2011 Best Line of Dialogue Nominees

Picking out an individual line that really stands out in a film can be a very tricky proposition, at least when it’s this early into a film’s lifespan.  Most of the really memorable lines in cinema really only catch on and enter the wider lexicon a few years after the film has been released.  All I can really do now is find a handful of lines that seemed to stand out for me and seemed clever, then explain what made it clever.

  • “That doesn’t make any sense though. I mean… I don’t smoke, I don’t drink… I recycle…”- 50/50: Being told you have cancer at 26 has got to be positively bizarre.  That must be exceptionally true if you’ve spent your whole life following the advice of health officials and even refusing to drive yourself anywhere.  That’s expressed here, when Joseph Grodon Levitt’s character goes so far as to invoke his recycling habit in reaction to the bad news.
  • “You can lie, you can cheat, you can start a war, you can bankrupt the country, but you can’t fuck the interns. They get you for that.” – The Ides of March: Alright, so I guess that even invoking this line is in itself a spoiler and so will talking about it.  Much like the movie itself, this line doesn’t express overly original frustrations with the political process, but it expresses it succinctly and with style.  If only someone had said this to Bill Clinton, and if only someone hadn’t said this to George W. Bush.
  • “Paradise? Paradise can go fuck itself.” –The Descendants: This little tag at the end of a long introductory voice-over speech early in the film does a lot to set the tone of the film we’re about to see.  We’re told immediately that while the film we’re about to see is set on Hawaii, the characters still need to deal with all the same problems everyone else does.  It also gives the viewer a sense of the film’s irreverent sense of humor and also of the main character’s occasionally prickly but still likable personality.
  • “He’s had a long standing sexual relationship with his co-editor of the magazine. Sometimes he performs cunnilingus on her. Not often enough in my opinion.” – The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo: There’s a lot of grim stuff in The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, but Fincher does know how to add just a pinch of levity into the proceedings when necessary.  This line, delivered by Salander when she recounts the information she’s taken about Blomkvist, certainly accomplishes that but it also gives an early indication of the character’s view of gender roles.
  • “Tourists call it ‘The Great Wall of Bullshit’… yes sir, after the one in China.” – Red State: While having a phone conversation with his boss about the giant fence built by a now paranoid religious cult, this little gem is spoken with perfect deadpan timing by John Goodman.  The basic idea of the joke (that his boss is so stupid that he needs that name clarified) isn’t wildly clever, but Goodman really delivers it perfectly.

The Golden Stake Goes to…


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