I sometimes think there should be an Oscar for something like this; some films don't quite hold it together for a whole film but individual moments or scenes deserve some sort of recognition (opening scene of Inglourious Basterds for example).
Across the whole of time, I find it too hard to narrow down, but as a first stab, these would all be up there:
- "Quite frankly my dear, I don't give a damn."
- Samuel L Jackson's Ezekiel 25:17 monologue in Pulp Fiction
- "I'll make him an offer he can't refuse."
- "I know it was you, Fredo. You broke my heart. You broke my heart!"
- "That was [Keyser Soze's] power. The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn't exist. And like that, poof. He's gone"
- "...but I'm funny how, I mean funny like I'm a clown, I amuse you? I make you laugh, I'm here to f****n' amuse you? What do you mean funny, funny how? How am I funny?" - Goodfellas
- Numerous others, future edits may have me add them...
If there were an Oscar for this awarded on a year-by-year basis, my choices for the last six years would be thus, the bits in bold are the bits that bring the whole line/delivery home in my humble opinion:
2013 - Killing Them Softly
"My friend, Thomas Jefferson is an American saint because he wrote the words 'All men are created equal,' words he clearly didn't believe, since he allowed his own children to live in slavery. He's a rich white snob who's sick of paying taxes to the Brits. So, yeah, he writes some lovely words and aroused the rabble, and they went and died for those words while he sat back and drank his wine and f****d his slave girl. This guy wants to tell me we're living in a community? Don't make me laugh. I'm living in America, and in America, you're on your own. America's not a country. It's just a business. Now f****n' pay me."
2012 - We Need To Talk About Kevin
"It's like this: you wake and watch TV, get in your car and listen to the radio, you go to your little jobs or little school, but you don't hear about that on the 6 o'clock news, why? 'Cause nothing is really happening, and you go home and watch some more TV and maybe it's a fun night and you go out and watch a movie. I mean it's got so bad that half the people on TV, inside the TV, they're watching TV. What are these people watching, people like me?"
2011 - The Social Network
Zuckerberg, in response to being asked if they had his ''full attention'':
"I think if your clients want to sit on my shoulders and call themselves tall, they have the right to give it a try - but there's no requirement that I enjoy sitting here listening to people lie. You have part of my attention - you have the minimum amount. The rest of my attention is back at the offices of Facebook, where my colleagues and I are doing things that no one in this room, including and especially your clients, are intellectually or creatively capable of doing. Did I adequately answer your condescending question?"
2010 - An Education (NB: or anything from the script of In The Loop, honestly)
"Studying is hard and boring. Teaching is hard and boring. So, what you're telling me is to be bored, and then bored, and finally bored again, but this time for the rest of my life? This whole stupid country is bored! There's no life in it, or color, or fun! It's probably just as well the Russians are going to drop a nuclear bomb on us any day now. So my choice is to do something hard and boring, or to marry my... Jew, and go to Paris and Rome and listen to jazz, and read, and eat good food in nice restaurants, and have fun! It's not enough to educate us anymore, Ms. Walters. You've got to tell us why you're doing it."
2009 - The Dark Knight
"Do you want to know why I use a knife? Guns are too quick. You can't savor all the ... little emotions. In ... you see, in their last moments, people show you who they really are. So in a way, I know your friends better than you ever did. Would you like to know which of them were cowards?"
2008 - There Will Be Blood
"Stop crying, you sniveling ass! Stop your nonsense. You're just the afterbirth. You slithered out of your mother's filth. They should have put you in a glass jar on a mantelpiece. Where were you when Paul was suckling at your mother's teat? Where were you? Who was nursing you, poor Eli - one of Bandy's sows? That land has been had. Nothing you can do about it. It's gone. It's had. You lose. [...] Drainage! Drainage, Eli, you boy. Drained dry. I'm so sorry. Here, if you have a milkshake, and I have a milkshake, and I have a straw. There it is, that's a straw, you see? You watching? And my straw reaches acroooooooss the room, and starts to drink your milkshake... I... drink... your... milkshake!
2007 - The Departed
"You accuse me once, I put up with it. You accuse me twice... I quit. You pressure me to fear for my life and I will put a f*****g bullet in your head as if you were anybody else. Okay?"
More questions on Academy Awards:
- Who are some of the greatest actresses never to have won a Best (Lead or Supporting) Actress Oscar?
- What is the shortest on-screen appearance that won an Academy Award?
- Which Academy Awards were/are actually deserved/perfectly justifiable?