’ is handed the goodbye present from his students, in To Sir With Love. “I think I better go put this away.”
22. When Nick Nolte charges Eddie Murphy and tackles him into the trash pile in 48 Hours. “You little fucker!”
21. When Marlon Brando pauses in the center of Matthew Broderick’s dorm room in The Freshman. “So this is college, eh? I didn’t miss nothin’.”
19. When ‘Garp’ looks at ‘Helen’ in the helicopter, at the end of The World According to Garp. With his dying breath, “I’m flying.”
18. When the late Ian Charleson’s ‘Eric Liddell” speaks of faith to the congregation, in Chariots of Fire. “And where does the power come from, to see the race to its end? From within.”
17. When ‘Stanley Kowalski’ barks at ‘Stella’ and ‘Blanche’ carrying on, “Cut the reebop!” in A Streetcar Named Desire.
16. When Kevin Bacon dogs the guy on the tv game show for getting the answer wrong, in Diner. “You bozo.”
15. When Mickey Rourke warns William Hurt, “Of course, that’s my recommendation anyway. Don’t do it,” in Body Heat.
14. When David Morse pulls over Viggo Mortenson at the end of Indian Runner, and the young boy steps out of the driver’s side of the car dressed in his cowboy get up. Such a great movie.
13. When the bloodthirsty Orcs charge through the woods in the final act of The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring.
12. When Kathleen Turner uses her dying breath to remove Michael Douglas’ hand from hers, in The War of the Roses.
10. When Jesse Eisenberg’s ‘Mark Zuckerberg’ looks at the attorney and says “You have part of my attention. You have the minimum amount. The rest of my attention is back at the offices of facebook where my colleagues and I are doing things that no one in this room, including and especially your clients, are intellectually or creatively capable of doing. Did I adequately answer your condescending question?” in The Social Network.
9. When Bill Duke puts his hand over Carl Weathers’ mouth and points through the jungle at the Predator. “I seeeee you.”
8. When the Nazi interrogator (Donald Lacey) walks into Karen Allen’s arctic wasteland pub, in Raiders of the Lost Ark. She offers him a drink. “We’re…eh eh…not thirsty.”
7. When Jack Nicholson’s ‘Joker’ marvels at Batman’s superhero shenanigans. “Where does he get those wonderful toys?”
6. When ‘Rocky Balboa’ finally finds his footwork during the classic training montage, in Rocky III.
5. When Rick Moranis (paying homage to The Planet of the Apes) finds the small replica statue, in Strange Brew. “Statue of Liberty.”
4. When Chris Farley challenges David Spade after their car crash, in Tommy Boy. “Look, everybody, it’s Papa Smurf!”
3. When Ricky Jay’s narration ends the opening sequence of the brilliant Magnolia. “This cannot be one of those things. This, please, cannot be that.” I’ve never recovered.
1. When Brando’s ‘Terry Malloy’ confronts union boss/thug Lee J. Cobb, in On the Waterfront. “I’m glad for what I done to you!”
Thank you for reading. Long live the cinema.