2009 Shootout of the Year Nominees

In the last two years, this shootout category has felt a bit bare compared to the other two action scene categories, but certainly not this year.  This has been a tremendous year for gunfights, whether they’re battles with Tommy Guns, Sniper Rifles, or face melting lasers.

  • Breaking into the Base- District 9: While this scene of the main character and his alien partner in crime could have been pretty standard, Neill Blomkamp turns it into something divine by giving our heroes something the bad guys don’t have: the craziest sci-fi gun this side of Half-Life 2.  When Wikus Van De Merwe shoots someone here, they don’t just die, they’re vaporized in a explosion of blood.  The image of this is like a darkly comic jolt for the audience.
  • Sniper Duel- The Hurt Locker: For a movie that’s supposed to be about bomb disposal, it’s interesting that the highlight of the whole thing doesn’t even have a bomb in sight.  In fact, this is really the only part of the movie I’m comfortable calling an action scene.  But as an action scene this one’s a doozy, full of tense pauses and dramatic twists
  • Bar Shootout- Inglourious Basterds: The cool thing about this shootout is that it takes up about twenty seconds of a scene that lasts a good ten minutes.  Like Leone before him, Tarentino makes scenes of violence as brief as possible after a long and suspenseful build up.  But even if you’re only looking at that twenty seconds, you’ll still find more to it than in most other action scenes.  Pretty much everyone in the bar is acting simultaneously, and rather than showing every detail, Tarentino just lets it all explode orgasmicly.
  • Guggenheim Shootout- The International: This Clive Owen thriller was mostly a pretty forgettable affair, but mid way through it was one scene that almost justified the viewing experience.  Use of location is central to the scene’s success, the Guggenheim’s architecture proves to be the perfect place for a gunfight, what with its verticality and the amount of cover provided by its railings.  Watching Clive Owen spray bullets with an Uzi is pretty awesome and the movie doesn’t do a PG-13 wimp-out with the bullet hits either.
  • Little Bohemia- Public Enemies: When Michael Mann sets out to film a shootout, there are some pretty high standards.  After all, this is the guy who made Heat, and while the main shootout of Public Enemies doesn’t live up to that masterpiece of an action scene it still has a lot going for it.  Probably the scene’s biggest asset are the gunshot sound effects, Michael Mann uses these loud realistic gunshot sounds a lot and they add a whole lot to his scenes.  This shootout was taken from a real historical incident and it feels like it.

The Golden Stake goes to…