Gene Kranz, played by Ed Harris, conveys the feeling of this tenacious leader perfectly when the most difficult time of NASA's history becomes their finest hour. He has relentlessly pushed his team to get the astronauts of Apollo 13 home and when they finally succeed, instead of leaping with joy, he just slumps into his seat, like the weight of the world has lifted off his shoulders. It is a simple, beautiful moment but it gives me chills to watch a bulldog of a man just reduced to the quivering wreck for a few seconds, a reality he had locked away because of his unswerving drive to save the men on Apollo 13. (No Youtube video was available, so click on the title or here to view it)
There are many speeches to admire in movie land but too many are filled with grandiose clichés. Tommy Lee Jones, in his iconic role of US Marshal Deputy Sam Gerard, skips by all of them and delivers a pep talk like none else. It is a quick speech but by the end of it, we know that Gerard is relentless and smart, injecting incredible tension into the film. The subsequent Oscar was well deserved after this performance and nothing encapsulates the character better than this moment.
The Dark Knight
There will never be an introduction to a villain that is as effective as this. The mob, at their lowest ebb, have come together to try to formulate a plan. What they get is Heath Ledger's Joker demonstrating how lethal stationery can be. By the end of this scene, we know that he is unhinged but intelligent, psychotic but not crazy. It has become the definitive bad guy performance of our generation.
On paper, this is a very run of the mill action movie. Retired secret agent's daughter gets kidnapped, so Daddy tracks her down. It screams straight to DVD job and even Liam Neeson thought it was going to go that way... until this moment on the phone. Then it's game on. From here on, you are mesmerised by a passionate father who will stop at nothing to find his daughter. It's that brief change in his face where he goes from concerned parent to cold blooded killer that you realise that you won't want to miss a second of it!
The offshoot of the cruelly cancelled Firefly, which sadly only got to 14 episodes despite it being a brilliant show, Serenity picks up the story roughly where TV viewers would have been had the show lasted until season 2. If you haven't seen the sharp wit of the show, this little moment encapsulates it so well. Chiwetel Ejiofor, in the calm antagonist role of the Operative doesn't know what is coming when Nathan Fillion's Captain Mal Reynolds does what most of us think we would do if put in the same situation. Just brilliant!
I am a huge Christopher Nolan fan. Don't let people fool you into thinking The Dark Knight was his masterpiece. There he was constrained by a franchise that was already established. With Inception, it is all from the great man's mind. How to explain this scene if you haven't seen the movie... tricky. This article would quadruple in size if I did. Needless to say, what happens to him in the van starts affecting the reality of the hotel. It's all about dreams in dreams... you know what, just go watch it!
Mr Holland's Opus
A beautiful film and Richard Dreyfuss's performance secured him an Oscar nomination for Best Actor. If you haven't seen it, you should probably stop reading now and just watch it because this will spoil the ending. Mr Holland, having had to put his dream of writing his opus on hold to support a wife and a deaf son, along with an array of students, is enjoying his last day at work before he retires. He is then ushered into the main hall, where past and present students are gathered to grant him the thing he craved the most... his dream.
The Bourne Ultimatum
This is just the last piece of the full scene but you get the idea. Bourne arranges a meeting with Ross, a journalist who has info on his origin. The CIA are hunting the pair of them and Bourne skilfully walks Ross through the train station that is littered with CIA operatives. It is one of the most intelligent action scenes you will ever see.
This movie is hugely underrated and is probably one that the USA would like to sweep under the rug, considering the plot involves using a commercial airliner as a weapon of mass destruction. Kurt Russell is a CIA analyst who goes along with a SEAL team to board the plane in question, which is in flight. The stealth transfer doesn't go to plan and just when it seems like all is lost, this moment happens. It is a jaw dropping moment for any action movie fan because from thereon, no one is safe and anyone can die.
Home Alone 2: Lost In New York
And finally, a funny one. Harry, having had his head scorched once by the Jigsaw killer in training Kevin McAllister, has been very wary through the entire house. Then he makes a schoolboy error... and I end up on the floor, splitting my sides open!