Over the course of this year, we asked our BuzzFeed Community, “What is the best-acted movie scene of all time and why?” and they came through time and time again with some absolutely AWARD-WORTHY responses!


So — with that in mind, presented in no particular order— here are all of the most popular responses we received, all in one place for easy, accessible, Oscar-worthy fun:

Also, WARNING: Given the nature of this post, several of the entries contain SPOILERS for their respective films, so please proceed with caution!


The soap scene, 12 Years a Slave (2013)

Fox Searchlight Pictures

“Or, really, any scene with Lupita Nyong’o in it. She was so incredible in that film.”



The processing scene, The Master (2012)

The Weinstein Company

“The performances given by both actors are incredible, but Joaquin Phoenix is something else. It’s the most intense scene I’ve ever seen in a movie, and I felt every inch of his pain.”



The funeral scene, Steel Magnolias (1989)

TriStar Pictures

“Sally Field is a powerhouse in that scene. It’s just pure heartbreak, anger, and love. It’s my go-to scene every time I need a good sob.”



The messages scene, Interstellar (2014)

Paramount Pictures

“What about the scene in this movie when Matthew McConaughey is reading his messages, which spanned 23 years, and he watched his son grow up and get married?! I sobbed like a baby during that scene!”



The shot scene, Terms of Endearment (1983)

Paramount Pictures

“Shirley MacLaine screaming at the nurse for not giving her daughter pain medicine on time…it’s iconic.”



The dress scene, Selena (1997)

Warner Bros.

“The hoops, the lipstick, the facial expressions of both actors…that shit was (and still is) #goals for so many Latinas who still go through this all the time.”



The discovery scene, Midsommar (2019)


WARNING: Disturbing Content

“When Florence Pugh found out what happened to her family…she absolutely shattered my heart in that scene, and it was toward the beginning of the movie!”



The proposal scene, Pride & Prejudice (2005)

Focus Features

“Mr. Darcy confesses his love for Elizabeth, all while saying how she and her family are in an inferior class. Matthew Mcfayden and Keira Knightley do the most amazing job bringing this scene (and the whole movie) to life and it is the best-acted scene ever. The way Keira fights back and how Matthew’s subtle sadness is shown, it’s just..wow.”



The dinner scene, August: Osage County (2013)

The Weinstein Company

“Meryl Streep is the mother who, one by one, picks at her family — Julia Roberts, Juliette Lewis, Julianne Nicholson, Ewan McGregor, Chris Cooper, Margo Martindale, Dermot Mulroney, Abigail Breslin, and Benedict Cumberbatch. The family tries to appease the mother’s usual craziness until it culminates into a fight. I’ve watched that scene at least one million times.”



The fight scene, Ladybird (2017)


“Saoirse Ronan’s ‘Give me a number’ moment is so realistically and well acted, it gives me chills every single time I watch it. I had uttered those exact words to my mother before, and I think that’s what made it even more appealing.”



The diagnosis scene, Precious (2009)


“When she writes in her notebook ‘Why me?’ and says she’s HIV positive. Gabourey Sidibe’s breakdown was so powerful that I lost it. That scene still gives me chills.”



The gestapo scene, Jojo Rabbit (2019)


Fox Searchlight Pictures

“When the gestapo enter Jojo’s house and spend what feels like a good five minutes just saying ‘Heil Hitler’ back and forth to each other. I full-on cried with laughter watching it and I’m not sure how the actors managed to keep straight faces.”



The dinner scene, Django Unchained (2012)

The Weinstein Company

WARNING: Disturbing Content

“Leo is obviously incredible, but people don’t praise Kerry Washington enough for her performance in this movie and, more specifically, this scene. They cleaned up Leo’s hand after he cut it, so that’s not his REAL blood on her, but from Kerry’s reaction, you’d THINK that was real blood he was smearing all over her face.”



The Wilson scene, Cast Away (2000)

20th Century Fox

“When Tom Hanks loses Wilson…who’d have thought you’d ever feel so sorry about a ball?! I mean, literally every scene with him on the island is great. He is such a talented actor.”



The interrogation scene, The Dark Knight (2008)

New Line Cinema

“Heath Ledger as the Joker will never be matched. I remember sitting in the theater with my jaw on the ground during that scene.”



The video store scene, I Am Legend (2007)

Warner Bros.

“I expect great acting from certain movies, but what always impresses me is when an actor kills it in a movie where they didn’t need to be anywhere close to THAT good. For instance: Will Smith did not need to be that good in this movie. The video store scene with the mannequins was so much better than this movie required or deserved, but he gave it everything he had.”



The daughter scene, Mystic River (2003)

Warner Bros.

“When Sean Penn finds out that his daughter (played by Emmy Rossum) is dead. His reaction is so raw and heartbreaking. Not only that, but his character has this tough mafia boss persona, and to see that break in an instant was incredible.”



The fireplace scene, Call Me by Your Name (2017)

Sony Pictures Classics

“Timothée Chalamet has just hung up the phone and he’s crouched in front of the fire. The range of emotions that he manages to cycle through just in his facial acting — and the organic way he does it — is utterly fucking devastating.”



The introduction scene, Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl (2003)

Buena Vista Pictures Distribution

“We’ve all scene Johnny Depp as Jack Sparrow so much at this point that I think we’ve forgotten how absolutely incredible that first performance was. The scene where he escapes at the beginning of the movie and delivers his now iconic line, ‘This is the day you will always remember as the day you almost caught Captain Jack Sparrow!’ It’s just…so good.”



The Russian roulette scene, The Deer Hunter (1978)

Universal Pictures

WARNING: Disturbing Content

“Hands down the single best-acted scene in American cinema. When Robert DeNiro and Christopher Walken are forced to play Russian roulette by their Viet Cong captors, a level of primal fear and gut-wrenching horror is reached that has not been surpassed either before or after. Enthralling and powerful.”



The Baba Yaga scene, John Wick (2014)



“When Michael Nyqvist is explaining to his son, Alfie Allen, who John Wick really is, intercut with Keanu Reeves going to his basement and taking out his guns…it’s so well done by everyone involved. It’s rare that you feel so worried for the villains in a movie!”



The plane crash scene, Flight (2012)

Paramount Pictures

“Denzel Washington went from a drunk, sleepy pilot to a professional with razor-sharp focus in seconds. When he asked the flight attendant what her son’s name was…I was absolutely shattered.”



The birthing scene, A Quiet Place (2018)

Paramount Pictures

“I personally adored how Emily Blunt did her whole birth scene, from the moment she stepped on the nail and onwards. I was full-blown panicked for her, and I think that’s a testament to her performance.”



The opening scene, Inglourious Basterds (2009)

The Weinstein Company

WARNING: Disturbing Content

“Hans Landa (Christoph Waltz) goes to a Frenchman’s (Denis Ménochet) house looking for a Jewish family. The tension in that scene is incredible and anxiety-inducing. Landa was asking the man all of these questions, but he already knew the family was hiding underneath the floorboards. It’s a heartbreaking scene, and Waltz is phenomenal.”



The “And I Am Telling You” scene, Dreamgirls (2006)

Dreamworks Pictures

“This is the only scene that comes to mind for me. Jennifer Hudson is just incredible.”



The ending scene, The Thing (1982)

Universal Pictures

“You can’t figure out which of the two remaining survivors is human and which is the monster. The tension built between the two actors is incredible and chilling.”



The fight scene, Juno (2007)


Fox Searchlight Pictures

“Mark (Jason Bateman) tells Juno (Ellen Page) that he’s leaving his wife and implies that it’s because of her. I cry every time because I just feel what Juno is feeling and it’s heartbreaking. She’s so young and has so much on her shoulders, and those two actors nail it.”



The taxi scene, Before Sunset (2004)

Warner Independent Pictures

“Honestly, any scene in the Before trilogy with Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy is incredible, but the scene that always punches me in the gut is the taxi scene. The one evening they spent together in Before Sunrise set the bar for every subsequent romantic relationship, and this scene unravels the catastrophic fallout this has caused in their lives. The scene makes you feel about 10 different emotions in five minutes and Hawke and Delpy’s chemistry is electrifying.”



The abortion scene, The Godfather Part II (1974)

Paramount Pictures

“Diane Keaton is so powerful in that moment…and to say that to your husband!”



The restroom monologue scene, Hidden Figures (2016)

20th Century Fox

“In one word? Phenomenal.”



The confrontation scene, Fences (2016)

Paramount Pictures

“The scene when Rose (Viola Davis) confronts her husband, Troy (Denzel Washington), about his affair gives me chills every single time.”



The dinner scene, Hereditary (2018)


“Toni Fucking Collette. She was ROBBED of every award for that performance.”



The USS Indianapolis scene, Jaws (1975)

Universal Pictures

“Every time I watch it, I get sucked in and forget that Robert Shaw isn’t actually Quint. The dialogue, the emotions, and the cinematography are all fantastic.”



The wedding tape scene, Silver Linings Playbook (2012)

The Weinstein Company

“The scene when Bradley Cooper is freaking out over finding his wedding video. It’s so chaotic and stressful. You can totally see why the entire main cast received Oscar nods for acting — and it was the first film in 31 years to do so.”



The CD scene, Love Actually (2003)

Universal Pictures

“When Karen (Emma Thompson) is crying in the bedroom to Joni Mitchell after she realizes her husband is having an affair. Especially when she cleans herself back up and goes to her kids like nothing happened. It’s so beautiful and so real.”



The choice scene, Sophie’s Choice (1982)

Universal Pictures

“So raw, so painful. You can feel Sophie’s (Meryl Streep) pain pouring out of the screen, and it shakes you to your core. It’s just so unimaginable, and yet it happened to many, many people less than 100 years ago. Not to mention Streep learned to speak Polish and German for the role, and she was so convincing and natural that people from those countries mistook her for a native speaker!”



The colorblind scene, Little Miss Sunshine (2006)

Fox Searchlight Pictures

“Dwayne (Paul Dano) realizes he’s colorblind and can’t become a pilot. It’s so chaotic with the broken horn blaring in the background, and then absolutely gut-wrenching when he jumps from the van and has that devastating breakdown on the side of the road.”



The stories scene, The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002)

New Line Cinema

“Sean Astin was robbed of an Oscar for this role in general, but ESPECIALLY this scene.”



The dressing room scene, I, Tonya (2017)


“Tonya (Margot Robbie) is in her dressing room at her second Olympics and has a breakdown. It’s just the camera on Robbie, and she nails it. The nuance in the slow breakdown that leads to tears and all of the forced smiles.”



The execution scene, The Green Mile (1999)

Warner Bros.

WARNING: Disturbing Content

“When John (Michael Clarke Duncan) doesn’t want to be put in the dark, even in his final moments. It’s heartbreaking. Duncan always played the gentle giant so well and, in that film/specifically that scene, he really seals it.”



The show scene, Moulin Rouge! (2001)

20th Century Fox

“The scene when Ewan McGregor tries to pay Nicole Kidman and she’s crying, begging him to go because she doesn’t want him to be killed, then she sings their secret song to him on stage and they reunite before she dies in his arms.”



The break-up scene, The Social Network (2010)

Sony Pictures Releasing

“Erica (Rooney Mara) and Mark (Jesse Eisenberg) set up the pace and overall tone of the film so quickly. You instantly know who these characters are and what flaws they have. The dialogue is so fast-paced, you could have easily forgiven them for not acting it out perfectly — but instead they both were able to perform one of the best scenes between two actors I have ever seen in my life. It is a scene that will always stick out in my mind as top tier.”



The child scene, Forrest Gump (1994)


Paramount Pictures

“When Jenny (Robin Wright) tells Forrest (Tom Hanks) that he’s a father, and he is immediately worried about whether little Forrest is smart. In a matter of seconds, Hanks emotes worry, shock, relief, and apprehension with just his face, not saying a word! It gives me chills every time.”



The final monologue, Atonement (2007)

Focus Features

WARNING: Disturbing Content

“Vanessa Redgrave is incredible in this movie. If I ever need to cry but can’t, I watch this scene. Basically, you find out that Cecilia (Keira Knightley) and Robbie (James McAvoy) didn’t actually get together and both died tragically, but the narrator wrote the book to give them a happy ending. It KILLS me every time. She was robbed for not getting a Oscar nomination for that scene alone, in my opinion.”



The business card scene, American Psycho (2000)

Lions Gate Films

“The editing and direction have a lot to do with the effectiveness of the scene, but Christian Bale’s measured yet apparent rage over the fact that his colleague’s card is more refined is damn masterful.”



The finale scene, Black Swan (2010)


Fox Searchlight Pictures

WARNING: Disturbing Content

“When Nina (Natalie Portman) realizes she’s stabbed herself — not her perceived enemy — but dances anyway. You can see her go from being scared to accepting her own death wordlessly, and it’s absolutely brilliant.”



The dinner scene, The Notebook (2004)

New Line Cinema

“When the older version of Allie (Gena Rowlands) starts to forget who Noah (James Garner) is while they are having dinner together. he starts panicking because she can’t remember anything, and Noah just stands helplessly in the corner, sobbing. People talk a lot about the younger actors, but these two were amazing and they were both so good during that scene. My heart breaks every time.”



The interview scene, Gone Girl (2014)

20th Century Fox

“Nick (Ben Affleck) is being interviewed and he talks about how he believes his wife, Amy (Rosamund Pike), is alive. Then he looks at the camera and asks Amy to come back home, and Amy is watching it. Affleck just killed this scene.”



The argument scene, Marriage Story (2019)


“When Charlie (Adam Driver) and Nicole (Scarlett Johansson) are fighting in Charlie’s new apartment. That scene is so emotional to watch and both actors did such an amazing job. That scene alone should have given both Adam and Scarlett an Oscar.”



The ending scene, A Clockwork Orange (1971)

Warner Bros.

“Honestly, the final scenes of this movie stick out. It’s all in Malcom McDowell’s performance, since he can’t really move. I watched it last week and I’m still thinking about it.”



The breakdown scene, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (2019)

Sony Pictures Releasing

“Rick Dalton’s (Leonardo DiCaprio) on-set drinking binge, followed by his mental breakdown. DiCaprio should’ve won Best Actor for that scene alone (no offense to Joaquin Phoenix).”



The church scene, The Color Purple (1985)

Warner Bros.

“When Shug (Margaret Avery) sings her way into her father’s church and tells him ‘Sinners have soul, too’ and he finally accepts her. It destroys me.”



The T-Rex scene, Jurassic Park (1993)


Universal Pictures

“Maybe not a traditional choice, but the absolute fear and anxiety in that scene is off the charts, and it’s courtesy of all the actors involved — including the child actors.”



The crying scene, Jackie (2016)

Fox Searchlight Pictures

“Natalie Portman’s crying scene was so simple, but so outstanding!”



The conversation scene, Doubt (2008)

Walt Disney Studios

“Viola Davis’s performance is phenomenal. Everyone does an outstanding job in this movie, but she inhabits her role so well and steals the entire film in such a short amount of time.”



The “It’s not your fault” scene, Good Will Hunting (1997)

Miramax Films

“No explanation needed. It’s perfect!”



The baptism scene, There Will Be Blood (2007)


Paramount Vantage

“People always praise Daniel Day-Lewis in this film — and rightfully so — but Paul Dano is also AMAZING, especially in this scene.”



The firing scene, Guess Who’s Coming for Dinner (1967)

Columbia Pictures

“The scene when Christina (Katharine Hepburn) fires Hilary (Virginia Christine). It’s classic 60’s shade!”



The realization scene, Titanic (1997)

Paramount Pictures

“All of the love story stuff is great, but Victor Garber deserves more credit in general, especially the moment he and the crew realize the ship will sink. A masterclass in subtle acting.”



The headquarters scene, Avengers: Endgame (2019)

Marvel Studios

“There’s a scene toward the beginning where Natasha (Scarlett Johansson) is crying and Steve (Chris Evans) shows up. It’s such a subtle scene filled with loneliness in an otherwise action-packed movie.”



The gas station scene, No Country for Old Men (2007)

Miramax Films

“The coin flip scene at the convenience store. It manages so much tension with so little effort by BOTH actors.”



The speech scene, Snowpiercer (2013)

The Weinstein Company

WARNING: Disturbing Content

“The scene when Chris Evans’ character talks about what life was like in the beginning of the train ride in the tail section. You can see all the pain, disappointment, and rage that his character has for what his life has been like. Then, the moment when he reveals the cannibalism in the tail section — it’s so disturbing and downright gross, but Evans makes the reveal feel practical. You can tell his character is mad at himself for participating, but you know that, if he didn’t do it, then he may not be where he is. Evans plays it so well.”



The “I wish I knew how to quit you” scene, Brokeback Mountain (2005)

Focus Features

“I am personally still angry at the snubbing of Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal for their work in this movie. A simple love complicated by the rest of the world getting in the way. It’s so heartbreaking.”



The personalities scene, Glass (2019)

Universal Pictures

“James McAvoy’s scene when the nurse repeatedly flashes the light at him and he proceeds to cycle through most of his character’s personalities in a matter of moments.”



The milk money scene, Stand By Me (1986)

Columbia Pictures

“100%. River Phoenix delivers such a heartbreaking and beautiful performance at such a young age. It makes me sob every time.”



And, finally — the ending scene, The Truman Show (1998)

Paramount Pictures

“The whole movie is such a perfect representation of what someone goes through when they begin to question their ‘Creator,’ and seeing Jim Carrey basically give Ed Harris the middle finger and then escape the world that had held him captive is so unbelievably touching and satisfying. Jim was perfect in that scene and in that role.”


So, (even though we have this giant list) which scenes did we miss??? What do YOU believe is the single best-acted movie scene of all time? Share yours in the comments below!

Some submissions have been edited for length and/or clarity.


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