...Or, as I call them: Catwoman (1992) --what? the names not taken since there is no other movie none nuh-uh called this -- and The Joker (2008).
Yes, it's true I intended to watch all 8 Bat Movies before the big event tomorrow night (pick a Bat-Film, any Bat-Film) and select a best shot from each. The idea that I was going to be able to watch eight films, most of them over 2 hours long and write about each of them individually in the space of a week is so ridiculously delusional that maybe I need to be locked up in Arkham Asylum?
But I knew which shots I would choose from both Batman Returns and The Dark Knight without a rewatch (and that's not common for me). Even while watching the movies the very first time in 1992 and 2008 respectively my amygdalae be all "We likey. This moves us. Never forget!"
The reasons to love these two shots and pair them are legion. They're twins in every way I can think of and "Holy Split-Zygote!" does the Batman franchise ever love twins.
We're the same, split right down the center.
Two silent images in madhouse conversation.
Both images are solo shots, weird little character-beat reveries within much fussier action punctuated sequences. In fact, in lesser director's and editor's hands it's easy to imagine them left on the cutting room floor altogether as they're more visual grace notes than story beats. Both images are animalistic, the cat doubled playfully and the dog hanging out the car window to feel the breeze, the only thing missing being his tongue. Both images have no dialogue, they're just hypnotic snapshots of two actors at the peak of their gifts lost in their own inspired headspace fully inhabiting fantastical people. Perhaps most impresively, both images happen to reflect their movies and auteurs, too. Tim Burton's Batman films are a mix of pitch-black night, elaborate production design, playful flourishes and cartoonish verve... all accounted for in this image. They don't take place in the real world - notice everything swallowed by darkness behind Catwoman. There is no real world; Gotham is a soundstage. Chris Nolan's Batman films, in contrast, are a mix of late night restlessness, gritty realism, and told with a straight face and dark majesty... all acounted for in this image. The Joker may be otherworldly but he's intruding in ours; Gotham is Chicago, filmed on location.
Finally, and this is no small matter, what Michelle Pfeiffer and Heath Ledger were doing in both of these movies in roles that haven't always inspired actors or even been taken seriously by them is art, pure and simple. These star turns are film-elevating stylized tragicomedy, so highly peculiar that they could have only come from inspired character actors, so mesmerizing that they could have only come from movie stars. This Catwoman and this Joker are filled with such vivid specificity that though these roles which will surely be played by dozens more actors in the next 100 years, they will always belong to Heath and Michelle.
And now... the main event see all the images chosen in the Best Shot party.