Oscars 2014: Memorable scenes for lead actors

When academy voters tick off their ballots this month, most of them will have a single, crystallizing moment held in their memory that helps them choose one performance over another. Here, in their producers’ opinions, are 10 of those great, possibly award-winning film moments. Complete list of nominees | Play-at-home ballot

— Randee Dawn

Lead actress

Amy Adams

'American Hustle'

"There's a scene after she's been released from custody and is back in the apartment," producer Jonathan Gordon says. "It's all crumbling around her ... there's this fearless moment when she goes from an almost desperate manic state to becoming powerful and uncompromising."

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Judi Dench


"At the end, we see her react to a life she never got to witness” as she watches the videos of the son she was forced to give away, says producer-writer-co-star Steve Coogan. "It's like all the lines on her face tell a story and the pain is etched on her face literally."

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Sandra Bullock


"The scene where Sandra is just spinning away, hyperventilating and in a panic," producer David Heyman says. "She has to go from that to a gradual acceptance that she is lost, that no one is going to save her. There's nowhere to hide, no cut, all done in one shot."

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Cate Blanchett

'Blue Jasmine'

"The scene where her husband says he's leaving her, and she has a complete breakdown and calls and turns him in [to the Feds] -- that's a pivotal scene because it changes everybody's life ... You know she brought it all on herself," producer Letty Aronson says.

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Meryl Streep

'August Osage County'

"For me, it's the very long dinner scene after the funeral," producer Grant Heslov says. "She's clearly at the moment where she's most screwed up as a character -- she's high and her husband has died, and she picks at every single person and there's no fear in her performance."

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Lead actor

Chiwetel Ejiofor

'12 Years a Slave'

It's the scene "that precedes him being rescued by the authorities," producer Jeremy Kleiner says. "It's a performance that's all expressiveness, as he's looking around, waiting, and going through the gamut of human emotions and psychological swings."

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Matthew McConaughey

'Dallas Buyers Club'

"When they diagnose him in the hospital room and he storms out the door -- from that moment on you are seeing Matthew McConaughey in a way you've never seen him before," producer Robbie Brenner says. "That moment is so real, and it's such a dynamic, emotional, powerful scene."

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Christian Bale

'American Hustle'

"He's constructing this elaborate con [in the film], and it's so symbolic where he's constructing his hair," producer Richard Suckle says. "He's not saying a word, which is a testament to Christian's skills as an actor; he's creating a character that sucks you in slowly."

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Bruce Dern


"The walk through [his childhood home] is the emotional center of his performance," says producer Albert Berger. "You get the sense of the arbitrariness of life, and in a sense the whole movie is this son's examination of who is this strange man I call my father."

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Leonardo DiCaprio

'The Wolf of Wall Street'

"There's a scene with Matthew McConaughey that I think will go down in history as iconic and classic," producer Emma Tillinger Koskoff says. "Leo's performance is incredible, and the dynamic between them is incredible. It is a classic, classic scene."

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