Updated: Nov 12, 2019
Nominee #13 - Baby Driver (2017)
A young getaway driver who prefers to blur out the world with music becomes involved in the chaos of crime and is forced to listen to reality.
To the soundtrack of Jon Spencer Blues Explosion’s 1995 single “Bellbottoms,” with absolutely no dialogue, the 6-minute opening scene of Baby Driver (2017) sets the benchmark for what choreographed action - set specifically to a soundtrack - can do.
Young getaway driver, Baby (Ansel Elgort) pulls up outside a bank in a red Subaru Impreza. His crew (Jon Hamm, Jon Bernthal, and Eiza González) alight and go about the business of the heist while he waits in the car dancing to the music.
What’s happening in the scene wordlessly is as important as what people are saying
Writer-Director Edgar Wright said, “One of the things that I always think is interesting, especially come end of the year with awards season, is films that are lauded for their screenplays are usually ones where there’s a lot of dialogue, or there’s great dialogue,” says Wright. “But there is also storytelling [where] what’s happening in the scene wordlessly is as important as what people are saying.’’
The first shot has the hot as hell wheels of the red Subaru up close, you can almost smell the rubber and feel the heat of the metal. Baby starts his song, his earpieces wedded to his ears, his shades sort of shielding him from what’s happening in the real world, accentuating what’s going into his ears making it all seem clearer, closer, louder. The way the camera moves, the way Baby jerks his head to stillness then leaps in his seat makes the music come alive. As if the notes are spilling out on to the dashboard, the wind-screen, the doors, the steering, the hand-brake, the gear-shift, the brake, accelerator and clutch. Why, even the upholstery seems soaked with chords and scales and riffs and beats. Baby uses anything he’ll find as prop – rear view mirror, wipers, a bottle of water (as a mike), the steering to simulate cool ‘hey look at me look at you’ movement while the car’s still motionless. He’s tapping and drumming, even occasionally on his skull.
Only a speeding police car and his crew running back out after the heist disrupt his trance. Only briefly as he continues lip-syncing right down to the millisecond every word, every line on the audio-track. If by that time you’re wondering what the 17-year old (going on 13) is doing in the driving seat, you’re quickly sorted as Baby hits the road with a ‘get outta here’ to beat every other ‘get outta here’. The car races through the streets of Atlanta beating first one, then about a dozen cop cars. It swerves through one alley like a waitress moving her hips and tray through a busy restaurant teeming with other waitresses and hips and trays – with both hip and tray intact.