50 Moments of Cinematic Awesomeness

Ruth at “…let’s be splendid about this…” recently wrote a list of cinematic moments that were so indescribably perfect that they were just… well, indescribable. These moments are known as photogenie. She wrote a list of twenty great movie moments that for her were absolutely amazing, and when Stevee at Cinematic Paradox borrowed the idea, I finally realized how brilliant it was and how I had to do one myself. Instead of twenty, I’ve decided to bump my list up to fifty (although in some cases I have chosen more than one moment/scene of photogenie from the same film). Here goes! In no particular order:

1: An embrace in the storm – Code Unknown

2: The three children on a road in Iceland – Sans Soleil

3: John C. Reilly shines a flashlight into the camera – Magnolia

4: The tree in winter – Le Quattro Volte

5: The family dances around the house – Fanny and Alexander

6: “But Mr. Hagelmayer, it’s still not over.” – Werckmeister Harmonies

7: Erika stabs herself – The Piano Teacher

8: Heaving the luggage – Songs from the Second Floor

9: The look of distant recognition on Laura Dern’s face – Inland Empire

10: “What are they gonna do in Budapest?” – Stranger than Paradise

11: Ingrid Thulin’s scream in Cries and Whispers

12: The dinner guests are gunned down – The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie

13: The camera swings from a chandelier – Napoleon

14: The marriage fantasy sequence – You, The Living

15: Irimias collapses in the fog – Satantango

16: “Fuck.” – Eyes Wide Shut

17: The burning building – The White Ribbon

18: The burning building – The Sacrifice

19: The burning building – The Mirror

20: Juliette Binoche hears the sounds of physical abuse – Code Unknown

21: A candle across an empty pool – Nostalghia

22: The final shot of Juliette Binoche – Three Colours: Blue

23: Monica Vitti’s hair blowing in the wind – L’Avventura

24: The climax of the Odessa Steps sequence – Battleship Potemkin

25: Maria Falconetti’s face – The Passion of Joan of Arc

26: The absolutely goddamn beautiful landscapes – Mother and Son

27: The faces of Bibi Andersson and Liv Ullmann spliced together – Persona

28: A naked, weak old man is alone – Werckmeister Harmonies

29: Veronique is seized by a wave of inexplicable emotion – The Double Life of Veronique

30: The journey to the well, each day – The Turin Horse

31: Anna Karina’s face as she watches The Passion of Joan of Arc – Vivre sa Vie

32: The final scene of the film, and the end credits that follow it – Dogville

33: A rocket explodes – Koyaanisqatsi

34: Tears stream down Mouchette’s face – Mouchette

35: The little girl looks into the bar from outside – Satantango

36: The approaching storm in the final moments – A Serious Man

37: The terrifying, unexpected images of war – Code Unknown

38: A perfect moment of silence – Werckmeister Harmonies

39: Coin tapping – Me and You and Everyone We Know

40: Xiao Si’r sobbing at the body of Ming – A Brighter Summer Day

41: Jeanne sits alone with bloodstained hands – Jeanne Dielman, 23 Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles

42: Antoine’s face – The 400 Blows

43: Frenhofer decides what to do with his finished masterpiece – La Belle Noiseuse

44: Sliced eyeball – Un Chien Andalou

45: Daisy cradling Bud in her arms – The Brown Bunny

46: Badii sits alone in a dust storm – Taste of Cherry

47: This man’s facial expression – Damnation

48: The final shot – The Fire Within

49: The subtle way a boy’s face seems to change from laughing to screaming on a TV screen – The Decalogue

50: “Is anybody out there?” – Code Unknown


So what do you think? What are some of your moments of photogenie, or cinematic awesomeness?

Posted on April 15, 2012, in Lists, Movies and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 34 Comments.

  1. Fuck, seeing all these together is actually kinda overwhelming. Agreed with every single one on this list that I’ve seen. #28 is the most striking without a doubt. Never fails to just bowl me over with a completely inexplicable feeling.

  2. Wow, I can see why decided to expand to fifty! Anna Karina’s face in Vivre sa vie is just…amazing (here we go with the indescribable moments, ha). Everything in Un Chien Andalou left me stunned. I’m looking forward to seeing Taste of Cherry in a couple of weeks.
    Thanks for the link as well – super, super, amazing list!

  3. I knew that the list would look something like this! Alas, so much that I haven’t seen (for now). Well done!

  4. Christian Hallbeck

    You have chosen some fine moments there, Tyler!

    Let me add the little girl’s short cry of joy when her doomed father comes home in “L’Argent” (heartbreaking!), the monk’s read ears in the end of “In the Mood for Love” (wisdom), and the cutting in Hitchcock’s “The Birds”; as exepmplified below. Etc. etc…

  5. Great selection of pics, Tyler. That first one of an embrace in the storm is definitely powerful. I’m curious about ‘The Fire Within,’ so much emotion in that man’s forlorn face.

  6. This is absolutely stunning,these screencaps must have taken you a hell lot of time and effort.

    Some of my personal fave are 12,21,22,23,29.

    • Yeah, they did take a while to gather. I’m sad that there were some ones on the list I couldn’t get pictures for, like A Brighter Summer Day and Napoleon.

  7. Luke Caxford

    Wow! I haven’t seen most of these films, but I am definitely going to watch Werckmeister Harmonies now, and I am definitely going to get into some Kieslowski

    • Werckmeister Harmonies is my favourite film of all time, and Kieslowski is my favourite director. You have some great viewing ahead of you!

  8. Nice picks, although I have to admit that I probably only seen 4 or 5 of them. I recently was watching a documentary series on film and that sliced eyeball scene suddenly was shown…wasn’t prepared for it and it really shocked me…also know that it’s not a movie I will ever watch 😉

  9. Interesting list. Lot of great moments that stood out for me when I saw those films. A few moments that I don’t quite remember and make me eager and go back and watch them (mostly Code Unknown).

    I’m not sure how I’d go about putting together something like this. It would be incredibly daunting.

    • I could’ve written a list of 50 using moments ONLY from Code Unknown; that’s how many brilliant moments are in that film.

      Yeah, this list was quite daunting. But it’s worth it. I could easily expand mine to 100.

  10. Wowser, interesting list, Tyler. If you could have expanded it to 100 moments it must have been a hard job to choose just 50!

    As I’ve been telling lots of other bloggers, sorry for being AWOL recently. I’ve been mad busy over the last few weeks. I’m starting a new job next week and will be moving house this weekend so hopefully I’ll be back in the blogging world properly soon!

    • It was hard cutting down to 50!

      Don’t worry about not being around Claire! Nothing wrong with taking a break from the blogosphere to deal with real life. Good luck with your new job and moving house! 🙂

  11. The final scene in The Third Man is possibly my favorite shot of all time.

  12. I haven’t seen 80% of these, but I loved this post all the same. Great selection of moments and photos, Tyler.

  13. Love this post. Very cool. Not seen one of these (well maybe a couple). Cheers.

  14. Am I the only one who found the music to the credits in Dogville incredibly inappropriate.

  1. Pingback: Weekly Recap ( Apr 12 – Apr 18 ) : A Collection of Great Reviews and Lists | Taste of Cinema - Criterion Film Reviews and Classic Film Lists

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