The 50 Greatest Movie Moments of 2018

20. The Pregnancy Reveal – If Beale Street Could Talk

In a movie full of impassioned, emotional scenes powered by remarkable performances, one of the standouts comes early in the movie when Tish Rivers (KiKi Layne) and her family (Regina King, Colman Domingo, and Teyonah Parris) announce her pregnancy by her incarcerated boyfriend Fonny (Stephan James) to his family. This is a tense meeting since Fonny’s mother, Mrs. Hunt (Aunjanue Ellis) and her two daughters Adrienne and Sheila (Ebony Obsidian and Dominique Thorne), are extremely judgmental and stuck-up in their treatment of the Rivers family, even though their father Frank (Michael Beach) is much more laid back. This results in one of the most venomous and hot-blooded pregnancy reveals, and it’s perfectly acted, as you can see in a brief clip from towards the end of the entire scene. (Ethan Anderton)

19. Josie Turns Into a Flower – Annihilation

“Ventress wants to face it,” Josie (Tessa Thompson) says to Lena (Natalie Portman) as she wanders into a sun-dappled field filled with mysterious foliage. “You want to fight it. But I don’t think I want either of those things.” The action in Annihilation comes to a halt in a rare moment of tranquility as Lena and Josie observe the strange flower-covered trees shaped like humans in mid-stride. Josie sheds her jacket and displays the scars of dozens of cuts on her arms — scars that begin sprouting flowers as Lena chases after her. But Josie quickly disappears, apparently the latest in the dozens of humans who have given into the Shimmer and accepted some form of peace. It’s an unsettling and beautiful moment that captures the meeting point of self-destruction and self-acceptance. It doesn’t feel like Josie is giving up “the fight,” in fact, it feels like she’s the only one wise enough to accept her place in this strange circle of life. (Hoai-Tran Bui)

18. Judy Greer’s “Gotcha” Moment – Halloween

For years, Hollywood has been short-changing Judy Greer. Time and time again, she pops-up in thankless roles, always delivering a memorable performance in the process. Oddly enough, David Gordon Green’s Halloween was the film that decided to finally give Greer something to do, with spectacular results. Greer plays Karen, the daughter of Halloween final girl Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis). Karen and Laurie are estranged, primarily because Laurie raised her daughter to be a survivalist, on the odds that Michael Myers ever came back for another killing spree. Sure enough, Michael does come back. And after spending the entire movie doubting her mother’s sanity, Karen finally sees Laurie was right all this time. It all culminates in a killer moment: Karen, hidden away in Laurie’s panic room basement as Michael Myers stalks around upstairs, spots her old rifle. The rifle Laurie trained her to use. She readers the weapon, and then has a breakdown. Weeping, she proclaims she can’t do it – she can’t pull the trigger. This proclamation causes Michael to pop into frame, ready to kill. “Gotcha,” Karen says, and fires. It’s a hell of a moment, both for the way Green stages it, and for the way Greer performs it. It’s almost as if the movie knows how accustomed we’ve become to Judy Greer being sidelined in other movies. We, like Michael Myers, come to believe she really won’t pull that trigger. But she can. And does.  (Chris Evangelista)

17. The Bear Monster – Annihilation

The appearance of the most disturbing movie monster of the last several years makes this list for being one of the most bizarre, horrifying elements of an unforgettable film. When one of the female scientists is stolen from the group and killed, a mutated bear creature with skeletal faces on its head soon returns to hunt the survivors, calling out to them using the distorted voice of their fallen friend. The effect is chilling, making you wonder what kind of madman could even dream up something so unsettling. While the movie is based on a book by Jeff VanderMeer, the bear monster was the brainchild of writer/director Alex Garland, who elevated this sci-fi story to a whole new level. (Ben Pearson)

16. The Opening Scene – Searching

Recalling the tear-inducing opening of Pixar’s Up, the computer mystery thriller Searching opens by introducing us to the Kim family through their Windows computers. We watch as the characters create accounts for themselves, upload heartwarming videos to YouTube, share smiles and memorable moments from Margot’s childhood, and then sadly begin setting hospital visits and researching ways to beat cancer when the family matriarch gets sick. The scene is expertly executed, as co-writer/director Aneesh Chaganty manipulates our emotions in a way that feels completely organic and never cheap. The removal of a calendar appointment has never felt so heartbreaking. (Ben Pearson)

15. Collin’s Final Rap – Blindspotting

Late in Blindspotting, Collin (Daveed Diggs) finds himself alone in a room with the white police officer who gunned down an unarmed black man much earlier in the film. Collin saw it happen and it’s stuck with him. He can’t shake it. It’s rattled him to his core. And even though he is just days removed from escaping his parole and is officially a free man, he points a gun at the officer. And then he begins to rap. The film previously established that Collin raps to himself, an ongoing personal monologue that he seems indulge while walking alone or lost in thought, but here, he lets it all out. He raps about his fears and his angers and his anxieties, about his changing hometown of Oakland and how others view him. It escalates and escalates, leaving you to wonder if Collin will pull that trigger when he’s done, or if he can’t stop rapping because this wave of unleashed emotion is the only thing keeping him from opening fire. Diggs, a skilled hip-hop artist, proves himself to be a brilliant film actor in this moment…a moment that feels like so many of 2018’s tragedies and anxieties wrapped up into a not-so-tidy bow. (Jacob Hall)

14. Shopping for a Crib – Roma

Roma is one of the best movies of the year, but perhaps the most gripping scene is one that brings together the pregnancy and impending birth of the housemaid Cleo (Yalitza Aparicio) with the ongoing drama of the background protests against the government that have been tearing through the streets. A violent protest breaks out as Cleo is shopping for a crib, and suddenly the war brewing between protesters and police outside collides with the personal struggle of Cleo, and it comes to a suspenseful head when the man who got her pregnant ends up pointing a gun at her as violence bursts into the store. The juxtaposition of the story of Cleo and her family of employment and the backdrop of Mexico’s history suddenly clashes in one of the most intense and incredibly shot sequences of the year. (Ethan Anderton)

First Man Trailer

13. Neil Armstrong Lands on the Moon – First Man

We’ve all seen footage of the moon landing. We’ve all seen Neil Armstrong exit the Apollo 11 capsule and set foot on that gray soil for the first time. It’s been played so much, so often, that it’s been drained of his wonder and power. What Damien Chazelle’s First Man does so brilliantly is that is restores the danger and magic of the moment – it puts us in that astronaut suit with Neil and let’s us experience the vast emptiness of the moon, the total silence, the alien nature of it all. It restores the grandeur of one of the greatest achievements in human history. And then, later in the mission, Neil walks to a nearby crater, reveals (only to us, the audience) that he’s brought a memento belonging to his dead daughter, and drops it into the darkness as a tribute (a moment that may have actually happened, according to Armstrong’s biographer). Suddenly, the grandiosity of it all becomes personal and Neil’s painful journey reaches its heart-wrenching climax. He has left a human stamp upon the cosmos. His daughter is gone, but she will forever be part of the universe. (Jacob Hall)

12. Charlie Loses Her Head – Hereditary

Hereditary is the scariest and most upsetting film of 2018 and it lays its cards on the table early. After suffering an allergic reaction at a party, young Charlie struggles to breathe as her brother drives way too fast down a dark road to get her to the hospital. Gasping for air, she opens a window, sticks her head out and…thunk. We barely see it happen. Her brother pulls over, unable to bring himself to look in the front seat. He drives home, silent and traumatized. We don’t see her body, but we do hear the anguished screams of her mother. And just when you think director Ari Aster is sparing us, the film cuts to close-up of Charlie’s severed head, lying in the dirt, a literal feast for the ants. Hereditary’s supernatural horrors begin to emerge after this moment, but this is the scene that sets the tone: yes, we’re going there. Are you sure you want to continue? (Jacob Hall)

11. The HALO Jump – Mission: Impossible — Fallout

The action scenes in Mission: Impossible – Fallout are unrelenting and exhilarating, and the highlight for me is the Halo jump sequence. It’s impossible to watch this sequence, or any of these sequences, without thinking about the filmmaking and the stunts required to bring them to life. It’s possible that the other action sequences are better on a cinematic story level, but I can’t watch this sequence without imagining the work that went into it. Not just that Tom Cruise somehow talked a studio into letting him HALO jump in a scene, but the fact that he convinced the studio to let him jump out of that plane over 100 times to gather the necessary footage. It’s mind-boggling to think about the insane choreography that required Cruise and the cameraman to be in the right focal length and distance to capture it all. The sequence is spliced together containing two separate single one shots that are some of the most impressive to ever hit the big screen. (Peter Sciretta)

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