Some of my favourite scenes in movies happen when two actors get a chance to face off and confront each other. They might be about to shoot it out or engage in a kung fu tournament to determine the fate of our world, but the really thrilling part is the expectation built up as the characters look deep into each others eyes and face their enemies. Heres the top 5:
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A truly great movie about the difference between the legend of a gunslinger and the reality as well as the implications of violence and the nature of redemption. In this scene we get a brutal but ugly gunfight that seems much more realistic than the average hollywood depiction of wild west shootouts. Guns misfire, people miss with the notoriously inaccurate six shooters of the day and the guy who survives is the one who stays calm and has the most experience of killin. Before that fight though there's a great stand-off between Eastwood and Hackman. As the corrupt Little Bill tries to take the moral high ground, Munny admits to all his killing and wrongdoing. He's done bad things to people, and he's about to do more.
What can you say about this scene? Two screen legends sit and have some coffee in a scene film fans have wanted to see for years.They seem to like each other but both are absolutely unwilling to back down and they're both on a collision course. Both are resolved to their course, and the fatalism that goes through the scene is undercut with repressed, foreshadowed violence. Paccino is more talkative and drives the encounter, but its Deniro who recaptures some of his past glory and his assured, matter-of-fact attitude makes you sure he absolutely means everything he says.
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Dead Mans Shoes
In this scene the phenomenal Paddy Considine faces down the small town crime boss and local thug. Considine is astonishingly good throughout this move, and his performance in this scene is nuanced and subtle. Here he shows absolute determination and confidence in his ability to get revenge on the gang of thugs, but as well as showing bravado he plays this scene with a touch of fragility and even looks a little intimidated. By the end though you're left in no doubt who's in control and who's in over their head. The power of Considine's performance in this movie and its shifts of tone between dark humour and brutal realism make it one of the best movies to come out of the UK and this scene is one of the best face offs ever committed to film.
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