Does anyone else binge the latest hot-to-trot series and start Googling ‘how to become an actor’ approximately 0.2 seconds afterwards? There are certain scenes, whether from a blockbuster film or Netflix’s latest series, that stick with you for good, and lines you can recite from start to finish as if they’re moments from your own life. If you were in a relationship with Timothée Chalamet … and your name was Oliver … anyway…
From Queen’s biographical Bohemian Rhapsody to Florence Pugh’s beautiful adaptation of Amy March in Little Women, there are times when an actor nails the delivery of their lines with such effortless believability that you get sucked even further into their world. Whether it’s a moment of rage that’s filled with conviction, or an emotional realisation that life as they know it has changed for good, these dramatic moments are the definition of movie magic.
The Social Network- “You Set Me Up” by Andrew Garfield.
It might have taken 40 attempts to nail this scene, but Andrew Garfield’s performance in the 2010 release of The Social Network is a cinematic masterpiece if we ever did see one. The “You set me up” scene follows Andrew as Eduardo Saverin, co-founder and investor in Facebook from its humble beginnings back at Harvard University in 2004, upon finding out that Mark Zuckerberg (played by Jesse Eisenberg) has reduced his shares in the company to 0.3%. Ouch.
Garfield’s character visits the Facebook office where learns he’s being pushed out of the company before confronting Mark and Sean Parker (Justin Timberlake) in a dramatic and unforgettable argument that delivers some of the movie’s most iconic lines.
“Sorry, my Prada’s at the cleaners along with my hoodie and my fuck-you flip-flops, you pretentious douchebag […] You better lawyer up, a**hole, ‘cause I’m not comin’ back for my 30 percent, I’m comin’ back for everything!”
The laptop smash, the black suit, the final walk away with security and the cuts to the conversations with said lawyers makes for truly mesmerising stuff. Andrew, we love you!
10 Things I Hate About You- Kat’s Poem by Julia Stiles.
Look up the dictionary definition of iconic and you might just find this scene from the 1999 rom-com classic that is 10 Things I Hate About You. Heartbreak cuts deep, and if anyone knows that feeling it’s Julia Stiles’ character, Kat Stratford after reluctantly falling head over heels for Patrick Verona (Heath Ledger)- sigh, who can blame her?
After finding out Patrick has been paid to take Kat to the prom by Joey Donner purely so that he has the chance to date her little sister, Bianca, she’s seriously (and rightfully) irked. Standing up in front of her English class, she reads aloud a poem that sums up her frustration and heartbreak, before bursting out of the room in tears as Patrick is left sat speechless.
All’s well that ends well when Patrick wins Kat back in the final scene with the guitar of her dreams, but despite the happy ending, Kat’s emotional reading will forever be ingrained in the heart of 90s teens experiencing their first taste of heartbreak and romantic disappointment. Iconique.
“I hate the way you talk to me, And the way you cut your hair.
I hate the way you drive my car, I hate it when you stare.
I hate your big dumb combat boots, and the way you read my mind
I hate you so much it makes me sick, It even makes me rhyme.
I hate the way you’re always right, I hate it when you lie
I hate it when you make me laugh, Even worse when you make me cry
I hate it when you’re not around, And the fact that you didn’t call
But mostly I hate the way I don’t hate you, Not even close, Not even a little bit, Not even at all”
The Devil Wears Prada- ‘Stuff’ by Meryl Streep
It’s near impossible to identify the ‘best’ part of a movie as legendary as the 2006 release of The Devil Wears Prada starring the one-of-a-kind cast of Meryl Streep, Anne Hathaway, Stanley Tucci and Emily Blunt to name but a few, but if we’re talking monologue, than Miranda Priestly’s ‘Stuff’ speech is up there at top spot.
In the ultimate clapback, Miranda (Meryl Streep) responds to Andy (Anne Hathaway) as she sniggers during a meeting in which the Runway magazine editors are painstakingly deciding between two seemingly identical blue belts for an upcoming shoot. If there’s someone you don’t want to get on the wrong side of in (fictional) fashion, it’s Miranda Priestly, and her effortlessly ice cold response is one that to this day sends shivers down the spines of fashion cupboard interns everywhere.
This… “stuff”? Oh, okay. I see, you think this has nothing to do with you.
You… go to your closet, and you select… I don’t know, that lumpy blue sweater for instance, because you’re trying to tell the world that you take yourself too seriously to care about what you put on your back, but what you don’t know is that that sweater is not just blue, it’s not turquoise, it’s not lapis, it’s actually cerulean.
You’re also blithely unaware of the fact that, in 2002, Oscar de la Renta did a collection of cerulean gowns, and then I think it was Yves Saint Laurent, wasn’t it?… who showed cerulean military jackets. I think we need a jacket here.
And then cerulean quickly showed up in the collections of eight different designers. Then it filtered down through the department stores, and then trickled on down into some tragic casual corner where you, no doubt, fished it out of some clearance bin.
However, that blue represents millions of dollars of countless jobs, and it’s sort of comical how you think that you’ve made a choice that exempts you from the fashion industry, when in fact, you’re wearing a sweater that was selected for you by the people in this room… from a pile of “stuff.”
Little Women- “I’m just a Woman” by Florence Pugh.
Amy has no real way of earning money of her own, and even the children that she will grow, birth and care for won’t be hers. Everything in her life will become the property of a man, and she is not oblivious to that, as she powerfully yet matter-of-factly explains. With that, Laurie is unable to come up with a convincing counterargument, and the facts of being a woman in the 19th century hang in the air. So powerful.
“Well. I’m not a poet, I’m just a woman. And as a woman I have no way to make money, not enough to earn a living and support my family. Even if I had my own money, which I don’t, it would belong to my husband the minute we were married. If we had children they would belong to him, not me. They would be his property. So don’t sit there and tell me that marriage isn’t an economic proposition, because it is. It may not be for you but it most certainly is for me.”
The eternal bisexual dilemma, this scene with Amy March (Florence Pugh) and Laurie (Timothee Chalamet) is one of the most memorable in Greta Gerwig’s beautiful 2020 adaptation of Louisa May Alcott’s novel Little Women. Amy’s monologue comes during a discussion with Laurie about marriage and the freedom (or lack thereof) she has about with whom she spends her life, as he questions her motivations for wanting to marry rich. Whilst Alcott’s original work forced a sense of reading between the lines, the 2020 adaptation allows Amy to explore how she truly feels- marriage is an economic exchange, and her life may as well be better for it if possible.
Hidden Figures- “There are no bathrooms for me” by Taraji P. Henson
Hidden Figures (2017) is based on the book by Margot Lee Shetterly, and tells the story of three brilliant mathematicians — Katherine Johnson (Taraji P. Henson), Dorothy Vaughan (Octavia Spencer), and Mary Jackson (Janelle Monáe) — who worked as “human computers” in the all-black “West Computing” group of NASA’s Langley research lab in Hampton, Virginia, in the late 1950s and ’60s.
This monologue, part of perhaps one of the most memorable scenes within the film, comes after Katherine is reprimanded by her boss for taking long breaks every day.
Katherine is forced to walk half a mile from her desk across the NASA campus to use the “colored” women’s restroom after being transferred to a building with mostly white male physicists in which none of the bathrooms are open to her. The scene is a powerful reminder of the everyday barriers black women faced in the workplace, and the racism that for so many was a normalised part of their experience.
“I worried people would think this was the craziest story line, but for me it represented both racism and being a woman,” Co-screenwriter Allison Schroeder explains.“Because of course the guys don’t realise what’s going on. [Harrison’s] not an outright villain, he’s just oblivious, and it would never occur to him in a million years that she didn’t have a ladies’ room.”
“Where the hell have you been? Everywhere I look you’re not where I need you to be. It’s not my imagination, now where the hell do you go everyday?”
“There’s no bathroom for me here. There are no colored bathrooms in this building. Or any building outside the West Campus, which is half a mile away. Did you know that? I have to walk to Timbuktu just to relieve myself. And I can’t use one of the handy bikes. Picture that, Mr. Harrison. My uniform. Skirt below my knees, my heels, and a simple string of pearls. Well, I don’t own pearls. Lord knows you don’t pay coloreds enough to afford pearls! And I work like a dog, day and night, living off of coffee from a pot none of you wanna touch. So, excuse me if I have to go to the restroom a few times a day.”
Breaking Bad- “Ever Since I Met You” by Aaron Paul
Unpopular opinion: Breaking Bad is actually a tragedy, not a crime thriller, and Jesse Pinkman deserved better.
Breaking Bad is packed full of incredible one liners, monologues and incredible screenwriting, and Season 3, Episode 7 is no exception. We see Jesse Pinkman deliver his powerful and emotional “Ever Since I Met You’ speech to Walt from his hospital bed, after he being beaten by Walt’s brother-in-law Hank Schrader after Walt set Jesse up to cover his own lies, deceit and at this point ridiculously outlandish crimes- talk about a guy that simply doesn’t know when to call things quits.
Jesse is one of the only loveable characters in the otherwise chaotic, emotional and turbulent series, and the numerous times we see him try to better himself and his life for those around him, only to find himself in the gutter feels like a punch in the guts for viewers. This scene is just one example of the incredible acting and character development we see for Jesse across the 5 seasons of Breaking Bad, with actor Aaron Paul himself suggesting this pivotal monologue in particular is one to rewatch before delving into the later released Breaking Bad movie, El Camino.
It might be old news, but it’s still a series like no other.
“I am not turning down the money! I am turning down you! You get it? I want NOTHING to do with you! Ever since I met you, everything I ever cared about is gone! Ruined, turned to shit, dead, ever since I hooked up with the great Heisenberg! I have never been more alone! I HAVE NOTHING! NO ONE! ALRIGHT, IT’S ALL GONE, GET IT? No, no, no, why… why would you get it? What do you even care, as long as you get what you want, right? You don’t give a shit about me! You said I was no good. I’m nothing! Why would you want me, huh? You said my meth is inferior, right? Right? Hey! You said my cook was GARBAGE! Hey, screw you, man! Screw you!
Call Me By Your Name- “And I’ll Say One More Thing” by Michael Stuhlbarg
So. Many. Tears.Call Me By Your Name still has us in a chokehold 5 years after its cinematic release, from the tranquil, dreamlike cinematography to the beautiful, complicated love story of 17 year old Elio and 24 year old Oliver over the summer of 1988 in Northern Italy. There are too many intimate, mesmerising moments to count in the 2017 adaption of the 2007 book of the same title, but perhaps the most moving and memorable scene comes at the end of the film after Elio finds out Oliver is engaged, and sits down with his father who offer some words of comfort and wisdom.
The powerful monologue shows unconditional parental love in its truest form, and both audience and Elio alike breath a sigh of relief after a summer of secrecy and squashed expression can come to an end. His father’s words of wisdom explore the idea of pain and love coexisting alongside one another, and for anyone that has experienced allconsuming and at times nauseating love- perhaps intensified when the love feels forbidden- Elio’s father seems to understand it perfectly. The gentleness with which his father validates his pain, and the wisdom and care he shows in this quiet yet no doubt life changing moment cannot be understated. 10/10 beautiful.
“When you least expect it, nature has cunning ways of finding our weakest spot. Just remember I’m here. Right now, you may not want to feel anything. Maybe you’ll never want to feel anything. And, maybe it’s not to me you want to speak about these things, but I feel something you obviously did.
Look, you had a beautiful friendship. Maybe more than a friendship. And I envy you.
In my place, most parents would hope the whole thing goes away, or pray that their sons land on their feet. But I am not such a parent. We rip out so much of ourselves to be cured of things faster that we go bankrupt by the age of 30 and have less to offer each time we start with someone new. But to make yourself feel nothing so as not to feel anything—what a waste!
And I’ll say one more thing… it’ll clear the air. I may have come close, but I never have what you two have. Something always held me back or stood in the way. How you live your life is your business. Just remember, our hearts and our bodies are given to us only once, and before you know it, your heart’s worn out. And as for your body, there comes a point when no one looks at it, much less wants to come near it. Right now, there’s sorrow, pain; don’t kill it, and with it, the joy you’ve felt.”
Bohemian Rhapsody- “Before you leave, can I have a second?”. By Rami Malek
Bringing to life the story of Queen and the one and only legend that is Freddie Mercury is no mean feat, but the 2018 release of Bohemian Rhapsody starring Rami Malek does a damn good job of it. There are plenty of emotional and memorable scenes throughout the film, but perhaps the most moving is the moment Freddie tells his fellow bandmates about his AIDS diagnosis, with a mix of matter-of-fact honesty and a sprinkling of humour and determination that remind us just how special Mr Mercury was.
The scene comes near the end of the film, and is shortly followed by the band’s legendary Live Aid performance- a moment so moving it really needs no explanation. No matter how well you think you know Freddie’s story, there won’t be a dry tear in the house if you’ve somehow yet to watch the mesmerising tale of Queen brought to life.
“If any of you fuss about it or frown about it, or worst of all, if you bore me with your sympathy, that’s just seconds wasted. Seconds that could be used making music, which is all I want to do with the time I have left. I don’t have time to be anybody’s victim, AIDS poster boy or cautionary tale. No, I decide who I am. I’m going to be what I was born to be: a performer that gives the people what they want: a touch of the heavens! Freddie fucking Mercury.”