2020 Calvin Awards: Best Scene
By David Mumpower
February 13, 2020
Best Scene has become one of my favorite categories during The Calvins. Nobody else does it, and the concept matches perfectly with the ideology of our voters. We treasure small bites from movies inasmuch as the entirety of the films, the entrees as it were. Since our staff is open-minded by nature, we can unearth pearls in even the worst titles.
Of course, our constant search for memorable movie moments makes this category rather open-ended. Some sequences run as long as 10 minutes, while others are over in a matter of seconds. A former category winner, The Avengers, emerged victorious simply by having Hulk cartoonishly thrash Loki for a few moments. Conversely, Children of Men won for what’s basically its third act.
With so many possibilities each year – literally thousands of them – the voting always winds up spread out. This year is particularly competitive, as a single ballot could mean the difference between first place and the lack of a nomination. Fractions determined the outcomes in the category, a rarity at The Calvins. However, one film dominated, as you’re about to read.
Yes, Avengers: Endgame is undeniably our choice for Best Scene this year. The debate lies in which scene deserves the title. Our staff adored the "I am Iron Man" sequence, where a heroic sacrifice led to a resetting of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), one that will have ripple effects for years to come. But we only ranked this scene in seventh place!
Yes, two other scenes finished higher on the list. In fact, they finished at the top of the list, as Avengers: Endgame claims the top two spots this year. Our second-favorite moment occurred when Captain America finally paid off on a bit that Joss Whedon set up in Avengers: Age of Ultron.
At the time, several characters drunkenly attempted to pick up Mjolnir, but fear crossed Thor’s eyes when Cappy made the hammer move a little. During a more trying circumstance in Avengers, Endgame, Steve Rogers got serious about wielding Mjolnir, with the devastating weapon responding in kind to its new commander. Audiences went wild for this moment, but BOP’s staff still preferred one other scene ever-so-slightly more.
Our selection for Best Scene goes to, “On your left!” A few years ago, I argued until I was blue in the face that Captain America: Winter Soldier is the best comic book movie ever. Its directors, the Russo Brothers, introduced the character of The Falcon, by having Steve Rogers sprint past him several times at the start of the film. Each time, Captain America would warn Sam Wilson that he was about to get passed by saying, “On your left.”
The callback would come five years later as Rogers strapped on his broken shield and prepared to battle the entirety of Thanos' intergalactic army. At that moment, a voice taps into the earpiece of the leader of the Avengers. It promises that help is on the way, returning hope to a civilization that lost all optimism in the wake of The Snap. It's the perfect culmination of events for 12 years of the MCU and one of the most excellent choices ever for Best Scene.
The two most successful films from The Calvins this year earn the third and fourth nominations in the category. Parasite narrowly missed dual selections, as the birthday party lost by a single point. Our staff preferred the scene that occurs in the middle of the film when the family must sneak out of the house before their boss discovers that they're in the home…and that they all know each other.
Fourth goes to Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. The scene in question is one that has earned a great deal of scrutiny. Stuntman Cliff Booth reminisces on a fight that he once had with Bruce Lee. Whether any of it even happened is up for debate, but Booth fantasizes that he whooped his fellow stuntman in memorable fashion. The comedic elements of it wowed our staff, even though we know it’s BS.
Our fifth nominee comes from It's a Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, when Fred Rogers is dining with Lloyd Vogel, the magazine reporter interviewing the TV icon for Esquire. Lloyd holds a lot of residual anger toward a father who abandoned him as a child, and Fred counsels him on the troubling memories before saying, “Let’s take a minute to think of all the people in our lives who have loved us into being.” The movie is silent, and the audience thinks right along with the two of them. It's incredibly impactful, and is based on a real moment when Mr. Rogers said the exact same thing during an Emmy's acceptance speech.
We travel to Europe for our sixth and eighth selections. I wish that The Two Popes had done better in our awards this year, as I believe it's one of the most important films in recent memory. The most crucial scene occurs in the Sistine Chapel when an extreme right-wing Pope and his left-wing Bishop speak as men of God trying to do right by their lord and savior. It's powerful stuff that seems especially timely right now.
Our eighth nominee is 1917, which had two scenes running neck-and-neck throughout the voting. We didn’t quite select the moment when a rat approaches a landmine, as it finished tied with the birthday scene from Parasite. Instead, we chose the race through a darkened town in the Hauts-de-France region. Flares light up the night’s sky as a soldier sprints through enemy territory to reach his destination. The attempt is harrowing to behold and does a tremendous service in reminding us all why that era was called The Great War.
Another MCU title and an adrenaline-soaked action flick complete our choices for Best Scene this year. Spider-Man: Far From Home builds to a sequence wherein Spider-Man finds himself trapped in the illusions of an enemy he didn’t know that he had. The visuals from this scene are mesmerizing.
Finally, John Wick 3: Parabellum is nearly all action, and we celebrated multiple scenes. A battle with shinobi assassins and a glass room showdown with the main villain both garnered a lot of votes. Ultimately, we favored the escape from Casablanca, wherein dogs play a significant role in Wick's survival.
I’ve already mentioned several near-misses in the category, all of which we adored. A few other scenes that could have easily gained a nomination include Pas de Deux from Us, Chewbacca’s lightning disaster in Star Wars: Rise of Skywalker, the pirate rover attack in Ad Astra, the train serenade in A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, Ken Miles taking the lead in Ford v Ferrari, Duke Caboom’s jump and Ducky and Bunny’s suggested key acquisitions in Toy Story 4, and the Hidden World scene from How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World. I’ll add that the final scene from Hidden World is also sublime.
2020 Calvin Awards
Best Overlooked Film
Best Supporting Actor
Best Supporting Actress
Best TV Show
Best Use of Music
|| Avengers assemble through portals
|| Captain America wields Mjolnir
|| The family tries to sneak out of the house
|| Cliff vs Bruce Lee
||Once Upon a Time...in Hollywood
|| Consider the people who've loved you into being
||A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood
|| Pope Benedict and Cardinal Bergoglio talk in the Sistine Chappel
||The Two Popes
|| I am Iron Man
|| Race through flare-lit town
|| Spider-Man trapped in Mysterioâ€™s illusions
||Spider-Man: Far From Home
|| Escaping Casablanca
||John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum