(Editor’s note: Since December/January is a time for everyone to make year-end best-of lists, we asked our staff to do the same. Next up is Communication and Social Media Manager Tom's top twenty movie moments of 2018!)
As much fun as it is to see the same 20 movies repurposed, chopped, and screwed on everyone’s year end list, it can get a little old seeing everyone talk about the same movies over and over again during this time of year. So instead of regaling you with my top ten of 2018, I’ll instead share twenty moments that stuck with me from the movies of 2018! Presented in no particular order….
TOM’S TOP TWENTY MOVIE MOMENTS OF 2018!
1. A Star Is Born - Opening Title Reveal!
(dir. Bradley Cooper | USA | 2018)
While people rightly point to the electric moment when Gaga and B-Coops first duet on “Shallow” in front of a massive audience as one of the year’s best scenes, but for me? The most transcendent moment in A Star Is Born is its title reveal, unveiling as Ally sings to herself while striding down an alleyway into an uncertain future. It’s an absolutely lovely moment.
2. The Nutcracker and the Four Realms - Mirrenbots, roll out
(dirs. Lasse Hallström, Joe Johnston | USA | 2018)
The Nutcracker is essentially fine through its first 2/3rds, but eventually it goes full Dollar Tree Lord of the Rings as it hurtles towards a conclusion that features:
* Helen Mirren piloting a Helen Mirren Gundam, flanked by
*Commedia dell’arte beserkers who team up with
*A giant pulsating rat king made out of thousands of smaller rats, in order to do battle with Soulless tin soldiers in the thrall of a
**SPOILER ALERT** Horny, fascistic Sugar Plum Fairy (Keira Knightley, going for it)
It. Is. Bananas.
3. Teen Titans GO! To the Movies - an “Upbeat Inspirational Song About Life”
(dirs. Peter Rida Michail, Aaron Horvath | USA | 2018)
My two favorite superhero movies this year (two of my favorites full-stop, tbh) happened to be animated. And while everyone and their mother will tell you that Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is the goods, slightly less beloved was Teen Titans GO! To the Movies. An unrelenting exercise in absurdity, its JPM (jokes per minute) numbers are off the charts. Just as an example of the lunacy on display throughout, peep this musical interlude featuring Michael Bolton as a rock and roll cartoon tiger singing an upbeat inspirational song about life entitled “Upbeat Inspirational Song About Life”, replete with sax solo.
BONUS NOTE: “I think his dad is a cop” is somehow only the second funniest line the movie has to offer. (I am one hundred percent overselling this, but TTG!ttM’s final line might be the best closer since Some Like It Hot)
4. Hereditary - THAT Moment (not to be confused with that other THAT Moment)
(dir. Ari Aster | USA | 2018)
My most memorable screening experience of 2018 was seeing Hereditary at Sundance early last year. I went in blind, and was blown away. The screening was enhanced by the experience of watching my co-worker slowly sink into her seat, burying herself further in her winter accoutrement until THAT moment in which she had completely disappeared behind it. (I will also note that I reflexively mumbled “oh, for [expletive deleted]’s sake” in response to this moment) THAT moment is also notable for the way it works in an audience setting, with waves of recognition rippling through the audience as everyone discovers what is happening it in their own time. An all-time audience reaction moment.
5. Annihilation - The Dance of Depression
(dir. Alex Garland | USA | 2018)
The brilliant Emily Yoshida and Angelica Jade Bastién already have delved into this with more eloquence and intelligence that I could ever hope to, but Annihilation’s stunning conclusion, featuring Natalie Portman’s character stuck in a panicked loop with her faceless mirror image is as stark a depiction of the depressive state and its self-destructive tendencies as I’ve ever seen depicted on screen.
6. Mandy - Relationship Goals
(dir. Panos Cosmatos | USA | 2018)
For the whack-a-doodle second half of Mandy to hold any resonance at all (and it does, no small feat for a movie that culminates with a chainsaw fight and a oblique MacGruber reference), there has to be something for us to grasp onto and mourn the loss of. Which is why I gravitate towards the bucolic quiet moments early in the film between Mandy (Andrea Riseborough, perennially great) and Red (Nicolas Cage), as they engage in the pleasant mundanity of a long-term relationship, watching trashy B-movies and quietly co-existing. It’s a life that Cage can no longer return to, and makes his rage/demon cocaine-fueled revenge tour perfectly explicable.
7. Paddington 2 - Pop-Up Video
(dir. Paul King | UK | 2017)
I could rightly just list the entirety of Paddington 2’s runtime as a favorite moment, but let’s zero in on this moment of exquisite whimsy, as Paddington seeks out the perfect birthday present for his aging Aunt Lucy. He discovers a London-themed pop-up book that would allow her to experience the city she was never able to visit, a city that has given Paddington so much in return. We zoom into its pages and witness Paddington and Aunt Lucy taking in the sites and sounds of this faux city. The stakes are immediately established, and you want nothing more than for Paddington and his boundless sincerity to succeed in getting Aunt Lucy this present.
8. Revenge - Never-Ending Foot Trauma
(dir. Coralie Fargeat | France | 2017)
Olive Garden is to breadsticks as Revenge is to foot trauma. For the sake of you, potential work filters, and the chance that someone could happen past your screen, I am only embedding the trailer above. If you’re feeling brave however, just search for “Revenge foot scene” and drink it in. Not literally, of course.
9. Hale County This Morning, This Evening - Final Scene
(dir. RaMell Ross | USA | 2018)
People seeking a sort of skeleton key of meaning in Hale County’s final moments will be disappointed, as we watch a young man perform grueling ball-handling drills on a basketball court before the film simply ends. It is a punctuation mark on this declamatory reclamation of how black people have been depicted in cinema. Striving, hopeful, playful, sensitive images, whittled down to a lean 76 minutes from 1,300 hours of footage - a tone poem that seeps into your bones.
10. Good Manners - Hulk Smash Cut
(dirs. Marco Dutra, Juliana Rojas | Brazil/France/Germany | 2017)
I’m loath to spoil any aspect of Good Manners, as part of the fun of this movie is to let its myriad twists and turns take the wheel (seriously, check it out), but I will say that one bracing cut from PM to AM is my favorite of 2018!
11. The Ballad of Buster Scruggs - “All Gold Canyon”
(dirs. Joel & Ethan Coen | USA | 2018)
The Ballad of Buster Scruggs is a beautiful omnibus of west-baked callousness, each chapter exquisitely crafted in its own way. My particular favorite, though, is the Tom Waits-led “All Gold Canyon” segment. Specifically, it’s final moments, as all signs of humanity fade from the landscape and nature reasserts itself as the dominant force. It is a comforting reminder that life will continue despite humanity’s best, bull-headed violent efforts.
12. A Wrinkle in Time - America’s Tesser Kitchen
(dir. Ava DuVernay | USA | 2018)
If you know me, you’d think my most memorable moment from this movie is the point at which Reese Witherspoon turns into a giant flying piece of lettuce to escort our young heroes to safety. However, I’m going with the transcendent moment of empowerment wherein Meg finally embraces who she is, a moment of self-actualization that provides her with the power to unlock the universe. It’s a beautiful visualization of how powerful it can be for a person to accept and love themselves.
13. The Commuter - Opening Montage
(dir. Jaume Collet-Serra | USA | 2018)
Jaume Collet-Serra continues to be the dirtbag Alfred Hitchcock of my dreams, and this ‘strangers remain on a train’ riff is perfect basic cable/dollar theater/airplane viewing. Of particular import though is its opening montage, chronicling a lifetime spent engaging in the day-to-day drudgery AKA the grind (the kind Elvis Costello sang about, not the kind Downtown Julie Brown welcomed us to). It’s a bold opening sequence for a perfectly cromulent thriller.
14. Sorry to Bother You - Thank You For Being A Friend
(dir. Boots Riley | USA | 2018)
Boots Riley’s audacious anti-capitalist screed is one of the year’s most important, energizing, scathing, and entertaining movies. And while there are plenty of memorable moments scattered throughout, I’m partial to the passive-aggressive compliment battle that Cassius (Lakeith Stanfield) and Salvador (Jermaine Fowler) engage in. It’s just a taste of the surreal vein of humor that pumps through the entire proceedings.
15. Red Sparrow - Dermis Danger!
(dir. Francis Lawrence | USA | 2018)
Though for the most part Red Sparrow is a sexed-up thriller that aspires to higher levels than it achieves (think Brian CminusPalma), there is a brutal fight sequence in its late stages that sticks in my mind. Action connoisseurs know how hard it is for someone to balance geography/choreography/sound design in order to make an action scene really pop, and this brutal encounter does just that. It’s brutish, short, and has stuck in my mind ever since.
16. Game Night - or, The Unexpected Virtue of Frito-Lay Discounts
(dirs. John Francis Daley, Jonathan Goldstein | USA | 2018)
My favorite throwaway joke in a 2018 movie, hands down.
17. Aquaman and Ant-Man and the Wasp - *extremely John Lennon voice* Drums!
(dir. James Wan | USA | 2018) & (dir. Peyton Reed | USA | 2018)
Huge year for giant creatures playing the drums.
18. Upgrade - AI, Carumba
(dir. Leigh Whannell | Australia/USA | 2018)
Leigh Whannell’s splattery b-movie gem is well worth watching - the story of a paralyzed technophobe and the computer chip that Six Million Dollar Man’s him toward the path of revenge, it’s thoroughly entertaining. In a just world, Logan Marshall-Greene would get awards season recognition for what he manages to pull off in the lead role. Just take a look at the initial fight scene - a slapstick symphony that perfectly nails the physicality of a man horrified by what his new body is capable of. This is legit Buster Keaton/Jackie Chan-grade god-level action comedy work.
19. You Were Never Really Here - shorty here and he caught me red handed/dyin’ on the kitchen floor
(dir. Lynne Ramsay | USA | 2018)
Lynne Ramsay’s masterful adaptation of Jonathan Ames’ slim tale of a PTSD-addled avenging angel (Joaquin Phoenix) rescuing trafficked girls from their captors (alternate title: Please Hammer, Do Hurt ‘Em) is an overwhelming cinematic experience. Ramsay remains in full control of her cinematic faculties, and her unique ability to mine humor, terror, and pathos in equal amounts - often in the same scene - are unparalleled. Take for instance a violent kitchen encounter between Phoenix’s Joe and an unnamed gunman. The sequence starts out tense, takes a turn for the humorously absurd with a music cue, and then comes all the way around to become profoundly affecting.
20. Gotti - Gotti Catch 'Em All
(dir. Kevin Connolly | USA | 2018)
From the moment, approximately 13 seconds into the movie, when John Gotti (John Travolta, with a performance that John Mulaney would describe as a “64-year-old healthy man trying his best”) states the immortal lines - “This life ends one of two ways: Dead or in jail. I did both” - to the moment, approximately 10 seconds before the end credits roll, when Gotti says: “Listen to me, And listen to me good. You’re never gonna see another guy like me If you live to be five thousand”, I experienced the sort of frisson that only occurs when you’re in the thrall of an utterly incomprehensible vision. Gotti feels like a parody movie poster glimpsed in the background of a comedy film that somehow splintered off and made itself whole, a phantasmagoria of ill-chosen needle drops, mystifying voiceover, and incredible dialogue.