As we head into the end of the year, it’s worth noting that 2015 was a year that may go down in history as being exceptionally iconographic in its film contributions. With all of its successful sequels to legendary series, massively growing universes, and wholly original visionary storylines, there are quite a few movies which we can expect to stand the test of time, but which scenes will we remembered in daily conversations? Below, we’ve categorically sorted what we think are the best movie scenes that 2015 had to offer. Let us know your favorite scenes in the comments.
POTENTIAL SPOILERS MARKED BELOW
Best Fight Scene – Creed
POTENTIAL SPOILER: Echoing all the bluster and off-brand patriotism of the final match from the 1976 original film Rocky, Ryan Coogler’s capable spin-off feature ends in one of the most well choreographed movie boxing matches in recent memory. Over the course of the entire production, Michael B. Jordan as Adonis “Donnie” Johnson is a bulking behemoth on the screen, and whenever he steps into the ring, cinematographer Maryse Alberti captures every jab, hit, and blow with an aesthetic attention to the fluidity and beauty that makes up for the core of any great film about boxing, and makes the final match between Adonis and “Pretty” Ricky Conlan the crowning bout of the entire production that lives up to the very best matches featuring Rocky Balboa.
Best Love Scene – Trainwreck
Given WWE wrestler-turned-actor John Cena’s imposing frame, it wouldn’t seem as though he would be the guy to turn in the best love scene over the course of the entire year on film. But in the Amy Schumer penned, Judd Apatow studio comedy, Cena proves his comedic chops in spades, and turns in one of the most cringe-worthy sexual performances of all time. Playing on his character’s ambiguous sexuality and self-idolizing over the physical perfection made manifest by his own body, Cena strikes a foolish pose in his moment of intimacy with the film’s star, and proves that he can wear a tube sock better than anyone.
Best Race Scene – Mad Max: Fury Road
In a film that is essentially a two hour long car chase, George Miller’s triumphant return to the genre film property that made him into the all-star filmmaker that he is houses within itself entire the best race scene in movies this year. It would be impossible to point to any one scene or sequence as featuring the best racing footage in comparison to the rest of the film, though watching Tom Hardy strapped to the hood of his own car with Nicholas Hoult at the wheel remains one of the most thrilling and visceral action scenes of the entire year, and beats out Furious 7 as a vastly more coherent motion picture centered around set pieces featuring vehicular speed.
Best Opening Credits Scene – Krampus
In the title sequence to Michael Dougherty’s latest horror-comedy, there is a fast-paced, satire in miniature on the corrosive effects of late capitalism made manifest in the Christmas holiday that is better than entire film proper. Before devolving into a series of ubiquitous sight gags and grotesque thrills that any viewer with half a brain can see coming from a mile away, Dougherty’s film promises a more subtle, human comedy that at times develops from this opening credits scene, that holds more in common with the film’s celebrated holiday than anything else about this mainstream horror romp in the style of the far-superior Gremlins of 1984.
Best Comedy Scene – Shaun the Sheep Movie
Any film that features exclusively stop-motion animated sequences is sure to be meticulously choreographed, staged, and executed in every scene featured, and Aardman Animations’ latest film is no exception. Based on the BBC series that was itself a spin-off on the popular character from Nick Park’s Wallace and Gromit series of shorts, the movie that exclusively features the Shaun the Sheep character is one of the most effective features to employ practical bits of physical comedy, and the scene in which Shaun and his gang must navigate their way into the city is one of the most beautifully done pieces of film comedy of the year, as is the rest of the film, making the production itself an overly underrated and severely under-seen movie of 2015.
Best Dance Scene – Magic Mike XXL
Now this is a challenging category. Who would have thought that the race for best dance scene would be so tight? In a less packed year this would have gone to Ex Machina, no question, but 2015 is the year that brought us Magic Mike XXL which cannot be overlooked. Now, the question is which dance from XXL stands above the rest? The phenomenal “mirror” dance from the finale almost took the win but it is the convenience store scene that truly deserves it. The scene in question finds Big Dick Richie performing an impromptu routine for an unimpressed clerk set to the Backstreet Boys’ “I Want It That Way.” This moment is the perfect combination of hilarious, goofy, and sexy (the entire movie in a nutshell). No other dance scene of the year is worthy of this award.
Best Scary Scene – It Follows
I don’t think anyone would deny that this year has been particularly excellent for horror films. For the most part 2015, marks a turn away from the deluge of jump scares which have plagued the genre for so long. Instead we’ve seen a resurgence of the slow burn, to crafting an atmosphere through the build-up of dread and terror. No film this year is a better example of this practice then It Follows, with one scene as the clear cut winner of scariest scene of the year. The moment finds Jay, who has now realized the reality of her curse that’s stalking her, hiding in her bedroom as the titular entity in the form of a tall man suddenly appears behind her bewildered friend in the hallway with shocking speed. It is the most terrifying moment in a film filled with terrifying moments.
Best Tear-Jerking Scene – The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2
SPOILER: One of the biggest issues with the concluding entry in the Hunger Games series is that many pacing issues which plague most of the film rob many would-be emotional moments of any impact as we are rushed through many major story beats. This is most evident with Prim’s violent death-by-explosion which concludes the rebellion so quickly that neither Katniss nor the audience are given time to process it. However this does, in fact, come to a head when Katniss is confronted with Prim’s cat, Buttercup, whom she hates. Then, with Katniss screaming and sobbing at this cat over her dead sister, we are allowed to feel the catharsis that we have been denied for most of the movie. You’d have to be heartless not to get teary-eyed.
Best Bizarre Scene – Ant-Man
POTENTIAL SPOILER: Early on in Ant-Man we are introduced to the idea of using the shrinking suit to “go subatomic,” a dangerous process that would have the wearer shrinking so small until they eventually reach the point where physics and reality have no meaning as they slip through the cracks of space and time thus entering the Quantum Realm. This is revealed to have been the fate of Janet Van Dyne, the original Wasp. In order to defeat Yellowjacket, Scott is forced to do the same. His shrinking begins on a microscopic level until it quickly dissolves into a sort of hazy psychedelia of colors and energy. On top of being a possible signifier of the cosmic turn that the MCU is about to take in Phase 3, it is conceptually wild and one of the most strange things you will see on screen all year.
Best Action Scene – Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens
SPOILER: Another difficult choice, as 2015 has been chock full of incredible action scenes. Any of the action beats from Mad Max: Fury Road or Furious 7 or Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation could have easily taken this spot. But for my money, the clear winner is a late entry, courtesy of Star Wars: Episode VII. Specifically, it is the climax of the movie which saw our new hero, Rey, in a lightsaber battle against our new villain, Kylo Ren. The Force Awakens can’t be considered the best of its series but now it can claim the honor of having the best lightsaber duel. This isn’t only because of the excellent choreography, it has to do with the emotion at play behind each hit. Here we see the heavy personal stakes of the fights in the original trilogy without the stiffness, we see flashy and exciting maneuvers without the battle turning into an elaborate but clearly rehearsed performance like the prequels. The Force Awakens strikes the perfect balance in-between both extremes.