In which we pay respect to the people that the Oscars forgot.
By Troy-Jeffrey Allen
**Yawn** It’s Oscar time again. Which means that action-mongers like ourselves have to be reminded all week that Hollywood will happily take our money while sidelining the efforts of stunt people and effects wizards.
Yeah, we know…visual effects statues are typically handed out during the first hour of the televised ceremony, but stunt work continues to go unrecognized by the Academy Awards. The only exception to this fact is legendary stuntman Hal Needham, who received a Lifetime Achievement Oscar a year before he passed away.
That’s not to say that the stunt world does not have allies in front of or behind the camera. As a matter of fact, familiar faces of cinema such as Steven Spielberg and Jason Statham have actively petitioned for stunt people to get their own category. Still the Oscars have outright refused to create one. This is doubly unacceptable when you consider the fact that these men and women risk their lives for the films that consistently make the most money for this industry. I’m talking about the sci-fi flicks, the superhero movies, the martial arts films, and any other variation of the action genre that isn’t considered proper art by most critics but lines the pockets of studio heads every summer (and then some).
What is an action fan to do? Well…we’ve got to celebrate the people that make movie magic happen. The absolutely insane and undeniably brave daredevils that keep us on the edge of our seats. We’ve got to honor these folks and I can’t think of a better place to do that than a site called actionagogo.com.
Somewhat in defiance of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, we here at AAGG have created our own mini-awards. Let’s just call it “The A Go Gos” (or not). Our way of honoring those who spent the past year putting it all on the line for our amusement.
Because this is being dropped the same day as 87th Academy Awards (and because we spent the last several paragraphs dogging the ceremony), we figured that pitting the best action sequences against each other would be very ineffective. So, we’re going to just list all of our favorite “Holy shit” moments. Basically, we’re those parents you hate who demand that all the kids in school get an award.
We’ve made sure to recognize the visual effects supervisors as well. Why? Well, because now more than ever stunts and VFX have to work together to create movie magic. So when you’re done here be sure to look up the credited stunt people and technicians attached to your favorite sequences. After all, they deserve recognition too.
WARNING: Some NSFW imagery and language are in clips below
10. Need for Speed: “Deleon Race”
Stunt coordinator: Lance Gilbert and Mike Smith
Effects supervisor: Joe Pancake and Kevin Baillie
About the sequence: The climactic showdown between Aaron Paul and Dominic Cooper in Need For Speed is a surprisingly well-executed homage to the video games of the same name. Staying true to its racing game counter-part, the Deleon sequence sees our rival racers taking on not just one another but every police cruiser on the road.
9. X-Men : Days of Future Past: “Quicksilver Scene”
Stunt coordinator: James M. Churchman, Trevor Habberstad, Michael Scherer, and Jeff Habberstad
Effects supervisor: Cameron Wauldbauer, Tim Crosbie, Charlie Iturriaga, Nikos Kalaitzidis, Alain Lachance, Lou Pecora, Jonathan Piche-Delorme, Matt Sloan, Richard Stammers, Holger Voss, and Paul Butterworth
About the sequence:
After breaking Magneto out of federal prison (which is inexplicably underneath the Pentagon), Wolverine (Hugh Jackman), Professor Xavier (James McAvoy), and Quicksilver (Evan Peters) are confronted by security upon exit. Eager to display their respective powers, Wolverine and Magneto (Michael Fassbender) prepare to go to battle but Quicksilver has got it covered…
8. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes: “Humans vs. Apes”
Stunt coordinator: Charles Croughwell, Gary Powell, and Terry Notary
Effects supervisor: Joe Letteri, Alex Burdett, Jon Allitt, John L. Anderson, Matt Kutcher, Andrew Miller, and James Lorimer
About the sequence: With our hero, Cesar, missing in action, a hate-fueled Koba leads his Simian warriors inside the human camp for a monstrous, emotionally charged showdown between man and ape.
Amusingly enough, during the summer, while everyone was frothing with anticipation over the potential of Transformer 4’s empty promise of robots on dinosaurs, DOPA delivered something way more exhilirating: Pissed off, gun-toting apes on horseback.
7. Fury: “Tiger Tank Battle”
Stunt coordinator: Hayley Saywell
Effects supervisor: Stan Parks, Derek Bird, Jerome Chen, Sean Devereaux, Michael S. Harbour, Chris Waegner, Mathew Krentz, Gregory D. Liegey,Taylor Tulip-Close and Andy Williams
About the sequence: Ambushed by a Tiger I , four Sherman tanks are quickly decimated while en route to protect a vital crossroad. Except one: “Fury.” Housing four men inside, Fury doubles back around in a suicidal attempt to exploit the Tiger’s weak spot and blast it to smithereens.
6. Amazing Spider-Man 2: “Time Square”
Stunt coordinator: Andy Armstrong and James Armstrong
Effects supervisor: John Frazier, Ashley Beck, Jerome Chen, Bryan Godwin, Gregory L. McMurry, and Erik Nordby
About the sequence: Amazing Spider-Man 2 took a lot of flack from critics and fans alike, but the superheroics found in this sequel are pretty phenomenal. In particular, an earlier showdown with the Rhino (Paul Giamatti) and this massive Times Square fight between Electro (Jamie Foxx) and the web-crawler (Andrew Garfield).
The following is an interesting behind-the-scenes clip of how they made such full scale sequence happen.
5. The Interview: “Finale”
Stunt coordinator: Scott J. Ateah and Melissa R. Stubbs
Effects supervisor: Mike Kruper, Jeff Campbell, Randy Goux, Michael S. Harbour, Mathew Krentz, Gregory D. Liegey, Paul Linden, and Gregory Oehler
About the sequence: The most controversial film of 2014 also features one of the most insane action sequences of the past year. One look at The Interview‘s climactic surface-to-air assassination of Kim Jung-on and we can understand why all the chatter was warranted (we still think it is pretty hilarious though).
4. Sabotage: “Atlanta Car Chase”
Stunt coordinator: Mike Gunther, Kyle Woods, and Billy D. Lucas
Effects supervisor: David Fletcher and Derek Bird
About the sequence: We tried and tried to find a clip of this one, but the best we could do is nab this phone footage of the crew shooting the following scene. It doesn’t do the film’s climactic high-speed chase justice, but it is so balls-to-the-walls insane and undeniably R rated that it would be criminal not to add it to this list. But fear not. Sabotage (the second film by director David Ayer to make this list) is currently on Netflix. Check it out and prepare to have your jaw drop when you experience this chase in its entirety.
3. John Wick: “Club Scene”
Stunt coordinator: Jonathan Eusebio, Chris O’Hara, Jon Valera, and Darrin Prescott
Effects supervisor: Jake Braver, R. Bruce Steinheimer, Tim Sibley, and Mark Neysmith
About the sequence: In case you didn’t know, John Wick is actually directed by two accomplished stuntmen, David Leitch and Chad Stahelski. In the following club shootout, Leitch and Stahelski put all their know-how to the test with a glass-shattering bullet ballet that would make John Woo proud.
2. Captain America: Winter Soldier: “Highway Fight”
Stunt coordinator: Chris Carnel, Thomas Robinson Harper, and Casey O’Neill,
Effects supervisor: Garry Elmendorf, Daniel Sudick, Alessandro Cioffi, Vincent Cirelli, Dan Deleeuw, Dan Deleeuw, Russell Earl, Florian Gellinger, Florian Gellinger, Jamie Hallett, Votch Levi, Justin Mitchell, Payam Shohadai, Richard Sutherland, Peter G. Travers, Edson Williams, and Lisa Brodie
About the sequence: With all of SHIELD in hot pursuit, Captain America (Chris Evans), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), and Falcon (Anthony Mackie) find themselves fighting for their lives on the streets of Washington, DC against the Winter Soldier and his crew of hired Hydra assassins. Little does Captain America know that he is about to be in for an unexpected reunion.
1. The Raid 2: Berandal: “Car Chase”
Stunt coordinator: Mike Leeder, Bruce Law, Yee Man Law, Yayan Ruhian, Larnell Stovall, and Iko Uwais
Effects supervisor: Didik Juwandi A.
About the sequence: This is it! Our favorite action sequence of 2014 also happens to be our favorite action film of 2014. Iko Uwais and Gareth Evans somehow outdo themselves with The Raid 2: Berandal, an action extravaganza so unrelenting that some of our own contributors have admitted to being exhausted by it. While I disagree, I can see what they mean. The following car chase could have easily been the film’s climax, but it isn’t. Instead, it serves as merely the preamble to another series of brutal beatdowns. However, we prefer this one over all the other action in the film (but we love the entire film!) because it incorporates all the things we love to celebrate: guns, martial arts, and car crashes.
Troy on Twitter | Action A Go Go on Twitter and Instagram | Be sure to leave your thoughts in the comments section!
Troy-Jeffrey Allen writes about action/adventure for Action A Go Go. He is a comic book writer whose works include BamnComics.com, The Magic Bullet, Dr. Dremo’s Taphouse of Tall Tales, and the Harvey Award nominated District Comics. In addition, Allen has been a contributing writer for ComicBookBin.com, OfNote Magazine, and ForcesOfGeek.com. His work has been featured in the City Paper, The Baltimore Sun, Bethesda Magazine, The Examiner, and The Washington Post. Yes, he wrote this bio.