The cemetery shoot-out - Seven Psychopaths
It's hard to make a movie about movie violence without giving some examples.
And so it proves in Martin McDonagh's In Bruges follow-up, in a scene where Billy (Sam Rockwell) excitably pitches his idea for how struggling screenwriter Colin Farrell's latest project should end.
His fantasies explode on screen in a gory, hilariously gratuitous graveyard shoot-out.
As it's all make-believe, McDonagh gets away with (multiple) murder.
"We just went crazy," he admits. "You couldn't be too big..."
Motion-capture sex - Holy Motors
Love it or "Eh?" it, there was nothing quite like Holy Motors in 2012. Well, apart from Cosmopolis (the whole limo/constant weird shit combo).
Memorable scenes? Too many to mention. But one of the hardest to forget is when protagonist Denis Lavant dons a motion-capture gimp suit.
Levant lays down some Darth Maul moves, then simulates sex with a female co-star for a XXX mutant-dragon animation we'll guiltily admit we want to see more of.
No longer is The Lawnmower Man the benchmark for virtual sci-fi sex. Thank God.
The lab massacre - The Bourne Legacy
The Matt Damon-less Legacy was a disappointment to many.
All the elements were in place, yet something seemed to be missing.
Oh yes, Matt Damon.
Still, it had a handful of on-the-money set-pieces.
Prime example: the scene where brainwashed boffin Dr Foite (Zeljko Ivanek) goes on a lab-based shooting spree.
Suspenseful and horrible, it's an extended pulse-pumper that you only wish the rest of the film took its cue from.
"I see a lot of lawbreakers up in this house tonight..." - Magic Mike
Magic Mike? For us, it was all about Magic Matt.
McConaughey plays stripper svengali Dallas to the manor born in Soderbergh's flick.
He steals every scene he's in, but his showstopper is explaining the "What you can touch and not touch rule" to the audience.
"Can you touch this?" he asks, fondling himself in various areas. "No, no, no, no, no..." he drawls, finger wagging.
"The law says you cannot touch," he smirks. Pause. "But I see a lot of lawbreakers up in this house tonight..."
The Cookie Monster / Elmo argument - The Five-Year Engagement
"Mommy, do Elmo voice!" asks Suzie's (Alison Brie) daughter. And so she does.
In a very grown-up discussion with sister Violet (Emily Blunt). Who then does starts to do Cookie Monster voice.
"Elmo thinks you should shit or get off the pot!" "Cookie not got everything handed to him on a fucking plate!"
Simple, spontaneous, silly and very, very funny. Alison Brie's verbal gymnastics deserve a gold medal.
Threesome - Shame
The (ahem) climax of Brandon’s (Michael Fassbender) descent into a netherworld of sexual addiction arrives when he finds himself in an animalistic threesome with two strangers.
Director Steve McQueen keeps his camera close to the action, creating grubbily poetic images as muscles flex and throats tighten and mouths stretch.
The hunger on display is alarming, the desperation shocking.
One look at these grimacing faces and there’s no doubting it’s a thin line between pleasure and pain.
Fairground ride - Take This Waltz
Not since Tommy twirled Carrie around the dance floor has the giddy intoxication of the first flush of romance been so perfectly captured.
Married Margot (Michelle Williams) and neighbour Daniel (Luke Kirby) clamber into a cheesy fairground ride.
The Buggles’ ‘Video Killed The Radio Star’ blasts out as the machine spins and the neon bulbs flash against the blackness.
The world melts away and all that is left is the centre of the universe – Margot and Daniel, laughing, snuggling.
Then the ride grinds to a halt, the lights crash up and reality reasserts itself.
Love, it seems, is fleeting.
Whale show - Rust And Bone
Beautiful Stéphanie (Marion Cottilard) trains killer whales for a living.
Today she’s putting the sleek, mighty mammals through their paces in front of packed bleachers as Katy Perry’s ‘Firework’ booms from the speakers.
It’s one of the most exciting, awe-inspiring scenes of the year, awash with beauty and power and… foreboding.
Masterly edited, an ominous charge throbs from every cut, the tension damn near unbearable.
And then, sure enough, things turn catastrophic…
Chuck Norris' snake story - The Expendables 2
We’re not sure when the Chuck Norris story meme first started, but we’re pretty sure this scene is where it should end.
After all, it’s the logical conclusion.
Chuck Norris telling a Chuck Norris story.
We’re honestly not sure how the universe hasn’t imploded already.
The chicken drumstick - Killer Joe
William Friedkin turned 77 in 2012.
But this demon-dark scene from the year’s weirdest American film proves the Exorcist director has lost none of his fire.
It’s become a cliché to say that you’ll never see KFC the same way after watching this scene, but honestly, if you tucked into a bargain bucket on the way home from Killer Joe , you’re made of sterner stuff than we are.
The hotel room fight - Ted
One of the funniest running jokes in Family Guy sees Peter Griffin having a series of extended fist fights with a man dressed as a giant chicken.
In 2012, Ted transferred that concept to the cinema screen, pitting Mark Walhberg against a small cuddly teddy bear in a fight to the near death.
And just when you thought it was going to end, it didn’t.
Dignam from The Departed being whipped on the ass by Teddy Ruxpin’s ruder cousin.
We didn’t realise how much we needed this moment in our lives until it was happening in front of us.
The trip - 21 Jump St
The spread of a new synthetic drug going by the street name of HFS is being investigated by undercover cops Morton Schmidt (Jonah Hill) and Greg Jenko (Channing Tatum).
They’ve researched the different phases a user goes through after dropping HFS (the giggs / tripping major ball sack / over-falsity of confidence / fuck yeah motherfucker) but nothing can prepare them for the experience of having to actually take it, to maintain their cover as high school students.
Things take a turn for the worse when they run into one of their teachers.
A teacher who suddenly starts to look a hell of a lot like a giant robot cat / talking ice cream.
The caesarian - Prometheus
Despite Sir Ridley’s protestations that Prometheus wasn’t an Alien prequel, it definitely, definitely was.
It had Engineers, Peter Weyland, and this stomach-slicing scene - 2012’s Chestburster moment.
The scene was shocking, gruesome, and with an extra-terrestrial baby the end result, it couldn’t be more Alien if it featured a Sigourney Weaver cameo.
The Jumbo jet - Chronicle
Our heroes are busily enjoying their increasingly evolving superpowers.
They take flight, to enjoy a bit of sky football.
However, they haven’t considered the possibility of cloud-company.
Cue a massive jumbo jet, and one of the biggest shocks of the movie.
Sound booth torture - Berberian Sound Studio
Italian grot-horror The Equestrian Vortex is being shot at a claustrophobic studio more disturbing than the film.
The director and producer (Cosimo Fusco, Antonio Mancino) are exploitation ‘masters’ who will do anything for their ‘art’.
Including aurally assaulting an actress with extreme dissonance, ensuring her screams are real.
Just watching it makes your ears bleed.
The closing getaway Argo
For sheer entertainment, it didn’t get much better than Affleck’s Argo this year.
And the closing getaway attempt was an exercise in tension that Hitchcock himself would be proud of.
We won’t spoil it for those who haven’t seen it, but when we first experienced it, the escalation of events was enough to make us wave our hands in front of our faces in a misguided attempt to make it stop.
Brilliantly acted, scripted and shot – take a bow, Ben.
The House Invasion - Martha Marcy May Marlene
Up until this moment, Sean Durkin’s cult debut is all slow-burn menace and creepy atmosphere.
Then Patrick’s (John Hawkes) disciples break into a house and, caught by the owner, events escalate to violence.
Shocking in its suddenness, the echoes of Charles Manson make the action all the more disturbing.
The year-by-year montage - Looper
We knew the basic concept going into Looper .
Loopers kill their future selves, get a big pay-out, then live out their final thirty years in style, before being sent back in time to be blasted by a blunderbuss.
What we didn’t expect was that we’d see those final years play out, in a glorious montage sequence that saw a seamless transition between Joseph Gordon Levitt’s Joe, to Bruce Willis’ version.
Joaquin Phoenix wrecks the prison cell - The Master
The Master splits audiences directly down the middle – with its apparently lackadaisical narrative frustrating as many as it mesmerises.
For those who loved it, this scene epitomises the majesty of the movie.
Two incredible performances, side-by-side; with Joaquin Phoenix’s animalistic Freddie Quell unleashing every ounce of anger, while his equal and opposite companion Philip Seymour Hoffman’s Lancaster Dodd calmly tries to reason with his captors.
The last time Phoenix smashed up a toilet, he was nominated for an Oscar. We expect the same to happen here.
The opening airjack - The Dark Knight Rises
Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises ’ opener is as jaw-dropping as anything in the trilogy.
But, despite the awe-inspiring combination of insane practical effects and suicidal stuntwork, you can’t take your eyes (or ears) away from Tom Hardy’s brilliant Bane.
Epic, weird, and completely compelling.
As villain intros go, it’s up there with the Joker’s bank robbery. But of course it is. In Nolan we trust.