2009 Calvin Awards: Best Scene

February 10, 2009

Nip/Tuck's The Carver claims another victim.

Best Scene is among the most distinctive categories we laud during The Calvins. We enjoy the exercise of reducing a sum to its individual parts, then examining which of them stands out on its own as a magnificent cinematic short film. Historically, we have lauded sequences as short as Anton Ego eating a delicious bite of Rataouille or Steve Carell getting his chest waxed or as long as the heroic but doomed crew of Flight 93 overcoming the terrorists taking them hostage. One of the trickiest aspects of voting in this category is that there is rarely universal consent about the finest movie sequences of the year. Instead, ballots are diverse and this leads to inconsistent and varied results. Usually. This year, we all just decided to vote for The Dark Knight.

I am not kidding here. We have never had a movie dominate the voting in Best Scene the way that the biggest movie of 2008 has done. The first and second most popular scenes of the year were selected from this movie and two others were but a single vote away from the top ten. In total, six different scenes from The Dark Knight received nomination with five of them finishing among the top 18 in vote getters. Our staff was captivated by the visually stimulating and simultaneously thought-provoking movie moments created by Christopher Nolan. In the end, the strongest support was narrowed from four wonderful moments to a pair that we felt worthy of naming as the two best of the year.


The Best Scene of 2009 as voted by the BOP staff may be summarized with but five simple words: "How about a magic trick?" In this period of only a few seconds, Heath Ledger suddenly owns the role that had always seemed destined to be remembered as Jack Nicholson's. He enters a room full of mob bosses and recklessly mocks them with fake laughter. As a thug is sent his way, he makes the offer of sleight of hand by placing a pencil on the table. An instant later, a man has been impaled and The Joker has been defined as one of the scariest movie villains of all time. It's a remarkable bit of storytelling and just plain cool to boot. Of course, Nolan himself would probably point to our second favorite scene of the year as the one he likes better. The bank heist is so meticulously planned and masterfully shot that the IMAX advertising campaign for The Dark Knight featured nothing else but this segment. It's a sublime bit of filmmaking that I maintain would win an Academy Award for Best Live Action Short if submitted in the category. This is a standalone sequence with a beginning, a middle and an end and it is truly breathtaking from start to finish. This six minute sequence went a long way in guaranteeing that The Dark Knight would become the biggest box office opening weekend of all time.

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