The 50 Greatest Movie Moments of 2018

In the cold doldrums of January, with the multiplexes still mostly dormant, there’s only one thing for movie fans to do: look back at the previous year. And that’s what the /Film staff spent much of the past week doing as we assembled to create a list of the 50 greatest movie moments of 2018. First, we debated and argued and fought for which movie moments belonged on the list (all recorded in podcast form for your listening pleasure) and then we voted on the order.

The result? A list of 50 scenes, sequences, lines of dialogue, and shots that reflect what moved us, thrilled us, chilled us and gave us life in 2018.

Two notes. First of all, this list is full of spoilers. If you see a title for a movie you haven’t seen, please feel free to skim right on past it. Second, before you bother to ask “Hey, where is [insert moment not on the list]?”, note that we recorded three hours of debate (linked above) that explains why every single item on this list is here and why so many others were left out. That’ll probably answer your question.

50. The War on Cybertron – Bumblebee

We’ve seen Cybertron in the Michael Bay Transformers movies, but it wasn’t my Cybertron. As much as I loved the groundbreaking visual effects animation that brought Optimus Prime and the Autobots to life in his original film, it wasn’t the Transformers that I grew up with. The opening minutes of Travis Knight’s Bumblebee take us to the now mythical war on Cybertron and present us with Transformers designs closer to the look of the generation one series that I and many others grew up with. Seeing these distinctive figures on the big screen brought me happiness I didn’t know I was even looking for. And starting this story off with a bang showed that Knight had the right cinematic chops from his animation empire at Laika to take the reins from Bay before course correcting the franchise in a more character-centric direction. (Peter Sciretta)

49. Eddie Brock Gets in the Lobster Tank – Venom

Venom is terrible. The direction is pedestrian, the script is laughably bad, and the plot feels borrowed from the late 1990s. But there’s one thing the movie has going for it: Tom Hardy. Hardy’s performance as Eddie Brock/Venom is bonkers, and watching him run wild makes the movie worth seeing. The best representation of Hardy’s gonzo performance comes midway through the movie. Eddie, infected/possessed with an alien ooze known as a symbiote, storms into a fancy restaurant where his ex-fiance Anne (Michelle Williams) is dining with her new beau (Reid Scott). Eddie is desperately trying to explain things to Anne, but he’s so frazzled due to his symbiote issue that he acts like a madman. He stutters, stammers behaves like someone having a bad acid trip. In the midst of all this, Eddie proclaims he’s very hot, and proceeds to climb into a lobster tank to cool down. This is hilarious on its own, but it becomes even funnier when you learn that Hardy actually improvised this entire idea. “That was something that we hadn’t planned,” Venom director Ruben Fleischer said. “We went to rehearse the scene at the set, and the production designer had planned for a giant lobster tank in the middle of the restaurant. And Tom goes, ‘Well, I must get in that [if] there’s going to be a giant lobster tank. Of course I’m going to go in it!’”  (Chris Evangelista)

48. The Brother Fucker – A Simple Favor

“Everybody has a dark side. Some of us are better hiding it than others.” So says Stephanie Smothers (Anna Kendrick), while drunkenly chatting with her new friend Emily (Blake Lively). In A Simple Favor, Emily is vulgar and uninhibited – the complete opposite of the friendly, awkward, somewhat mousy Stephanie. While conversing over martinis, Emily not-so-politely points out how plain and boring Stephanie is, to which Stephanie replies that she, too, has had her wild moments. Not letting the moment slip away, Emily dares Stephanie to tell her the wildest thing she’s ever done. And that’s when things get surprisingly dark. Paul Feig’s twisted comedy isn’t afraid to go to dark places, but Stephanie’s confession is a kind of tipping point – the moment when the movie starts to shift into more disturbing territory. Stephanie tells a story about how she met her long-lost brother. Her father died while she was a senior in high school, and a strange, handsome boy showed up to the funeral. That boy just happened to be her half-brother – the product of an affair her father had. As the story continues, Stephanie reveals that she and her half-brother ended up kissing when they were alone together. “It’s so gross,” Stephanie slurs, insisting again that they only kissed. And yet as she’s talking, Feig cuts to a flashback that shows the siblings went well beyond kissing, climbing into bed together. Emily sees through the rouse, and proceeds to call Stephanie a “Brother Fucker.” The scene is both weirdly twisted and laugh-out-loud hilarious – the combination of Kendrick’s boozy performance, mixed with Feig’s cutting to the past, and Lively’s unmitigated joy at hearing the story, all combine to form one of the most memorable movie moments of 2018. (Chris Evangelista)

47. Atlanna’s One-Take Fight – Aquaman

2018 was filled with a lot of cool one shot action sequences. Even the comedy film Game Night had one. However, the most impressive “one-shot” action scene of the year comes from director James Wan, and most people might not even believe it was accomplished in one take. The action sequence happens in the first act of Aquaman, as Nicole Kidman’s Atlanna has washed ashore on our world and given birth to Arthur. Atlantian soldiers arrive to reclaim her and the action sequence is one of the coolest, slickest scenes of the year and one of the most badass female fight scenes of all time. (Peter Sciretta)

46. The Live-Aid Concert – Bohemian Rhapsody

Bohemian Rhapsody has been heavily-criticized by film critics for leaning too heavily on the established tried and true musical biopic. And while it’s predictable and lacks a fresh take, audiences have mostly loved the Freddie Mercury biopic. The most interesting moment comes in the third act of this film, as Freddie has learned that his life is coming to an end and begs his former bandmates to reunite for one of the biggest concerts in history. We know what happens as we’ve probably all seen the footage from that Live Aid performance, but I don’t think anyone expected it to be presented the way it was in the film. Usually musical biopics are a clip show of the best moments, and in this finale, the best moment was the whole concert, recreated and dramatized in a way that’s only fitting for the big screen. It would have been easy to play it out on one hit song and freeze frame or dissolve to black, but the choice to show the multi-song performance in its entirety was exciting. (Peter Sciretta)

Suspiria featurette

45. Susie Dances and a Woman Dies – Suspiria

Luca Guadagnino’s spartan direction is what makes the film’s first burst of brutality so shocking. During Susie’s (Dakota Johnson) first rehearsal with the world-renowned Helena Markos Dance Co., she unknowingly becomes the bearer of a spell that inflicts violent physical torture on Olga, a student of the dance academy attempting to leave in protest of their treatment of a missing student. As Susie’s dance routine becomes increasingly aggressive, Olga gets thrown around the empty mirrored studio that she’s trapped in, her bones crunching and her organs rupturing — her own body attacking her as she helplessly resists. It’s a grotesque display of body horror that is made all the more stark by the pristine studio in which the crime takes place, and the euphoria with which Susie performs this unnerving dance. (Hoai-Tran Bui)

widows tv spot

44. Elizabeth Debicki Buys a Gun and Eats a Hot Dog – Widows

Steve McQueen’s Widows is one of the most underrated movies of 2018, and features one of the most-overlooked performances. In a mighty impressive cast, Elizabeth Debicki is the true standout (and I’m not just saying that because she physically towers over every other member of the cast). Debicki is one of the eponymous widows, who band together to pull of a heist after their thieving husbands are killed. Debicki’s character, Alice, starts out as one of the least self-assertive members of the crew – her husband was abusive to her, and her only real family member left – her mother – is abusive as well. She’s spent a life being walked all over. But when she get recruited to pull off the heist, she begins to take control of herself. The first sign of her emerging confidence comes when Alice has to go score some guns for the job. She travels to a gun show, and rather than purchase the guns herself, she picks a woman out of the crowd, approaches her, and spins a story about being a mail order bride afraid of her husband. The woman seems suspicious at first, then relents, buying Alice the guns. Here, McQueen cuts to a shot outside the gun show, where we see Alice strutting away, guns in tow, taking a big, satisfying bite of a hot dog. It’s funny and wildly rewarding. Debicki manages to make Alice the most likable and rounded member of the gang, and watching her grow more and more confident is part of what makes Widows so entertaining.   (Chris Evangelista)

43. The Car Scene – Eighth Grade

This was one of the most uncomfortable movie moments of 2018. Bo Burnham’s coming of age film perfectly captures the extreme awkwardness of middle school, a universal experience that often leaves you on the edge of your seat, like a good horror film, wanting to scream advice at the character on screen. In this moment, Kayla (played by breakout star Elsie Fisher) finds herself alone with an older high school boy in the backseat of his car. But the fact that you can’t scream advice to her (that would be rude, in a movie theater, please don’t)makes it all that more worse. She doesn’t have the hindsight to know what we do. She has no idea how much worse this scene could have been, what kind of terrible long-lasting effect it could left on her. We know, and that’s why it’s so very effective. (Peter Sciretta)

Lakeith Stanfield - Sorry to Bother You

42. Cassius Discovers Steve Lift’s True Plan – Sorry to Bother You

Sorry to Bother You is an unconventional movie to say the least, but all of its early quirks and eccentricities – the “white voice,” dropping in on people during phone calls, etc. – pale in comparison to what lead character Cassius Green (Lakeith Stanfield) discovers in the bowels of billionaire businessman Steve Lift (Armie Hammer)’s mansion. I won’t spoil the twist in case you still haven’t seen the film, but when that curtain is pulled back and Cassius learns what’s really going on at WorryFree, it’s the biggest shock moment of the film and a heightened warning from first-time writer/director Boots Riley. (Ben Pearson)

41. Burning the Swimsuit (If Someone Loves You) – Shoplifters

In a film overflowing with empathy, it’s hard to pinpoint one scene in Shoplifters that stands above the rest. But the scene that captures Hirokazu Kore-eda’s profound affirmation of the enduring power of love is when the film’s pseudo-family, upon learning that their latest adoptee Yuri (Miyu Sasaki) was regularly hit by her parents who bought her clothes as penance, symbolically burn a shoplifted swimsuit in their backyard. “This is what someone does when they love you,” the family’s “mother” Nobuyo (Sakura Ando) says, tears welling up as she wraps Yuri in a tight embrace as if to shield her from the cruelty of the world that they all have had to endure. (Hoai-Tran Bui)

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