Close-up Culture’s James Prestridge picks out his 100 favourite film scenes of the 2010s.
100. Performance Review – Nightcrawler (2014)
Rick (Riz Ahmed) is visibly terrified as Louis (Jake Gyllenhaal) gives him a job performance review. The scene ends on a humorous note as Rick realises he has been easily bested in his salary negotiations. Watch
99. Please Mr. Kennedy – Inside Llewyn Davis (2013)
Llewyn (Oscar Isaac) and Jim (Justin Timerlake) record a song while Al Cody (Adam Driver) provides hilarious interjections. Watch
98. Dry Cleaners – American Hustle (2013)
An enchantingly romantic scene as Irving (Christian Bale) and Sydney (Amy Adams) try on outfits together in a dry cleaners. A piano rendition of Blue Moon, a soft voiceover and a shot among the hanging outfits make this irresistible viewing. Watch
97. I Know We’re Cool – Somewhere (2010)
Downbeat acting star Johnny (Stephen Dorff) looks up from his phone and takes notice of his daughter Cleo (Elle Fanning) as she ice dances to Gwen Stefani’s Cool. A sweet and understatedly beautiful moment. Watch
96. Whistle – Prisoners (2013)
Loki’s (Jake Gyllenhaal) persistence pays off as he returns to the scene of the crime and hears the faint whistle of a resilient Dover (High Jackman). A well-executed ending that sticks true to the film’s characters. Watch
95. Final Words – The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014)
M. Gustave (Ralph Fiennes) is in the flows of a dramatic final speech before Zero (Tony Revolori) saves his life. Hysterically funny. Watch
94. Trip To The Cinema – Once Upon A Time In Hollywood (2019)
This heart-warming scene shares in the giddy joy of Sharon Tate (Margot Robbie) as she watches herself on the big-screen.
93. Sweep – Roma (2018)
The simple image of water washing over a patio reveals much more in the opening credits of Roma. Alfonso Cuarón’s aerial shot, the violent motion of the water and the reflection of a plane flying overhead act as a prelude to the film’s themes. Watch
92. Dance – Ex Machina (2014)
Under violent red lighting, Nathan (Oscar Iscaac) performs a dance with one of his AI creations. Hilarious and disturbing. Watch
91. Time Machine – Before Midnight (2013)
The third instalment of Richard Linklater’s trilogy ends on a note of reconcilement and comprise as Céline (Julie Delpy) comes round to Jesse’s (Ethan Hawke) passionate plea to hold onto their love. Watch
90. I Need Your Love – Booksmart (2019)
Lykke Li’s cover of Unchained Melody seems to be voicing a sorrowful ending to Booksmart before a boisterous twist saves the day. Watch
89. Car Argument – Widows (2018)
Jack (Colin Farrell) vents about his political career as he is driven home from an event to promote minority women owned businesses. The camera, however, stays outside the car for the entirety of the journey so we can witness the wealth disparity in his district. Watch
88. The Incinerator – Toy Story 3 (2010)
Did you cry? Our favourite on-screen toys looked destined to be melted down in this instantly iconic scene. Watch
87. Headphones – Güeros (2015)
Sombra (Tenoch Huerta) and co listen to the music of a local folk-rock legend in this scene. Director Alonso Ruizpalacios’ decision to exclude us from hearing the music switches the focus onto their blissful reactions. Watch
86. Spinning Hotel- Inception (2010)
Arthur (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) tries to fight off henchman while the hotel rooms spin in this thrilling action scene. Watch
85. Greeting Dance – Booksmart (2019)
Following a fun wink to Birdman (2014), Olivia Wilde’s comedy jumps into the endearing bestie fun as Mollie (Beanie Feldstein) and Amy (Kaitlyn Dever) greet each other with a cheesy dance. Watch
84. Home Invasion – Assassination Nation (2018)
This brilliantly shot sequence keeps us outside as a terrifying home invasion takes place. Watch
83. Shopping Centre – Eighth Grade (2018)
Kayla (Elsie Fisher) finds herself on the edge of a conversation between high schoolers at the mall. Painfully relatable. Watch
82. Do You Wanna See Something? – Drive (2011)
Driver (Ryan Gosling) and Irene (Carey Mulligan) can barely contain their smitten smiles in this adorable scene. It ends beautifully with a calming drive – in contrast to the film’s nerve-wrecking car scenes – and the soothing sounds of College & Electric Youth’s A Real Hero. Watch
81. Sky Gazing – Boyhood (2014)
A universal image of youth and hope opens Richard Linklater’s ambitious 12-year project. Watch
80. Simple – Hail, Cesar (2016)
A hilarious scene in which European film director Laurence (Ralph Fiennes) tries to coach thick-accented, cowboy actor Hobie (Alden Ehrenreich) into a passable performance. Watch
79. Remember Me – Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)
Another enthralling action sequence culminates in Furiosa (Charlize Theron) getting her moment of revenge. Watch
78. Priestly Advice – Jackie (2016)
‘Is this all there is?’ – That is the existential question pondered when Jackie Kennedy (Natalie Portman) sits down for a honest conversation with a priest (John Hurt) in Pablo Larraín’s biopic. Watch
77. Coffee Run – Baby Driver (2017)
Director Edgar Wright and his team dazzled us this year with the slick, fast-paced and cleverly edited style of Baby Driver. Baby’s (Ansel Elgort) coffee run is just one of many expertly put together scenes in a film of flawless vision. Watch
76. Cool Girl – Gone Girl (2014)
Gone Girl’s twist gives us a cutting monologue about the way women change themselves to meet male fantasies. It’s strangely (thematically) similar to another scene on this list – I’ll let you guess which one. Watch
75. I Think We’re Alone Now – 10 Cloverfield Lane (2016)
This cheerful song takes on an unsettling new context as it plays over a montage scene of Howard (John Goodman), Michelle (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) and Emmett (John Gallagher Jr) living life in their bunker. Watch
74. Everytime – Spring Breakers (2012)
The ‘inspiring’ music of Britney Spears’ Everytime accompanies scenes of intense violence and drug-taking. One of many subversive choices in Harmony Korine’s divisive film. Watch
73. Revolutions – The Wolf Of Wall Street (2013)
Who could forget this chest-beating scene? Mark (Matthew McConaughey) introduces Jordan (Leonardo DiCaprio) to the cocaine-fuelled world of Wall Street. Watch
72. The Sunken Place – Get Out (2017)
Regardless of genre, this is one of the most memorable and talked about scenes of the decade. Chris (Daniel Kaluuya) is hypnotized by his girlfriend’s mother (Catherine Keener) and sent to the sunken place in a scene that makes you think as well as giving the chills. Watch
71. Home Invasion – Once Upon A Time In Hollywood (2019)
Once Upon A Time In Hollywood rewrites history in jaw-droppingly violent and rousingly entertaining fashion. Trademark Quentin Tarantino.
70. Get In The Car – Nocturnal Animals (2016)
This scene is a real heart-sinker. Ray (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) kidnaps Laura (Isla Fisher) and daughter India (Ellie Bamber) as a shell-shocked Edward (Jake Gyllenhaal) can only look on. A sickening and harrowing scene that sets in motion the relentless devastation of this film. Watch
69. It Could Have Been Any Of Us – Spotlight (2015)
Mark Ruffalo is at his very best in a scene in which his character passionately pushes for a huge story to be published. Watch
68. You Are Making My Head Spin – Clouds Of Sils Maria (2014)
Valentine (Kristen Stewart) and Maria (Juliette Binoche) discuss the merit of a sci-fi film they have just watched together. One of a number of fascinating and authentic conversations between the two. Watch
67. Rebirth – American Honey (2016)
Raury’s God’s Whisper captures the wild euphoria of American Honey’s closing scene as Star (Sasha) leaves the bonfire for a cleansing moment in the water. Watch
66. That Is Your Person – Frances Ha (2012)
Frances (Greta Gerwig), whose irrepressible vibrancy makes her stick out at this dinner party, opens up to the other guests about the type of connection she dreams of having with another person. Watch
65. Nightclub Euphoria – Victoria (2015)
Following a nerve-shredding robbery, Victoria (Laia Costa) and her new friends dance euphorically in a nightclub. The context of the scene, however, is shifted by director Sebastian Schipper’s decision to fade out the heavy nightclub tunes for gentler music. Watch
64. Carol Meets Therese – Carol (2015)
This love story is set in motion when Therese (Rooney Mara) finds herself irresistible drawn to Carol (Cate Blanchett). Beyond the gorgeous cinematography, it is the young shop clerk’s inability to hide her instant enamourment that is utterly charming. Watch
63. Tea Room – The Love Witch (2016)
Aesthetic delights galore as The Love Witch (Samantha Robinson) tells Trish (Laura Waddell) about male fantasies and her addiction to love.
62. Sisterly Bonding – Raw (2016)
A friendly waxing session between two sisters goes downhill sharply with a brutal accident. A jaw-dropping and chilling act follows as Justine’s (Garance Marillier) finger-gnawing transformation is cemented by Jim Williams’ Transylvanic music. Watch
61. Nothing Is Lost Forever – Still Alice (2014)
Tender delivery from Kristen Stewart helps to close out Still Alice on a deeply affecting note as Lydia reads a book passage to her Alzheimer’s stricken mother (Julianne Moore). Watch
60. Road Accident – Hereditary (2018)
This scene left me wanting to escape the cinema and somehow attempt to pry this horrific moment from my memory before it had time to embed. After the horrific incident (which I can’t bare to type about), there is a visceral feeling of shock and dread that Ari Aster leaves us to sit with as Peter (Alex Wolff) quietly pulls up to his house and goes to bed. Pure horror excellence.
59. Confession – Cold War (2018)
Zula (Joanna Kulig) and Wiktor (Tomasz Kot) argue over their affair. The scene ends with a sumptuous shot of Zula floating down the river as she sings a tune.
58. Now It’s Being Taken From Them – Hell Or High Water (2016)
Marcus (Jeff Bridges) and Alberto (Gil Birmingham) talk about a history of power grabs in small town America. Watch
57. Police Station – Manchester By The Sea (2016)
Following Manchester By The Sea’s tragic ‘incident’, Lee (Casey Affleck) takes drastic action try and punish himself after the police let him go. Harrowing viewing. Watch
56. Hello Handsome – Blade Runner 2049 (2017)
Shortly after losing his Joi (Ana De Armas), K (Ryan Gosling) comes into contact with a huge advertisement for with Joi holograms. A layered scene in which K has an important revelation about himself. Watch
55. Border Tensions – Sicario (2015)
A thrilling scene in which FBI agent Kate (Emily Blunt) finds herself in the heart of a tense showdown with Mexican drug cartels on the Mexico-US border. Watch
54. Heartbeat – A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night (2014)
The Girl (Sheila Vand) slowly turns to listen to Arash’s (Arash Marandi) heartbeat. White Lies’ Death and incredible pacing turn this into one of the most hypnotic (and tense) scenes of the decade.
53. Shallow – A Star Is Born (2018)
Allie (Lady Gaga) comes into the spotlight to perform Shallow with Jack (Bradley Cooper). A breath-taking scene in which two soon-to-be lovers are forever connected by this magical, star-making moment.
52. Everyone Was Gone – The Farewell (2019)
Billi (Awkwafina) opens up about the sad frustrations of her childhood as she and her family search for a lost earring on the floor. A scene made by Awkwafina’s extraordinary performance.
51. Video Diary – Interstellar (2014)
Cooper (Matthew McConaughey) sits through 23 years of messages from his family. A devastating scene that is powerfully acted by McConaughey.
50. Making The Call – Arrival (2016)
An intense scene – heightened by Jóhann Jóhannsson’s momentousness music – in which Louise (Amy Adams) realises the dangerous call she must make to save the world.
49. Party – Raw (2016)
This one shot scene throws Justine (Garance Marillier) – and us – into the sweaty heart of a wild, underground college party. We bounce from one unruly visual to another, viscerally experiencing the unbroken chaos and euphoria of partying youth.
Justine looks overwhelmed amid the mass of bodies, a visual that will be juxtaposed at a later party when she has undergone a transformation.
48. Diner – Moonlight (2016)
Chiron (Trevante Rhodes) and Kevin (André Holland) cross paths in a diner for a beautiful scene in which the two struggle to communicate their feelings. In the end, Barbara Lewis’ Hello Stranger does the talking.
47. Rooftop Passion – Wild Tales (2014)
Wild Tales is reaches the peak of human chaos as a bride (Erica Rivas) unleashes a furious plan on her newly-wed, cheating husband.
46. This Is Where Your Life Is – Brooklyn (2015)
Eilis (Saoirse Ronan) chooses Tony (Emory Cohen) and explains her choice with an elegantly expressed narration that speaks to the immigrant experience.
45. Camelot – Jackie (2016)
Richard Burton’s rendition of Camelot voices this scene in which a grieving Jackie Kennedy (Natalie Portman) busies herself around The White House.
44. Elvis Hologram – Blade Runner 2049 (2017)
A stuttering holographic Elvis Presley performance creates a striking atmosphere for this violent meeting between K (Ryan Gosling) and Deckard (Harrison Ford).
43. Rock Around The Clock – Cold War (2018)
Zula (Joanna Kulig) goes from bored to rockin’ out as she dances – completely carefree – to Bill Haley’s Rock Around The Clock. Joyous and beautiful.
42. Under Attack – The Revenant (2015)
This remarkable one-shot scene opens The Revenant on an overwhelmingly chaotic and violent note.
41. Thank You – Lady Bird (2017)
After being moved by a visit to a Presbyterian Church, Christine (Saoirse Ronan) leaves a thankful answering machine message for her mother. This act of loving appreciation brings a reflective close to a film that beautifully and honestly speaks to mother-daughter relationships.
40. Mirror Dance – Raw (2016)
The transformation Justine (Garance Marillier) is undergoing deepens as she provocatively dances in the mirror to highly sexualised rap music.
39. You Just Wiped Out The Entire Human Race – Birdman (2014)
A moment of calm amongst the screwy beats of Birdman as Sam (Emma Stone) and Riggan (Michael Keaton) reflect on his parenting skills. The scene ends on a fitting note as a self-minded Riggan wipes his face with Sam’s tissue – which has been marked to represent the 150 thousand years of human existence.
38. I Can’t Beat It – Manchester By The Sea (2016)
A quiet moment in which Lee (Casey Affleck) admits to Patrick (Lucas Hedges) that he cannot beat the pain of his past.
37. Das Hobellied – Personal Shopper (2017)
Marlene Dietruch’s Das Hobellied brings an air of fantasy to a scene in which Maureen (Kristen Stewart) daringly tries on her employer’s clothes.
36. Dear Catherine – Her (2013)
Left by their AI partners, friends Theodore (Joaquin Phoenix) and Amy (Amy Adams) climb to the roof of their apartment block to look out over the evening skyline. It feels emotional, alive and full of new possibilities.
35. Master’s Voice – Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (2017)
A single take shot follows Dixon (Sam Rockwell) as he violently takes out his frustrations following the death of Willoughby (Woody Harrelson). The gentle and spiritual sounds of Monsters Of Folk act in sharp contrast to the brutality of Dixon’s actions.
34. Protests – Roma (2018)
An engulfing scene as Cleo (Yalitza Aparicio) is caught up in an outbreak of violence while shopping. In keeping with the rest of Roma, this scene is fascinatedly observed by Alfonso Cuarón’s camera – giving equal focus to Cleo and her surroundings.
33. The Bear In The Big Burning House – Midsommar (2019)
A masterful ending to Ari Aster’s daylight horror. Bobby Krlic’s stirring score and Florence Pugh’s breath-taking transformation ensure this a captivatingly disturbing film climax.
32. Too Late To Turn Back Now – BlacKKKlansman (2018)
Following a disturbing interaction with racist police officers, Ron (John David Washington) and Patrice (Laura Harrier) share a moment of community and joy to the sounds of the Cornelius Brothers & Sister Rose. Love in response to evil.
31. Space Debris – Gravity (2013)
Playful radio chatter, country music and wonderment at the sight of Earth soon descends into disorienting chaos as the crew come under fire from space debris. A continuous shot and Steven Price’s engulfing score make this a riveting watch.
30. Deal Or No Deal – Animal Kingdom (2010)
What appears to be a mundane image of mother and son sitting on the sofa and watching TV turns into something far more upsetting when paramedics walk through the door. A morbid opening note that speaks to J’s (James Frecheville) rough reality.
29. It Was Perfect – Black Swan (2010)
Nina (Natalie Portman) delivers a triumphant performance to draw the curtain on Darren Aronofsky’s intense psychological thriller. As blood seeps through her white dress (an external reminder of her self-destructive pursuit of a perfect performance), the dancer can look up at the lights and finally be at peace. Bravo.
28. Truth Or Dare – Eighth Grade (2018)
A deeply uncomfortable – and unsettling – interaction sees eighth grader Kayla (Elsie Fisher) sexually pressured by a high schooler.
27. Parking Lot – A Star Is Born (2018)
Ally (Lady Gaga) and Jack (Bradley Cooper) bond in a supermarket car park. An authentic and tender interaction away from the bright lights and cameras.
26. Car Ride – Two Days, One Night (2014)
Sandra (Marion Cotillard) turns up the radio for a brief moment of relief from the stress of racing against time to try and save her job.
25. The Worst Day Of My Life – Boyhood (2014)
As her Mason (Ellar Coltrane) heads off to university, his mother (Patricia Arquette) opens up on why this is a significant day for her as well.
24. It Was You I Idolised – A Star Is Born (2018)
Jack (Bradley Cooper) and Bobby (Sam Elliot) share a moment of brotherly honesty in this scene. Raw emotion.
23. Still There – Before Midnight (2013)
Jesse (Ethan Hawke) and Celine (Julie Delpy) watch the sun go down together. Simple yet incredibly touching and human.
22. Hole In The Wall – Marriage Story (2019)
The tensions between Charlie (Adam Driver) and Nicole (Scarlett Johansson) reach a breaking point in this masterfully written and acted scene.
21. Not My Tempo – Whiplash (2014)
Fletcher (J.K. Simmons) tests Andrew (Miles Teller) to his limits in this frighteningly intense scene. Tremendous acting from Simmons and Teller.
20. The Wedding Huddle – Mustang (2015)
The party atmosphere of a wedding is soon turned to deep sadness as five sisters share an emotional embrace before they are separated forever.
19. Someone In The Crowd – La La Land (2016)
This delighting sequence brilliantly plays with tempo and tone to immerse us fully in the wonder of La La Land.
18. Across The Room – Carol (2015)
A heart-fluttering closing scene to Todd Haynes’ film as Therese (Rooney Mara) walks across a crowded restaurant to be reunited with Carol (Cate Blanchett).
17. The Creature – Annihilation (2018)
Incredible visuals and music capture this cosmic sequence. Unique and endlessly fascinating work by Alex Garland.
16. Window – Birdman (2014)
Alejandro González Iñárritu leaves the ending of Birdman open to interpretation as Sam (Emma Stone) looks out of the window for her dad. Is he a superhero soaring in the sky or a tortured artist on the ground?
15. Middle Of The World – Moonlight (2016)
Juan (Mahershala Ali) teaches Little (Alex R. Hibbert) how to swim before offering some words of comfort and guidance on the beach.
14. I Get Overwhelmed – A Ghost Story (2017)
M (Rooney Mara) listens to music and reflects on a moment shared with C (Casey Affleck). The scene reaches a soaring emotional high point – intensified by Dark Rooms’ I Get Overwhelmed – as M reaches out within inches of the ghost of C.
13. Memory Is A Strange Thing – Arrival (2016)
Max Ritcher’s On The Nature Of Daylight helps open up Denis Villeneuve’s film on an unforgettably poignant note.
12. What Could Have – La La Land (2016)
La La Land’s epilogue whisks us away into a classic Hollywood dream of what could have been for Mia (Emma Stone) and Seb (Ryan Gosling).
11. Beach – Roma (2018)
In this powerful and beautifully executed one shot scene, Cleo’s (Yalitza Aparicio) bravery to save the children leads to an outpouring of emotion.
10. What Am I? – Green Book (2018)
Donald (Mahershala Ali) passionately lays out his identity crisis to Tony (Viggo Mortensen) in a scene that gets to the heart of Green Book.
9. Final Performance – Whiplash (2014)
Whiplash ends on a fittingly gruelling and intense note as a young drummer (Miles Teller) finally meets the high standards of his band instructor (J.K. Simmons).
8. Countdown – Interstellar (2014)
Cooper (Matthew McConaughey) leaves his family behind to set off into space. Director Christopher Nolan expertly brings this scene to an emotional climax with the shuttle launch countdown.
7. Planetarium – La La Land (2016)
This magical and dazzlingly romantic scene follows Mia (Emma Stone) and Seb (Ryan Gosling) on their date at the planetarium. The silhouetted couple dancing across the starry sky is a particular highlight.
6. The Pram – Manchester By The Sea (2016)
Few scenes in recent memory will tear your emotions like paper as this stroller encounter between Lee (Casey Affleck) and Randi (Michelle Williams) does.
The emotional climax of a Kenneth Lonergan’s film brings two tortured souls together, in the most mundane of settings, for an almost impossible conversation. Sensitively acted by Affleck and Williams, the two are deserving of acclaim for these two minutes alone.
5. You’re Not Important – Birdman (2014)
Sam (Emma Stone) gives her glory-chasing dad (Michael Keaton) an impassioned dose of reality. A scene that stands out due to cutting writing and scintillating delivery from Stone.
4. I Welcome Every Moment Of It – Arrival (2016)
Max Ritcher’s On The Nature Of Daylight returns for the soul-stirring closing scene of Arrival.
3. I Think I Will Go In – Rust And Bone (2012)
With help from Alain (Matthias Schoenaerts), Stéphanie (Marion Cotillard) goes swimming for the first time scene her devastating accident. The sun sparkling off the water and Stéphanie’s cries of joy add to the breath-taking beauty of this scene. Life-affirming stuff.
2. A Lovely Night – La La Land (2016)
Damien Chazelle delivers a pitch perfect blend of aesthetics in what will surely be remembered as La La Land’s most iconic scene. The playfulness between Mia and Sebastian (Ryan Gosling) coupled with the LA twilight backdrop makes for an irresistible combination.
1. Pie – A Ghost Story (2017)
From the elaborate flourishes of La La Land to the simplicity of eating a vegan pie in A Ghost Story.
Yes, director David Lowery and Rooney Mara managed to make a few minutes of pie eating utterly compelling.
With a long shot reminiscent of Tarkovsky, we are left to meditate on the image of M (Rooney Mara) eating pie for an almost uncomfortably long amount of time. As the minutes pass, M’s wallowing sadness turns to frustration as she begins to stab at the pie and cram it down her throat.
The scene ends as she races to the toilet to puke. The void of loss has been wrongfully filled by pity, self-indulgence and aggression – just a few of the emotions felt in this masterful scene. It is time to find a healthy way to grieve and move on.