Everyone has a favorite movie. Most people I know have a Top 10, although it might change day to day, hour to hour, bowel movement to bowel movement.
But they don’t really love movies – if you love movies, you have a top 10 list of favorite scenes. Great movies are made up of great scenes. But the magical things is, bad movies can have great scenes too. Loving movie scenes is the only egalitarian way to judge movies – even the bad ones get to shine, if only for a moment.
My favorite scenes would include Nick Nolte comforting the dying boy in Northfork. Deckard giving the Voight-Kampff test to Rachael in Blade Runner. Susan Sarandon kissing Catherine Deneuve in The Hunger. Any time Bogart stares across a room at Bacall. Bruce Lee kicking the living daylights out of Chuck Norris in Way of the Dragon. The Joker doing the “disappearing pencil” trick in The Dark Knight. The graveside scene in Synecdoche, New York. The barroom scene in Se7en where Morgan Freeman explains there will not be a happy ending to this story. See how favorite scenes give you an instant snapshot of a person’s psyche? You never want to meet me now, do you?
But my most favorite scene in a movie is the bus scene in Fight Club. You probably remember Fight Club. You might even love the movie. Many sane, otherwise rational people do. But do you love the bus scene? It’s the scene where the casting of Brad Pitt really starts to make perfect sense. Jack (Edward Norton) gets on a public bus with Tyler (Pitt). They have a conversation about how ridiculous and impossible the male models in the underwear ads on the bus really are. The irony nearly makes the film curl into a postmodern ball of perfect ironic smugness. It’s only later that we see how it had to be Brad Pitt saying those lines, because–
Well, because it all works out in the end.