Top Five Opening Sequences

23 Mar

After over a month without a Top Five List, and a clearly very lazy and/or busy time for both David and Lara, you probably won’t be surprised to find out that this list was the suggestion of David’s friend and Lara and the Reel Boy reader, Lauren Sportsman. However the utilization of her suggestion isn’t due to our lack of creativity, but to her brilliance of List Making. This week’s Top Five List is the Top Five Opening Sequences. Now, you should know we decided early on that we would not count opening credits (though David cheated a little with The Warriors), for we are later going to do a Top Five Credits list (Watchmen will feature on that one, Nick Hester, don’t fret) because they are a whole other art form in and of themselves. So, without further ado

Top Five Opening Sequences

Lauren’s List

5: All the Real Girls

While I personally think this movie is rubbish, the first five minutes blew me away. Zooey Deschanel and Paul Schneider stand facing each other, profile to the camera, creating quite possibly one of the most intimate moments I’ve ever witnessed in a movie. The discussion is simple: comfort. Both characters relay their feelings to the other. Which ironic in that seeing both characters in such an awkward surrounding is anything but comfortable. It’s real.

4. Garden State
I still remember the first time I saw this movie in high school. Andrew’s (Zach Braff) dream sequence still amazes me. He is a man completely silent while the airplane he is aboard continues to crash as his fellow riders carry on in complete chaos. This completely sets the stage and captures the tone of Andrew’s life—detached from excitement or sadness.

3. Brick

Brilliant lighting, brilliant acting, brilliant use of color. Just watch it. It’s amazing. It will suck you in, I promise.

2. Annie Hall

While thinking about what to write about Annie Hall, I couldn’t help but realize how much I like awkward openings. I like it when the actor is vulnerable. I like opening scenes without music. And that’s why I enjoy Annie Hall—it gives you nothing but words as Woody Allen discusses his dreary philosophies about life and his relationship with Annie. You, Woody Allen, and words.

1. The Sound of Music

The music swelling, the scenery, the color, and Julie Andrews finally bursting into song. While The Sound of Music as my number one intro may seem cheesy and predictable, it so iconic that simply hearing the song brings to mind a view of the Swiss Alps. Nothing makes me smile like finally seeing the small speck that is Maria on the large hill that sets the stage.

David’s List

5.  I Heart Huckabees

Jason Schwartzman standing in front of rock, cursing uncontrollably, and making a sort of speech that doesn’t really make sense.  This perfectly sets the tone for the rest of this movie.  And it’s hilarious.  If you find repeated cursing hilarious.  Which I sometimes do.  However, if you don’t, you should still see this movie.  It’s so fantastic.

4.  The Warriors

Shots of every ridiculous gang in New York going through the subway, set to music, and cut through with scenes of the Warriors planning out what they’re going to do at the big meeting.  While this might technically be considered the opening credits (because those are happening at this exact same time) I’ve decided it’s mostly the opening scene.  It sets what’s happening.  It shows you that this movie will involve gangs that are meant to be taken seriously, while still wearing baseball uniforms and face paint.  It’s a perfect opening.

3.  The Royal Tenenbaums

I love Alec Baldwin’s narration through this entire film.  It’s one of my favorite parts of this amazing movie.  But I think it’s especially poignant in the opening where he is describing the Tenenbaum children’s childhood.  The children that played Richie, Margot, and Chaz were perfect.  I especially love the part where you see Richie having his next painting of Margot hung on the wall.  It’s just such a beautiful scene all the way through.

2.  Conan the Barbarian

The opening of the movie is so awesome.  Conan is just a little boy and his father takes him up tp the top of the mountain and tells him about their god, Crom.  He tells him who Crom is, why he’s such a harsh god, and what’s important to him.  Then he tells Conan about the rule of steel and the importance of the sword.  This is immediatley followed by everyone in Conan’s village being killed.  So it’s easy to understand why he turned out the way he did.  But the speech his father makes is so good.  I love this movie, but it’s worth watching just for the opening.

1.  Joe Versus The Volcano

This is the best opening scene ever.  It’s also the most depressing.  This is the perfect picture of going to a job you hate, in a life you hate, and having the worst day ever.  But it’s presented in such a hilarious way that you feel better about your own life after watching how bad it is for Tom Hanks.  Absolutely wonderful.

Lara’s List

5. Manhattan

Obviously I love the beginning of this film, as it is what I replicated when creating my own “Lara Takes Manhattan.” The images of New York, the Gershwin, Woody’s neurotic narrations and corrections are perfect and completely set the pace of the rest of the film. It is self-indulgent, pretentious, yet beautiful and intellectual– as every Woody Allen movie should be.

4. Jaws

Debauchery and sexy, seventies silhouettes. That is, until, the strings kick in. And ensues water-logged terror. A build of tension and fear that is still the envy of horror filmmakers to this day. Well done, Steven. As always.

3. The Matrix

I remember watching this for the first time. The night before I had been at a sleepover and pulled my first all-nighter. My family came to pick me up at about 9:00 in the morning, after I had had about one hour of sleep and my sister was all a-tizzy over the fact that she and my parents had watched The Matrix. She insisted that she and I should watch it together. So, even though I was eleven years old and sleep-deprived we watched as soon as we got home. And my mind was blown. From the first time Trinity hovers in the air and kicks the crap out of every man in the room, I was sold. I wanted to be her, leather suit, foul mouth, et all. Oh, and I wanted to know kung-fu.

2. Raising Arizona

Eleven minutes of film occur before the opening credits of Raising Arizona. Eleven hilarious minutes. H.I. gets placed in and out of jail three times, marries Ed, gets a job, tries and fails to have and adopt a baby, and starts scheming about Nathan Arizona – all before we see the title of the film. Genius.

1. The Lion King

What is there to say? This is the most overwhelming start to any film ever. I remember watching this in the theater as a six year old in reverence, trying to take it all in. The swells of music, the animation, the sweeping shots—they made me fall in love with film. And that is about the best compliment I can give.

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3 Responses to “Top Five Opening Sequences”

  1. missnostalgic March 23, 2010 at 10:34 pm #

    Excellent number one choice for Joe vs. the Volcano. One of my favorite movies.

  2. Will Burnett April 16, 2010 at 11:35 am #

    Pardon me, but, um, “Reservoir Dogs”?

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