When I think of my favorite moments of the year, the scenes that come to mind are the scenes that made my heart pound and my emotions soar. My picks listed below did all of those things and more, creating some of my favorite film memories.
A lot are action scenes, as action movies are often overlooked around ‘list making season’, but others are smaller and more personal. Once again, I will be spoiling my movies, so consider this your FINAL SPOILER WARNING.
Honorable Mentions: The last half hour of “mother!”, The airport security car pulls up in “Get Out”, The attack on the police station in “Three Billboards Outside of Ebbing Missouri”, the waxing scene in “Raw”, Ryan Gosling and a big naked hologram in “Blade Runner 2049”, and the gory jaw-stomp in “Brawl in Cell Block 99”.
10.) Helicopter Assault – “Kong: Skull Island”
The image that springs to mind for most of the world when the name King Kong is mentioned is the ‘top of the Empire State Building’ image. A big ol’ monkey swinging at the airplanes. 2017’s “Kong: Skull Island” took this iconic imagery to the next level with the first major action scene of the movie. CCR is blasting, our heroes have reached the island, and BAM, a big ass monkey swinging at the helicopters. But this monkey is causing DAMAGE. The scene has a take no prisoners attitude as Kong (the real hero of the movie) smashes his way through the entire military fleet invading his island. The carnage is visceral and pulse-pounding. Kong is once again fucking terrifying. This scene sets the tone for the rest of the monster movie but is never topped. It is pure crazy cinema at its best.
9.) Anastasia and Christian get engaged – “Fifty Shades Darker”
Step right up, step right up, see the one film freak who loves the “Fifty Shades” series with no sense of irony! Yes, yes, I know, this movie is pure trash, as Wyatt and Ryan already mentioned in the worst movies of the year lists. And I’ll be the first to admit that categorically there are much better movies and much better movie moments of 2017. However, sometimes with cinema, you have to go full raccoon and just accept the trash as some delicious distraction. Like the biggest budget soap opera with the most S&M, Fifty Shades Darker is so much campy fun. While Jamie Dornan can be a bit of a snooze, Dakota Johnson is a goddess who is both sexy and charming as Anastasia Steele. The over-the-top romp comes to a high when Christian finally proposes the Anna and the 16-year-old girl inside of me screamed. Fireworks go off as Anna, in a gorgeous red dress, happily accepts. Cue Music Swell. I saw this movie with my girlfriend (who has the read the books and knew it was coming) and I looked at her with such utter joy on my face. I won’t pretend nor will I hide my excitement. These movies, if you can put the trashiness and the obvious flaws behind, are designed to take you for a ride. And as the camera panned up over Anna and Christian kissing under the fireworks, I couldn’t help but smile and laugh.
8.) Final Shot – “Logan”
The superhero genre may never be the same after James Mangold’s “Logan”. The farewell to Hugh Jackman’s well-loved (and an often overused) tough-guy mutant was amazing. The Unforgiven of spandex flicks. The movie never hides its cards, preparing us for the death of Wolverine throughout. But that doesn’t lessen the impact that is made when Logan finally understands his purpose while staring into the eyes of his daughter for the last time. I get chills just thinking about the scene. And after reciting lines from “Shane” over Logan’s grave, Dafne Keene’s Laura walks into the distance leaving her father behind her. Until she doesn’t. She turns back. She readjusts the wooden cross at his grave. Turns it on its side. An ‘X’. Cue Tears. This is the perfect cap to a legacy left behind by her father and by Jackman. A new generation walks into the distance but keeps the memory of the past in the foreground. For all of us. “And there aren’t any more guns in the valley”
7.) Train Scene – “Last Flag Flying”
Riding on a train, three old friends and a young marine tell stories and jokes about their sexual pasts. That is the basic summary of the scene. However, so much more is going on under the surface. A scene that seems completely improvised but isn’t. A scene that bursts with emotions and catharsis for the three friends and the young marine. Steve Carell, Laurence Fishburne, Bryan Cranston, and J. Quinton Johnson have such natural chemistry and emotion. Just a few feet behind them is the coffin carrying Carell’s young son, killed in Afghanistan, but the movie finally allows these characters a temporary chance to shed this burden and laugh as hard as they can. They laugh at their past, at their futures, at their mistakes, and at life in general. In a movie that could have been as solemn as the funeral they are trying to get to, this scene allows the audience and the characters a chance to breathe. It is a wonderfully cathartic scene in a beautiful and timely movie.
6.) Field Attack – “Alien: Covenant”
The first half of “Alien: Covenant” is the absolute scariest the alien has been since 1986. The scene that sticks most in my mind is the scene that follows the “backburster” scene. The small, white xenomorph is growing quickly and is hunting down the humans one by one. The group of scientists is gathered in a field after losing their ship when a horrifying sound is heard somewhere around them in the darkness. The snarl of the alien. The crackling of it choosing its target. And then, chaotically, it emerges from the golden wheat and begins tearing down the crew. The sharp tail slices off a crewmembers jaw, guns are fired, blood is spilled. And then the group is saved and the alien retreats into the darkness. It is a short burst of anarchic terror that the film never attempts to return to, unfortunately. It is Ridley Scott as his most visceral. And, at the end of the day, it’s just really fucking scary.
5.) Flashback Reveal – “Wind River”
“Wind River” is a perfect movie in my mind. The performances, the script, the cinematography, the locations; all of it. Taylor Sheridan is an absolute master and my favorite working writer without a doubt. The most memorable scene in the movie is the surprising flashback scene located in the midst of the mystery. A scene unlike any other that answers all of the questions without any fuss or theatrics. It simply states what happened for us so we can move forward. The flashback in the trailer scene is exciting, heartbreaking, and ties the whole movie together. Plus surprise Jon Bernthal never hurts.
4.) John Wick vs. Cassian – “John Wick: Chapter 2”
If there has been anything truly great to happen to cinema in the last 20 years, I fully believe it to be Keanu Reeves’ John Wick. He is the baddest of the badasses. He is what every man and woman wants to be. A take no shit assassin with a love of dogs and revenge. Expectations were high for “John Wick: Chapter 2” and luckily for the world, it delivered. My favorite scene in the sequel is the over-the-top and way too long fight scene between Common’s Cassian and John Wick. Each new gag is inventive, from shooting through car windows while using the cars as cover to the hilarious train station silencer battle. But my favorite moment involves a long set of stairs, in which Cassian and John simply cannot stop throwing each other down. They fall violently down a set of stairs, stand, fight, then repeat. Three times. It is hilarious, brutal, and everything I love about this film series. Keep it up JW. We’ve been expecting you.
3.) Remember Me – “Coco”
Disney Pixar’s “Coco” was not a movie I was looking forward to very much. Nothing about the marketing spoke to me or made me the slightest bit interested, other than Pixar. So when I found myself weeping in the theater at the end, I was very much surprised. The ending of “Coco” in which Miguel sings the often sung ‘Remember Me’ to reignite his great-grandmother Coco’s memories is such a beautiful concept and one that speaks to the artist in everyone. Music is an undeniable force in the world, and “Coco” represents that perfectly. The song is memorable, but the emotional weight the scene held was even more significant.
2.) Snoke – “The Last Jedi”
“Star Wars: The Last Jedi” is an undeniable franchise high. Rian Johnson has made a true blockbuster that is as exciting as it is smart. The biggest high in a constant series of highs in “The Last Jedi” comes in the much-hyped villain Supreme Leader Snoke’s (Andy Serkis) throne room. After demonstrating his command over both the dark side of the force and over Rey (Daisy Ridley), Snoke preps Rey for execution. Adam Driver’s conflicted Kylo Ren stands before Rey, making his intentions of executing the hero clear. However, while monologuing his ass off, Snoke is unaware of Ren’s true intention and the tension is broken by Luke Skywalker’s lightsaber carving through Snoke’s torso like a Thanksgiving turkey. This was one of the most, if not, the most shocking thing I saw on screen in 2017. What follows is one of Star Wars’ best choreographed and exciting lightsaber battles as Kylo and Rey work together to take down the scary red guards. This fight makes me giggle and believe in the joy of cinema like no other movie could. Star Wars is an epic myth and this fight scene crescendos beautifully. All I’m saying is I’m glad I’m not one of those ‘elite Praetorian Guards’.
1.) The “Unbreakable” Connection- “Split”
No other moment in 2017 left me feeling the way that the end of M. Night Shyamalan’s “Split” did. “Unbreakable” is one of his best movies and tied with “Die Hard” as Bruce Willis’ best movie (although the much-maligned “Hostage” is a personal favorite of mine). So when the fully enjoyable “Split” reveals at the end to be the building of James McAvoy’s super villain character in much the same way that “Unbreakable” built Willis’ hero, I flipped shit. I think I may have literally screamed at the end of the film in the theater. How this secret was kept, and how it was revealed to the audience subtly through the music cue leading up to Willis saying cooly, “Mr. Glass” is the absolute best movie moment of 2017. Here’s hoping “Glass” lives up to its intense hype on my part. I have a feeling it will.
What was your favorite movie moment of 2017? Comment below with your thoughts.