Best Dialogue of 2016

6.   Hell or High Water

Screenwriter: Taylor Sheridan


— Joe —

This one exchange perfectly encapsulates how great the writing is in Hell or High Water. As Marcus (Jeff Bridges) and Alberto (Gil Birmingham) sit outside a small bank waiting for their bank robbers (after getting food at a local diner in one of the funniest scenes in the film), Alberto beautifully lays out the thesis of the film with some incredible social commentary. Hell or High Water is a wonderful commentary on the racial tensions and anti-establishment sentiment in the forgotten rural parts of our country that was brought to the forefront with the presidential election. With this small monologue, Alberto not only recognizes the reasons we are divided, but the reasons we are all the same.

5.   Loving

Screenwriter: Jeff Nichols


— Jake —

It is rare indeed for dialogue to hit the viewer so hard, when said dialogue was already an essential moment of every trailer for the film. The stunning beauty and simplicity of Loving is encapsulated in this exchange between Richard Loving (Joel Edgerton) and attorney Bernie Cohen (Nick Kroll), who would present the Loving’s case before the Supreme Court of the United States.  Richard and Mildred recorded no angry diatribes. Rather than speak hatred towards those who persecuted them, they chose instead to love one another. This long-suffering persistence and refusal to let their love be extinguished is ultimately what won their case and changed the course of history in the United States.

4.   Hunt for the Wilderpeople

(Terminator Scene)

Screenwriter: Taika Waititi


— Sam —

The scene starts with Ricky (Julian Dennison) on the run, traipsing through the brush, when his pursuer, Paula (Rachel House) from Child Welfare, finds him. It’s played off very dramatically but is immediately undercut when you realize they are only separated by a small ravine that Paula could easily cross and get to Ricky. Her refusal to cross makes her declaration of being the Terminator even more hilarious. The back and forth of the dialogue is priceless and is also just one of the many great pop culture references in the film.

3.   Moonlight

Screenwriters: Barry Jenkins & Tarell Alvin McCraney


— Joe —

This is probably one of the greatest scenes I’ve ever seen. A young Chiron (Alex R. Hibbert), called “Little” at this point, is sitting in Juan (Mahershala Ali) and Teresa’s (Janelle Monae) dining room (His mentors and stand-in parents of sorts). What is so beautiful about the scene is not only what is said, but by who it is said. Juan is the local drug dealer. In most films, this character would be a stereotype that would be incapable of the things said in this exchange. And homosexual black characters are extremely rare in films as well.

Yet, when this young boy comes to his home and asks why kids are calling him this hurtful name, Juan responds in such an intelligent, nuanced way. And Mahershala Ali’s delivery of these lines is incredibly beautiful. The message that Juan is portraying to a young Chiron is something I simply have never seen on screen: That it is ok if he is gay but also he doesn’t need to know yet; he will know it eventually. That is an hugely important and beautiful message.

2.   Hunt for the Wilderpeople

(Sermon Scene)

Screenwriter: Taika Waititi


— Jake —

This scene is simply incredible.  Taika Waititi shows off both his acting talent and his incredible script work in this singular exchange. Also, as a pastor, this scene has further endeared itself to me every time I watch it. Mixed metaphors and bad funeral sermons are not uncommon at all. Neither are oblivious preachers who talk about things like the “Fanta door” and Jesus being “tricky.”  I love Hunt for the Wilderpeople precisely because of wacky scenes like this one.

1.   Fences

Screenwriter: August Wilson


— Jake —

The passion with which Viola Davis delivers this monologue destroyed me. Upon hearing a startling revelation from her husband (Denzel Washington), Rose launches into one of the most heart-wrenching descriptions of love and commitment I have ever heard. Viola Davis is truly one of the finest acting talents of our generation, and she is at her absolute best in this poignant scene.

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