27 Movie Moments We Loved In 2016

This article was written by Jacob Hall and Angie Han.

This is not a list of the best movies of 2016. We have personal top 10 lists for that. On this list, you will find movies we loved, movies we didn't love, and movies that aren't a part of the end-of-the-year conversation. For inclusion on this list, a movie needed to offer only one thing: a single scene, shot, or line of dialogue that has stuck with us, for better and for worse.

Welcome to our list of the 27 most memorable movie moments of 2016. It was supposed to be 25, but we have no discipline. Be advised there are spoilers ahead for some of the films discussed.

independnece day resurgence bus scene

The Bus Chase in Independence Day: Resurgence

Here it is: the stupidest scene in any movie released in 2016. I've gone on the record as a defender of Roland Emmerich's Independence Day: Resurgence, but there is no denying that this movie is an idiotic cartoon. But man...what an idiotic cartoon! And to the movie's credit, it saves its dumbest moment for the grand finale, where the Kaiju-sized alien queen pursues a school bus, driven by Jeff Goldblum and full of orphaned children, across the desert outside of Area 51. You watch this scene between your fingers, chuckling and cringing and wondering how anyone thought this was okay. I will never forget it. Never, ever, ever, ever, ever. -Jacob Hall

The Farting Corgis in The BFG

Let's not lie to ourselves. Farts are funny. Feel free to turn your nose up at flatulence. Feel free to sneer at low comedy. It's your loss. There is nothing quite like watching an actual, legitimate genius craft a fart joke. Shakespeare did it and now, Steven Spielberg has as well. The groundwork for the best movie fart joke of all time (seriously) is laid early in The BFG, when we learn that the title character enjoys drinking a magical elixir with an... uncouth side effect. When he visits the Queen of England later in the movie and offers the royal court (and a trio of adorable corgis) a taste, magic happens. Magic farts, that is. Look, if you don't find corgis propelled down a hallway by their own super-powered farts to be the funniest goddamn thing ever, we can't be friends.  -Jacob Hall

Luke Evans in High Rise

Luke Evans Floats in the Pool in High-Rise

Ben Wheatley's High-Rise is full of disturbing moments that linger in the brain and acts of violence that shock in the moment. But many months later, the shot of Luke Evans' Wilder floating in his apartment building's swimming pool stands out. It's not just a beautiful shot in an ugly movie, but one of the final moments of calm before the grisly storm really kicks in. Hell is right around the corner, creeping in with its red glow, and we are offered one final moment of quiet contemplation. -Jacob Hall

That Sloth Smile in Zootopia

Zootopia had a lot of important things to say and it said them very well, but the moment I've probably referenced, mimicked, and thought about than any other in the entire movie is the sloth-paced smile that spreads over Flash's face after Nick tells his "three-humped camel" joke. I won't pretend it's deep or meaningful in any sort of way, but it's almost unbearably cute and makes me smile just as big as Flash does. -Angie Han

Captain America: Civil War - Bucky Barnes (Winter Soldier) and Sam Wilson (Falcon)

Sam and Bucky in the Car in Captain America: Civil War

Marvel is beating everyone else in the superhero game right now, and this tiny moment right here is one shining example of why. Here you have two supremely powerful allies irrevocably bound to each other by a common friend and a shared cause, on their way to the biggest superhero showdown in MCU history... and the film takes a second to crack a joke that reminds you of how wonderfully, hilariously human these characters still are, with all the pettiness that entails. (Don't worry, these two find something else to bond over a few minutes later when Cap finally kisses Sharon Carter.) -Angie Han

arrival early buzz

The Truth About Those Flashbacks in Arrival

For much of its running time, Arrival is a fairly icy experience. Amy Adams's Louise Banks attempts to communicate with alien visitors. Political tensions around the world escalate. Cooler heads attempt to overcome war-mongers. Appropriate for a movie about scientists and scholars, it's mostly interested in hard facts and data. Late in the movie, Banks offers a stunning revelation: the "flashbacks" to her dead child we've been seeing haven't been flashbacks at all, but flash forwards, a side effect of communicating in the aliens' non-linear language. Suddenly, Arrival reveals its big, gooey heart, everything we've seen before takes on a new context, and the stage is set for the emotionally shattering decisions to follow. -Jacob Hall

The "How Far I’ll Go" Number in Moana

One of the most satisfying things about Moana is that it's really just an old school Broadway musical. The songs by Lin-Manuel Miranda, Opetaia Foa'i, and Mark Mancina are uniformly excellent and so very clever, but the best of them arrives fairly early. "How Far I'll Go" is a traditional "I Want" number, the first act song where the main character takes center stage and informs the audience of what she'll be pursuing for the rest of the show, but it's a great "I Want" numbers and the best "I Want" number in any Disney musical since The Little Mermaid's "Part of Your World." Auli'i Cravalho's incredible voice and those truly clever lyrics work in tandem to build something truly special. -Jacob Hall

Nine Lives

The “Sex Scene” in Nine Lives

Okay, let me very clear here: there is no actual sex scene in Nine Lives. No one, at any point, screws the cat that is secretly Kevin Spacey. However, there is definitely a scene in this movie that borrows from the cinematic language of a sex scene and serves the same narrative purpose that a sex scene might in another film. Jennifer Garner slips out of her stockings and into a silky nightgown, picks up the cat that she doesn't know is really her husband, and whispers "don't tell anyone" as she brings the cat into her bed. We then cut to the next morning, where they're still cuddling. It's as weird as it sounds, and almost makes me admire Nine Lives in a perverse sort of way. -Angie Han

Pat’s Hand Injury in Green Room

The most upsetting (and also the most realistic) thing about Green Room, is that its characters are just people. They err is judgment. They make stupid decisions in the heat of the moment. They don't act like scripted movie characters – they act like desperate people in a bad, bad situation. Because he's played by Anton Yelchin and because he's the lead character of the movie, you expect Pat to rise to the occasion and Bruce Willis his way out his punk band's stand-off with Patrick Stewart's neo-Nazi group. Instead, he suffers one of the most disturbing injuries ever put on film and spends the rest of the movie bleeding and whimpering and fighting through the pain. Green Room pulls no punches and it shows no mercy. Those who do get out alive will bear scars, physical and emotional, for the rest of their lives.  -Jacob Hall

"Equal Rights" in Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping

The most obvious target of Popstar's "Equal Rights" is Macklemore's "Same Love," but really, it's a note-perfect encapsulation of imperfect allyship in all walks of life. It's every celebrity who seems more interested in getting "credit" for good deeds than in actually doing them, every storyteller who pays lip service to "diversity" without actually including any in their works, every friend who has to make every new political cause all about them. And it's a damn catchy pop single, to boot. -Angie Han

Wonder Woman Arrvies in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is a superhero movie in a minor key, where the entire world feels like a nasty, uncertain place and even the good guys are motivated less by kindness and generosity than they are by fear and desperation. And then in comes Wonder Woman, smirk on her face and wailing guitar riff at her back, to bring the nascent Justice League the shot of energy they so desperately need. In a universe this relentlessly dark, there's nothing more badass than hope. -Angie Han

Sir James Martin's Introduction in Love & Friendship

Whit Stillman's Jane Austen adaptation looks at first like the kind of mannered dramedy that provokes polite chuckles rather than full-on belly laughs. In fact, it's one of the very funniest comedies of the year, and no moment left me more in stitches than Sir James Martin's scene-stealing introduction. Just when you think this idiot is finally going to stop talking, he just... keeps... on... going. -Angie Han

A Clean-Shaven John Goodman in 10 Cloverfield Lane

Late in 10 Cloverfield Lane, the film's small cast is cut down by 33%. John Gallagher's Emmett DeWitt is murdered by John Goodman's Howard Stambler, leaving the burly survivalist alone in his underground bunker with Mary Elizabeth Winstead's Michelle. And then something truly terrifying happens: Howard appears at Michelle's door to announce dinner and he's a changed man: he's shaved his beard and tucked in his shirt. And right then, our heroine (and everyone in the audience) knows exactly what Howard's intentions are. It's a chilling visual that speaks a thousand words and everything we need to see to justify her final escape. -Jacob Hall

The Leafy Galleon Duel in Kubo and the Two Strings

Kubo and the Two Strings is the most visually stunning movie released in 2016, a stop-motion animated movie that practically demands you to ask "How'd they do that?!" during every scene. Travis Knight's film reaches peak "How'd they do that?!" when Monkey (Charlize Theron) battles one of the Sisters (Rooney Mara) on board a magic ship constructed entirely out of leaves. It's a visual straight out of a Studio Ghibli movie, but the tactile nature of the stop-motion lends everything an immediacy that feels both real and unreal. How'd they do that?! (In lieu of the actual scene, I've included a behind-the-scenes featurette that attempts to answer that question.) -Jacob Hall

"Mike Hat" in Ghostbusters

Chris Hemsworth has taken on plenty of dramatic work, in films like Rush and Blackhat and In the Heart of the Sea, but if you ask me, he's really a comedian at heart – and Ghostbusters basically proves it. "Mike Hat" is such a dumb joke, but one delivered with such wonderfully wide-eyed commitment that I laughed until my sides hurt, and then kept laughing at the fact that I couldn't stop laughing. -Angie Han

Nadine and Darian Hash It Out in The Edge of Seventeen

Part of what sets The Edge of Seventeen apart from so many other teen comedies is its boundless empathy for all of its characters, including the ones Nadine hates. Late in the movie, her golden boy brother – the one she's been blaming for all of her problems – finally unleashes on Nadine, furiously unloading the heavy burden he's been carrying on his shoulders. And in that moment, it suddenly becomes possible to understand the movie from his very different, but equally valid, perspective. (Note: the above clip is of a different scene set much earlier in the movie, but sets up the relationship between Nadine and Darian pretty well.) -Angie Han

La La Land

The Alternate Reality in La La Land

Every happy moment stands atop a foundation constructed from the shards of broken dreams. La La Land knows this. Ryan Gosling's Seb and Emma Stone's Mia don't stay together after their whirlwind romance peters out, but she goes on to become a successful actress and he goes on to open the jazz club of their dreams. When he spies her in the audience, we enter the film's finally musical number, an alternate reality riff on the movie we've just watched. Styled like an old-school song and dance number, this retelling of La La Land's plot finds him making different decisions, zigging when he chose to zag, and staying with Mia at the cost of everything else. It's a beautiful moment, a pure encapsulation of what it's like to get lost in the past and wonder "What if?" And then we return to reality, where dreams have come true even if they're accompanied by the bitter taste of regret. -Jacob Hall

The Sex Montage in Deadpool

True romance in a superhero movie is rare. Sex in a superhero movie is even rarer. Perhaps it's not so surprising that the gleefully R-rated Deadpool would wear its kinky sexuality like a badge of honor, but what is refreshing is that it's not just played for laughs. Through a montage of holiday-themed lovemaking, we get to fall in love with Vanessa and Wade as they fall ever more deeply for one another. It's twisted and naughty, but it's genuinely sweet, too. -Angie Han

don't think twice review

Samantha's Solo Improv Show in Don't Think Twice

Comedy is fueled by sadness. The funniest people you know are desperate and anxious. The best jokes are born out of pain. Mike Birbiglia's Don't Think Twice climaxes with its most moving and heartbreaking scene: Gillian Jacobs' Samantha takes the stage for her improv group's final show, only to realize that the rest of the troupe hasn't bothered to show up. But the show must go on and Samantha works her s*** out on stage, using funny voices and dumb jokes to explore her desperation and anxiety. It's a powerful moment made unforgettable by Jacobs, who's as hilarious as she is heartbreaking, often in the same moment. -Jacob Hall

The Tooth Rubbing in The Handmaiden

The Handmaiden has no shortage of extravagant, explicit sex scenes, but one of the steamiest scenes features, of all things, a bit of amateur dental work. Sook-hee rubbing Hideko's tooth feels like a breathtakingly intimate act, and director Chan-wook Park luxuriates in the moment with long, lingering close-ups of luscious lips and beads of sweat. The fact that they're not fucking yet somehow makes it all the hotter. -Angie Han

top 10 movies of 2016 oj made in america

The Homicide Description in O.J.: Made in America

Like the trial of O.J. Simpson, the sprawling documentary O.J.: Made in America passes through the looking glass. The actual crimes of Orenthal James Simpson vanish into the background as his story becomes an embodiment of racism in America, the black community's relationship with the police, and what it means to be a celebrity in America. It's intoxicating and surreal and discombobulating. And then, surprisingly late in the film, a detective describes the murders of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman in exacting, clinical detail while we see, for the first time, photos of the actual crime scene. The brutality of these crimes is shocking and sobering and just plain horrible, a reminder of what's being swept aside as the trial grows more sensational. Director Ezra Edelman has nothing but empathy for those who viewed the O.J. trial as a larger statement about race and police prejudice, but he's sure as hell not going to let a murderer off the hook. -Jacob Hall

Star and Jake's Meet-Cute in American Honey

American Honey finds rough beauty in the kind of lives we almost never see portrayed as anything but despairing. How fitting, then, that one of its most beautiful moments should come in the checkout area of a run-down discount grocery store. Star and Jake's first encounter plays like the dirtbag version of Claire Danes and Leonardo DiCaprio's meet-cute in Baz Luhrmann's Romeo + Juliet – and while these dusty aisles can't compete with those colorful fish tanks for glitz and glamour, the overall effect is every bit as magical. -Angie Han

Manchester by the Sea - Casey Affleck and Lucas Hedges

The Hospital Gurney in Manchester by the Sea

Plenty of ink has been spilled talking about the sadness and grief at the core of Manchester by the Sea, but not nearly enough has been said about the film's wicked sense of gallows humor. Director Kenneth Lonergan achieves a tricky balance in the film's best moment: Lee (Casey Affleck) and Randi (Michelle Monaghan) have just watched their children burn to death in a fire that destroys their entire home and she's being loaded into an ambulance. But the gurney won't cooperate and the paramedics engage in a minor Three Stooges routine at the site of a terrible tragedy while a traumatized husband and father looks on. Maybe some of the people present will be able to chuckle about this in a decade or two. That may be the only way to dull the pain. -Jacob Hall

"Would That It Were So Simple" in Hail, Caesar!

The funniest scene in Joel and Ethan Coen's Hail, Caesar! is also the funniest moment of 2016, a moment so good that the early trailers for the film were built around it entirely. Cowboy actor Hobie Doyle (Alden Ehrenreich) is given the chance to move up a rung on the Hollywood ladder and act in a movie for director Laurence Laurentz (Ralph Fiennes), only for everyone to quickly realize that while this guy can sing and swing a rope, high society dialogue is... tricky. It's a scene where everyone means well, but Hobie's homespun earnestness and Laurentz's sophisticated manner don't gel at all, leading to comedy gold. This belongs on the short list of great Coen brothers scenes, which means it belongs on a short list of great scenes from the past 30 years of American film. -Jacob Hall

"Wouldst Thou Like to Live Deliciously?" in The Witch

Forget that this scene is among the most chilling things projected on screen in 2016. Forget that the moment Black Phillip sheds his animal disguise and reveals himself to be the Devil himself is the grand climax of 2016's best horror movie. Forget that his temptation of young Thomasin (Anya Taylor-Joy) is simultaneously alluring and foul, encapsulating everything that makes The Witch such a tough movie to wrap your brain around. In the end, all you have to know is that I've spent the past year asking people if they want to live deliciously, only for many of them to respond by asking me if I like the taste of butter. All hail Black Phillip and all hail the most quotable scene of the year. -Jacob Hall

Rogue One Score

The End of Scarif in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

Rogue One isn't just the first Star Wars movie to fall outside the Skywalker saga – it's a film that's all about people and places we've never even heard of, and to me that made it all the more powerful. In a finale jam-packed with poignant moments, the one that hit hardest for me was that final, Melancholia-esque shot of Jyn and Cassian on the shores of Scarif. Their mission has been accomplished. The battle is all but over. And the Death Star is looming large over the horizon. Now all that's left is these two forgotten people on this forgotten planet, waiting for the end of the world. -Angie Han

Moonlight diner scene

Chiron and Kevin See Each Other Again in Moonlight

Truth be told, we could have easily populated this entire list with scenes from Moonlight. But having been forced to pick just one, we had to go with the instant that Chiron and Kevin finally lay eyes on each other again after years apart. Neither quite knows what the other wants, or expects, but Chiron is more uncertain than Kevin is. A hundred emotions flit across Chiron's face in the blink of an eye, even as he struggles to maintain his usual stoicism, and his raw vulnerability makes me want to weep every single time. It's not a sad scene, exactly (in the end, the encounter turns out just fine for both of them), but it's an overwhelmingly emotional one. All of the performances in Moonlight are superb, but Trevante Rhodes in this moment is something else entirely. -Angie Han