Best use of clichéd movie elements

It’s an SDMB staple. Og knows how many times it’s been done, but it seldom fails to draw a crowd: discussions of overused situations, effects, and any number of devices in movies. So let’s turn this around and sing out in praise of the moments when filmmakers employ these same tricks, but make them work especially well.

Before the fireworks start, I would mandate two simple rules.

First. Parodies of overused x are excluded. Loaded Weapon 1 has a great sendup of the homely schoolmarm who whips off her glasses and lets down her hair to reveal that she’s actually super hot. But because it’s a parody of the meme instead of a mere retread, it’s disqualified.

Second. Origin of the overused x is also excluded. Robert Newton’s performance as Long John Silver in Disney’s Treasure Island was so memorable that (IIUC) it gave rise to the entire “aaaaaarrr” pirate patois. So, being the origin of the cinematic sea dog, it’s out of contention for best use of hackneyed stereotypical accent.

Now to my own nominations:

Best Use of the Slow-Motion "Nooooooooooo"
Gandalf vs. the Balrog. Hands down. Extra points for using the same scene twice in the trilogy and making it just as effective the second time around.

Best Cameo Appearance of an Original Cast Member in a Remake
Gregory Peck in Cape Fear. Because Peck is a god.

Best Spontaneous Musical Number in a Non-Musical Film
While I know that Pippin’s song in The Return of the King will be the most popular choice, I nominate the Non Nobis Domine from Henry V.

Best Surprise Ending
The Usual Suspects. Admit it. You didn’t see it coming either.
Other categories I might suggest, but don’t have the encyclopedic film knowledge to select a definitive example:

[li]Best use of a car exploding in a giant fireball after a minor traffic collision[/li][li]Best use of amnesia[/li][li]Best use of gratuitous nudity[/li][li]Best “Aha! You only THOUGHT I was dead!” moment[/li][/ul]

Let the games begin.

Body Heat, and I refuse to comment further. Rent the film.
I’ll dispute Best Surprise Ending. My favorite always has been The Last of Sheila. You may have seen something coming, but I’ll bet you didn’t see what it really was.

Best use of amnesia is Memento. It’s also the best surprise ending, er, beginning, er, what was I saying?

I might be stretching the bounds of the category with this one, but I’m going with Hunter S. Thompson’s flashback cameo in the Terry Gilliam version of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. Particularly because Johnny Depp, playing Thompson, recognizes his older self in the flashback and is weirded out by it.

Best one liner before the hero kills the villain:

Yun-Fat Chow in The Replacement Killers.

Wei: The boy will die.
John Lee: Not in your lifetime.
[shoots Mr. Wei]

Best Surprise Endings That Everyone’s Seen:

**Usual Suspects

The Sixth Sense**


Personal Fave Best Surprise Ending: Lone Star.

Because it’s a double whammy. Who actually shot Wade is a good surprise, but not earth-shaking. But minutes later we’re expecting a routine epilogue, and instead get hit with the BIG shocker. And it’s a gift that keeps on giving: when you think about it afterwards, you realize that most of the people in the movie must have known the “secret”, except for the two people it concerned.

Best Surprise Ending, Honrable Mention: No Way Out.

Apparently I’m the only person in the world who didn’t see the big revelation coming from a mile away. Tough. I watched it in a hotel room and nearly fell off the bed. Costner’s best performance, BTW and IMO.


OTOH, since the movie itself was a fair-play whodunnit, can it really be considered a surprise if the thing was structured to enable the audience to deduce said ending?

Best Spontaneous Musical Number in a Non-Musical Film

I nominate the scene in Zulu where the British respond to the Zulu’s war song with a rendition of “Men of Harlech.”

TreacherousCretin: I’ve added the spoiler tags as your requested. It’s easy to do. See Forum Rules, Post #4). For you, and anyone else reading who doesn’t know how: type right before the text you want to conceal, and then type immediately after the text you want to conceal. The and are called “spoiler tags” and will conceal the text between them. To read the text, click on the SHOW TEXT button.

Best Appearance of the Real Life Subject in a Bio-Film
Larry Flynt as the judge in The People vs Larry Flynt

Seconding The Usual Suspects for Best Surprise Ending

Faye Dunaway was delightful as Pierce Brosnan’s psychiatrist in the remake of “The Thomas Crown Affair.”

Oui, Bwana. Will do.

And thanks for fixing it!


Excellent choice.

I think the best “Aha! You only THOUGHT I was dead!” moment has to be what I always think of as the original - Wait Until Dark.

Although I have to admit I don’t remember the Body Heat reference, even though I thought that was a terrific film. I only saw it once, though.

Best use of gratuitous nudity is a tie between Species and Return of the Living Dead.

I thought Narc had a really fantastic “two cops talking in the car on a rainy stakeout night” scene.

I question that a “surprise ending” is really a cliche, but what ever.

Best rally the troops pre-battle speech: Branaugh does the St. Crispans Day speech in Henry V

Best “slo-mo run from an explosion” was in Independence Day. Fiery alien blast roaring through the tunnel and we get an intense dramatic slow motion run to safety by the dog :smiley:

I liked Olivier’s St. Crispin’s Day speech better than Branagh’s, but to each his own. However, Branagh was much better at wooing the princess.

For best use of gratuitous nudity, I nominate The Whole Nine Yards. While everyone, both onscreen and in the audience, is gaping at Amanda Peet’s body, someone (I think it was Ms. Peet herself) produces a gun and kills the bad guy.

It’s not a movie, but there’s a moment like this in the second season of Slings and Arrows. You would never expect it in a million years, with very good reason.