Some movie scenes are so pause-worthy we just can’t help but pause, rewind, and watch them again and again. These range from the salacious to the surprising. What follows is a list of our favorite pause-worthy movie moments. Enjoy!
The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)
One major movie scene which moviegoers have felt inclined to pause is in The Wolf of Wall Street. While not one of the slo-mo scenes where the gang has decided to abuse quaaludes, it is in a scene where something seductive happens — literally.
Here, the leading actress, played by none other than Margot Robbie, attempts to seduce Leonardo DiCaprio’s character. And, in the process, we witness one of the most-paused movie scenes in recent memory. This one isn’t too much of a surprise.
The movie Scanners is one of those gems from the ’80s that you need to see to believe. And this one scene in particular is one for the history books. As the protagonist, Darryl Revok, gets his head scanned by a government operative, something bad happens.
It turns out that both men are scanners, and one induces the other’s head to explode. Yikes. Anyway, the scene entails the typical ’80s horror tactics, including “real-life” explosions complete with ketchup and ground beef. People seem to enjoy pausing on the explosion.
The Seven Year Itch (1955)
In The Seven Year Itch, Marilyn Monroe plays the “ditzy” blonde next door — although, in this case, it’s the ditzy blonde upstairs. Anyway, she is placed there thematically to tempt the married male protagonist, Richard Sherman.
And in one of these scenes, we are shown the time that Marilyn Monroe gave us this most-paused moment. In this scene, she walks over a vent from the ground that begins to blow her dress up. She holds it down, but the scene is one which many have felt inclined to pause.
The movie Psycho was an early trendsetter for many horror films that followed. In many ways, it became the standard for how these films would be done, the tension they would set to achieve, and many other things important to a horror film.
In one moment, however, there is a scene that is particularly worthy of pause. Here, we see the face of Norman Bates’ mother superimposed over his face. The eerie scene is one that many wanted to see again and again. And so, they like to pause it.
Iron Man (2008)
Iron Man was one of the first in the series that would eventually become the modern-day superhero franchise. But other than that, it is also home to one of the most-paused movie moments in cinematic history.
And what, exactly, did viewers want to pause on? Well, here we were shown a little snippet of Captain America’s shield. While Stark is being disassembled by his robot AI, we see the shield hiding in the background. Interesting …
The Cabin in the Woods (2011)
The Cabin in the Woods was one of those modern horror movies that tried to do something different. Starring Chris Hemsworth, this major plot twist of a movie has one of the most-paused scenes in recent memory.
While the scene doesn’t involve Hemsworth sailing himself bike-bound into an invisible force field, it does involve the controllers of the monsters showcasing which monsters and demons they do have control over — and just how many. The details make many want to pause and review.
The Lion King (1994)
The Lion King is not one of those movies replete with Easter egg after Easter egg. For the most part, this is because the film was good enough not to need it. Anyway, there is one scene in which something odd happens, something that makes people want to pause.
In the movie, there’s a scene in which clouds of dust very briefly spell something out in the sky — the letters “SEX.” While the reasoning behind this decision is unknown, it is one that makes many of us want to pause and ponder.
Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace (1999)
In The Phantom Menace, the first of the three Star Wars prequels, there is a small and difficult-to-notice Easter egg that director George Lucas decided to place in the film. And this is one that induced many to grab the remote and hit pause.
In the scene in which senators and other politicians meet to converse, a quick glance at a certain platform will show a family of alien friends that might hint at another movie. That movie? E.T. So pause at this scene to see more.
The Exorcist (1973)
The Exorcist is often cited as one of the greatest horror movies of all time. The gradual transition from sweet girl into fully possessed demon is truly a work of art. Anyway, the movie also contains some crafty tricks that make watchers want to pause.
One of the scenes in which this is the most prominent is when the demon Pazuzu shows his face. Here, in brief glimpses, we are shown the face of the possessor. Because of this, many people wanted to pause and take a look.
Total Recall (1990)
It is fair to say that Arnold Schwarzenegger has starred in some of the greatest movies of all time. Kindergarten Cop, Commando, Predator — many might call these movies pure gold. Anyway, his role in another major movie has led many to hit the pause button.
In Total Recall, for instance, there is a scene in which he is surveying the Martian planet and comes across a lady of the night that is a little bit different than you might expect. And it’s exactly this difference that has caused many to pause.
TRON was one of those movies that was drastically ahead of its time. Incorporating state-of-the-art computer graphics to show an ultra-hacker in his digitized universe, the movie was definitely something groundbreaking. But more than that, it has a scene that is well worth pausing over.
While you might miss it if you blink, there is one scene in which the protagonist, Kevin Flynn, is looking at a glass screen. And what, exactly, is he doing looking at this screen? Well, he appears to be playing Pac-Man! The moment has induced many to pick up the remote and click pause.
Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope (1977)
The original Star Wars movies were groundbreaking, to say the least. They incorporate timeless themes into a novel cinematic experience that for most was difficult to pass up on. But in the first of the series, A New Hope, there’s one scene that we just can’t help but pause.
In this one particular scene, a group of Stormtroopers unload from a cargo ship. And what happens to make us pause? One of the Stormtroopers hits their head! They should have known about the low-hanging ceiling. Anyway, you definitely have to pause for this moment.
Three Men and a Baby (1987)
While the title of the film, Three Men and A Baby, might sound like the start of a very bad joke, the movie is anything but very bad. In fact, there’s one part that is so strange and funny (some might say strangely funny) that we can’t help but pause.
In one scene, we are shown a cardboard cutout in the background. And who does this cardboard cutout happen to be of? John Stamos, of course! Anyway, the weirdness of the scene is enough to stop many dead in their tracks and make them want to press pause.
Jurassic World (2015)
Cameos are common in the world of movies. Sometimes there’s an actor that’s asked to play a peripheral role for humor, or sometimes an actor strictly likes a show and wants to play a part. In Jurassic World, we see one such cameo.
In the scene in which the flying pterosaurs assault the civilians in the pavilion, we see none other than Jimmy Buffett. He’s fleeing with not one, but two margaritas. The flash scene was enough to make many do a double take and watch the scene again.
In the movie Signs, we are not only treated to a movie starring Mel Gibson before he experienced some negative publicity, but we are also treated to one of M. Night Shyamalan’s better films.
One of the creepier moments is when we are first exposed to video footage showing the alien caught on tape. The creepy bipedal thing is shown lurking through an alley somewhere in Mexico. The brevity of the scene has induced many to stop what they’re doing and pause.
Burn After Reading (2008)
In the movie Burn After Reading, we are subjected to a cast of characters that is anything but normal. Some, in fact, are so bizarre and awkward that we can’t help but balk anytime they enter the scene. One moment in particular shows one of these characters as a little reactive.
In this scene, Brad Pitt is lingering in a closet. While some might find this recreational activity strange, we wouldn’t find it meriting the same sort of reaction it was given in the film. The quick ending to his character’s life has been the cause of many pauses.
Finding Dory (2016)
Finding Dory was the sequel to the exceptionally popular Finding Nemo. In it, we follow the adventures of Dory as she pilots her escape and engages in the trials and tribulations of a forgetful fish.
While Dory is encased in an enclosure, however, we see an unexpected villain if we look closely enough. On the wall behind where Dory is encased, we see a photo of one of the main villains from the first film — Darla, the girl with the braces — on the wall. You might have to pause to catch it, though.
Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy (2004)
Anchorman is one of those movies that crafts subtle (and oftentimes not-so-subtle) jokes into every place they could possibly fit. For those with an ability to read Spanish, this joke — while hidden in plain sight — is enough to make many pause to read.
In the scene, there is a Mexican restaurant with a peculiar name. The name, when translated, is this: “We spit in your food.” While for the English monoglot such a name wouldn’t be comprehensible, to those who can read the language, it is amusing — and pause-worthy — to say the least.
Toy Story 3 (2010)
In the movie Toy Story 3, we follow the antics of the usual Toy Story gang as they get into another set of circumstances that some might call unfortunate. First, they are donated to day care. Yikes.
Anyway, there is one scene in the movie that has motivated many people to stop the film immediately and click pause. This scene is where the villain from a past movie is now shown as the garbage man. While it takes a careful eye to see it, a pause button can help.
Fight Club (1999)
There are few movies that have so distinctly made themselves a necessity to enculturation as Fight Club. Full of raw, blistering moments, the movie is definitely something to be admired. But throughout, there are many scenes watchers found worthy of pausing.
Some of the most obvious of these are the little Easter eggs in which the director, David Fincher, placed Tyler Durden in small snippets (he would flash on-screen very quickly). While these are difficult to notice at first glance, a simple pause will reveal these decisions in all their clever glory.
Man of Steel (2013)
In the movie Man of Steel, Henry Cavill plays the Krypton expatriate-turned-superhero. In the scene in which he’s fighting the supervillian General Zod, however, we see an interesting little Easter egg that has caused many to stop watching and hit pause.
And what, exactly, did they see? Well, on the satellite the two crash into on their way out of Earth’s orbit, we are treated to the sight of a Wayne Enterprises logo. This little bit of foreshadowing has caused many to imagine the increased frustration with Batman.
Basic Instinct (1992)
In the movie Basic Instinct, we are treated to a villainous mastermind who is able to keep her murder a secret. And how, exactly, does she do this? Well, through her lecherous disposition, of course!
And with this, we are introduced to another of those moments which many people have been induced to pause. In this scene in particular, Sharon Stone’s character decides to cross her legs in a dress in an attempt to discombobulate the detective, played by Michael Douglas. It works.
She’s Out of My League (2010)
It’s no surprise that one of the most pause-worthy scenes in history involves the stunning actress, Alice Eve. In the movie, She’s Out Of My League, the character Kirk, played by Jay Baruchel is an extremely average guy, who can’t believe his luck when a gorgeous, successful woman named Molly (Alice Eve) falls in love with him.
In this particular scene, Kirk is finally alone with Molly for the first time in her bedroom. As you can imagine, nerves are high for Kirk as it’s his first time really impressing a woman like Molly. Much like the character Kirk, when actress Alice Eve removes her clothing, fans were eager to soak in this beloved scene.
Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)
Raiders of the Lost Ark is a movie we know for many reasons. For one, it was one of the many movies that helped to solidify our love of Harrison Ford. But another reason is that it had one of the most-paused movie moments in history.
What happens here is that during filming, Belloq, Jones’ main antagonist, is giving a speech. But, while speaking, a fly happens to land on his mouth. It then walks its way into his mouth! So, of course, he eats it. That’s what we call dedication — and also something worthy of pause.
Back to the Future (1985)
The movie Back to the Future is renowned for becoming an inextricable part of the subcultures that saw it. It was something of a rite of passage for the era in which it was played. But for many, this moment went missed if the pause button was not nearby.
At one point, Marty McFly runs over a tree that is the namesake for a local grocery — aptly called Twin Pines. When he visits the store in the future, we see that the store had to change its name because he ran over one of the trees. The scene was definitely one to pause.
Bohemian Rhapsody (2018)
In the movie Bohemian Rhapsody, we get to see a portrayal of the rock legend Freddie Mercury and his beloved band Queen. While the movie was worth watching for many reasons, this often-paused moment is another to add to the list.
While the moment is often too quick to notice, the trucker with whom Freddie becomes besotted is none other than Adam Lambert, the vocalist. The cameo is difficult to notice without a quick pause. Go back and see for yourself!
Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017)
In the movie Spider-Man: Homecoming, we see another of the Marvel characters come into their own. Here, the young superhero learns to save the day while still engaged in the shenanigans of high school.
In this movie, however, is one of the most-paused moments ever. This paused moment comes when we see that one of the actors is reading a bit of literature that you wouldn’t really expect of a high school teenager. You can pause for yourself to see.
The Matrix (1999)
The first installment of the movie series surrounding the Matrix is often regarded as one of the best movies around. While critics would look less favorably on the latter parts of the series, this first installment would always be deemed favorable.
In one scene, this would be shown by some commitment. In this scene, there is a shot reflected off a doorknob. While typically such a shot would show the camera as clear as day, the director decided to do something worthy of pause — dress up the camera to look like Morpheus. Such dedication is definitely pause-worthy.
In the movie Zootopia, we are treated to a host of animals as they live their lives like humans in a hustling and bustling city. For the most part, the story focuses around a few animals — namely, a fox, rhinoceros, and bunny — as they try to uncover a conspiracy.
In the middle of all these shenanigans, however, we are also treated to a scene that is well worth pausing. In it, one of the characters looks to their iPod to reveal a suite of musicians that have been renamed to fit an animal theme. You have to pause to realize the full creativity of the list.
Deadpool 2 (2018)
We already talked about cameos — and for Deadpool 2, it’s not as if we needed one to make the movie any more compelling. Yet, once we learned who this cameo was played by, many of us felt the need to pause and think.
The cameo is revealed once the ragtag team of superheroes tries to land from the air. The character Vanisher, however, mistakenly guides himself into a set of electrical wires. As a result, he is electrocuted to death. In the process, we are shown that the invisible man is none other than Brad Pitt.
Beauty and the Beast (1991)
Some movies employ such a subtle form of foreshadowing that they have to be admired on this front. Beauty and the Beast is one such film. And it’s this very tactic that has also earned it a place on our list of most-paused movie moments.
In this scene, Gaston, one of the main antagonists of the film, approaches to try and attack the Beast. When he does, however, little skulls are placed into his eyes moments before he’s thrown from the ledge. This subtle artistry is worthy of pause, otherwise you might miss it.
This article was originally published on History 101: These are the most pause-worthy movie moments.
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