The 50 Greatest Movie Moments of 2019

Knives Out glasses

10. Daniel Craig Realizes His Case is a Donut Hole in Knives Out

At one point in Knives Out, detective Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig) compares the enigmatic case of Harlan Thrombey’s death to a donut – a case with a hole at the center. But the better moment comes later in the story, when things get a even more complicated. For some hilarious reason, Blanc decides to return to that same metaphor, even though it doesn’t work quite as well anymore. “I thought your story would be the donut hole in the donut’s hole,” he says, “but now I see that there is a hole in the middle of the donut hole!” Craig plays it straight, with the character deep in his own head as he tries to put all the pieces of this mystery together. It’s a silly, fun bit of dialogue, but as to be expected from writer/director Rian Johnson, it’s also instructive about Blanc himself. He’s not an untouchable super sleuth who always has the perfect line locked and loaded for any situation – he’s just a guy, equally capable of belaboring goofy metaphors as he is making keen observations that everyone else misses. (Ben Pearson)

Uncut Gems F-word

9. The Door Won’t Open in Uncut Gems

The Safdie brothers make films that feel like feature-length anxiety attacks. Even when things aren’t going wrong on screen, you’re left with the constant impression that things are about to go wrong. About halfway through Uncut Gems, Adam Sandler’s Howard Ratner finds himself beset on all sides by friends, enemies and family alike. He owes everyone something, and every bill is coming due. This is made literal when NBA star Kevin Garnett tries to gain entry to his jewelry shop, but finds himself a prisoner of a security door that won’t open. As Howard scrambles to let his celebrity client into his store, everything around him continues to fall apart in glorious, stomach-churning slow-motion. It’s a perfect storm of everything going wrong at once and it leaves us seasick, even as Howard himself braves the waves with a sleazy candor. (Jacob Hall)

Jojo Rabbit

8. Jojo Ties His Mother’s Shoes in Jojo Rabbit

Jojo Rabbit is downright hilarious. But many times throughout, the tone suddenly shifts drastically and gives us some powerful drama. But there’s no scene more heart-breaking than the one when Jojo (Roman Griffin Davis) gleefully follows a beautiful butterfly through his town square, only to suddenly find himself staring at his mother’s shoes on her lifeless feet hanging in mid-air. She’s been executed by hanging for spreading word of revolt against the Nazis. It’s a gutpunch that comes out of nowhere, and it’s extremely effective and affecting. It was this moment that solidified this as one of the best movies of the year. (Ethan Anderton)

midsommar bear

7. A Bad Boyfriend in a Bear Suit in Midsommar

Ari Aster’s “apocalyptic break-up film” Midsommar builds towards the inevitable, and perfect, ending. After spending an entire movie being gaslit by her boyfriend Christian (Jack Reynor), emotionally distraught Dani (Florence Pugh), newly crowned May Queen, gets to watch over his demise. Poor Christian is rendered immobile, but conscious, and stuffed into the carcass of a bear (poor bear) before being set aflame in ritual sacrifice. At first glance, Dani looks completely out of it – seemingly unaware of what’s happening. Is she in a trance? Is she catatonic? Aster answers the question by cutting back to Pugh’s face as Christian goes up in flames – a wide, wonderful smile. As Aster writes in his script: “A SMILE finally breaks onto Dani’s face. She has surrendered to a joy known only by the insane. She has lost herself completely, and she is finally free. It is horrible and it is beautiful.”  (Chris Evangelista)

Manson

6. Rick and Cliff vs the Manson Family in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

A balance between horrifying and macabrely hilarious, the climactic moments of Once Upon a Time in Hollywood finally clue you into what Quentin Tarantino has been building toward. The filmmaker is once again playing around with changing history, and in his world, Sharon Tate and her friends are no longer the victims of a brutal murder. Instead, the members of the Manson Family go to a completely different house: that of Sharon Tate’s neighbor, Rick Dalton. And who should be there but Cliff’s stunt double pal Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt), who just happens to be tripping on acid. After some hilarious banter Cliff calls in his trusty sidekick – a pitbull Brandy, who proceeds to chomp down on the testicles of Manson member Tex – before Cliff eventually stomps his face in. Brandy then turns her attentions toward Manson member Katie while Cliff then proceeds to bash a woman name Sadie against a wall. It’s unrelatedly brutal, and anyone who wants to criticize Tarantino for this brutality is justified – more than a few people have pointed out that the female members of the Manson fam are treated far worse here than the sole male, Tex. In the chaos, Katie ends up out in the swimming pool – where Rick (Leonardo DiCaprio) just happens to be chilling. His solution: grab a flamethrower from one of his movies (that he still happens to have, and that still works), and proceed to set the screaming woman aflame. The violence here goes beyond anything Tarantino has done before, and I’d argue that that’s the point. The filmmaker is surpassing brutality and tipping into the world of the absurd – why the hell would Rick still have a working flamethrower in his shed? However you interpret this moment, the results are clear: Sharon Tate lives on, and the Manson Family become a footnote in history. Who knows, maybe in this world, they’ve all been forgotten, and the world at large never even learned the name Charles Manson. (Chris Evangelista)

5. Rick and Cliff Watch F.B.I. in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

Even though Once Upon a Time in Hollywood has some extremely tense moments, there are infinitely more amusing scenes to enjoy. But the best one is undoubtedly when Rick Dalton (Leonardo DiCaprio) and Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt) sit down to watch an episode of the classic procedural TV series F.B.I., in which Rick guest starred. It’s like watching an old movie with your buddies, each of them offering hilarious commentary, especially the insights from Rick’s time spent shooting the episode. It’s just one of several scenes that shows how good of friends these two are, throwing back some beer and shooting the breeze. It’ll remind you of all the times you sat down in the living room with your best friends and continuously commented what you were watching. (Ethan Anderton)

Parasite

4. Under the Coffee Table in Parasite

The delirious beauty of Parasite is how it manages to deftly leap between genres and tones within a given scene without feeling artificial in any way. Late in Bong Joon-ho’s modern masterpiece, the Kim family’s plan to infiltrate the wealthy Park family has gone hideously awry and they hide beneath the coffee table in the mansion’s living room as the Parks return early from a trip. What begins as a scene of Hitchcockian suspense – will they get caught? – slowly develops into tragedy. No, they don’t get caught. But they do get to overhear the Parks, their employers, talk about them. And be honest about them. The look on Song Kang-ho’s face when he hears them talk about his odor is one of the most gut-wrenching moments of cinema I have seen in recent memory. The pain and humiliation quickly overpowers the delicious suspense from moments earlier. (Jacob Hall)

Parasite floor

3. A Hidden Passage is Revealed in Parasite

Once the premise of Parasite becomes apparent, you settle into a groove as you watch the poor Kim family scheme their way into the home of the wealthy Park family through a series of creative cons. But one rainy night during an impromptu celebration while the Parks are away, the Kims are interrupted by the Parks’ former housekeeper, who explains that she accidentally left something in the basement. The Kims let her go downstairs, but when she doesn’t immediately return from below, they follow her down to see what’s happening. That’s when Bong Joon-ho unleashes one of the movie’s most surprising visuals: the former housekeeper, several feet up and parallel to the ground, lodged between the wall and a shelf that she’s desperately trying to shove aside. What the hell…? What lies behind that shelf in a hidden basement bunker fuels the entire rest of Bong’s brilliant film, but this moment jolted us out of that aforementioned groove and made us lean forward in our seats, eager to see whatever came next. (Ben Pearson)

top 10 irishman

2. The Final Shot of The Irishman 

After all the killing has stopped, Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman concludes with a whisper. Hitman and mob stooge Frank Sheeran (Robert De Niro) is somehow the only one left standing – everyone he’s known (that he hasn’t killed) has either up and died on him, or, in the case of his own family, abandoned him. He’s alone in his nursing home, left with memories of things that once seemed important to him but clearly are utterly pointless. No one really knows what he’s done, save for a priest, who asks Frank if he’s sorry for his many crimes. Frank’s answer: not really. He’s learned nothing. And all he has left now are those memories, and the silence that surrounds them. It’s Christmas as the film ends, but as Frank says, he’s going nowhere. He just wants the door to be left open a little bit as we leave him. It is what it is.  (Chris Evangelista)

1. Brawl in the Knife Room in John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum

Early in John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum, assassins track our injured hero to an abandoned antique shop, where – wouldn’t you know it – a fight breaks out. But this is not just any fight. After a few hand-to-hand exchanges, there’s a comical moment where John Wick and his opponents seem to suddenly realize they’re standing in a room that’s lousy with knives. Thus begins a hilarious and action-packed sequence in which John and every person who enters the room continually shatter glass panels, grab as many knives as possible, and fling them into each other with abandon. John happens to be a bit more precise with his throws, and he ultimately walks away the victor…but only after he stabs a dude directly in the freaking eyeball and, in true world-weary fashion, slowly picks up an axe and sluggishly hurls it across the room, where it squishes right into the skull of his final opponent. It’s all incredibly hyper-violent and over-the-top, but despite the surface-level carnage, there’s a tangible sense of lightheartedness at play – an acknowledgement that this is all ridiculous, but it’s also fun. It’s one of the best distillations of the John Wick franchise, and one of the most inventive, memorable moments of any movie in 2019. (Ben Pearson)

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