10 Greatest ‘One Shot’ Scenes In Movie History

Look before you leap.

Mission Impossible Halo Jump

It's very rare these days that you get to see the entire life cycle of an entire cinematic trope, but since the turn of the millennium, the frequency and effectiveness of One Shot scenes feels like it's been unstoppable. An overly-complicated oddity that studios always felt were more trouble than they were worth, a few critically-acclaimed uses of them managed to successfully elevate the movies they were in.

"You've got to go see this film" people began to say, "it's got this amazing sequence in it..."

Not so very long, WhatCulture published 10 Incredible Movie Scenes Shot In A Single Take. It included Week-End, Hard Boiled, Children of Men, Oldboy, Hunger, Boogie Nights, Touch of Evil, Paths of Glory, Goodfellas, and Russian Ark, all undoubtedly the touchstones for this recent trend. But in the years since things have been taken up a notch, and the proverbial One Shot scene has evolved to the point where it doesn't even need to be done in one shot.

Creating the illusion of it is, arguably, as complex a task as pulling it off naturally and a whole host of Hollywood's biggest offerings have tried to utilise that effect in recent years. As it becomes more commonplace, the boundaries as being pushed, meaning we've seen some of the genre's greatest ever offerings in only the last few years.

10. Birdman

We have to start with Birdman here because, well, it's changed the game.

Despite not being the oldest entry on this list (and being nowhere near the oldest entry in the one-shot genre) Birdman is widely considered to have popularised the modern trend of the Arty Long-Take. Specifically, because the entire movie is shot in such a way as to appear like one, incredibly arty, incredibly long take, and it scooped Best Picture as a result.

Of course, it isn't one long take, and in actual fact took several months of both filming and painstaking editing to achieve this effect. However, it's so well executed that it opened the door for a host of films that have followed to try and replicate it on a smaller scale. It now feels a lot more acceptable to create the impression of an unbroken shot, without actually having to film one.

Either way, Birdman is an astonishing piece of cinema, and is to thank for the inordinate popularity this filmmaking trope currently enjoys.

Managing Editor
Managing Editor

WhatCulture's Managing Editor and Chief Reporter | Previously seen in Vice, Esquire, FourFourTwo, Sabotage Times, Loaded, The Set Pieces, and Mundial Magazine