Looking Back: Joey Picks His 20 Favorite Scenes from the Films of 2013

December 24, 2013

Best Scenes of 2013

With only a matter of days remaining in 2013, I find myself having seen all of the year's releases that I felt compelled to see. That realization led me to start considering which films this year had particular scenes that really struck me. Just about every single film of note this year had some sort of memorable scene that will stick with me for years, though I'm sure not everyone will find the same scene as powerful as I did. In fact, while many of the scenes cited are from my favorite films of the year, believe it or not, nine of my top ten flicks have a scene listed below, so it wasn't ten for ten. But sometimes all it takes is just a single scene.

Narrowing down a list like this is always difficult, but what I've found is that if you step away for a bit and then think about a movie quickly, you'll find that one particular scene comes to mind. That's one of the methods that I used in order to whittle down a long list to something a bit more manageable. Honestly, it's really just a gut feeling too in the end. For example, right up until the last moment while writing this I had the scene in Iron Man 3 where we find out the truth about The Mandarin on the list, but in the end other scenes this year were just a bit more memorable for me.

Below you will find what I thought to be the 20 best individual scenes of 2013. Of course, your choices may differ, even just in terms of a different scene from the same film, but that's part of the fun. You can share your thoughts in the comments, for now, here are my Top 20 Favorite Scenes from the Films of 2013:

(Note: we would love to embed a video for all of these scenes, but most aren't available online yet as many of these movies are still playing in theaters right now! Catch them on the big screen while still you can.)

#20. The final scene in Some Velvet Morning

Some Velvet Morning

An intriguing chamber piece that completely changes the game in the final minutes, Neil LaBute's Some Velvet Morning ends on a note that I'd never spoil, so I can't really explain it, except to just urge you to seek it out. I have a feeling you'll be as stunned as I was. Trust me there, it changes the entire film in a big way.

#19. The diner scene in Blue is the Warmest Color

Blue is the Warmest Color

After well over two hours spent watching the relationship between Adèle Exarchopoulos and Lea Seydoux, a pivotal sequence in a diner represents a point of no return for each of their characters and an amazingly powerful moment in a powerful flick. The scene involves a graphic sexual act, tears, and heartfelt conversation, much like the rest of the film. In many ways, it sums up Blue is the Warmest Color perfectly.

#18. The opening scene in Short Term 12

Short Term 12

Right from the beginning, this movie pulls you right in by having John Gallagher Jr. tell a story that's both amusing and very telling. It's only the tip of the iceberg for the amazing movie, particularly Brie Larson's character as well as her performance on the whole, but it's an ideal beginning to a movie that you never actually want to end. Short Term 12 is chock full of strong scenes, but this one is my favorite.

#17. Arguing over the porn magazine in This is The End

This is The End

Easily the funniest moment for me in an absolutely hilarious comedy - watching apocalypse survivors James Franco and Danny McBride fight over a Playboy is just absurdly amusing. You can't print any of what they say, but you're dying laughing the whole time. I almost laughed so hard I cried the first time around. It's not some big "important" cinematic moment, but it's just a laugh riot. This is The End is one of the funnier movies of the year, partially due to this scene alone.

#16. The result of the con in American Hustle

American Hustle

When the fallout of what Christian Bale, Amy Adams, and Bradley Cooper have done is revealed, we hear as Bale's character explains what happened to everyone. It's when he talks about "his friend Carmine Polito" (Jeremy Renner) that I was struck by the sad undercurrent of the story. It's a line in a scene that not many will reference as one of the best of the year, but it's stuck with me in a surprisingly big way. In many ways, it's the emotional payoff in American Hustle, subtle as it may be.

#15. The final scene in Lone Survivor

Lone Survivor

Technically also the credits sequence, when we see the photos and videos of the actual men depicted in this movie, I dare any of you out there not to cry. I'm man enough to admit that I did, and more than a little too. Filmmaker Peter Berg may be somewhat manipulating you here, but it's damn effective. Few endings have made me sob like this one was able to, which is partially why Lone Survivor has stayed with me like it has.

#14. Walter sees the final LIFE magazine cover in The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

After all of the hullabaloo over the perfect photograph that Sean Penn's character has sent Ben Stiller's Walter Mitty, to finally see what the image is, well, it's a welcome emotional release for everyone involved. I won't spoil what it is, but it's worth the wait, I can assure you of that. It might not be a hugely popular moment in The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, but I know that I loved seeing it.

#13. The gang sings "Everytime" in Spring Breakers

Spring Breakers

I'm not sure it has any bigger meaning, but watching the girls and James Franco sing and dance to the Britney Spears song is pretty much an iconic moment at this point. Franco's speech in Spring Breakers about his "shit" is up there too, but this one is a little more distinctive and worthy of a citation on this list.

#12. The cemetery scene in Nebraska


The comedic high point of the movie, when June Squibb lifts her dress while standing over a headstone, I completely cracked up. The flick doesn't have too many big laughs, but this is 100% the biggest one to be found. Bruce Dern is the best part of the film, but Squibb's scene here in Nebraska is top draw.

#11. Jon describes the difference between porn and real sex in Don Jon

Don Jon

Joseph Gordon-Levitt brilliantly has a scene that shows his character Jon comparing the sex he has in real life with the sex he watches online when he surfs the web for porn. It's not a subtle message, nor is his comparison between porn and romantic comedies, but this sequence is not only clever, but very amusing as well. JGL knows what he's doing here in Don Jon, his feature writing and directing debut.

Continue reading the rest of the list on Page 2 to find out which 10 scenes I loved the most this year.

My Favorite Scenes from the Films of 2013: SCENES #10 - #1

More on: Page 1 Page 2

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  • Fidel Reyes
    Good lists @Joey Magidson, ignore those hate comments you're getting especially when all they can do is play the race card. Most people probably have't seen most of these films which inclines them to support only the movies they've seen or heard much praise for.
    • Joey Magidson
      It's all good, no worries...
  • Ehsan Davodi
    Joey dude i love you man , but that's too soon for spoiling some of major points in that movies dude. I didn't see some of this movies. Good for you anyway. For me most REVOLUTIONARY scene of this year was that f-ing 17 minutes without cut in opening of gravity.
    • Joey Magidson
      I didn't actually spoil anything. Which ones are you referring to? Thanks though...
      • Ehsan Davodi
        I know your enthusiasm man. Don't Worry
        • Joey Magidson
    • Chiroptera Exsanguination
      I have to agree some of these were a tad spoilery, luckily I've seen almost all of these films.
      • Joey Magidson
        Which ones?
  • me
    absolutely agree with that no.1 pick
    • Joey Magidson
      Very pleased that I'm not alone there...
  • DavideCoppola
    Cool list! Can't wait to check some of those out :)
    • Joey Magidson
      Definitely do...
  • Kim
    This made me actually want to see a few of these.
    • Joey Magidson
      I'm glad!
      • Kim
        I saw Prisoners and liked that one. Did a scene from there come close?
        • Joey Magidson
          Yes, one would have been next in line...
  • mylesedwardhughes
    I really wish I'd seen more of these movies. Completely agreed on Gravity, Spring Breakers, and Place Beyond The Pines.
    • Joey Magidson
      Much obliged there...
  • mooreworthy
    Wow, I have only seen two of the twenty. Such a Philistine.
    • Joey Magidson
  • thejon93rd
    Can't wait to check some of these films out. This was a great year, and I still have so many spectacular-looking films left to see: American Hustle, Lone Survivor, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, Nebraska, Don Jon, The Spectacular Now, Captain Phillips, The Wolf of Wall Street, Before Midnight, 12 Years a Slave, Inside Llewyn Davis and Her. My favourite scenes so far include: +The Bathroom Fight from The World's End +Heart Surgery & Shingen vs. Yukio and Logan Fight from The Wolverine (Unrated Extended Cut) +The Climax/Twist from Trance +David and Eric vs. possessed Natalie Fight in Evil Dead +Jackie Robinson and Branch Rickey meet for the first time in 42 +Enterprise gets shot out of warp from Star Trek Into Darkness +Superman stops the world engine (in a Christopher Reeves inspired shot) from Man of Steel +Jack Wilder vs. Dylan Rhodes in Now You See Me +Chopping Thor's Hand Off in Thor: The Dark World
    • Joey Magidson
      Some nice picks there...
  • Isildur_of_Numenor
    Nice, varied selection! Some of my favorites from the little I've seen so far: The drive through the blizzard near the end in Prisoners. The scene in the car between Jake Gyllenhaal and Hugh Jackman in Prisoners. The final scene in Evil Dead. Pretty much everything from Gravity. The "Wanna Fight" scene from Only God Forgives. The final big action scene in The Lone Ranger. The spine rip in Hatchet III. The crucial scene where Superman has to make a critical decision in Man of Steel. The Tokyo fight scene (especially the ship used for slamming purposes!) in Pacific Rim. The plane crash scene in Iron Man 3. The opening tracking shot in The Place Beyond the Pines.
    • Joey Magidson
      I do what I can! Very solid choices...
  • carrie
    the bridge scene between Bale and Zaldana in OUT OF FURNACE
    • Joey Magidson
      It's one of the better scenes in a movie that should have been better...
  • Guy who comments on things
    Man, I can't wait to get my teeth into some of these movies... Agree with the scenes from the only ones I've seen however (This is the End and Don Jon).
    • Joey Magidson
      Some great stuff there. Be sure to check back when you see the other ones...
  • Chiroptera Exsanguination
    So many scenes from 12 Years a Slave. Not a dry eye in the house at the very end.
    • Chiroptera Exsanguination
      Also I just saw Capt Phillips today, same reaction. And as for Spectacular Now, that ride home scene for me is tied with the scene near the end with Teller's character and his mother. Just wow.
      • Joey Magidson
    • Joey Magidson
      The end is one of the few scenes that actually got to me, hence its inclusion here...
  • Onechi
    What a boring list
    • Joey Magidson
      Sorry to disappoint...
  • Micheal Kinane
    But none of these are sex scenes
    • Joey Magidson
      No, they're not, that's accurate...
      • Isildur_of_Numenor
        Now that's what I call a disappointment! :)
        • Joey Magidson
          Maybe next year...
  • dawko
    Yep some of Prisoners' scenes very pretty amazing as well!!!
    • Joey Magidson
      I almost included one, so consider your favorite one my #21...
  • Hershey Maxwell Barber
    Man, yeah I would say def. one of Hugh Jackmans screaming scenes in Prisoners was some of the finest acting he has ever done and just moved me in terms of moments of the year. I haven't caught some of these movies on the list though, so I will have to check them out.
    • Joey Magidson
      He does some excellent work there, yes.
  • Jon Odishaw
    I found the This is the end scene you chose to be the most childish and unfunny the movie had to offer. I enjoyed the scene with Whitney Houston wailing as the light comes down to beam Seth Rogan up to be much better. But that's just my Opinion .
    • Joey Magidson
      Fair enough for sure. There's no shortage of scenes in that movie though that I could have chosen...
  • Moriah Kreppein
    Some phenomenal scenes!
    • Joey Magidson
      Most certainly.
  • Marty
    I've got a lot to catch up on.
    • Joey Magidson
      I recommend them all...




Alex's Top 10 - 2016
1. La La Land
2. Paterson
3. Arrival
4. Captain Fantastic
5. 20th Cent. Women
6. Pete's Dragon
7. Jackie
8. Kubo & Two Strings
9. Everybody Wants
10. Wilderpeople
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Jeremy's Top 10 - 2016
1. Moonlight
2. The Handmaiden
3. High-Rise
4. Elle
5. Arrival
6. Kubo & Two Strings
7. 13th
8. Jackie
9. Toni Erdmann
10. The Witch
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