Entertainment & Arts

The Envelope: Key scenes in ‘Nightcrawler,’ ‘The Imitation Game,’ ‘Wild’

‘The Imitation Game’
Benedict Cumberbatch stars in “The Imitation Game.”
(Jack English / The Weinstein Company)

For every director, there is a key to his or her movie. That key often lies in the capturing of one crucial scene — one that suddenly changes the pace and offers a moment of connection, or a scene that encapsulates the essence of the story or one that offers insight into the main character. Here, three directors reveal what scene in his film brought it all together for him.


Director: A story in the Dec. 4 Envelope section talking to directors about key scenes in their films referred to “Nightcrawler” writer-director Dan Gilroy as Tony Gilroy. —
Dan Gilroy / “Nightcrawler”

“The scene in the Mexican restaurant is a key scene because, one, it runs about six minutes, and two, it’s two people just sitting in a booth. In a film with a lot of kinetic energy by nature of the fact that people are racing around L.A. at 100 miles per hour, having two people sitting around in a booth is a good change. I had prepared with Rene [Russo] and Jake [Gyllenhaal], and I think we had our largest [time run-over] on that day, we were over shooting schedule by three or four hours. They were both so in the zone and trying so many different things and connecting on so many levels, I wanted to keep shooting them. That’s my favorite scene in the film.”


Morten Tyldum / “The Imitation Game”

“The key scene was between the young Alan Turing and the head of his school. It’s a single cut in the movie, this push-in on the young Turing when he learns his friend Christopher is dead. He has to learn to keep things in, and it cuts from that to Benedict [Cumberbatch, as adult Turing] watching the machine that now represents everything he’s lost. We go from seeing him lose the thing that’s most important to him to this machine he’s named after his friend, and it’s lost to him as well. That to me is the essence of the film.”

Jean-Marc Vallee / “Wild”

“There’s a sequence where [Reese Witherspoon as Cheryl Strayed] is on the trail, thinking about when her mom used to say ‘How much do I love you?’ and showing her fingers pinched, then wider, then her hands wider — and then it goes to the hospital where she’s with her brother to see her mother, and she discovers her dead with ice on her eyes. It’s about Reese and the flashbacks and being in her head. You have these disconnected images, thinking about something that was wonderful when you’re young and then to something so painful when you were older. Then we get to the peak of this mountain where she’s lost her boot, and now we know why she’s screaming and throwing her other boot over the cliff. That’s my favorite moment of the film.”