Tag Archives: Captain Phillips

Best Film Moments of 2013

I’ve found that in most great movies, even the greatest masterpieces, it’s not the film in its entirety that makes it great as much as a handful (or even just one or two) of brilliant moments. These are what we remember: sequences, shots, “holy moments” when a film manages to express the inexpressible. They are the moments where we feel lost in the film, contemplative, arrested. They are cathartic glimpses of transcendence.

Yesterday I posted my list of the best overall films of 2013; today I’m focusing on my picks for the best moments. The following are 15 of the most memorable and compelling moments from the year in cinema, in no particular order:

  • Before Midnight: “Still there, still there, still there … gone.” (watch here)
  • The Spectacular Now: Sutter and Aimee walk in the woods, share their first kiss (watch part of the scene here)
  • Short Term 12: Marcus shares the cathartic rap he’s been working on (Watch bits and pieces of it in this teaser for the film. Warning: graphic language.)
  • Captain Phillips: Tom Hanks gets evaluated by a nurse after the harrowing climax
  • 12 Years a Slave: Singing the spiritual, “Roll, Jordan, Roll”
  • Gravity: The opening (17 minutes long) uninterrupted shot
  • Post Tenebras Lux: Opening scene (watch here)
  • Hannah Arendt: Barbara Sukowa’s final speech in the lecture hall
  • To the Wonder: From Paris to the plains (watch here)
  • Her: The final scene on the roof with Joaquin Phoenix and Amy Adams
  • Inside Llewyn Davis: Llewyn plays “Shoals of Herring” for his estranged, dementia-plagued father (listen to the song here).
  • To the Wonder: Javier Bardem recites St. Patrick’s Lorica (watch here)
  • Museum Hours: Mary Margaret O’Hara sings “Dear, Dark Heart” to her cousin who is in a coma
  • The Bling Ring: Long take of Audrina Partridge’s house being robbed (watch here)
  • Frances Ha: “What I want out of a relationship” monologue (watch here)

What moments from 2013 films have been your favorite?

Advertisements

Captain Phillips

The final fifteen minutes of Paul Greengrass’s Captain Phillips are among the most intense I have seen in any movie in years (particularly the final scene). Certainly, the whole 134 minutes—though it feels like 90 minutes or less—is intense. But its climax and catharsis are breathtaking. It left me feeling shaken, inspired, grieved, and shell shocked, with a distinct sense of “what just happened?!”

And that’s an all-too-rare feeling in movies today.

I felt the same way seven years ago when I sat in a theater watching another film by Paul Greengrass that ended with a breathless bang and a similar, albeit more tragic, climactic catharsis:United 93. That film, one of the decade’s best, left me so shaken I could hardly move from my seat when the credits began to roll.

The final moments of Captain Phillips include a career-best acting moment from Tom Hanks, but its final scene also reminded me of what Paul Schrader, in Transcendental Style in Film, calls stasis: the moment at the end of the film (usually the last shot) when the “abundant,” loud, and chaotic give way to “sparse,” quiet, and contemplative finality. To put it another way: Captain Phillips is hardly Ozu in form or in content. But the way it ends certainly leads the viewer to place of stasis that reminds one of the Japanese director’s work: “a frozen view of life,” notes Schrader, “which does not resolve the disparity but transcends it.”

The amazing thing is that Captain Phillips, like United 93, is based on a true story that most of the audience knows. That a story with a known ending can be so gripping—even sublime—is a testament both to the filmmakers’ talents and film’s inherent power to narrate real stories more viscerally than the newspaper or a Wikipedia page.

[Read the rest of my review for Christianity Today here.]