There is something so satisfying about watching Anton Ego eat the titular meal. His disdain for what had been a love at one point is written all over this scene. As the dish is uncovered, each layer of food is rendered so beautifully with what almost seems to be soft focus. We see Ego, ready to pre-judge, take the fork to his lips, and the moment he bites, his eyes expand and we are slingshot back into his childhood where his memories of growing up are shown in bright, beautiful color. It’s a scene that so beautifully depicts the feeling of revelation and remembrance, that it is hard not to feel the same way as Ego.
I remember sitting in the theater watching this movie, I was having a blast with it up to this point, but then Dash started running across the water. It’s not that there is even a hint of sadness in this scene but the moment when Dash realizes what he’s doing and does a little laugh and goes even faster is sublime. I couldn’t help but smile from ear to ear watching this scene. Just taking in all the detail, realizing how far animation had come and wondering just what the future held. Just a perfect small moment in film filled with greatness.
In a shockingly violent opening, we see Marlin lose not only his wife to a barracuda, but also all but one of his unborn children. Marlin finds that one of the eggs survived. He picks the egg up and cradles it in his fins, and tells his son that he will protect him. As a father, this scene gets me every time. My daughter was in the NICU after she was born because she had stopped breathing a few times. I remember holding that tiny little girl in my arms and telling her that everything would be ok and that daddy would always be there for her. I saw the film before becoming a parent, and seeing it afterward definitely brought this scene into perspective.
In a heartbreaking moment in what is a mostly joyful film, Jessie the Cowgirl, with help from Sarah ‘Make you cry like a Girl’ McLaughlin remembers her lifetime spent with her owner. How it went from a time spent running through golden fields, to being neglected for years underneath a bed, finally to being left in a box to be taken away. If the song doesn’t get you, it’s the look on Jessie’s face when she realizes that she hasn’t been brought out to play but to be left behind on the side of the road.
There is just something about the eyes of Wall-E that get me. You wouldn’t think a tiny little robot with basically no face could be so expressive. It’s watching Wall-E dance with Eve between the stars that fills your heart with gladness.
5. Finding Nemo: Marlin lets go
Marlin spends the majority of Finding Nemo trying to protect his son from the dangers of the outside world. Marlin has good reason to be over-protective of his only remaining child, but by the end he realizes that part of being a parent is preparing your son or daughter to go out on their own. It’s at the end that Marlin learns to loosen up a bit and let Nemo go. It’s not when Nemo leaves, but when he rushes back to hug his father again before heading off to school that the tears start welling. Finding Nemo is a great children’s film, but the lessons it teaches you as a parent are even better.
The people at Pixar are geniuses in many regards but it’s their ability to make you care so much about the character’s so much that makes them a cut above almost all other films of the last 20 years. Monster’s Inc is a really fun movie, but it’s the last few seconds of the movie that are the best. After Sully thinks he’s lost contact with Boo forever, we see that Mike has re-structured the door to Boo’s world so Sully can see her again. Stepping through the door with his hulking frame, we hear Boo yell her pet name for Sully, and the fact that the camera is focused on Sully’s face only as it lights up is truly a moment of divinity.
Although there is currently another Toy Story film in the works, I really wish they would have ended it with 3. Seeing Woody watch as Andy drives away forever after delivering a speech that fulfilled Woody’s motives as Andy’s favorite toy, is cathartic for the audience too. It’s the recognition of all the unsung work Woody had done over the years unbeknownst to Andy that truly hits home. They are both letting each other go, but the fondness and love remains even though they are apart.
Throughout Wall-E, we have seen him as such an expressive and gentle character. One with so much emotion and feeling, that when after being rebooted, we see Wall-E as nothing more than an automaton, just busying himself with what he was programmed for that it comes with an overwhelming sadness. Eve tries her best to bring him back, but in his eyes (those damned eyes again) that the spark of his spirit is gone. But when Eve places his hand in hers (something Wall-E had dreamed about) and brings him back with a kiss of life, it’s his little ‘Eve-a?’ that made we start blubbering. Just a beautiful film through and through.
If anyone were to ask me what makes Pixar so good, I would have to do nothing more than show them the opening, wordless montage from Up. Never before has a moment in a film hit me so hard as the beginning of this movie. With such a maturity, Up captures the ups and downs of marriage, from the good to the bad, and what sticking beside each other feels like. By the end of this scene, I was openly weeping, not just a few little tears, but the full out ‘I need to pause this, and wipe the snot off my face’ type of crying. The scene itself is so beautiful, but it’s helped even more so by the incredible score by Michael Giacchino, which is at first whimsical and bounding, but by the end somber and touching while doing no more than slowing down the refrain. Just hearing the score or thinking about this scene can make me start to cry sometimes. Marriage is a beautiful thing, never easy, but more rewarding than you can imagine. Love is not about just kissing or holding hands, it’s about two people who are there for each other during the good and the bad. It is a gift to be able to have it, but it comes with high price of knowing that someday it will be gone. If nothing else this scene shows you the importance of holding on to what you have while you still can.
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