50 coolest movie moments ever

By 01.08.14
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Cool movie moments happen for a variety of reasons – killer acting, awesome writing, the perfect line – and when the coolest of the cool movie moments happen they somehow manage to sum up an entire character or sometimes even an entire film. They’re the moments you never forget, the ones you keep yammering on to your friends about and the ones no one gets sick of. More than anything else, they’re what keep us coming back to the movies for more, and in celebration of that we bring you this, the 50 coolest movie moments ever.

Gandalf takes on a Balrog and in doing so reveals himself to be a total badass instead of the kindly old wizard he seems to be. Sir Ian McKellan’s defiant “You shall not pass!” sums up the trilogy’s theme of standing grimly resolute against impossible odds – even if it means almost certain death.

The opening scene of Dazed and Confused sets the tone for the entire movie as an orange Pontiac GTO slowly rolls through the school parking lot while Milla Jovovich sits inside rolling a joint all while Aerosmith’s “Sweet Emotion” plays. The ‘70s, ladies and gentlemen, in all their badass glory.

The whole last half hour or so of The Matrix falls under the heading of cool, or as Keanu would say, “Whoa...”, but the apex of cool probably comes when Trinity, lady badass, follows the wild slow motion bullet action by sticking a gun in a fool’s face and telling him simply “Dodge this” before pulling the trigger. Screw Keanu, she’s The One for me.

Rutger Hauer goes out with a speech that remains as the coolest and most memorable moment of Blade Runner. Even more incredibly, he reportedly improvised the cooler than cool “like tears in rain” line on the spot.

Maximus reveals himself after owning everyone in the arena and in doing so causes Emperor Commodus and his boys to shit their pants in fear. Everyone in this scene plays their roles perfectly and the result is something straight out of WWE. The only thing missing was Maximus giving Commodus a Stone Cold Stunner.

After tracking Patrick Swayze around the world, Keanu Reeves catches up with him on an Australian beach, only to let him go for one last ride on the waves because both men know he won’t survive it. Bodhi goes out like a champ and Keanu gives everyone a template for how cool bros handle things when one is a federal agent and one is, uh, a President Reagan mask wearing bank robbing surfing psychopath.

Wyatt Earp calmly strolls over to an asshole dealer played by a tubby Billy Bob Thornton and proceeds to calmly bitch slap him and embarrass him in front of everyone. There are so many cool things in this scene – and so many cool lines - to detail, but in a movie full of cool moments, rest assured that this is one of the coolest.

Sigourney Weaver’s Ripley once again proves she’s the biggest badass in the universe after marching over to the giant alien queen in a mechanical suit of armor and throwing down. “Get away from her, you bitch!” are fightin’ words understood everywhere from the Jersey Shore to Omicron Persei 8.

After years of being the malevolent power behind the throne, Samuel L. Jackson’s Stephen finally gets his, as Django calmly kneecaps him and leaves him for dead. Stephen gets to talk shit to the very end and Django finally gets his epic revenge.

The climactic scene of Kill Bill, Vol. 1 sees Uma Thurman face off with a crazy Japanese gang in an epic bloodbath that puts all other bloodbaths to shame. Epically violent, this scene cements The Bride as one of the coolest, most badass characters in movie history.

The entire Under the Sea Dance belongs here. I mean, in one glorious scene, George McFly knocks out Biff, stands up to the world, macks on Lorraine and Marty saves the future while inventing rock and roll. Beats whatever the hell you and your parents did when you were in high school.

In one epic scene, Michael calmly gets his nephew baptized while his boys kill all his enemies in a frenzy of violent revenge and murder. The scene that sent the message that you don’t fuck with Michael Corleone, cemented Michael as the man, and hammered home how much of his soul he was sacrificing in the process. Just a perfect scene.

Jesse Ventura leaps into movie immortality with his “I ain’t got time to bleed” line after being wounded. The ultimate in movie badassery, the only thing that keeps this moment from being ranked higher is because it turns out that, well, he has plenty of time to bleed after all.

John Wayne saves the day and then just walks away like a boss. This scene sums up the archetypical lone wolf American cowboy better than just about anything – and John Wayne’s lasting appeal as a symbol of American manhood.

Just a perfectly acted scene. Unrepentant fiend Tuco confronts his priest brother and then reveals his vulnerable side for the first time after spending the movie as bastard number one. And all the while, Clint Eastwood just listens to his bluster about brotherhood and bowls of soup with patient yet skeptical understanding before offering Tuco a cigar. I dare you to find a better acted moment than the one where a vulnerable Tuco forces his swagger back to the surface while chomping on a cigar while that infamous music swells. Maybe the most underrated cool moment in movie history.

Who doesn’t love a good movie montage? In two and a half glorious minutes Bill Murray and company confirm their status as the coolest dudes in New York, all while Ray Parker, Jr.’s famous theme song plays over the action. Oh, and Dan Aykroyd gets blown by a ghost.

Samuel L. Jackson confirms that he is the coolest man alive in this scene. Again, this is one of those scenes where just too many cool things are happening to discuss here. Just watch and be amazed by the sheer coolness of it all.

An incredibly tense scene made cool by the perfect acting of Javier Bardem, whose psycho killer redefines the nature of cinematic evil by making it unpredictable, governed by simple chance more than any sort of moral code. Utterly terrifying if you think about this for a few seconds – and utterly mesmerizing.

The infamous Goodfellas montage with the wistful piano coda of “Layla” playing over it while Henry describes Jimmy’s murderous rampage is just a beautiful piece of art. It captures the feel of the movie as well, if not better, than anything else in the film and is so cool that it’s the first thing a lot of people associate with both the movie and with “Layla.”

This scene is just delightfully weird, and cool in a way that’s tough to really put into words. This is the moment that slammed home to people that John Travolta was officially back and that whatever magic he still had from his iconic late 70’s performances, in which he danced his way into the culture’s heart, was still there.

Now this is how you go out like a boss. Against insurmountable odds, Butch and Sundance stick together to the end and go out firing. Friends forever. Where’s their Tumblr page?

After a scene in which the characters just sit around in a diner shooting the shit – itself, radically different and cool in a way that changed the way people thought about how movies could be made – came this iconic scene, which made Tarantino pretty much on the spot and became one of the coolest and most oft imitated and parodied scenes in movie history. This set the tone not only for the movie but for Tarantino’s whole career.

“Yippee Ki Yay, motherfucker.” And with that line, an action hero legend is born. The American cowboy all grown up.

Quite simply, this is the greatest – and coolest - gunfight showdown scene in movie history. The music, the acting, the cinematography...they all create an absolutely unforgettable scene in which the tension is ratcheted up for almost five full minutes before it ends with a quick explosion of violence. The coolest threesome ever not involving a lady.

This quick line sums up everything you need to know about Rocky’s heart and soul, which itself is the heart and soul of the Rocky franchise. He’s gotten his ass kicked so badly that he can’t even see anymore and instead of calling it a day he tells his trainer, Mick, to slice his hideous eye-lump open so that he can see again well enough to go out and start swinging even though there’s little to no hope of victory.

Deliriously violent, this final scene is so unforgettable – and so cool – because it was the first movie that really broke the rules and reveled in its own messy blood-soaked carnage. There are no good guys here, just bad guys being completely and utterly terrible. It doesn’t try to redeem itself, which was a radical concept at the time.

The madness and terror of the Vietnam War summed up in one unforgettably cool scene. American helicopters sweep in like some sort of horrible death angels out of some medieval Norse saga. Ugly, brutal, yet stylish, nothing like this had been seen in a war movie before, and to be honest, nothing has since either.

Samuel L. Jackson lays down the law and provides the coolest moment from Pulp Fiction, quoting the Bible and kicking ass like a boss. Yet again, there are some many cool things in this scene that it’s impossible to narrow it down to just one or two. All you can do is watch with a goofy smile on your face.

A terminally ill Doc Holiday shows up to fight Johnny Ringo, who was expecting Wyatt Earp and, uh, isn’t exactly thrilled with the change in plans. In fact, Johnny just about shits his pants when Doc looks up and drops the famous “I’m Your Huckleberry” line with languid confidence. This is Val Kilmer’s crowning moment and the coolest moment in a movie full of cool moments.

This scene is like cinematic porn for the cinephile, a one take tracking shot that both adds dizzying grandeur to the movie and makes you feel Henry’s world and how much of it sits in the palm of his hand. In short, it’s such a cool scene because it isn’t just arty for its own sake; it enhances everything about the movie.

Even though Rick is in love with Ilsa, he does the responsible and right thing and tells her to get on that plane with her husband before walking away like a boss. He’s just so incomparably cool right here. I mean, who has the balls to do that?

R. Lee Ermey bursts onto the scene with this tornado of an opening speech and sets the tone for a war movie unlike any other. This scene is so amazingly cool because it is so unbelievably creative, and what makes it even better is that R. Lee Ermey reportedly improvised the entire scene.

“What are you rebelling against?”
“What do you got?”

Cool? Incredibly cool.

Wait, one of the coolest moments is in a romantic comedy? Well, when that moment involves a dude banging Zooey Deschanel and then looking in a window the next morning only to see the Mayor of Cool, Han Solo himself, staring back with a wink, you bet your ass it is. By far the coolest thing Hall & Oates has ever been involved in.

With a broken leg, ultimate underdog Daniel hits the bad guy with the impossible Crane Kick, gets mobbed and macked on by young Elisabeth Shue and wins the big karate tournament. If this scene doesn’t give you chills, you’re dead inside.

Daniel Day Lewis goes completely nuts and drops the oddly awesome and utterly absurd “I drink your milkshake!” line and proceeds to destroy poor Eli, calling him, among other things, afterbirth that should have been put in a glass jar. Now this is how you commit to a role.

The most macho scene from maybe the most machismo dripping movie ever made. Tony Montana goes out like a G and in the process introduces the world to a catchphrase that people still break out 30 years later.

Macabrely funny, brutally violent...this is everything that the perfect Joker is supposed to be, all summed up in one cooler than cool moment. I’m pretty sure half the people watching immediately began rooting for him instead of Batman and his leather-master voice.

Inigo Montoya gets a gut shot from Count Rugen – who as Inigo isn’t afraid of reminding everyone, killed his father – but Inigo says fuck that noise and smokes the Count, all while repeating that famously magical incantation like a war chant. The perfect scene from the perfect movie.

They should just show this clip on a loop in acting classes when teaching nonverbal acting. Robert De Niro’s greedy psychopath Jimmy spots the obnoxious Morrie leaving the bar and in one 30 second scene De Niro tells you everything you’d ever need to know about Jimmy. Cream’s “Sunshine of Your Love” just takes an already cool scene and makes it somehow even cooler.

This is some straight up gangster shit right here. This is still ice cold today so you can only imagine how audiences reacted to this in 1939. Someone needs to scrape poor Scarlett off the floor.

The greatest cut in the history of film. David Lean takes Peter O’Toole blowing out a match and transitions to the sun rising orange and terrible and beautiful over the Arabian desert, followed by the swell of that famous score. This is cinematic porn.

Han Solo’s introduction scene sees him immediately established as a badass rogue, as he calmly shoots bounty hunter Greedo. Of course, since George Lucas doesn’t even understand his own characters, he later changed the scene so that Greedo shot first, only to miss hilariously from only two feet away, before Han iced him. As always, the lesson here is that Han Solo is the coolest dude in this or any other universe and that George Lucas is the lamest.

The coolest chase scene ever. What’s not to love? You have the quintessentially cool American male, Steve McQueen, racing through the streets of San Francisco in the quintessentially cool American car. I’m surprised Motor Trend didn’t review this like Hustler reviewing a porno.

You know the line. This is where it all started. Sean Connery drops the line perfectly, that familiar music starts up, and this is how the magic happens, kids.

The coolest death scene ever. Bill gets waxed by the Bride and takes the time to tell her she’s his favorite person before adjusting his jacket and pimp walking to his death. Now that’s how you do it, David Carradine. You didn’t even need to choke yourself with a belt.

This scene was so cool it pretty much single-handedly won Kevin Spacey an Oscar. Watching Spacey’s pathetic gimp Verbal Kint transform into the ultra-badass Keyser Soze is just, well, it’s just damn cool. “And like that… he’s gone.” Chills.

If I have to tell you why this is cool, well...

Confronted by a master swordsman, our man Indy just wearily whips out a pistol and shoots him dead. Apparently, this whole scene was Harrison Ford’s idea which pretty much makes him the coolest dude ever.

After two whole movies of will they, won’t they bickering/flirting, Leia finally tells Han Solo that she loves him just as he’s being led off to a life of frozen agony. His response? “I know.” I told you, coolest cat in the galaxy. Also, yet again, this line was apparently Harrison Ford’s idea, which means that he’s personally responsible for both the conception and the execution of the two coolest movie moments ever. I wish he was my dad.

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