I love that scene.

The movies we remember are defined by the scenes we can’t forget.

LOVE THAT SCENETake Christopher Walken and Dennis Hopper discussing Sicilian heritage in ‘True Romance.’ Or Jack Nicholson clearing the diner table in ‘Five Easy Pieces.’ Paul Reuben strutting his stuff in a biker bar in ‘Pee Wee’s Big Adventure.’ Great scenes save lousy films. ‘Southland Tales’ is redeemed by Justin Timberlake’s drugged-out war vet trapped in a Busby Berkeley musical number. ‘The Room’ becomes a great movie by being really just one interminable and truly terrible scene.

In ‘Network,’ Beatrice Straight turned five and a half minutes of total screen time and the most affecting portrayal ever of woman and wife betrayed into an Academy Award. As they say, ‘she stole the scene.’ But she had lots of help.

Sadly, great scenes get little credit beyond the water cooler or outside of cocktail conversation. We need to change that.

The question is ‘what makes a great scene?’ And the answer is … everything. Look at the fridge magnets in a remarkable scene and they will be the exact-right fridge magnets in the exact-right colour and implying a message that adds meaning for those with exceptional vision. For the diner scene in ‘Five Easy Pieces,’ there were no substitutions when it came to the plates and glasses and cutlery on the table. Like the werewolf’s hair the waitress’ apron was ‘perfect.’

A great scene is the product of shameless and seamless collaboration. The actors, the director, the make-up artists, the art director, the set designer and the lowliest grip share in the magic. The caterer’s spinach and Brie casserole deserves as much credit as the studio mogul who sucks it up to pay for an extra day and four more takes.

‘And the Award for Best Scene goes to …’

Think of it. An Academy Award for the Best Scene in a feature film. Really, it’s the only award that makes sense. A celebration of the consummate coming together of hundreds of separate passions for the sake of a common goal: one great scene after another. The real beauty of it is that no stage will hold all the winners. At some point following the nominations, the entire cast and crew will have to choose just one from their ranks to represent them all if they win.

‘… The Holy Mountain!’

The applause is overwhelming as the location manager runs up to the podium to hug Meryl and thank God.

11 years ago

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *