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Another Top 10 'How did They Shoot That?!' Scenes

VO: Rebecca Brayton
Written by Owen Maxwell Movie scenes that use special effects in such a way that you wonder how the crew was able to shoot it and successfully put the scene to film. WatchMojo presents our second list of the top 10 Movies scenes that seem to be impossible. But what will take the top spot on our list? Will it be the opening dance number from La La Land, the chase sequences from Mad Max: Fury Road, or the ambush sequence from Children of Men? Watch to find out! Watch on WatchMojo: Big thanks to ninou78 and 7AMart1 for suggesting this idea, and to see how WatchMojo users voted, check out the suggest page here: WatchMojo.comsuggest/Another+Top+10+How+did+They+Shoot+That+Scenes

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And you thought your job was hard. Welcome to and today we’re counting down our picks for Another Top 10 How’d They Shoot That Scenes.

For this list, we’re looking at movies that defied belief through the use of clever shooting, top-notch effects, and some brave souls that put themselves in harm’s way for the good of cinema. If you don’t see a sequence you thought should be on the list, be sure to check out our first video of the Top 10 How’d They Shoot That Scenes.

#10: Construction Site Chase
“Casino Royale” (2006)

Now this is how you reboot a franchise! After the film’s shockingly violent opening, audiences were treated to this seemingly endless action sequence where Bond chases a bomb-maker across a construction site with all the fun and danger it presents. Driving heavy equipment, breaking through unfinished walls, and dropping on hydraulic lifts are only part of the fun with star Daniel Craig performing many stunts himself. And let’s not forget the massive crane jump alongside parkour forefather Sébastien Foucan. With an explosive ending filled with bullets and horns going off in every direction, the Bond crew wanted viewers to know they meant business with this installment.

#9: Opening Crawl
“Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope” (1977)

If you’re going to make an audience read, you need to do it cinematically. George Lucas paid homage to the opening of his favorite “Flash Gordon” films with the iconic opening crawl to “Star Wars.” The scrolling text falling into a void added an epic quality to the story that allowed for all the exposition without losing any visual majesty. While the effect is accomplished now thanks to software that’s even permeated rereleases of the originals, the effect was originally accomplished thanks to giant print plates and cleverly designed camera rigs that scrolled along the text.

#8: Centrifuge
“2001: A Space Odyssey” (1968)

If you want to bring your viewers to the future, your production needs to be out-of-this-world. When Stanley Kubrick wanted to simulate zero gravity in space on his ship’s giant centrifuge, he built a mechanical one himself. While it looks absolutely baffling to see the crew running around the giant circle in continuous shots, the massive set was essentially a Ferris wheel that had to be rotated along with the actors to accomplish the seamless shots. By carefully coordinating the actors and crew members, and even occasionally strapping in actors upside-down to make it all look real, Kubrick proved just how much you can accomplish with ingenuity and a dash of crazy.

#7: Raining Frogs
“Magnolia” (1999)

For a biblical scene, your attention to detail should be just immaculate. After the emotional slow-burn that fills the majority of Paul Thomas Anderson’s surreal film, the climactic ending goes above and beyond anything you’d expect from a standard drama. After sprinkling in references to the Exodus passage that mentions the frogs throughout the film, Anderson brings the plague to life for a visceral and impactful ending to his film. Thanks to some clever effects work, he mixes some practical frogs with countless CG frogs to rain down on the landscape, shocking the audience as much as it shocks the characters on screen.

#6: Empty NYC Streets
“Vanilla Sky” (2001)

If you’ve ever felt alone in the world, this scene might hit pretty close to home. In one of the many confusing sequences from “Vanilla Sky,” Tom Cruise goes for a drive only to realize that the usually busy New York streets are unbelievably empty, at 9:00 AM. His unreal drive leads him to Times Square where he realizes something’s wrong and begins to freak out, as he’s seemingly stuck in a “Twilight Zone” episode like the one playing behind him. Most surprising, however, is that the scene isn’t computer enhanced: director Cameron Crowe was given permission to shut down Times Square for filming on a Sunday morning to create the spooky emptiness.

#5: Bloody Elevators
“The Shining” (1980)

While bigger doesn’t always mean better, when it comes to blood in horror films, the more the merrier. For this haunting scene in Stanley Kubrick’s take on the ghastly story from horror master Stephen King, a couple of liters simply wouldn’t do. For the extremely red river that both Danny and Wendy encounter in the Overlook Hotel elevator, Kubrick once again refused to cut corners to make it happen. Employing over 200 gallons of the fake blood known as Kensington gore, the blood eerily flows out, splashing against the walls and ominously obscuring the screen in its terrifying journey towards the camera.

#4: Bear Fight
“The Revenant” (2015)

How do you top falling off a cliff? Call in the bear! For Alejandro Iñárritu’s survival masterpiece, he needed to make Hugh Glass’ physical pain feel as real as his emotional pain, and the bear attack in the film’s first act was all but overkill. As Leonardo DiCaprio walks through the forest, he encounters a mother bear that proceeds to maul him and horribly damage his body. To make it look believable, neither a real bear nor pure CGI would work. So the crew used a blue costumed stuntman to throw DiCaprio around while cleverly applied and edited injuries were added along the way for a scene you’ll feel in your bones.

#3: Another Day of Sun
“La La Land” (2016)

The loudest way is often the best way to get a message across, especially in a musical. In the opener to Damien Chazelle’s love-letter to classic musicals, the cast dances and sings “Another Day of Sun” around an LA highway, shedding all the frustration that the city’s awful traffic usually brings. One woman gets out of her car to sing, and the rest of the drivers soon follow, dancing on top of their cars and closing the number on a hilarious mix of door slams and honks. The glorious six-minute long-shot was filmed by ironically shutting off part of an LA freeway for two days, likely causing even more traffic in the process.

#2: Bad Trip
“Children of Men” (2006)

Most films can barely manage one breathtaking long-take, but Alfonso Cuarón seemed to have more trouble avoiding them. As the gang of runaways drives down a country road, things appear hopeful despite the dark future they live in. But as raiders descend on the car with weapons, things go from happy to disturbing in seconds, with an armed motorcycle attacker gunning one of them down during the same extended take. On top of the precise amount of coordination that was used to get each of the countless actors in the right place at the right time, a massive rig was also built on the car to catch each moment from the inside.

Before we get to our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions.
- Burning Down the House
“Backdraft” (1991)

- Strapped to a Plane
“Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation” (2015)

- Holy Melee
“Kingsman: The Secret Service” (2014)

#1: The Whole Movie
“Mad Max: Fury Road” (2015)

Creating an awe-inspiring scene is one thing, but this film left audiences with jaws open from start to finish. The exploding vehicles, pole swinging, and harpooning all bring enough danger on their own, so it’s hard to imagine that they were done practically. Director George Miller and stunt coordinator Guy Norris had trained motorcyclists to simultaneously drop bombs on Furiosa’s tanker mid-jump, along with stuntmen swinging on giant pivoting poles on moving vehicles with some help from a Cirque Du Soleil member. Construction vehicles were really blasted off a tanker and most of the crashes really happened. And yes, the Doof Warrior’s guitar actually works!

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