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  1. X-Men: Days of Future Past – The high-speed Pentagon heist

    What’s going on?
    Dumped back in 1973 on a mission to track down shapeshifting mutant Mystique, Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) knows he needs to recruit the villainous Magneto (Michael Fassbender) to his cause. The problem? Old metal-head is buried under a thousand feet of concrete below the world’s most heavily fortified building.

    Why our jaws dropped...
    Help arrives in the form of Peter Maximoff aka Quicksilver (Evan Peters), a fey proto-Goth teenager who happens to have the ability to slow time. So when security shows up and Wolverine’s life is threatened, he springs into action with a bravura display of bullet-dodging hyperspeed action.

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  2. Mr Turner – Turner strapped to the mast of a ship

    What’s going on?
    Mike Leigh’s drama about the painter JMW Turner takes great interest in the painter’s quasi-spiritual relationship with the landscapes he depicted. Here, Leigh recounts a perhaps mythical story about Turner: that he tied himself to the mast of a ship during a storm in order to find inspiration for the to-be-famous painting that became ‘Snow Storm – Steam-Boat off a Harbour’s Mouth’.

    Why our jaws dropped...
    This event may never have happened – and we don’t recommend trying it at home either – but the sight of Timothy Spall’s Turner being lashed by rain, snow and wind is a great symbol of this artist’s bold independence and feverish dedication.

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  3. Captain America: The Winter Soldier – Punch-up in the lift

    What’s going on?
    In this feisty conspiracy action flick, square-jawed icon Captain America (Chris Evans) comes to understand that all’s not well in the highest echelons of power, and that the Shield organisation has become a front for some very shady folks. Realising they’ll be coming for him next, he catches the lift down to the ground floor with trusted sidekick Brock (Frank Grillo) and a handful of fellow operatives…

    Why our jaws dropped...
    As the tiny elevator fills up with increasingly muscular and crazy-eyed thugs, the penny finally drops – for poor Cap as much as for the audience. When it all kicks off – ‘Before we get started, does anyone want to get out?’ – we’re treated to a wild, slap-happy cavalcade of close-quarters combat.

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  4. Inside Llewyn Davis – John Goodman gets venomous

    What’s going on?
    Oscar Isaac plays a sour wannabe folk music hero, Llewyn Davis, in this bleak and moody 1961-set film from the Coen brothers. In this scene, Llewyn takes a road trip to Chicago in the company of Roland Turner, a grumpy, smacked-out jazzman played by John Goodman.

    Why our jaws dropped...
    Goodman’s character is pure nastiness – he won’t say a good word about anyone or anything. But surely he’ll show some sympathy when still-raw Llewyn talks about his late friend and music partner who committed suicide? No – he just continues to spit bile regardless. Awkward, nasty and about as blackly funny as the Coens get.

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  5. Nightcrawler – Jake Gyllenhaal hires a sidekick

    What’s going on?
    As the orders flood in for his grisly video footage, budding news cameraman and bug-eyed psycho Lou Bloom (Jake Gyllenhaal) decides to hire someone to watch the car while he goes ambulance chasing. But the poor sucker who answers his ad – cash-strapped innocent Rick (Riz Ahmed) – really doesn’t know what he’s getting himself into.

    Why our jaws dropped...
    We already know that Lou is a desperately deluded lunatic, but the madcap self-improvement spiel he lays on poor Rick still comes as a shock. As the enthusiastic youngster’s eyes grow ever larger, we just want to shout at him to run away, now, before it’s too late…

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  6. Leviathan – A shooting party attacks portraits of Russian presidents

    What’s going on?
    This moody, booze-soaked Russian film is set in a remote coastal fishing village, far from Moscow. It tells of the weight of corruption and terrible fate coming to bear on the shoulders of one man, Kolya. Here, he goes on a shooting trip with his pals, armed with vodka, guns and big portraits of twentieth-century Russian presidents (not including Putin or Yeltsin).

    Why our jaws dropped...
    As the vodka flows, the men start firing their guns at these political portraits. Amazingly, Russia has submitted ‘Leviathan’ as its official entry for the Academy Awards in 2015.

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  7. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes – Drunk ape with an uzi

    What’s going on?
    An uneasy truce has been declared between the intelligent apes of the forest and the human survivors in post-apocalyptic San Francisco, to the chagrin of man-hating chimp Koba. When he learns that the humans have a secret stockpile of weaponry, Koba hatches a plan to raid their armoury.

    Why our jaws dropped...
    The special effects are outstanding as the completely photorealistic Koba sidles up to the guards and launches into a goofy, loveable circus routine and clowns around with a bottle of whisky. Then someone makes the mistake of letting him get his hairy mitts on a machine gun, and things get really messed up…

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  8. Interstellar – Matthew McConaughey picks up his voicemails

    What’s going on?
    McConaughey’s astronaut-turned-farmer-turned-astronaut Cooper has been leading a mission into deepest space for years when he finally receives a series of video messages from his young daughter – who has grown up to be Jessica Chastain while he was flying among the stars to save humanity.

    Why our jaws dropped...
    We only hear Chastain’s voice and see McConaughey’s face in close-up as he views these messages: his face crumples as he realises everything he’s left behind and what’s been going on in his absence. A good reminder that Oscar-winner McConaughey packs some serious acting chops.

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  9. Citizenfour – An unexpected phone call for Edward Snowden

    What’s going on?
    In a hotel room in Hong Kong, documentary filmmaker Laura Poitras and journalist Glenn Greenwald are meeting for the first time with a young man, Edward Snowden, who claims to have stolen thousands of US intelligence files. All three are on edge as the interview begins, and the scale and bravery of Snowden’s actions becomes clear.

    Why our jaws dropped...
    Poitras’s documentary isn’t just ripped-from-the-headlines gripping, it’s also brilliantly edited and scored for maximum tension. So when the hotel phone suddenly buzzes and all three protagonists freeze in fear, the effect is passed on to the audience. It turns out to be room service, in case you’re worried…

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  10. The Skeleton Twins – Nothing’s gonna stop them now

    What’s going on?
    He’s recovering from a recent suicide attempt, she’s having a compulsive affair with her swimming teacher under the nose of her fiance: it’s safe to say that estranged siblings Milo (Bill Hader) and Maggie (Kristen Wiig) are making a mess of their lives. But following a drunken evening of reminiscence and reparation, Maggie has the bright idea of sticking on that old Starship CD…

    Why our jaws dropped...
    Wiig and Hader are old ‘Saturday Night Live’ compadres, and the comic chemistry between them as they perform a word perfect lip-synch to heart-on-sleeve power ballad ‘Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now’ is absolutely electric. It’s a gloriously off-beam, upbeat scene in a sweet but hardly groundbreaking indie melodrama.

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  11. The Raid 2 – A prison riot gets muddy and bloody

    What’s going on?
    Having high-kicked his way through an army of bad guys in the first ‘Raid’ flick, decent cop Rama (Iko Uwais) joins a secret task force to take on corruption in the city of Jakarta and goes undercover in a local prison, keeping a surreptitious eye on junior mobster Uco (Arifin Putra). When the place explodes into violence during a relentless rainstorm, Rama’s only mission is to keep the youngster safe.

    Why our jaws dropped...
    Because Welshman Gareth Evans directs action like no one else: the bone-crunching blows and limb-snapping sound effects rain down with such visceral regularity that the audience itself emerges bruised and battered. In a slightly-too-chatty sequel, this was what the audience had paid to see.

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  12. Calvary – Dylan Moran’s cliffside breakdown

    What’s going on?
    Father James (Brendan Gleeson) is living with a death sentence: one of his parishioners has threatened to gun him down as revenge for the abuse he suffered as a young altar boy. As he walks to his fateful assignation, the priest comes across local bigwig businessman Michael (Dylan Moran) staring down into the crashing waves.

    Why our jaws dropped...
    Michael has been set up as a hate figure by John Michael McDonagh’s angry script, one of those money-grubbing bankers who almost drove Ireland into the ground. But here we see another side of him: a desperately lonely man trying to find a way back to the light. It’s a moment of agonising soul-searching at the heart of this relentlessly sad film.

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  13. Pride – Andrew Scott visits his long-estranged mum

    What’s going on?
    This lovely British film about a group of gay activists who travel to Wales in the mid-1980s to assist striking miners and their families provoked ample laughs and tears. Andrew Scott plays one of the activists, Gethin, a bookish Welshman and partner of Jonathan, a much more outgoing, out-of-work actor played by Dominic West. Here Gethin visits the mum he hasn’t seen in years.

    Why our jaws dropped...
    This was one of the film’s most teary moments. Gethin’s work helping the miners and his trip back to Wales, where he comes from, inspire him to mend bridges closer to home. Weeping is understandable.

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  14. Two Days, One Night – A football player has a change of heart

    What’s going on?
    The Dardenne brothers’ latest quiet masterpiece saw them creating maximum drama from a simple situation, as wife and mother Sandra (Marion Cotillard) is forced to visit each of her factory colleagues in turn and beg them to help her keep her job. Following a series of knockbacks, she’s on the verge of giving up when she approaches Timur (Timur Magomedgadzhiev) at footie practice…

    Why our jaws dropped...
    Finally, someone is glad to see Sandra: admitting that he’d been hoping she’d come to see him so he could apologise personally for all she’s been going through, Timur bursts into tears on the touchline. It’s a moment of unadorned emotion, subtle but powerful.

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  15. The Grand Budapest Hotel – The prison break

    What’s going on?
    Beset on all sides by the forces of aristocratic intrigue, maître d Gustave (Ralph Fiennes) is arrested for the murder of his elderly lover Madame D. Luckily, his protégé Zero (Tony Revolori) rallies to his master’s aid, sneaking in a number of cakes stuffed with professional stoneworking tools.

    Why our jaws dropped...
    In a film crammed with giddy asides and moments of wonderfully unexpected comedy, this was still a highlight: accompanied by fellow lag Ludwig (Harvey Keitel), Gustave escapes his cell only to stand in the courtyard espousing his theory of prison etiquette (‘In a place like this, you must never be a candy ass’) as search dogs howl in the night.

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  16. Enemy – The final few seconds

    What’s going on?
    In this artsy, not-entirely-convincing Canadian experimental drama, Jake Gyllenhaal plays historian Anthony, who discovers that there’s a bit-part actor out there who looks exactly like him. Anthony meets his double, Adam, and it all gets creepy in a chin-stroking sort of way. Until the very final moments of the film…

    Why our jaws dropped...
    MAJOR SPOILER ALERT! Things seem to be building towards a resolution: Adam has died in a car wreck, and Anthony has shacked up with his doppelganger’s wife. He follows her into the bedroom, only to discover that she’s been transformed into (or consumed by) a grotesque room-sized tarantula, scuttling and scraping against the wall. The audience gasps. Cut to black…

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  17. 12 Years a Slave – Chiwetel Ejiofor is finally reunited with his family

    What’s going on?
    Having suffered – as the title suggests – over a decade in brutal captivity at the hands of Southern slave owners, family man Solomon Northup (Chiwetel Ejiofor) believes he’ll never see his home or his loved ones again. When the reprieve finally comes, he has no idea how to react.

    Why our jaws dropped...
    In a film steeped in horror, hatred and helplessness, this long-hoped-for reunion scene is every bit as heartbreaking as we expected it to be: Solomon simply stands, tears streaming down his face, as his grown-up children crowd around. Director Steve McQueen’s skill is that he never presents it as a ‘happy’ ending: there’s no joy to be found here, just a sense of overwhelming shock and relief.

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  18. The LEGO Movie – Everything is awesome!

    What’s going on?
    It’s the opening of ‘The LEGO Movie’, and we’ve just been introduced to our hero Emmet Brickowski, a largely brainless construction worker who just loves fitting in. On the way to work, inspired by a sign ordering him to ‘Enjoy Popular Music!’, Emmett clicks on his car radio…

    Why our jaws dropped...
    We’re smacked in the face with the most uplifting, punch-the-air satirical hit since ‘America, Fuck Yeah!’, a slice of pap pop so voraciously ear-wormy that it threatens to eat the audience’s brains from the inside. Meanwhile, Emmet launches into the conformist drone’s equivalent of the ‘Choose Life’ speech from ‘Trainspotting’: ‘Support your local sports team! Go sports team!’

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  19. Only Lovers Left Alive – Vampires on the dancefloor

    What’s going on?
    After decades apart, vampire lovers Eve (Tilda Swinton) and Adam (Tom Hiddleston) are finally reunited in his grubby, hipster-ish Detroit flat. Late one night, Eve steps up to the record player and drops the needle…

    Why our jaws dropped...
    This isn’t one of those spectacular, punch-in-the-gut emotional scenes, but simply a quiet moment of intimacy with a great song on the soundtrack (Denise LaSalle’s rare soul number ‘Trapped By a Thing Called Love’). As Adam hauls himself off the sofa to wrap his arms around Eve’s waist, we feel the weary centuries drop away.

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  20. Nymphomaniac – Uma Thurman gets very, very angry

    What’s going on?
    Lars Von Trier’s two-part epic drama-cum-comedy about a sex-addicted woman goes through some wildly different tones. In this scene, our narrator Joe (Charlotte Gainsbourg) recalls how her younger self (Stacy Martin) caused the break-up of a marriage. The cuckolded wife in question is played by Uma Thurman.

    Why our jaws dropped...
    Thurman’s Mrs H isn’t going quietly as she gathers up her stuff and kids to leave Mr H (Hugo Speer) to his younger lover. She lets rip a volley of anger that will have all but the most cold-hearted viewers punching the air in support. Go Uma!

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  21. Maps to the Stars – Julianne Moore’s happy dance

    What’s going on?
    Washed-up Hollywood casualty Havana Segrand (Julianne Moore) has suffered the ultimate indignity: being turned down for the part of her own deceased mother in a forthcoming film. But when her rival for the role loses her four-year-old son in a tragic drowning accident, Havana is bumped up to the top of the line…

    Why our jaws dropped...
    We already know Havana is seriously disturbed, but the horribly believable sight of her jigging up and down by the pool singing ‘Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye’ at the top of her lungs is still seriously upsetting.

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  22. Starred Up – Jack O’Connell bites a prison guard in an awkward spot

    What’s going on?
    Young offender Eric Love (Jack O’Connell) has been ‘starred up’ to adult prison thanks to his unhinged nature and extreme behavior. When the guards try to calm him down during a therapy session, Eric takes a (as far as we know) unique approach to self-defence.

    Why our jaws dropped...
    Lunging like a dog, Eric chomps down on the poor screw’s nether regions, clamps his manhood between his teeth and holds it there for what feels like an eternity. Meanwhile, every male audience member holds his breath and crosses his legs.

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  23. American Hustle – J-Law slips on her marigolds and rocks out

    What’s going on?
    David O Russell’s arch true crime flick wasn’t for everyone, but this scene is one for the ages. As manipulative housewife Rosalyn Rosenfeld, Jennifer Lawrence is a whirlwind of spite and bile. And when hubbie Irving (Christian Bale) gets himself in too deep with the Mafia, she takes out her frustrations on the kitchen surfaces.

    Why our jaws dropped...
    It’s the world’s most glamorous star in rubber gloves and a leopard-print dress, ferociously lip-synching to ‘Live and Let Die’ and pounding the woodwork with a duster while her confused five-year-old son watches, nonplussed. What’s not to love?

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  24. The Wolf of Wall Street – Leo DiCaprio’s slo-mo quaalude nightmare

    What’s going on?
    Leonardo DiCaprio is the King o’ the World once again as real-life stockbroker and all-round nasty piece of work Jordan Belfort in Martin Scorsese’s sledgehammer satire on the financial crisis. In one key scene, Jordan and goofy-toothed sidekick Donnie (Jonah Hill) decide to get their rocks off with a handful of vintage quaaludes. But the drugs don’t seem to be working, so they take a few more… and a few more…

    Why our jaws dropped...
    When the ‘ludes finally kick in, it gets messy as hell: we never dreamed we’d see Leonardo DiCaprio so mashed on happy pills that he can’t climb into his sports car, but it gets even wilder and funnier when DiCaprio and Hill go at each other in queasy, psychedelic slow motion.

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  25. Under the Skin – The baby on the beach

    What’s going on?
    As Scarlett Johansson’s voracious, nameless alien-in-female-form stalks Glasgow looking for fresh meat, she comes across a real unfolding tragedy: as a storm blows in, a couple struggling to rescue their pet dog are washed away in the Irish sea. But that’s not the horrible part…

    Why our jaws dropped...
    We never expect Scarlett to lift a finger to help the drowning couple, she’s far too remote a figure for that. But when she also abandons their wailing, helpless toddler on the freezing shore, it’s truly shocking.

    ‘When we filmed that scene, the crew looked at me like I was fucking poison,’ writer-director Jonathan Glazer told us earlier this year. ‘But that was the scene. We feel empathy because we’re humans. But how does she see it? Not as we do.’ Sparking sympathy and outrage in equal measure – and saying a lot about how we observe and deal with horror in the real world – this was the most disturbing, impossible-to-forget image of 2014.

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The 25 best film scenes of 2014

Action, romance, horror, drama, punch-ups, cock-ups, singsongs and serious drug abuse: it’s all in our list of the best movie moments of 2014

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If you don’t have time to catch up with all the best films of 2014, simply fast-forward to these key scenes and get all your cinematic sustenance in handy, bite-sized chunks. From boozy apes to dudes in capes, from down-and-out folkers to spaced-out stockbrokers – plus a surprising number of prison-based punch-ups – these were our favourite movie moments in 2014.
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