5 cinematic dance scenes bound to spark joy
Read more from EW's 2021 Happy List — a collection of pop culture pleasures to make your year even better.
In these cooped-up times, all of us could use a little movement therapy. The next best thing? These indelible scenes, each different in terms of technique — but all exuberant cinematic expressions of pure, unbridled booty-shaking joy.
Gene Kelly in It's Always Fair Weather
You've seen Gene Kelly sing in the rain, but have you seen him tap-dance on roller skates? The star created his fancy footwork in the 1955 film's number "I Like Myself" as a celebration of his character's newfound self-esteem and a showcase for his own athletic prowess. That's just how he rolls. —Maureen Lee Lenker
Rosie Perez in Do the Right Thing
Rosie Perez's kinetic film debut in the opening minutes of Spike Lee's 1989 masterpiece Do the Right Thing followed Public Enemy's instructions to "Fight the Power" quite literally. Perez told EW in 2017, "I don't watch it often 'cause it makes me crack up, especially the way my face was." For others, though, the joy is in its catharsis. —Marcus Jones
Hugh Grant in Paddington 2
Every moment of 2018's Paddington 2 is as sweet as marmalade; it follows Ben Whishaw's ursine protagonist as he sows peace and generosity throughout London. But the film's happiest scene comes at the very end, when Hugh Grant's incarcerated actor Phoenix Buchanan leads his cellmates in a glitzy, choreographed rendition of Stephen Sondheim's "Rain on the Roof." Even the guards join in. Grant is obviously no stranger to a dance number (think of his graceful grooving in 2003's Love Actually), but as he and his fellow convicts tap-dance danced across the concrete, surrounded by confetti and pyrotechnic displays, prison has never seemed more joyful — or more bedazzled. It's a heartwarmingly silly finale to a heartwarmingly silly film, suggesting that all some villains need is a twirl in the spotlight. —Devan Coggan
Jon Heder in Napoleon Dynamite
Awkward mouth-breather Napoleon (Jon Heder) left it all on the dance floor in 2004 in a last-ditch effort to boost best bud Pedro's class-president campaign. With the help of Jamiroquai's "Canned Heat," he shocked us all with a funky, supremely rhythmic (and mostly improvised) dance number. —Derek Lawrence
Oscar Isaac in Ex Machina
Most scenes in Alex Garland's tech thriller tend to spark more dread than joy. But the film has one brief moment of pure exhilaration: when Oscar Isaac's character Nathan decides to "tear up the f---ing dance floor." Sporting a beard and a very low V-neck, he boogies to Oliver Cheatham's "Get Down Saturday Night" — an instant-classic dance scene that soon triggered a thousand memes. —Devan Coggan
A version of this story appears in the February issue of Entertainment Weekly, which you can order here — one cover features LaKeith Stanfield and the other Daniel Kaluuya — or find on newsstands now. Don't forget to subscribe for more exclusive interviews and photos, only in EW.