I usually start my awards by looking at the top fight scenes of the year and this one will not be an exception. Between superhero films, conventional action films, and even comedies this has been a pretty great year for fight scenes, which I define as pretty much any kind of battle between a limited number of participants and which is primarily rooted in melee fighting whether that be with bare fists or bladed weapons. Firearms can be present but they shouldn’t be the main weapon of choice and fights between large armies aren’t really what this category is meant for either.
- Riggan vs. Shiner- Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance): This was actually a pretty good year for comedic fight scenes with some interesting scenes from Neighbors and 22 Jump Street both up for consideration, but this scene from Birdman was ultimately the one I found most impactful. The scene has Riggan and Shiner getting into one of many macho pissing contests but this time it devolves into fisticuffs of a somewhat pathetic nature. Like the rest of the movie this whole scene is done in one shot and like the rest of the movie is a bravura bit of filmmaking that is heavily augmented by the actors energetic work.
- Captain America and Black Widow vs. The Winter Soldier (Highway Fight): There were a couple of fights in Captain America: The Winter Soldier that could have been considered here but I ultimately went with this short but impactful fight midway into the film. Though this is a superhero film, this fight is down and dirty and wouldn’t have been completely out of place in a more down to earth action film. The fighting here seems particularly fast and the combatants seem very skilled at all points, especially The Winter Soldier who wields a knife like a true pro.
- Godzilla vs. MUTOs- Godzilla: The Kaiju fight is something of a lost art but it seems to be making a bit of a comeback and Garath Edward’s Godzilla makes an all around better argument for its place in 21st century filmmaking than Guillermo del Toro’s Pacific Rim was ever able to. This fight between the titular lizard and a pair of large bug-like monster is not overly long but it has some very impactful moments like when Godzilla finally starts using his fire breath and of course the moment when he finally kills the second MUTO in grand fashion.
- Kitchen Fight- The Raid 2: The Raid 2 was an overall inferior sequel to The Raid: Redemption but when the fight scenes did start up they were most definitely up to the standards of its predecessor. Its finale is an attack on a gangster owned nightclub which culminates in a trilogy of fights against previously established hitmen, the best of them being this fight between the hero and a dude wielding a pair of curved knives in a kitchen. Though it’s set in a kitchen, and this setting is utilized, it doesn’t devolve too deeply gimmicky food related prop use and instead puts the focus on the fighters’ athleticism and the elaborate choreography.
- Iceman, Bishop, Colossus, Blink, Sunspot, and Warpath vs. Sentinels- X-Men: Days of Future Past: This is probably the most superhero-like fight I considered for this award even though some of the other options were technically from superhero films. By that I mean it is most defined by the way the characters powers are used. Most of the mutants here have not been seen before in the series but Bryan Singer introduces each of their powers quickly before finding interesting ways for them to combine said powers in interesting ways. He’s also quickly able to establish the future Sentinels as a potent threat that would require a desperate plan like time travel in order to dispel.