Rare is the moviegoing experience after which you leave the theater having loved each and every frame that flashed onscreen. Even when talking about our 10 favorite films of the year , we didn’t love everything about them, just most everything. More often than not, however, a film’s success and sustainability can be attributed to a few brilliantly crafted key scenes or sequences. They are the moments that make us ooh and aah, laugh out loud, cringe or cover our eyes.
In the spirit of the movie moments that have stuck with us and will continue to do so, here’s our list of the 10 best scenes from 2011’s new releases. SPOILERS ahead.
10. Ryan Gosling’s Airbrushed Abs Reveal, “Crazy, Stupid, Love”
Let’s face it, ladies have been mooning away over Ryan Gosling since his star-making turn in “The Notebook.” And although the Hollywood heartthrob always looks good onscreen, we hadn’t seen him cash in on the whole dreamboat card until this year’s hit romantic comedy “Crazy, Stupid, Love.” When he removes his fancy dress shirt to reveal a ridiculously chiseled and tanned torso, he really does look Photoshopped, in the best way possible. — Kara Warner
9. The Hour-Long Fight, “13 Assassins”
Takashi Miike’s play-out in two parts: one hour of build-up and one hour of bloody chaos. In an attempt to kill a corrupt ruler in feudal Japan, 13 samurai set the most violent version of a “Home Alone” house to trap the target and his entourage of 200 bodyguards. The result lasts an hour and engages you the entire time. — Kevin Sullivan
8. Bridge Fight in “Rise of the Planet of the Apes”
The latest, possibly greatest “Apes” movie was already one of the excellent surprises of the 2011 movie season even before the film reached its climax high atop the Golden Gate Bridge. The brillz apes take on the feckless cops in a fight scene that’s tense, cinematically creative and just beautiful to behold. Even more impressive than the throw-down itself is that director Rupert Wyatt manages to slip some genuine character drama into the mix without slowing down the action: Caesar, the ringleader of the simian uprising, goes from reluctant warrior to cold-blooded revolutionary when he finally realizes humans don’t give a hoot about his damn dirty kind. — Eric Ditzian
7. The Final Tap-Out, “Warrior”
Sure, there are a few clichés in the MMA-heavy familial drama “Warrior,” but all the great sports-centric movies have them: an abusive/alcoholic parent, the underdog fighting/playing against all odds, the competitor with nothing to lose, etc. The difference is, of course, whether they work or not. “Warrior” works. We love a story that moves us to applause or tears, and the cool, calculated intensity that builds up to the film’s emotionally electric climactic fight between two very damaged brothers does just that. That final moment where one brother finally lets go of all that anger and ever so gently taps his sibling is as brutal as it is poetic. — K.W.
6. Birth Scene in “The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1”
The penultimate “Twilight” flick may not have made our list of the best movies of 2011, but it’s hard to argue there was a more memorable scene — by which we mean totally goddamn bonkers — than the sequence when pregnant Bella Swan goes into labor and Edward Cullen, after realizing that a mere scalpel can’t free their vampire/human spawn, goes to work on his wife’s womb with his fangs. Blood is spilled, gasps and/or guffaws are unleashed by moviegoers (depending on each one’s relative level of Twi-hardness), and cinematic history is made.” — E.D.
5. Sebastian Shaw’s Death-by-Coin, “X-Men: First Class”
It took Erik Lensherr a long, long time to return the coin “gifted” to him by Sebastian Shaw all those years ago, but when he finally got to his moment of vengeance, the wait was well worth it. Shaw’s death-by-coin remains one of the coolest scenes of the year, and ranks as one of the most memorable comic book movie deaths of all time. — Josh Wigler
4. The Elevator Scene, “Drive”
It wasn’t necessarily the most graphic scene in the surprisingly violent indie hit, but the elevator scene is the one that will stay with us the longest. Not only because it featured the best head bashing since “Inglourious Basterds,” but because of the look on Ryan Gosling’s face when he turns to see Carey Mulligan watching. — K.S.
3. Lisbeth’s Revenge, “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo”
Lisbeth’s life is riddled with misfortune and loneliness, only furthered when she is anally raped by a “social servant.” Very few women have the courage to come forth after such a gruesome invasion of space, let alone confront their molester. So, the fact that Lisbeth had the courage to do what we all wished would naturally have come to such an evil man makes this graphic scene gut-wrenching yet empowering. — Natasha Chandel
2. Bridal-Store Bathroom Blowout, “Bridesmaids”
Disparaging sounds of indigestion are usually correlated with the uncouth ways of boys; everything from farts to exploding diarrhea. Which is why witnessing decently classy young women let ’er rip, of no choice of their own, in the most unsanitary of ways, made this scene an instant comedy classic for this year … and all time! — N.C.
1. Harry’s Long Walk, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2”
Eight films and over a decade later, it all came down to this: Harry taking that long walk of no-shame towards Voldemort, fully accepting his impending demise as a necessary means to ending his nemesis’ reign of terror once and for all. Of course, it didn’t shake out quite that simply, but Harry’s willingness to die for the greater good was proof positive of how much the “Potter” films grew and matured since “The Sorcerer’s Stone.” — J.W.
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