Dialogue is probably one of the most important parts of a film. You can have incredible cinematography, great music, wonderful acting and a great story, but if the things that your characters are saying don’t seem believable or don’t make sense, it doesn’t matter. Good films have dialogue that seems like something a real person may say (or at least makes you suspend your disbelief). Great films have dialogue that you remember, whether because it is funny, moving or profound.
Below, is the Cinema Bros’ top 12 bits of dialogue in 2016 films. Last year was a great year in screenwriting, so hear is our ode to the best bits of that:
12. Hail Caesar!
Screenwriters: Joel & Ethan Cohen
— Jake —
The Coen brothers are gifted screenwriters and Hail Caesar! showcases them at the top of their game. This exchange is only the beginning of a masterfully written scene in which Eddie Mannix (Josh Brolin), studio head for Capitol Pictures, seeks to bend the ears of four holy men on the portrayal of Jesus Christ in an upcoming biblical epic. Its wry humor and colloquial tone (“Does the depiction of Christ Jesus cut the mustard?”) are a hallmark of Coen films and makes Hail Caesar! another wonderful entry into their impressive filmography.
11. The Edge of Seventeen
Screenwriter: Kelly Fremon Craig
— Sam —
This is the one line, fairly early in the film, that made me know that the movie I was watching was going to be immensely entertaining. The main character Nadine is reminiscing about her first meeting with her best friend, Krista. Nadine’s description of Krista as a “small old man” was perfect by itself but then she tacks on the fact that her breath smelled like Sweet Tarts. The fact that she remembered exactly how her friends breath smelled shows how much Krista means to her and also makes this line even more hilarious.
Screenwriters: Rhett Reese, Paul Wernick
— Sam —
The best part about this scene is the delivery by Ryan Reynolds. Deadpool is inside a wrecked vehicle and sticks his hands out in the air to “surrender” and the scene is played mostly through his hand gestures to a hilarious effect. Ryan Reynolds shows more character in his hands than some actors can show with their entire body. The best part about the dialogue is the “brown pants” bit. It’s basically just a subtle poop joke and the way that the villains don’t seem to understand it makes for an extremely funny scene.
Screenwriter: Noah Oppenheim
— Joe —
The entire screenplay to Jackie is like a masterclass in writing for film, which is impressive considering it is only Oppenheim’s third screenplay. But, this line in particular is what sealed the deal on the film’s greatness for me. As Jackie (Natalie Portman) speaks to a priest about the traumatic events she just endured, this line comes as a perfect summation of what she has been trying to accomplish throughout the film in securing her husbands legacy, a sad realization that her life with John was never meant to last and a poignant expression of modern myth-making and celebrity. The complexities of this one exchange perfectly mirror the complexities of the film as a whole.
8. The Nice Guys
Screenwriters: Shane Black, Anthony Bagarozzi
— Sam —
This hilarious bit of dialogue comes when the main character, Holland March (Ryan Gosling), takes his daughter and her friend to a bowling alley. Surrounded by screaming girls, he yells “Jesus Christ” and is promptly scolded for it by his daughter’s Christian friend. The exchange is hilarious due to the fact that it takes a common expression and completely subverts it. Holland’s response is completely unexpected on a first viewing. This is one of the best parts if this bit of dialogue and the script in general.
7. Sing Street
Screenwriter: John Carney
— Joe —
Even though the main thrust of Sing Street is a young man forming a band to impress a girl, another important aspect of the film is relationships between men. You have the relationship between the main character, Connor (Ferdia Walsh-Peelo), and his band mates, the relationship with his father and the relationship with his older brother Brendan (Jack Reynor). This last relationship is one of the most important relationships in the film and is largely comedic, but this bit of dialogue is the moment it takes a turn into the dramatic.
As Brendan realizes that his dreams have slipped away from him and his brother is grabbing those same dreams by the horns, he lets loose one of most heartbreaking monologues I heard last year. As a man with two older brothers, it made me think of the debts I owe both of them for allowing me to move in their “jet stream.” This, combined with the absolutely brilliant delivery by Jack Reynor made this one of the most emotional scenes I saw last year.
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