56 Movie Moments We Loved in 2017

Miguel Sings to Mama Coco in Coco

Coco is a sumptuous film that deals with heady themes of dreams, loss, and death. While it’s easy to be awed by its stunning design schemes and catchy tunes, it’s the tender moment at the end of the film that really captures the heart of Coco. Miguel has successfully made it back to the Land of the Living thanks to the help of his reunited family back in the Land of the Dead. But all is not sunshine and daisies for the Rivera family — Miguel’s great-great-grandfather Hector is on the verge of being forgotten by his daughter Coco, suffering tragically from dementia.

Overjoyed at his newfound connection with the skeletal ragamuffin who had helped him on his journey through the Land of the Dead but horrified at the prospect of losing him forever to “the final death” of being forgotten in the living world (an all-too-real concept made into a very Pixarian plot device) Miguel rushes to his great-grandmother Coco to try to save Hector. He bursts into tears at her nonresponse and at his family’s anxious scolding, only to accidentally nudge Hector’s guitar that he had retrieved from the tomb. An idea dawns on him, and he picks up the guitar, playing the song that he knew Hector had written just for Coco. “Remember me/Though I have to say goodbye/Remember me/Don’t let it make you cry
/or even if I’m far away I hold you in my heart/I sing a secret song to you each night we are apart” Miguel sings in a trembling voice before miraculously, Coco awakens from her daze and begins to sing along.

It’s an astonishingly emotionally complex moment that touches on the film’s themes of family, memory, and legacy — all wrapped up in a lovely and soothing acoustic song. Admit it, you cried. I did each of the three times that I saw Coco. (Hoai-Tran Bui)

Chris Watches a Video in Get Out

Chris (Daniel Kaluuya) wakes up strapped to a chair, a television set in front of him. His weekend with his white girlfriend’s parents began awkwardly and grew uncomfortable, but this is something else entirely. His life is in danger. And then the television in front of him clicks on and the exact nature of the danger is explained: his body has been sold and a strange medical procedure will see the mind of a wealthy white man placed into him. His consciousness will remain, trapped in the “sunken place” where he cannot escape and where he can only watch in terror and pain as he loses control of his existence. It’s a terrifying scene on its own, a warped body horror nightmare that will send chills down the spine of just about anyone, but the racial implications sear it into your mind. White people are selling black bodies. White people are shamelessly taking control of the black experience. And black people, strapped to a chair, can only watch as a white man casually informs them that they have no rights and cannot stop the destruction of their entire world. Jordan Peele’s vicious blend of horror and satire is a full meal of a movie and this is the bitter pill, the vegetables, that makes the scares and laughs and thrills that surround it all the more powerful. (Jacob Hall)

The Game of Thrones Joke in Logan Lucky

Steven Soderbergh’s redneck heist thriller doesn’t have quite the same satisfying structure as his earlier Ocean’s trilogy, but this one also works largely thanks to the charm of its ensemble cast. And while big name actors like Channing Tatum, Adam Driver, and Daniel Craig have the most to do in the film, Dwight Yoakam (Sling Blade, Crank) pops up in a small role playing the warden of a prison where Craig and Driver’s characters are “in-car-cer-ra-ted.” In the film’s best joke, and one of the best jokes in any movie of the year, Yoakam’s warden has a back-and-forth exchange with prisoners who have taken over during a riot that details George R.R. Martin’s delays in completing his A Song of Ice and Fire trilogy. The inmates are skeptical because they know that the Game of Thrones TV series has moved beyond the events of A Dance With Dragons, and listening to Yoakam attempt to convince them of the truth was unexpectedly wonderful. The way the film comes to a halt for a couple of minutes just to execute this joke is utter perfection. (Ben Pearson)

The Opening Reveal in Brigsby Bear

If you haven’t seen Brigsby Bear, and you don’t know any specifics about the story, then we recommend you stop reading here because the beginning of the film is much more interesting if you don’t know the sudden turn the story takes as the inciting incident.

The film spends roughly 15 minutes following James (Kyle Mooney) and the seemingly odd daily life activities of he and his parents (Mark Hamill and Jane Adams), including the obsessive watching of a strange children’s television program called Brigsby Bear that is full of lessons about complex math equations and reminders about chores and listening to parents. There’s even a touching but peculiar father-son chat between Hamill and Mooney, and we begin accept that our story just takes place in an odd world. But then we discover that James was actually kidnapped by these people, and his real parents have been looking for him since he was a baby. It’s quite the surprising turn if you don’t know that detail going into the story, and it’s a great moment to experience the first time you watch. (Ethan Anderton)

The Helicopter Sequence in Kong: Skull Island

As a band of choppers soar through the skies over the majestic Skull Island, something rises in the distance. With the sun low on the horizon, the audience – and helicopter passengers played by Tom Hiddleston, Brie Larson, John Goodman, Samuel L. Jackson, and more – realize that they’re looking at Kong himself. The aircraft open fire on the giant ape, but as Omar says in The Wire, “You come at the king, you best not miss.” Kong, who’s just minding his own business, doesn’t take kindly to this aggression, and in the film’s most action-packed sequence, he begins systematically tearing the choppers out of the sky any way he can (mostly by punching…there’s a whole lot of punching). Director Jordan Vogt-Roberts uses this early scene to establish the antagonistic relationship between Kong and Jackson’s Colonel, employing some beautiful slow motion photography and alternating close-ups to juxtapose the two characters and set up a showdown that will come later in the film. For my money, this scene is the movie at its best: grand, frantic, and electrifying. (Ben Pearson)

Every Meal Sequence in Phantom Thread

There are several meals featured in Paul Thomas Anderson’s deliriously funny dark comedy Phantom Thread, and almost every single one leaves an impact. The bulk of the meal scenes involve breakfast – a sacred time of day for fashion designer Reynolds Woodcock (Daniel Day-Lewis). As Reynolds’ sister Cyril (Lesley Manville) explains, if breakfast is ruined for Reynolds, then the whole day is thrown out of order. Reynolds wants to sit at the table, drink his tea, and quietly sketch in his notebook. He wants peace and quiet. But his live-in lover Alma (Vicky Krieps) would prefer to converse, or, failing that, loudly butter her toast. The very act of scraping the butter knife over the bread is enough to send Reynolds over the edge, and the way Anderson cuts to Day-Lewis’ mortified face as he watches Alma butter her bread is an absolute hoot.
Beyond the breakfast scenes, there are also moments when Alma prepares very special meals for Reynolds. The first is an attempt to have a quiet, romantic, surprise evening with Reynolds – a plan that backfires spectacularly, as Reynolds is simply aghast at how Alma has prepared asparagus. And then there are the meals that end up sending Reynolds into fits of near-death sickness. The less said about these, the better – the film’s power lies in its unexpected moments. Suffice it to say, Anderson manages to turn every meal in Phantom Thread into a pageant; a passion play that builds and builds towards constantly unexpected results. (Chris Evangelista)

The Final Scene of Raw

The final scene in Raw is disgusting. It is also also grimly funny. It is also, in its own twisted way, deeply romantic. And strangely, it’s focused on a character we have barely spent any time with throughout the film. The bulk of the story follows Justine (Garance Marillier) as she battles homesickness while attending veterinary school. Raw is a wise and smart movie, and director Julia Ducournau allows us to fully empathize with Justine’s isolation before she drops the hammer – Justine is also compelled to eat human flesh now that she’s away from her strict vegetarian parents. A lot goes down (a lot) and the film concludes with Justine’s equally cannibalistic sister in prison and our distraught heroine back at home. She sits down with her father (Laurent Lucas), who comforts her and explains that his courtship with her mother was troubled. He opens his shirt, revealing a torso littered with scars – countless bite marks where his wife has been chowing down on his flesh for years. Justine is very much her mother’s daughter, but he assures her that she will make it work. After all, dad and mom have made this whole cannibalism thing work for all these years. Aww. And eww. (Jacob Hall)

The Plane Glides to the Beach in Dunkirk

It’s the inspiring capper to the most emotional scene in Dunkirk — and arguably the most emotional scene in any Christopher Nolan film. The scene revolves around Tom Hardy’s fighter pilot as his Spitfire plane runs out of fuel just as the miraculous evacuation begins at Dunkirk, the soldiers trudging in their lines and Kenneth Branagh’s stately Commander Bolton proudly overseeing the surviving soldiers. But as Hardy’s pilot Farrier flies on in silence, waiting for his engine to give out, an eleventh-hour crisis suddenly emerges. You can hear the German plane first, the cacophonous sound descending on the frightened soldiers and the helpless Commander Bolton, who closes his eyes in defeat. Using the last of his ammunition, Farrier shoots down the pilot and continues his descent, flying across the cheering soldiers on the beach before he is ultimately captured.

It sounds rote when I describe it, but it’s a truly wondrous moment thanks to the sharp sound editing that Dunkirk will surely sweep the Oscars for — the sudden shocks of silence interrupting the classic sweeping score, Tom Hardy’s superb acting from behind a mask (it’s no wonder he always insists on wearing one, his eyes are like bottomless wells of emotion). It is so powerful that it will make you feel a sudden patriotism for Britain. (Hoai-Tran Bui)

The 9/11 Joke in The Big Sick

For many people, even the most daring of comedians, the terrorist attacks of 9/11 aren’t exactly ripe with material for comedy. But in The Big Sick, Kumail Nanjiani delivers what might be the best 9/11 joke ever captured on camera. Not only does Nanjiani awkward tell Ray Romano that he’s “anti” 9/11, but then he follows it up with “It was a tragedy. We lost 19 of our best guys.” When I heard this joke for the first time, I was laughing so hard that it hurt. The entire audience at the Sundance Film Festival was guffawing so loudly that the next few lines could not be heard at all. (Ethan Anderton)

mother underrated

The Sink Brace in mother!

There’s a lot of crazy shit going on in mother! In fact, one scene involves a group of people eating a baby. But we’re not here to talk about eating babies, we’re here to talk about unbraced sinks. The set-up for mother! finds Jennifer Lawrence hoping for a quiet, peaceful existence with her husband, Javier Bardem. Then other people show up. Jean-Paul Sartre famously said, “Hell is other people,” and mother! is a meditation on this idea. Every guest to show up at Lawrence’s home turns out to be an absolute nightmare. Time and time again, Lawrence finds herself telling people who happen to be leaning on a kitchen sink to back off. “That sink’s not braced!” she pleads. Every time Lawrence brings up that damn sink, you just know it’s only a matter of time before someone knocks that sucker out of the wall.

Sure enough, when an entire funeral party gathers in the home, Lawrence keeps coming upon a flirting couple who are sitting on the sink. After telling them repeatedly about how that sink is not braced, the flirting duo mockingly begin bumping up and down on it. At this point, my anxiety level was through the roof. “Didn’t they hear her?!” I screamed in my head. “That sink isn’t braced!” Of course, the sink comes tumbling down, causing a flood. The moral of the story: houseguests are a nightmare. (Chris Evangelista)

Professor Charles Xavier Apologizes in Logan

Logan is a comic book movie more interested in its characters than it is in action. But it goes beyond that. Logan is interested in what happens to superheroes when they decline, when the most powerful people on the planet begin to crumble. For Hugh Jackman’s Logan, that means he’s no longer unstoppable in a fight. For Patrick Stewart’s Professor Charles Xavier, that means he’s become a psychic time bomb, an old man whose abilities threaten anyone and everyone in the vicinity. In a key scene in Logan, the once-mighty Professor X suffers a seizure, which sends psychic discord throughout a casino, incapacitating friend and foe alike. As the heroes make their escape, this old man, the former leader of the X-Men, can only fight back tears and apologize to every stranger he passes for the havoc he has accidentally caused. Our heroes grow old. They grow senile. They lose control. And they die. Our heroes are our parents and our grandparents. They are us. (Jacob Hall)

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