My Favorite Movie Scenes and Set Pieces

When watching a movie, nothing make me happier than seeing a well-executed scene or set piece.  With that in mind, I’ve decided to post movie scenes that either gave me chills, made my heart race, or made things a little dusty.  You’ll notice most of these clips involve a really good soundtrack.

A couple of parameters though.  I tried to avoid any iconic scenes (“You can’t handle the truth!”) or climactic endings.  Additionally, I’m no movie technician so I can’t really break down any of these scenes from any other point of view than that of a fan.


“Too Many Secrets”

The set up:  Robert Redford leads a team of misfits who work as private security consultants.  Basically, they break into banks and then let the banks know where their systems are lacking.  After a fairly simple and uneventful heist to secure a mysterious black box created by a brilliant mathematician (Donal Logue!!!), the team gather back at the office to celebrate.  During a game of Scrabble, Redford suddenly realizes something isn’t right.  Meanwhile, Whistler (the team’s blind tech genius wonderfully played by David Strathairn) discovers exactly what the box can do.  The juxtaposition of these two events is simply wonderful.  Note, I couldn’t find the entire scene in one clip, so you’ll have to watch the following back to back.

The Insider

“Get on the F%$@&ing Phone!”

The set up:  Al Pacino’s Lowell Bergman is trying to get through to Russell Crowe’s whistleblower, Jeffrey Wigand as their story and interview (as well as Wigand’s life and career) have fallen apart.  Love Pacino drifting into the ocean to get a better signal.  Michael Mann has always done night scenes better than anyone.

The Bourne Identity

Pen vs. Knife

The set up:  Jason Bourne and his companion Marie arrive at Jason’s apartment to see if they can find any clues about his identity.  Movie fight scenes, not to mention spy movies, would never be the same.

The Right Stuff

“I think I see a plane over here with my name on it.”

The set up:  Left out of the space program, Chuck Yeager takes a shot at a new altitude record.  But first, he’s got to get a stick of Beeman’s.  (Cue awesome music).

Road to Perdition

“I’m glad it’s you.”

The cinematography, the music, the single line.  Damn near perfect scene.

The Mission

The set up:  Robert DeNiro’s Mendoza is a slaver of the local Guarani tribe who is committed to repent for his sins after killing his own brother.  Jeremy Irons’ Father Gabriel is a Jesuit priest challenged to find the appropriate penance, in this case dragging the armor he wore while kidnapping the Guarani up the side of a mountain to face the very people he had enslaved.  Music my Morricone.  Enough said.

Last of the Mohicans

The Courier

The set up: After safely accompanying the Colonel’s daughters to Fort William Henry, Colonel Munro asks Hawkeye (Daniel Day-Lewis) and friends to provide cover for a courier to word to Fort Edward for reinforcements.


Batman Begins

“Always mind your surroundings.”

The set up:  Bruce Wayne is trained by Ducard of the League of Shadows.  The lines from Ducard at the 1:00 mark are great.


Others (some of which violate my parameters above:

Field of Dreams – “Want to have a catch?” (very dusty)

Clear & Present DangerAmbush (maybe the most tense I’ve ever been in a theater)

Ronin – “You can’t.” (yep, the car chase)

Michael Clayton – “I’m Shiva, the God of Death.”

There Will Be Blood –Oil Gusher






3 thoughts on “My Favorite Movie Scenes and Set Pieces

  1. Great post. The Mission inspired me to post the supper scene from Of Gods and Men. A last moment of joy before the slaughter.

  2. Love this post. At first I thought you were going to talk about locations and scenery, haha. After living in socal I can’t watch a movie without looking for locations I recognize. Kind of ruins a movie when you’re familiar with where it’s shot. But movies were ruined for me long before that so I don’t mind.

    This is probably one of the most beautiful scenes I’ve seen in a theater:

    When everything turns red at the end, so gorgeous.

    This is a favorite scene from one of my all-time favorite movies, The Spitfire Grill. Two injured souls finding some peace:

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