PROMOTION: Two To Tango: The Best Two-Hander Scenes In Cinema

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Movies can do explosions, spaceships, aliens, nuclear apocalypses and superheroes – but sometimes the most powerful scenes are just a couple of characters, in a room, having a chat. To celebrate’s MEERKAT MOVIES, which lets you enjoy 2 for 1 cinema tickets every Tuesday or Wednesday for a whole year, we’ve assembled some of our favourite one-on-ones in movie history.

De Niro/Pacino – Heat

This is the big one. The ultimate showdown between career criminal and career cop – and at the same time, the ultimate showdown between two of cinema’s acting giants. Michael Mann’s iconic thriller was much hyped upon release for being the first proper on-screen sparring of the two legends, and the scene – a tense debate on crime and life in a roadside diner – did not disappoint.

Gosling/Stone – La La Land

Cinema has rarely been more beguiling than when E-Stone and Baby Goose first courted each other through the medium of tap-dancing. Never mind that they’re not exactly professional dancers or singers – their occasionally clumsy approach is all part of the charm, and what they lack in technical ability, they more than make up for in charisma. Also: just look at them!

Ledger/Bale – The Dark Knight

Seemingly effortlessly Christopher Nolan turned a campy comic book into serious film that played out like a neo-noir detective potboiler. This face-to-face meeting in a police interrogation room is the culmination of that transformation. Heath Ledger (who would win a posthumous Oscar for his work) proves there’s nothing funny about his Joker, while Christian Bale proves Batman is more than tough enough to stand up to him. You almost forget the silly costumes.

Ménochet/Waltz – Inglourious Basterds

You could easily pick a scene from any one of Quentin Tarantino’s films, such is his talent for sparkling one-on-one dialogue. But for our money, this scintillating opening exchange from his fantasy war movie Inglourious Basterds takes the biscuit: an extraordinarily tense conversation between Denis Ménochet’s dairy farmer and Christoph Waltz’s SS colonel, which begins with terrifying politeness and eloquence, and ends with murder and menace.

Day-Lewis/Dano – There Will Be Blood

“I...drink...your...milkshake! I drink it up!” Paul Thomas Anderson’s American epic sees Paul Dano’s “snivelling ass” of a preacher Eli go toe-to-toe Daniel Day-Lewis’ booming oil man Daniel Plainview. Their strained relationship reaches its nadir in this famous final scene, which sees Plainview explain oil drainage with a milkshake metaphor for the ages.

Hawke/Delpy – Before Sunrise

Richard Linklater’s romantic romp through Paris is essentially a feature-length two-hander between Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy, two strangers who meet on a train and spend an entire night on the streets of the city of love, exchanging philosophical conversation topics, poetry, and gooey eyes. Magnifique!

Caine/Olivier – Sleuth

For an acting showcase, you'd be hard pressed to find a better example than 1972’s Sleuth, a high-concept mystery drama set in a single location, with only two actors ever appearing on screen: then-hot young thing Michael Caine, and luvvie royalty Sir Laurence Olivier. Caine would go on to pass the torch in the 21st-century remake, playing Olivier’s role opposite Jude Law.

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