2007 Calvin Awards: Best Scene

February 14, 2007

Let's roll.

BOP's Calvins include several unusual categories each year, but this is the one we select that is singularly unique. To the best of our knowledge, no other awards selection group honors the best scenes of a given year. BOP considers this unfortunate because most of the regurgitated and celebrated aspects of a movie are modular. When people talk about The Matrix, "Guns. Lots of Guns." paints a picture in the viewer's head. Iron Giant's "Superman." pinpoints an exact point in the movie. Asking a fan of The Usual Suspects about the reveal of Keyser Söze puts a specific moment in their heads as a shambling gait morphs into an assured trot. These are defining moments of cinema, and our staff relishes the idea of lauding them each other. The 2006 schedule saw a significant number of memorable movie moments, creating heavy competition for a top ten nomination. Fifteen other titles received passionate enough support that a single high-placed vote would have been enough to swing them a spot in the top ten. There were those many great moments in the 2006 movie year. As such, being listed in this category is an impressive feat demonstrating cinematic greatness.

The winner for Best Scene is the final moments of United 93. BOP's staff was emotionally devastated by the series of flawed heroes rising up as one to prevent their capturers from performing another terrorist act. The sequence is frenzied, ferocious and frustrating to watch. The viewer knows that the plane's passengers are all doomed, but there is a tantalizing moment of hope offered first, making the ultimate result all the more demoralizing. United 93 is a masterful movie from start to finish, effectively demonstrating how people in all walks of life were suddenly interconnected in their confusion over that fateful morning's events. It is the end sequence, however, that encapsulates the erratic, uncontrollable emotions the entire country felt in absorbing the events of 9/11. No scene touched us more in recent memory, making it the easy choice for best of the year.

She's a very kinky girl, the kind you don't take home to mother. And the scene involving her dance performance never let our spirits down. Even though she was only a little girl, Abigail Breslin's talent competition performance proved her to be a Super Freak. Little Miss Sunshine is our selection for second best scene of the year due to an inspiring premise for how a lecherous grandfather would teach a young girl how to dance. This was not the most our staff laughed at a scene in 2006 (we're getting to that one), but it was far and away the best combination of humor and character development.

The tricky aspect in defining our third place finisher in best scene is determining where it begins and ends. The Uprising from Children of Men could be accurately described as the final act of the movie. Since we are talking about scenes rather than acts, the staff had great difficulty in deciding exactly what to do with the engrossing final half hour of the movie. In the end, we determined that the moments involving Theo (Clive Owen) and Kee (Claire-Hope Ashitey) exiting the building as awed soldiers look on to be the key scene. We realize that a large portion of you have yet to see the movie, so we won't say more for fear of spoilers. Those of you who have, though, fully recognize what a magical movie moment this is. In a lesser year for scene quality, this would have been an easy winner, and it probably would have done better had it not split votes with another scene from Children of Men.

The ambush and escape moments wherein Theo tries to jump start a car and escape from zealots earns a spot in fifth place. Much more modular than The Uprising and thereby easier to define, the run down the hill earned enough points to prevent Children of Men from winning overall. Had all of the points gone to either sequence, the movie would have won the category in a blowout. Instead, it must settle for two positions in the top five, the first time since Lost in Translation that this has happened.

The other scene in our top five finishes in fourth place (remember: the previous scene from Children of Men is our fifth place finisher). The movie is Borat and the scene is the one that Cohen described so eloquently (vilely?) in his Golden Globes acceptable speech. Yes, it's the one where Borat and Azamat circle back and forth between waging war and performing in a gay porno. We'll let Cohen himself describe why the scene is funny. "But I saw some dark parts of America, an ugly side of America. A side of America that rarely sees the light of day. I refer, of course, to the anus and testicles of my co-star, Ken Davitian. Ken, when I was in that scene and I stared down and saw your two wrinkled golden globes on my chin, I thought to myself, 'I better win a bloody award for this." The good news, Mr. Cohen, is that the Hollywood Foreign Press gave you such an award. The bad news is that the BOP staff only awarded you fourth place for your less than homoerotic work.

Finishing in sixth, seventh and eighth place are a sequel, a 21-equel (it's a perfectly cromulent word) and a moment of betrayal. Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest is our sixth place selection for its water wheel sword duel. The sheer physics of this alone are reason enough to celebrate its majesty. We hope for their sake that the stuntmen got paid double time for this incredibly detailed series of in-motion stalemates between Captain Jack Sparrow, Will Turner, and (no longer) Commodore Norrington. Seventh place goes to the opening sequence of Casino Royale, the James Bond franchise re-boot. FNG Daniel Craig finds himself being educated in the ways of free running by its founder, Sebastien Foucan, as he portrays an evil bomb-maker named Mollaka. The intense sequence of twists and turns goes on for almost as long as The Uprising, but it's much easier to define as a single scene. Our eighth place entrant is The Pendant from The Descent. Without using spoilers, this is the climactic moment in the movie wherein a previously unrecognized moment of betrayal is met with savage karmic punishment. The Descent is one of the most pleasant cinematic surprises of 2006, and this is THE moment where the cards all fall into place.

Rounding out the top ten are Over the Hedge in ninth place and Little Miss Sunshine (again) and Snakes on a Plane tying for tenth place. The Over the Hedge scene that moves the staff is the "Chase! Chase! Chase!" bit that has been mimicked by kids the world over for the past six months. BOP loves that stupid, single minded dog so, so much. The second Little Miss Sunshine scene on the list is Color Blind, the moment wherein Paul Dano's character, Dwayne, sees his world come undone after a heart-wrenching moment of unfortunate self-discovery. Whereas the beauty pageant is a moment of celebration, this is the movie's balance of senseless emotional pain. It ties with the moment from Snakes on a Plane from which you are already burned out. That's right. Oversaturated though it may be, our staff still celebrates the instant where Samuel L. Jackson mugs for the camera and says, "Enough is enough! I have had it with..." We voted it Best Trailer for the scene's promise, and we were pleased enough with its execution to offer additional praise.

Near misses for the top ten were numerous. The most notable ones are: Ofelia entering the labyrinth in Pan's Labyrinth, Costigan's introduction to Dignam and Queenan in The Departed, The 18 gear bike discussion in A Scanner Darkly, Tractor Tipping in Cars, Trying Out the Uterus in Tristam Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story, I Want Candy from Marie Antoinette, and the Phillip Seymour Hoffman revenge scene as well as the Air Plane Interrogation from Mission: Impossible III.

Top 10
Position Scene Film Total Points
1 The final moments United 93 47
2 Beauty pageant talent competition. Little Miss Sunshine 40
3 The Uprising Children of Men 38
4 Borat and Azamat fight Borat 30
5 The ambush and escape Children of Men 25
6 Waterwheel fight Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest 21
7 Bond chases Mollaka Casino Royale 20
8 The pendant The Descent 17
9 Chase chase chase chase chase Over the Hedge 16
10(tie) Color blind Little Miss Sunshine 15
10(tie) "Enough is enough! I have had it with these motherf-ing ...!" Snakes on a Plane 15

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