Top 10 Monologues in Movie History

The unimaginable chaos of my absence has left the world gasping for life. When the world needed me most, I vanished. But now…


I have returned

Much like the risen Christ, I am back to spread the gospel (and possibly incite several millennia of war and genocide in my name). I have journeyed long and far on my sabbatical. The universe has conspired to cast me into oblivion, but I am BOTH the Unstoppable Force AND The Immovable Object! It is only natural to fear me.

What I am trying to say is that I took a few months off because I got a new job, but now I am back. You’re welcome. In my hiatus, I actually suffered one of the cruelest ironies imaginable: I have a paralyzed vocal cord and am unable to speak. Zach has been shut up! Life imitates art. Since June, I have not been able to make a sound beyond the decibel of a raspy whisper. In fact, earlier this week I had surgery to try to help the situation with the results still pending (Still no voice but now my throat actually hurts).

But I will not bore you with the extravagant details of my misfortunes. My resurrection means a fresh, hot, steaming, throbbing, slightly curved dosage of Shut Up Zach! content! I can’t say I don’t envy your position.

My inability to create pockets of air pressure in my larynx and form audible noise has just made me appreciate the power of the spoken word in a new light. Monologues are the purest form of spoken communication in films that a single character can express. Sure, conversations are nice but I hate other people so this is what I settled on.

The history of cinema is decorated with exceptional performances that are punctuated by the profundity of singular monologues. Performances, films, and even in some rare cases, entire genres can be elevated on the strength of a particular monologue. This list will honor the Top 10 Monologues in Movie History.

Obviously, the list is my opinion (WHICH SHOULD BE CONSIDERED NONFICTION) so if you disagree, perhaps I could make a Top 10 List about locations where you can gently place your thoughts.

There are many honorable mentions I could throw in here but I have chosen just one. It is not the best or most important, but it is one of, my personal favorites so I am including it here. Enjoy!

The Silence of the Lambs (1991)

Dr. Hannibal Lector is one of fiction’s greatest creations and his film origins planted the seed. Anthony Hopkins’ cold stare and the soft charisma in which he just exposes Clarise is menacing. Since this quick monologue, many have since tried to recreate the magic of this scene, but all pale in comparison.

Independence Day (1996)

President Whitmore’s iconic rallying speech before the climactic finish of “Independence Day” probably does not have the same je ne sais quoi that you might expect from many entries on this list, but I assure you it belongs here. While the film is not exactly an Oscar-winning drama, it is a classic that has stood up for generations. But it is really Bill Pullman’s monologue that elevates the entire film to legendary status. This is arguably one of the most recognizable moments in all of 1990s film.

Mommie Dearest (1981)

To many in my generation, this film might not be as recognizable as some others. But Faye Dunaway’s Joan Crawford delivers what I consider to be the most nightmare inducing monologue a child can witness. It is just pure, unadulterated, psychotic, emotional abuse.

A Few Good Men (1992)

“A Few Good Men” is one of the rare Tom Cruise movies that I actually enjoy and this scene is the reason. Jack Nicholson’s role is relatively small in its entirety but this courtroom outburst is truly brilliant. The rage is the prominent quality but the wording is what lasts for me. What is the morality of doing terrible things for noble purposes? Are grotesque actions excusable if they are necessary? Do we really need someone to make the sacrifice to be the bad guy?

Good Will Hunting (1998)

The late-Robin Williams perfectly foils his young costar Matt Damon. This monologue is tough love manifested. It is soft, vulnerable, deep, and intuitive. Empaths feel for his ability to connect to the pain of living a life full of love and corresponding heartbreak. Intellects must acknowledge the logical appeal to Will on how as smart as he is, no one can know what is going on just by reading the cliff notes in life. This is perhaps one of the most universally admired monologue in cinema.

Apocalypse Now (1979)

Much in the same vein as Jack Nicholson’s monologue in “A Few Good Men”, Marlon Brando’s famed “Horror” speech is all about giving into the necessary evils of war. In contrast with the former, Brando’s delivery is so calm that it is unnerving. It is the voice of a man who knows and accepts that he is the monster. He does not fear the consequences for his actions because he knows they are evil, but judgement is something he will not accept. But, I think my favorite part about this speech is that Francis Ford Coppola was forced to light the scene the way he did because Brando was so fat, no one would believe he was supposed to be a rogue Colonel fighting in Vietnam.

Pulp Fiction (1994)

Maybe the Christians get some credit here because they technically wrote the Bible verse that makes this so iconic. But, Samuel L. Jackson really spices it up. There is not much to say except that this is just so goddamn cool. No list is legitimate if it does not include this entry.

Precious (2009)

This one gets me every time. My words do not do this monologue enough justice because I don’t think I could ever truly comprehend the layers of heartbreak, scarring, delusion, and anger that Mo’Nique delivers. The grim circumstances surrounding Precious’s and Mary’s relationship… I am at a loss for words.

Blade Runner (1982)

There is a simple allure to Roy’s soliloquy. It is not the longest or most difficult feat of acting you will ever see. But it may be the most damn near perfect monologue ever constructed. With these few lines, the entire concept of artificial life and the moral and philosophical implications of sentience and machines is exposed at its barest levels. Roy’s existence has meaning. His memories are a reason to want to exist. He is alive. The entire film builds beautifully to this moment of introspective grace that is stunning to the supposedly human and necessary for those that just want to feel like they matter.

The Great Dictator (1940)

No comment.

I hope you have some thoughts on this list. Was there any specific entry that you would have added that I missed? The answer is no because I don’t miss.

It feels great to be back. I know I was missed and it feels good to know that you were all sad without me. Will I be back for long or was this just a flash in the pan? Tune in next time to find out!

Published by Zach Vecker

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