56 Movie Moments We Loved in 2017

The Degloving in Gerald’s Game

Here it is. Quite possibly the single nastiest, most gruesome moment in any major film released in 2017. A moment so horrifying that I watched an entire Fantastic Fest theater (a crowd of hardened genre veterans) wince and scream and recoil in horror. Near the end of Gerald’s Game, Jessie Burlingame (Carla Gugino) has been handcuffed to her bed for days, her dead husband rotting on the floor. She’s been menaced by a shadowy figure in the night. She’s been tormented by figments of her imagination. She has re-experiened childhood traumas in vivid flashbacks. And she’s ready to make her escape. Knowing it could kill her, she carefully shatters a glass of water left by the bed, slices her wrist, and proceeds to pull her blood-lubricated hand through the handcuff…nearly peeling the skin on her hand right off. It’s a shocking moment of extreme violence, one that may make you lightheaded and dizzy with shock, but it’s also cathartic. Jessie’s will to live, to survive, to fight for her future, outweighs her fear of pain. (Jacob Hall)

The Mountain Scene in Your Name

This is the moment that elevates Your Name from being a sweet but subdued body-swap romantic-comedy and launches it into the metaphysical. A distraught Taki searches for the reason of his fading memories of Mitsuha, only to discover that her town had been eradicated from the Earth after a comet had struck it three years ago. Aghast at the realization that the love of his life is dead and that their timelines were three years apart, he desperately travels to the shrine that holds Mitsuha’s kuchikamizake in hopes of warning her of the comet. This is where the previously mundane, slice-of-life film suddenly becomes a trippy cerebral sci-fi — and it’s done gorgeously. The animation becomes awash with dreamy warm colors, hints of melancholic purples and blues threatening to peek through. It becomes a surreal setting for Mitsuha and Taki’s ultimate reunion, as they frantically call to each other on the isolated mountaintop near the shrine — time finally bending when twilight hits and the two of them set eyes on each other. It’s a moment brimming with the bittersweet emotions of first love, fraught with the oncoming danger of a deadly, almost divine, comet. (Hoai-Tran Bui)

The Stairwell Fight in Atomic Blonde

Atomic Blonde is not the best action movie of 2017 (that would be John Wick: Chapter 2), but it does feature the single best action scene of the year. Tasked with protecting an important contact (the labyrinthine plot of the film is too obtuse to sum up here), Charlize Theron’s badass Cold War super-spy fights her way through a stairwell in a decrepit East Berlin apartment building. But while Lorraine Broughton is a talented fighter, she is no superhero and taking on even a handful of bad guys at once is a serious challenge. So we witness a fight that is more of struggle than a dance, all of it filmed to look like one long take. We watch Lorraine improvise and fight dirty. We watch the fight spiral down stairs and through apartments and ultimately into the streets. We watch Lorraine and her opponents get tired, backing away from each other to lean against walls and catch their breath before lurching back into the fray. This scene is more than just a series of cool stunts and it’s more than its astonishing “one take” appearance – it’s a fight scene that slows down to actually examine how incredibly hard it is to, you know, survive a fight to the death. (Jacob Hall)

The Shape of Water daydream

The Dance Scene in The Shape of Water

Though Guillermo del Toro’s 1960s-set romance has the fantastical premise of a woman who falls in love with a fish man, there’s still a certain level of reality that’s established in the director’s gloriously realized The Shape of Water. So it’s no surprise that when that established level of reality is shattered with an elaborate dream sequence involving Sally Hawkins’ mute protagonist doing a heightened ballroom dance routine with Doug Jones’ fish creature, some viewers are taken out of the story. It’s a divisive scene, but it’s also beautiful one, and I think that divisiveness (even among the /Film staff) is part of the reason it makes the cut for our favorite moments of 2017. It’s a big swing from del Toro, and movie lovers are always in need of people who are willing to take chances like that – even if they don’t always work for everyone. But for those who did love the scene, it’s an extraordinary black and white callback to Old Hollywood filmmaking and an affecting display of love from a woman who imagines communicating her overwhelming feelings in the best way she can fathom. (Ben Pearson)

The Funeral in Logan

No scene made me cry more than saying farewell to Wolverine when he dies at the end of Logan. While I had mentally prepared myself for the death of Wolverine since this was meant to be Hugh Jackman’s final turn as the mutant, the swell of emotions that overcame me upon his actual death caught me off guard. From the borrowed eulogy that Laura gives at his freshly dug grave to the second gut punch of her turning the grave’s cross into an “X,” this scene broke me in every way possible. It was nice to have a superhero blockbuster pull that kind of emotional reaction from me and stream tears down my face. (Ethan Anderton)

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets Clips

The Market Scene in Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets

Valerian suffers from some hackneyed storytelling and questionable casting, but one thing that you can’t dismiss are the film’s extraordinary visuals. One of the opening set pieces demonstrates the film’s abundance of ideas and its ability to realize them. Valerian (Dane Dehaan) and Laureline (Cara Delevingne) go to a bazaar called Big Market to retrieve a Mül converter. Dehaan wields gloves and glasses that can reach through dimensions. The whole concept is insane but the fact that director Luc Besson is able to convey the events coherently is a miracle. The end result is breathtaking – every frame packed with so much detail that it would take a dozen viewings to fully take it all in. (David Chen)

The Disaster Artist audition

Tommy Wiseau Auditions in The Disaster Artist

There are tons of moments we could pick from The Disaster Artist that would make this list, but Tommy Wiseau’s audition scene stands out as one of the film’s most heartbreaking and hilarious bits – and pulling off both simultaneously is a difficult feat. While aspiring actor Greg Sestero (a terrific Dave Franco) almost instantly gets an agent because of his model-esque good looks, his less conventional friend Tommy (James Franco) has far more trouble during an audition scene of his own. As a casting director played by the delightful Casey Wilson watches with confusion, Tommy attempts to transform into a typical All-American guy…but despite his brazen confidence, he’s hilariously incapable of dropping his eastern European accent. It’s laugh out loud funny but it’s also kind of sad, a microcosm of the types of juxtapositions the film depicts so well. In another film, that kind of failure might be the thing that crushes the protagonist’s dreams, but because of Tommy’s drive and determination, it ends up being just another obstacle to be overcome along the way. (Ben Pearson)

The Ménage à Trois in Professor Marston and the Wonder Women

There are actually two dress-up threesomes in Professor Marston and the Wonder Women, an excellent movie that none of you bothered to see, you jerks. The film focuses on William Moulton Marston (Luke Evans), the creator of the lie detector and the character Wonder Woman. Marston and his wife, Elizabeth (Rebecca Hall) find themselves equally drawn to one of their students, Olive (Bella Heathcote). Since the film begins in the 1920s, a polyamorous relationship is heavily frowned upon by “normal” society, which leads the Marstons and Olive to fight their urges and resist temptation.

But after a confrontational moment, where Olive confesses that she loves Elizabeth, the three finally give in and make love on the stage in an abandoned theater class, which enables them to put on the costumes that are hidden backstage. It’s all set to Nina Simone belting out “Feeling Good”, and it’s sexy, funny and charming.

Later in the film, the Marstons and Olive move into a house together, and continue their dress-up role-playing sex – with less-than-happy results. A neighbor just happens to wander into the house (note: this moment seems a bit forced; why would a neighbor just walk into someone’s house?), and catches the three in the act. This leads to the crumbling of the relationship: the “real” world has forced itself into their lives and shined its high-and-mighty spotlight on them. (Chris Evangelista)

Michael Fassbender and Michael Fassbender Play the Flute in Alien: Covenant

As you watch Alien: Covenant, it becomes increasingly clear that director Ridley Scott is less interested in the alien and more interested in using the alien to explore the questions that concern him more. For fans hoping for gnarly xenomorph action, that’s a bummer. For people totally on board with one of cinema’s most accomplished filmmakers leaping headfirst into science fiction nihilism, it’s a deranged joy. The diseased heart of Covenant is David and Walter, the two androids played by Michael Fassbender. The former is a mad scientist and a tinkerer, an artificial being with no love for human beings and a desire to create something new. The latter is a blank slate, programmed to serve humans. They ultimately clash and David’s creations ultimately kickstart all kinds of brutal mayhem, but before that, the two androids play the flute. It’s a deliciously homoerotic scene, as David trains his mirror image to try something creative, to break out of what humanity expects of him. And of course it involves a phallic object. It’s Scott at his cheeky best – the only character David cares for in the slightest is the one that looks like him. He loves himself enough to give this dullard droid a chance at self-improvement. (Jacob Hall)

“It’s Been an Unbreakable Sequel All Along!” in Split

One of 2017’s biggest “holy shit” moments was the ending of Split, in which it’s revealed that everything you’ve just seen has taken place in the same universe as M. Night Shyamalan’s 2001 superhero drama Unbreakable. As a news anchor relays conflicting reports about the fate of James McAvoy’s character and refers to him as “The Horde,” a diner patron recalls aloud that the scenario reminds her of a man who was jailed 15 years prior who also had a “funny name.” The camera pushes in to reveal Unbreakable hero David Dunn (Bruce Willis) seated next to her as he says the name of his nemesis played by Samuel L. Jackson: “Mr. Glass.” McAvoy’s stellar performance alone would have been enough to justify the existence of this movie, but secretly placing it in the context of a larger cinematic universe was a shocking, thrilling move that also recontextualizes the entire movie; it’s all a bit easier to swallow when you realize this is a world in which superheroes and super villains can exist. Bring on Glass in 2019. (Ben Pearson)

Colossal - Jason Sudeikis

The “Nice Guy” Reveals His True Colors in Colossal

Throughout Colossal, we get the impression that Jason Sudeikis is just one of those nice guys who ended up stuck in the town that he grew up in. But the actor gets a chance to show a completely different side of his work when we discover that this isn’t a nice dude at all. He’s a manipulative, controlling, abusive alcoholic, and he doesn’t hold back from letting Anne Hathaway have it. This thematic turn gives the strange sci-fi concept at the center of the movie even more weight when it comes to a head and these two monsters (both metaphorical and literal) are going to have a hell of a fight. (Ethan Anderton)

the square trailer

The Gala Dinner in The Square

Most people will do almost anything they can to avoid social discomfort. This aversion to having one’s complacency disrupted tends to jive poorly with progressive ideas, and Ruben Östlund’s The Square takes aim at this tension. In the art world, equality and compassion are prized, but to what extent are people willing to act out their beliefs in real life? These concepts come to a head in a riveting set piece at a gala dinner. Thrillingly acted, brilliantly staged, and uncomfortably long, the gala dinner features an artist (played by Terry Notary) terrorizing dinner guests by behaving like an ape. While art patrons are amused at first, the amusement quickly changes to discomfort and then outright terror, as Notary’s character refuses to drop the act. Only when a female patron is in extreme distress do the rest of the patrons intervene, casting aside their inhibitions to subdue the threat. It’s a vivid showcase of the limits of discomfort to which the elite will allow themselves to be subjected, and a surprisingly intense stress test for the social contract. (David Chen)

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