PGCMAs: Best Chase and Best Set-Piece (2014)

Posted: January 29, 2015 by Daniel Simpson (PG Cooper) in PGCMAs

Written by Daniel “PG Cooper” SimpsonPGCMA 2014*The above image represents 2013’s PGCMA Best Director and Best Picture winner; Steve McQueen’s 12 Years a Slave.

Best Chase

This award looks chase scenes whether they be a race, someone trying to escape another force, a struggle against the clock. Both foot and vehicular chases are eligible.

Cornering Fury, Captain America: The Winter Soldier: This early scene sees a bunch of cars led by an unknown force trying to take down Nick Fury. What follows is an exciting and creative chase scene which also introduces the titular villain. I do think Fury’s escape is a bit silly, but it does establish the stakes of the film pretty well.

Finale, Under the Skin: After preying on vulnerable men through most of the runtime, the protagonist finds herself being chased through the woods by a man with bad intent. The scene then takes a weird turn which goes to produce the film’s most unforgettable visual.

Rama Saved, The Raid 2: These films are primarily known for the martial arts, but Gareth Evans knows how to shoot other types of action scenes as well. This chase scene in particular is a masterfully executed scene that is very well-shot and punctuated with some amazing brutality.

Tailing the Story, Nightcrawler: Lou Bloom spends most of Nightcrawler chasing down sensational violence and this scene is the epitome of this idea. As a group of criminals flees from police cruisers, Bloom and his protégé keep up with the chase with a camera in hand documenting what unfolds. Just like the rest of the film, the cinematography is great and it’s an exhilarating scene.

Times Square, Birdman: After accidentally locks himself out of the theater during a performance, Riggan is forced to run half-naked through Times Square as random onlookers discover and film who he is. It’s an amusing scene that, like all of Birdman, is very well-accomplished technically. More importantly, the scene is a great physical manifestation of the troubles of the production and Riggan’s psyche.

And the winner is…

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Nightcrawler

nightcrawler-poster

All of these scenes are well-filmed, Nightcrawler had some interesting novelties that help it stand out. The notion of Lou filming the chase while being a part of it gives the scene an added excitement and the scene ends on a great note fitting with Lou’s character and the film’s dark tone.

Best Set-Piece

This category could also be called “other”. Basically it refers to action scenes which fall out of conventional parameters like shootouts and chases.

Bedroom Games, Gone Girl: David Fincher has always been a master of crafting creatively dark and violent set-pieces and this moment from Gone Girl fits in well. All of the elements are set up in advance and seeing it all come together for one moment of heightened violence is very satisfying. I know this is a bit of a vague right up, but no spoilers.

Docking, Interstellar: This is another scene I can’t say too much about. What I can say is that Cooper and his team need to pilot their ship in order to dock with the station, which is spinning rapidly. It’s a great scene composed of beautiful special effects, high risk, and the best track from Hans Zimmer’s dominating score.

First Drop, Edge of Tomorrow: The big beach action scene is a major moment in Edge of Tomorrow has it is highlighted over and over again. There are a lot of strong moments, but the first drop is my favourite as it captures Cage’s disorientation and has that really cool shot of cage falling to the ground while the camera spins.

Parallels, X-Men: Days of Future Past: Days of Future Past is full of excellent action set-pieces, but this climactic scene is the height of these moments. The film cuts between two different set-pieces between the 1970s and the desolate future with certain actions being mirrored in each. The action and effects are fantastic, but the real trait is the overall themes of the film and how they compare and contrast between the two times.

Plagues, Exodus: Gods and Kings: Exodus didn’t quite live up to my hopes, but this brief montage depicting the plagues coming to Egypt is pretty awesome. It’s a well filmed and edited sequence with some memorable moments. The highlight of course is the bloodying of the Nile being caused by alligators eating people, which is just great.

And the winner is…

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Gone Girl

gone girl

With set-pieces, it’s easy to gravitate towards the big. This scene from Gone Girl is certainly the smallest of the scenes, but in many ways it’s the most effective. The actual moment of violence is quick, but the build-up and the aftermath are also both quite chilling and Fincher lingers on these moments to excellent effect. The scene is also very well filmed, edited, scored, and is generally one of the best scenes of the film.

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