Vanity Fair Picks the 25 Most Influential Movie Scenes of the Last 25 Years


To commemorate the 25th edition of their annual Hollywood Issue, Vanity Fair’s team of film critics have assembled a pretty fascinating list that is sure to spark discussion among film fans. The article is called “25 Scenes, 25 Years: The 25 Most Influential Movie Scenes of the Past 25 Years” and the goal was to select some of the most iconic big screen sequences in recent memory that “changed the industry, the art form, and even the culture.” Obviously that is a pretty tall order, but there are some picks we can probably all agree on such as The Matrix‘s bullet dodge sequence, the Omaha Beach scene in Saving Private Ryan, and Marvel’s first post-credit stinger, all of which have had plenty of attempted copycats. Quite a few of these have also been spoofed in some form or another, which is a pretty good indicator as to how culturally relevant they are, but I would argue that some are more memorable moments than they are genuinely influential. What do you think of their choices? You can check out the full list below but I recommend reading the original article which comes complete with video clips, critical analysis and interviews with some of the actors and filmmakers who made them happen.

Toy Story – “Playtime”
Scream – “The Cold Open”
Titanic – “I’m the King of the World”
The Big Lebowski – “Gutterballs”
Saving Private Ryan – “The Storming of Omaha Beach”
The Matrix – “Dodging Bullets”
The Blair Witch Project – “Heather’s Monologue”
American Psycho – “Hip to Be Square”
Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon – “The Night Fight”
Training Day – “King Kong Ain’t Got Shit on Me”
The Royal Tenenbaums – “Enter Margot”
Bowling for Columbine – “Moore vs. Heston”
The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers – “Gollum vs. Smeagol”
Lost in Translation – “Famous Last Words”
Something’s Gotta Give – “Erica Writes a Play”
Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith – “The Chosen One”
The 40 Year Old Virgin – “The Chest Wax”
Brokeback Mountain – “I Wish I Knew How to Quit You”
Children of Men – “The Ambush”
There Will Be Blood – “I Drink Your Milkshake”
Iron Man – “But Wait…”
The Dark Knight – “The Hero Gotham Deserves”
Twilight – “When Edward Met Bella”
Fast Five – “The Favela Chase”
Get Out – “The Sunken Place”

Around the Web:

  • Glen

    This is mine although it’s probably more memorable than influential.

    Platoon: “Burning the Village Scene”.

  • Henrik

    Thanks for the link, very slick and great article. Lots of good choices. I still don’t entirely believe the Children of Men one-take stuff, don’t they use motion control and switch what is going on outside the car every time they move away from windows? The action in the car being one take, the motorcycle at first being one take, then another take where people jump the car matted in digitally etc? Anybody seen something that disproves my skepticism?

  • Revenge of the Sith and Twilight….

  • Oso Jugo

    Twilight automatically renders the entire list null and void. Who is running that rag? Are we in hell?

  • RockJoker

    Twilight, Fast 5, Iron Man, Episode III… what is this list? Why? Who???

  • chewrog

    I would say the opening montage in Up. Since then most US animation (Pixar included) has been chasing the sad feels dragon.

  • Henrik

    I was going to dismiss the list if it didn’t include the prequels. Feels like 9/10 blockbusters since 2005 look exactly like them.

  • onesix

    That’s not from the last 25 years. But good pick nonetheless.

  • newtaurus

    Maybe all of you complaining about the choices on this list should actually read the article like Sean suggested. Just because you think a movie sucks doesn’t necessarily mean it’s not influential.

  • newtaurus

    Yeah, because young adult adaptations, reinventing a franchise, post-credit scenes, and excessive CGI blockbusters have had zero impact on cinema.

    And no, the article did not suggest that these were all positive influences, if you read it you would know that.

  • newtaurus

    YA adaptations were a big deal for awhile, and women love(d) them. I’m sure someone is still out there trying to cash in on a couple more.

    That was the point of having Twilight on the list, and VF didn’t really give it a ringing endorsement. So, since I guess you have the same opinion as “the rag” it makes your opinion “null and void” as well.

  • Do you work for Vanity Fair?

    Just because something is “a big deal for awhile” (as you stated below as an explanation for inclusion on the list) doesn’t warrant to make it influential.Otherwise this list lacks a Transformers movie as well and a Harry Potter movie as well.

    The article explains the inclusion of Revenge of the Sith with the thesisthat afterwards “aggressive blue/green-screen technique becamefrustratingly de rigueur for big-budget spectaculars”. As if this arrived with Revenge of the Sith and wasn’t already present in Attack of the Clones (or even The Phantom Menace). So I don’t see why they would include Revengeof the Sith in general and that scene – which, I’d argue, is one of the better ones (at least before they start fighting) – specifically.

    With Twilight the article claims that “the Y.A. boom was crystallized” bythe scene of Pattinson entering the school. Like, that scene. That was the scene that made all them other studios greenlight The Hunger Games, The Maze Runner,Divergent, et al (without asking to include an identical scene in those movies as well, regardless that it was the scene that started the whole Y.A. boom). I would argue that without the success of Harry Potter – which I myself would count as YA – there wouldn’t even be a Twilight franchise.

    There is an influental difference between the Bullet Time Scene in The Matrix and how it influenced Hollywood and the statement that a scene in a teen movie sparked half a dozen franchises (or even cemented the success of that movie itself).The same could be said about that scene in Something’s Gotta Give. How did that influence anything? Who even remembers that scene (or this movie)? Why isn’t Avatar on this list since its use of 3D sparked and influenced
    a whole bunch of 3D releases and post-conversions (e.g. Clash of the Titans)?

  • Interesting. Can you name 9 blockbusters from 2006 that looked exactly like Revenge of the Sith?

  • Oso Jugo

    Calm down. I mistakenly thought it was a best of list. I still think it’s a rag though.

  • Henrik

    I suppose I will have to try, even though the comment makes more sense if you look at blockbusters since 2005, not from 2006. Anyway, let me see:

    Having a look here the only ones that kind of fit the bill are Pirates movie (heavy use of CGI characters and environments, very flat feel to the adventureous parts of the production design), Superman Returns (digitized look, CGI characters, huge island environments where people only walk from here to there), Eragon (I have not seen the entire movie, but judging from how it looked in the marketing shares many of the same traits) and V for Vendetta, which botched up it’s action scenes with CGI knives, CGI fire and other stuff (If I recall somewhat correctly):

    Even though I think the way you called my point out is a bit unfair, it’s definitely true that ROTS wasn’t as big an influence on 2006, as say, 2008 and forward, with Marvel somewhat perfecting the digital look with inserted human heads.

  • Henrik

    I totally agree that the proper inclusion would have been Episode 1, but I think it’s pretty interchangable in terms of the influence. The prequels are influential due to their process (I have to say this because I always have to say things: EXACTLY LIKE THE ORIGINAL TRILOGY) more so than the content, but the huge CGI armies battles that are ever-present in the past 20 years owe alot more to episodes 1 & 2 than ROTS, for sure.

    Have to keep in mind that it is the same companies and in essence the same dudes who are making these scenes for one movie after another though. It’s obvious that the millions of dollars Lucas poured into his own company for researching the prequels, made them competitive in VFX for the next couple of decades, even having the leg up on the competitors.

    Avatar seems like it should have been included, but the 3D-boom was probably too short and maligned. Also agree that Transformers and Harry Potter could both easily be included.

  • Lori Cerny

    ~ newtaurus

    I am a woman and I hate the Twilight series. I think you are mistaking “women” when you mean to say “tweens.”

  • Lori Cerny

    True that, except maybe Piper – or whatever the one about the baby bird is called.

  • the huge CGI armies battles

    This raises the question if the huge CGI army battles in The Lord of the Rings (especially The Two Towers) were influenced directly by Episode 1 and 2 as well or if they are their own thing (and therefore might actually have influenced the CGI army battles since, not Revenge of the Sith or the Prequels).

  • Well, what did you mean with “look” because I would argue that V for Vendetta visually looked nowhere near Revenge of the Sith, despite having CGI knives. Is anything that has CGI in it influenced by Revenge of the Sith? Is the edited version of E.T. where Spielberg replaced the guns with walkie-talkies also influenced by Revenge of the Sith?

    If the point of this list is to showcase trends in Hollywood (films mostly made through green/blue screen) than it should’ve been a list of 25 film trends. Iron Man as the dawn of Cinematic Universes, Harry Potter and Twilight as the dawn of Y.A. films, Star Wars and Lord of the Rings as movies with heavy reliance on CGI (battles), etc. How can that scene from Something’s Gotta Give be more influential than the world-tilting from Inception in addition with Hansi Bubi’s score or anything out of The Tree of Life or something out of Linklater’s Boyhood? It’s simply not a very well curated list.

  • Oso Jugo

    That scene from Twilight is a dumpster fire. Even if it could successfully be argued it was influential, you keep that off the list, no matter what.

  • RockJoker

    Fair enough, i misunderstood the point that article tries to make.

  • Mant

    The 40 Year Old Virgin – “The Chest Wax”
    Twilight – “When Edward Met Bella”
    Fast Five – “The Favela Chase”…………….O FUCK NO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!