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20 epic movie moments of 2012

A great scene is nothing without context, so we picked only the plum foreign movies of the year worthy of your attention. Of course, it’s easy to choose industrial grade grandiose Hollywood productions, but we didn’t neglect scenes of humble, shambolic majesty either. Side by side with impressive eye bleed spectacle are auteurs angling in the dark for gems of emotional resonance, since we took to heart The Nightwatchman’s lyrical creed: “You don't gotta be loud, son, to be heavy as sh*t.” So here, in no particular order, is a look back at the best of the best scenes that blew our minds. WARNING! If you haven’t guessed it yet, there are SPOILERS GALORE here, all the more motivation for you play catch up. HAYWIRE – Fassie vs Carano After returning to their room at the Shelbourne Hotel, Paul (Michael Fassbender) suddenly whacks Mallory (Gina Carano) on the head with a bedside lamp and they begin a vicious, close-quarters combat in earnest. Or play an elaborate chess game, more like it. Carano, a real-life mixed martial artist and former women’s champ of the Strikeforce M-1 Global league, makes a stunning debut of awesome physicality in this Soderbergh movie. When she finally kills Fassie, a star is born. THE AVENGERS – Avengers vs Chitauri Or more like Hulk versus Chitauri. Whedon sure found great ways to achieve cinematic glory when they blew up Manhattan. First runner-up is Hulk vs Loki’s “Puny god!” scene. HUNGER GAMES – Katniss barely survives This overtly bathetic drama suddenly becomes exciting when the Tributes fight and (in a gleeful reflection of its “Battle Royale” wannabee roots) the body count racks up right from the get-go. We picked this one because of the way Jennifer Lawrence acquitted herself, both as a strong female action star and for the humanity she lends to Katniss. TED Flash Gordon, Ted and John party like it’s the '80s “How do we do that?” asked the brown teddy bear voiced by “Family Guy’s” Seth McFarlane, cocaine still powdering his plush nose and cheeks. “Easy!” declared Sam Jones. “We just gotta nail a lot of girls named Stephanie.” For my money, the best scenes in this American magic realist romp through delayed childhood include Sam Jones as himself: doing cocaine, punching through walls, downing lots and lots of shots. McFarlane raises the stakes of comedy with each scene and “Flash Gordon” in classic, '80s style debauchery. THE HOBBIT, An Unexpected JourneyGollum and Bilbo play riddle game In a movie filled with remarkable combat scenes and sweeping vistas of landscape in CGI and reality (or both), we picked the one where a lost Bilbo finally encounters the schizoid and psychotic Gollum. This high stakes game of solving riddles stands as our fave amid all the creature fights, because of its deep emotional resonance and so much tension in the dank air you can cut it with an elven blade. Andy Serkis again acquits himself as a masterful performance artist, as the 3D tech makes his mad expressions come alive in super precious fashion. WRECK-IT RALPHBad Guy support group session Aside from the off-the-scale nerd factor of all the characters in the room you could pick out from extant (or extinct) video games, this scene that takes a page out of “Fight Club” infuses real life miserabilism and gravitas into what could just be a run-of-the-mill feel-good Disney animation. The mantra of “I am bad, and that’s good” may now be currently in circulation in mafia and sundry other gangster meetings to strengthen omerta ties. Thanks, John Reilly! LAWLESS Jack Bondurant gets his feet washed Ex-Bad Seeds frontman and screenwriter Nick Cave and director John Hilcoat achieved a pitch-perfect wolf whistle of the Southern moonshine milieu here, especially in the foot-washing scene that is a tradition of the Mennonite sect. Jack Bondurant (Shia LaBeouf) finds himself in such an erotically-charged scene with Bertha Minnix, daughter of the local preacher, during the foot-washing that he gets up, stumbles through the congregation, and leaves one of his boots at the church. Real smooth, Jack. LOOPER Joe Simmons meets Joe Simmons When you think about it, the concept of this sci-fi movie is pretty straightforward. Its very human element comes to a clashing head when Joseph Gordon-Levitt as a young Joe Simmons meets Bruce Willis, Joe's older self sent from 30 years into the future to "close his loop." Of course, neither of them seems willing to lie down and die. Even if they are technically the same guy in question. And when they first meet? It’s the juicy stuff sci-fi geeks go gaga over. IRON SKYNazis become re-electionist PR agents Likely one of the most absurd and entertaining sci-fi movies of the year: when moon Nazis Renate and Klaus come down to earth, they are recruited by the campaign manager of the current US President (a not too shabby parody of Sarah Palin) as messengers for her re-election bid. What follows is a scary-funny montage that combines diluted Third Reich rhetoric and twisted Mein Kampf spin. That it’s effective is oh so creepy. DREDDJudge Dredd vs all the Peach Trees baddies After his rookie partner is taken captive, Dredd goes on a shooting rampage that illustrates exactly how it is to “get your gun off” against all the criminals in the megastructure called Peach Trees that has, oh, about 200 floors. A superb evocation of the dystopic 2000 AD comics milieu, Karl Urban’s mouth shows more acting chops here than all the “Twilight” vampires. That’s all that this movie needs--though Lena Headey makes a great villain, too. ABOUT CHERRYCherry’s first boy-girl scene Cherry (the hot Ashley Hinshaw) is going to be a big porn star, and it shows in her first hetero scene. The charged eroticism is mitigated by the stark intercuts showing her current beau expressing his repulsion for her job—an irate James Franco repeating “you disgust me!” This drama about a girl’s foray into the adult video industry also has very authentic, powerful sentiments running through its curves. PROMETHEUSEscape from the alien megalith Remember the journalists fleeing from the wake of the volcano when Pinatubo erupted? It’s exactly like that when they escape from the spacecraft that they mistook for an alien megalith. A scene that sears itself into your brain, this one’s a Ridley Scott fave of mine. SKYFALLRaoul Silva reveals his disfigurement For the 50th anniversary of the Bond franchise they sure pulled out all the stops, especially in casting Javier Bardem as the villain with mommy issues. The one where Silva reveals just how his suicide capsule disfigured him, along with a magnificent monologue, is classic Fleming and makes Silva worthy of standing shoulder to shoulder with other iconic Bond villains of yore. BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILDHushpuppy sets her house on fire Explaining this film is like describing the aurora borealis to a blind man. Taking the playbook of “Baraka” and anchoring it onto a child’s POV, this movie takes us through a cut-up narrative that is as scathingly affecting as it is elaborate. And it all begins when Hushpuppy takes a match to her home. Sadly, this movie never got shown here. SAVAGESOphelia’s imagined finale Oliver Stone make a crime caper? Yeah, and it’s a good one too. Though the narrative can be prickly in places, Ophelia’s imagined finale that has them all dying (did I just see Salma Hayek shot in the chest?!) in a til-death-do-us-three-part, blaze of glory fantasy is worth the sometimes tedious exposition that is Stone’s trademark. Plus, it’s got Blake Lively. ARGOTony Mendez reveals the escape plan Let me say this: Ben Affleck has done splendidly as a director and his latest opus is proof of it. When his CIA agent Mendez finally enters Iran and links up with the six escapees and explains the escape plan, the conflicting emotions in the room that range from anger to incredulity is a priceless moment of directing finesse. Based on real incidents, the provision of Canadian passports to American diplomats was nonetheless an especially satiric, sci-fi haha twist. ON THE ROADMarylou pleases her men Sal and Dean may be the bromance forces of this one, but their glue is the naked live wire in the front seat. A sign that K-Stew does indeed have more emotions to offer than all her Bellas put together is Marylou’s double jerk-off scene that—pun included and gratis—is an apogee image of the free spirit that this movie seeks to define, grasp, and communicate about those who are “desirous of everything at the same time.” KILLING THEM SOFTLYDriver and Cogan talk shop Richard Jenkins’ “Driver” and Pitt’s Cogan might as well “be discussing the weather” in the former’s luxury sedan, when they talk about the best way to execute gangland justice. As our reviewer noted: “These conversations are some of the best scenes in the movie, as Driver frets over his bosses’ bottom line, and Cogan is forced to negotiate his way around administrative red tape.” THE DICTATORAladeen’s bridge speech One of only two comedies in this list, Baron Cohen turns his attention to despots in this political satire. Stripped of his beard and forced to work at a vegan, fair trade grocery, ex-dictator Aladeen decides to commit suicide and is rescued by his former scientist Nuclear Nadal by extolling the virtues of former fascists. To which Aladeen replies in that grand manner of half-insanity and half-illumination of all great villains, and delivers his rousing “Oppressed at last!" speech. THE DARK KNIGHT RISESThe first 15 minutes With this film, Nolan’s Batman epic sure closed with a bang. Talk about benchmarks, every real-world terrorist gasped in awe as they beheld the first 15 minutes and saw how they were doing it wrong all these years. Now THAT is how you take down a plane! For starters, you’ll need: another plane, one pneumatically-carved megalomaniac, and precision execution of squad movements. This ostentatious and meticulously planned display of power also foreshadows how Bane eventually takes down Gotham, and also offers insights into his black mind. – YA, GMA News Photos courtesy of 20th Century Fox, Lionsgate Films, and Warner Bros