Top 20 scenes of 2014: 20-11


29th December 2014

Directors: Jemaine Clements, Taika Waititi / Cast: Jemaine Clements, Taika Waititi, Rhys Darby
Writers: Jemaine Clements, Taika Waititi / Cinematography: Richard Bluck, DJ Stipsen

"Shit, I've still got my glasses on" – there are plenty more obviously funny lines from the really quite wonderful vampire mockumentary What We Do In The Shadows, but none that so perfectly sum up what it means to be a modern-day creature of the night. Viago, Deacon and Vladislav are just three undead dudes trying to get along in life - paying rent, arguing over who does the washing up and hitting the nightclubs in search of human blood – much like a typical Shiznit night out. And like a Shiznit night out, shit goes down when a rival crew pitches up (yeah, you heard rival bloggers).

After a raucous session in Wellington's best nightclubs (which they have to be invited into by the bouncers, otherwise they can't enter) the housemates plus new bloodsucker on the block Nick run into their immortal enemies – a pack of werewolves led by Flight Of The Conchords alumnus Rhys Darby.

The situation is tense; self-styled bad boy of the group Deacon is obviously spoiling for a fight ("Look out guys, don't catch fleas") but the werewolves – a group of check-shirt-wearing guys in sensible slacks – are above such things. Until someone throws a stick, that is. Some animal instincts are just impossible to suppress, and the well-to-do werewolves attempt slow breathing techniques in a bid to quell their rage – not least because wearing glasses can make transformation a tad tricky. Becky

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Director: Matt Reeves / Cast: Andy Serkis, Jason Clarke, Gary Oldman
Writers: Mark Bomback, Rick Jaffa & Amanda Silver / Cinematography: Michael Seresin

Matt Reeves' Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes is a full barrel of memorable monkey madness. Remember who Gary Oldman was supposed to be? Of course you don't. You were too transfixed on apes riding horseback into battle while firing two machine guns at once, or the logistics of how a horse can easily support the weight of an orangutan.

Toby Kebbell's volatile, untrustworthy ape Koba playing the fool and killing two unarmed guards at point-blank range, effectively ending the peace between apes and humans, was the film's most pivotal, and violent scene. Refusing to listen to Caesar, who he feels is being too soft on the damn dirty humans, a suspicious Koba scouts out their compound for evidence that they're about to wage war and comes face-to-face with a pair of guards. By acting, well, like a performing monkey, he cunningly lulls them into a false sense of security, allowing them to believe they're still superior to these 'dumb' apes. With their defences down and whiskies in hand, Koba takes control of the situation, grabs a gun, delivers a killer stare, and shoots them both.

This key moment illustrates, with a swift pull of a trigger, that the humans are no longer the dominant species; a species that can clearly be so easily outwitted. Most importantly it shifts the focus of the film and reveals Koba as the true antagonist. Nice twist, huh? And of course his actions lead to all-out monkey business, guerrilla warfare and every other simian-based cliché you can think of. Rob

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Director: Doug Liman / Cast: Tom Cruise, Emily Blunt, Brendan Gleeson
Writers: Chris McQuarrie, Jez Butterworth & John-Henry Butterworth / Cinematography: Dion Beebe

The clue was in the original title: All You Need Is Kill. It's a miracle to me that no one has ever really stumbled on this formula for a successful blockbuster - the consistent, imaginative and entertaining murder of its lead actor. I daresay Edge Of Tomorrow wouldn't have been quite so enjoyable if it wasn't Tom Cruise being maimed, massacred and mangled - part of the film's appeal is in seeing its smirking star brought down a few hundred pegs. Nothing humbles a man like being shot, crushed, stabbed, flattened, flambéed, cut in half and exploded. Consider it public penance for Knight & Day.

Honestly it's hard to pick a favourite death. I'm a big fan of Cruise attempting a casual escape from his Army duties by rolling under a truck and becoming a human speed bump. Cruise getting sideswiped by a moving vehicle resulted in a massive gut laugh. There's great humour mined from almost all of his death scenes, particularly once you factor Emily Blunt's increasingly impatient 'Full Metal Bitch into the equation, ever willing to put a bullet in Tom's computer as soon as he so much as sprains his ankle.

The sheer pleasure of having a film with a protagonist who's properly (and expectantly) expendable cannot be overstated. It both relaxes audiences and sets them on edge; it affords Doug Liman a luxury that most directors don't have; most importantly, however, it lets Tom Cruise know that he's in on the joke - that his grisly death is what the people really want to see. Again and again and again. Ali

Read the full review | Alternate titles for Edge Of Tomorrow

Director: Jennifer Kent / Cast: Essie Davis, Noah Wiseman, Tim Purcell
Writer: Jennifer Kent / Cinematography: Radek Ladczuk

As someone very handsome and learned on this site wrote a couple of months ago, Australian horror The Babadook is as charming as it is horrifying, with its delicately balanced emotional weight, a disarming sense of humour, captivating central performances and palpable dread. During the course of the movie we find the fractious mother and son, Amelia and Samuel battling the top-hatted, spindly-fingered ghoul known as Mister Babadook who has arrived in their house via the pages of a deeply sinister storybook.

You spend the first half of the film freaked out by Samuel's bug-eyed precociousness and sympathising with Amelia as she battles with his fear of invisible monsters and wilfully destructive behavioural problems. The Babadook's best trick is subverting this dynamic halfway through. As the Babadook takes hold of his mother, you realise that it's Samuel who has always been the vulnerable one, as Amelia turns from mealy-mouthed doormat to knife-wielding, puppy-killing, floating psychopath. The child's fears are real and his mother has turned against him. But that's not to say that the boy can't defend himself.

And this is just one of The Babadook's superb moments, whem Samuel uses his assortment of weaponry to fight against his possessed mum. There’s something so unapologetic about this scene. No punch is pulled. No cricket bat blow is hidden off-camera. Samuel goes to town on his demon mum as if he’s in The Evil Dead II. It's a corker. Christopher

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Director: Darren Aronofsky / Cast: Russell Crowe, Jennifer Connelly, Emma Watson
Writers: Darren Aronofsky, Ari Handel / Cinematography: Matthew Libatique

Here's a thing: for some mad reason the bigwigs in charge of marketing for Noah decided to release the only good scene as a standalone clip online, for free, before the film was even released - thus rendering the need to give a single penny to the filmmakers totally obsolete when all the reviews came in and said it was a bit shitty, hooray! Oh no wait.

That's a bit unfair. Noah was an ambitious attempt by Darren Aronofsky to mesh several versions of the Biblical flood story into an all-in-one creationist/evolutionist-pleasing package. The end result was predictably a somewhat clunky mess, and that's before the totally unnecessary third act twist where a stowaway Ray Winston emerges from his hiding place on the arc bellowing "Come on 'av some, Noah, you caaaahnt". Okay, only some of that happened.

But how about that clip, eh? It really is quite bloody incredible: the ascent of Man presented in a kind of crazy juddery stop-motion CG, stopping along the way to show us picking up some fairly dubious traits as our species evolved - innocence lost on the path from newt to neckbeard. You should probably stop reading me prattling on and just watch it. And then buy the DVD and stop contributing to Jihad training camps in Syria you TERRORIST. Luke

Come back tomorrow for the Top 10 scenes of 2014. Or maybe just the Top 5! Or maybe we changed our minds and decided to write about the best haircuts of the year instead. Probably the first one.

EDIT: Read the Top 10 here

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