PGCMAs: Best Chase and Best Set-Piece (2015)

Posted: February 1, 2016 by Daniel Simpson (PG Cooper) in Uncategorized

Written by Daniel “PG Cooper” Simpson PGCMA 2015

*The above image represents 2014’s PGCMA Best Director and Best Picture winner; Alejandro González Iñárritu’s Birdman.

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. It’s been an abnormally good year for chase sequences and it was hard narrowing this list down to just five.

Beach House, It Follows: It Follows is essentially a chase movie in that it involves a pursuer relentlessly seeking a target, albeit at a slower speed then we usually see. This scene sees Jay escaping from It both on foot and in a car. It’s a tense scene which is well-shot and ends well.

Brothers in Arms, Mad Max: Fury Road: No 2015 film emphasizes the term “chase movie” like Mad Max: Fury Road. It’s difficult to pick just one scene, but my favourite is one where Max and Furiosa escape through the canyon, contending with both Immortan Joe and a biker gang. The scene is shot with all the flair and technical excellence as the rest of the film and is important in developing plot and characters.

Fleeing from Lucile, Crimson Peak: We’ll never stop seeing horror films were innocent people run from deranged, murderous psychopaths. But as long as the scenes are as good as this one, I can’t complain. This chase acts as the climax of the film, as an armed Lucile stalks Edith through the titular mansion with intent to kill, before the two find their way outside.

Motorcycles, Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation: This is a seemingly conventional chase sequence where the spy-hero chases some villains on motorcycles who have crucial information, but the great camera work and intense editing really make this fun.

Tracking Abel, Bridge of Spies: Much as I love grandiose action, I’m also a sucker for more low-key set-pieces. The opening to Bridge of Spies is a fine example of this, as we see communist spy Abel allude authorities on foot through subways to city streets until they finally catch up at his apartment. It’s a fun sequence which has an old school charm.

And the winner is…



Mad Max: Fury Road


It was pretty clear after seeing Fury Road that no other film was going to be able to put together nearly as awesome a chase sequence as what is found in Miller’s action opus. Go to any random sequence and you’ll likely find a better chase than anything else in 2015. This particular chase embodies exactly what makes the action so awesome; it’s exhilarating and important to the characters and plot. As an added bonus, my favourite track from the score plays at the tail end of the chase and it’s just great.

Best Set-Piece

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

Bear Attack, The Revenant: The bear attack is one of the most talked about aspects of The Revenant and for good reason. Rather than staging the scene through some rapid editing, the scene plays out in one long take where we see the bear maul Glass, while the man desperately tries to mount his own offensive. The scene is a technical marvel which is highly tense, brutal, and unforgettable.

Escape, Room: After years spent in Room, Joy finally snaps and makes an effort to leave forever. Purely as an escape set-piece, this is a really tense and gripping sequence, but what elevates it is how it also serves as Jack’s introduction to the world.

Pterodactyl Attack, Jurassic World: Most of the action in Jurassic World is competent, but this scene rises to greater heights. Basically, a bunch of Pterodactyls attack park dwellers in an open space darkly comic fashion. It’s one of the few scenes which really uses the park setting to its best and embraces the sillier side of the movie.

Raining Cars, Furious 7: The Fast and Furious series have become all about topping themselves with ridiculous stunts and action. A lot of moments stand out in Furious 7, but for me, the highlight is this scene where the crew and the cars are dropped out of planes and parachute to a mountain side. Ridiculous fun, and very impressive on a technical level.

Returning to the Citadel, Mad Max: Fury Road: I thought about categorizing this sequence as a chase, but given the sheer amount of things going on within it (gunfights, fist fights, swinging on poles) I decided set-piece was a better home for it. This is an absolutely insane sequence with a lot going on visually, and yet somehow George Miller ensures it all remain coherent. It’s an excellent climax to the visual spectacle that is Fury Road.

And the winner is…



The Revenant

the revenant

This award is always tough given how disparate the nominees usually turn out and this year was no different. The Revenant, Room, and Mad Max: Fury Road all put forth really excellent sequences which all would have been worthy winners, but I ultimately leaned towards The Revenant. The scene is highly unique, crucial to the film’s story and themes, and viscerally powerful.

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