56 Movie Moments We Loved in 2017

Michael Stuhlbarg Call Me By Your Name

The Final Monologue in Call Me By Your Name

I had heard about Michael Stuhlbarg’s monologue at the end of Call Me By Your Name, and how powerful it was, before seeing the film. Yet even with this in mind, the moment still blew me completely away. Stuhlbarg is a constant presence in the film, although usually in the background. He plays the father of Elio (Timothée Chalamet), who has just spent the summer in a complicated relationship with Stuhlbarg’s assistant Oliver (Armie Hammer).

After Oliver heads back to America, Elio is heartsick – a fact that his father clearly picks up on. More than that, it’s clear his father has a better idea of what was going on between Oliver and his son than what the film had previously let on. “You had a beautiful friendship,” Stuhlbarg says. “Maybe more than a friendship. And I envy you.” This begins an achingly beautiful, devastatingly empathetic speech from Stuhlbarg. It’s a moment of acceptance, and honesty, that many people can only hope to achieve one day, and Stuhlbarg delivers it in such a calm, honest fashion that it simply takes your breath away.

“I’m grateful that people have expressed what they’re going through and what it meant to them. To be on the receiving end of it is breathtaking and humbling. Absolutely humbling,” the actor told The Daily Beast about the scene.

“I was warned about the speech!” Stuhlbarg told Interview magazine. “My agent called and said, ‘There’s a very beautiful thing to say at the end of this screenplay, but read the whole thing.’ And it had affected me as it seemed to affect her.” The actor goes on:

“In some ways, it’s hard to remember what my first reaction was. I just knew it was an extraordinary opportunity. My first thought was trying to absorb who this man was that said all of these things, where he came from, what his past life was, what his passions were, what his love was, what kind of father he was, where it was coming from. I took my time, but certainly if you’re given something like that to say, you think, ‘How am I going to do this?!’”

Stuhlbarg is one of the best actors working right now, and his delivery of this speech may very well be the best moment of his career to to date. (Chris Evangelista)

Star Wars The Last Jedi

Luke Skywalker’s Last Stand in Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Fans have been waiting to see the full return of Luke Skywalker ever since it took an entire movie to find him back in 2015, and (for the most part) they weren’t disappointed with the display of power he puts on in the third act of Star Wars: The Last Jedi. After a couple tender moments spent with his sister Leia and a cheeky wink to C-3PO, Luke is ready for his last stand. His survival of an insane amount of laser blasts from the First Order’s AT-M6 walkers already provides a perfect applause-worthy moment, especially after he responds by merely brushing dirt off his shoulder. But when it’s revealed that Luke isn’t physically there and has been Force-projecting himself in order to create the legend that everyone hoped he would be, it makes you want to stand up and cheer. (Ethan Anderton)

The Sex Scene in Blade Runner 2049

Blade Runner 2049 asks a lot of big questions and then leaves the answers up for interpretation. But one of them lingers on the edge of my mind more than any other: is the relationship between Replicant Blade Runner Agent K (Ryan Gosling) and his holographic girlfriend Joi (Ana de Armas) real? After all, she has been programmed to serve him, to be the perfect companion. It’s her duty to stick by his side and he’s lonely enough to buy a show like that hook, line, and sinker. And yet, it could be argued that Joi goes above and beyond the call of duty, hiring a sex worker named Mariette (Mackenzie Davis) to act as her stand-in and allow them to be physically intimate for the first time.

In a scene that boggles the mind with its sensuality and inventiveness, the holographic Joi locks herself over Mariette, allowing the second woman to look like K’s lover. It’s imperfect (parts of Mariette frequently “break through” the holographic visage painted on top of her), but it’s beautiful and spellbinding, a grand gesture from an A.I. to the artificial person she loves. It’s possible to read this as Joi simply acting on her programming, finding a new way to please K. But I like to think that this scene is an extension of Blade Runner 2049‘s grander themes – even artificial beings deserve love and affection and freedom. Plus, Joi promptly kicking Mariette out of her apartment when the evening has concluded suggests an all-too-human jealously. (Jacob Hall)

The Post Meryl Streep

Kay Graham’s Face When She Decides to Run the Pentagon Papers in The Post

For me, one of the most impressive things about Steven Spielberg’s long career is the how, in every Spielberg movie, you can always feel that he’s intensely dialed in to his characters and their emotions. Even in his biggest blockbusters, his movies retain a humanity that sets them apart from the work of his contemporaries. In a comparatively small-scale film like The Post, that humanity is front and center as we follow The Washington Post publisher Kay Graham (Meryl Streep) through a particularly difficult period of decision-making that has enormous consequences. The entire film builds to a yes or no decision from Graham about whether or not to publish the Pentagon Papers in her newspaper, and Spielberg’s close-up on Streep’s face becomes a spellbinding source of suspense as we watch her weigh the possibilities and consequences before ultimately giving the go-ahead. That the scene takes place inside her character’s dining room while she’s wearing a kaftan has been a source of amusement for Film Twitter, but there’s real power in Spielberg’s filmmaking in that moment – enough to make us briefly forget that we already know what her answer will be and get caught up in just how important that decision was to history (and her story). (Ben Pearson)

War for the Planet of the Apes prison

The Prison Escape in War For the Planet of the Apes

After being trapped in a prison and forced to do slave labor for Woody Harrelson’s evil Colonel, the apes’ prison escape sequence is a much-needed breath of fresh air in a franchise that isn’t afraid to get bleak. Even this scene itself is bittersweet: there’s an emotional reunion of the parents with their ape offspring followed by a humorous sight of the creatures shimmying across wires above human soldiers’ heads, and everything seems to be going according to plan…until a war breaks out between humans, and the apes are caught in the crossfire just outside the gates. It’s a wrenching scene, all crosscut with Caesar’s morally twisted final stand against the Colonel, and culminates with Red (an ape that sided with the humans in the battle) seeing his former friends and loved ones gunned down, so he sacrifices himself to save Caesar. The avalanche that follows is admittedly a little too easy of an ending, but everything before that is superb blockbuster filmmaking. (Ben Pearson)

Batman Crashes the Justice League Party in The LEGO Batman Movie

The best part of the Batman Lego Movie is not its fearlessness to lean into meta pop culture jokes, but its loyalty to the essence of Batman and his found family. The result: a dorky, delusional Batman (played with gusto by Will Arnett) who chooses to believe that he is a grim loner — only to have that illusion hilariously shattered every other second. The Justice League party that Batman accidentally crashes at Superman’s Fortress of Solitude is a prime example of this. The two of them banter about fighting each other (“I would crush you”), but it’s all a stalling technique so that Batman won’t find out he wasn’t invited to the party. The emotional weight of this moment is quickly glossed over — this is a kid’s movie after all — but it still stands as a one of the all-time great comedic moments of the year. Batman needs to be taken down a peg or two, even if it’s to take a group picture of everyone else but him. (Hoai-Tran Bui)

Maureen Texts in Personal Shopper

There’s nothing cinematic about sending a text. As cell phones and texting became a part of everyday life, films and TV have struggled to find ways to incorporate texting into their narratives, with limited results. The BBC show Sherlock became fond of having the pop-up text bubbles appear in the air above character’s heads, a decision that always seems more distracting than innovative. Olivier Assayas’ Personal Shopper has cracked the problem: all you need to make texting in movies is work is cast Kristen Stewart.

Stewart, with her fidgety, nail-biting performance, spends approximately 98% of Personal Shopper glued to her phone, texting with either a ghost or a murderer, depending on what mood the movie is currently in. On paper, this should not work, yet the way Assayas brings his camera in tight on the screen of Stewart’s iPhone, and the way he then cuts to close-ups of Stewart’s face, her brow furrowed, strands of hair hanging down in her eyes, makes all of this incredibly exciting. “R U alive or dead?” Stewart writes to her mystery texter, and instead of guffawing at the sight of it all, we’re heavily engrossed. It’s remarkable.

Note: the only drawback here is that Stewart’s character keeps the clicking sound effects turned on as she types. Girl, hit up the settings and turn that shit off. (Chris Evangelista)

Brawl in Cell Block 99 Review

Bradley Thomas Destroys a Guy’s Face in Brawl in Cell Block 99

I don’t think Brawl in Cell Block 99 is a good movie, but it would be foolish to deny that it features one of the most memorable scenes to arrive in 2017. Late in the film, Vince Vaughn’s bruising prison inmate has found himself in the titular location, a hellish place reserved for the worst of the worst. He doesn’t belong here, but he’s on a mission of revenge – he has several men to kill. And kill them he does! But one guy gets it worse than the others. After putting him on the ground, Bradley jams his heel into the back of the man’s head and drags it across the stone floor, decimating his skull and leaving his face a red mass of ruin. It’s the kind of scene that will become the stuff of gory legend when it eventually hits YouTube. Hell, it may be the single most violent act ever depicted in any movie. (Jacob Hall)

The Stand-Off in Wind River

With its gorgeous cinematography of the snow-covered plains of Utah and Wyoming, Taylor Sheridan’s Wind River spends most of its runtime conveying the beauty and desolation of the West. At the Wind River reservation, only six police officers support an area the size of Rhode Island and other social services are challenging to obtain. It’s in this environment that FBI agent Jane Banner (played by Elizabeth Olsen) goes looking for clues to explain a local woman’s tragic death. As she descends on a drill site with local police, flanked by security officers, the tension builds to a breaking point. Misunderstanding gives way to defensiveness and further misunderstanding. The tension subsides temporarily, only to erupt again in a massive firefight. It’s a standoff for the ages, and one that demonstrates that in this situation, the only law is the man who has the best aim. (David Chen)

Justice League - The Flash and Superman Race

Superman Races the Flash in Justice League

In one of the most satisfying moments of an otherwise average superhero movie, we see the Superman that fans have been dying to see share a playful moment with The Flash by trying to determine which of them is faster. The end of the scene looks like a spread straight from the comics as the two speed off in slow-motion. This is the kind of stuff that should have been part of the DC Extended Universe from the beginning. (Ethan Anderton)

it comes at night

The Door is Open in It Comes at Night

Throughout the haunting It Comes At Night, the red door looms in young Travis’ (Kelvin Harrison Jr.) nightmares, and in our imaginations. It’s the sole barrier between the two families residing in Paul (Joel Edgerton) and Sarah’s (Carmen Ejogo) isolated cabin and the outside world, ravaged by some unknown virus. And it’s the ultimate barrier between reality and dream — a line that becomes progressively blurred on the night that Travis discovers the door is open. It’s a subtle scare, as are all the scares in this Trey Edward Schults’ film, driven by paranoia and a creeping ambiguity. Travis had woken one night after a particularly ominous nightmare about his grandfather, only to find little Andrew sleeping in his grandfather’s bedroom. After returning Andrew to his parents’ room, he passes the red door and notices that it stands ajar. He slowly approaches it and finds their bleeding and sick dog on the floor, and terrified, he awakens the rest of the house. This is the tipping point for the film, after which the distrust and paranoia between the two families reaches a fatal boiling point.

So who opened the door? It’s left intentionally ambiguous, with Schults cryptically telling Slate that there was an intentional “nightmare grammar” surrounding Travis seeing the open door. But, he continued, “There’s any number of possibilities. But the movie is about the fear of the unknown. If you just look throughout the whole, so much of it is rooted in that, from ‘Who we can trust?’ to ‘What’s actually going on?’ to ‘What even actually happens?’” What happens is up to the viewer’s interpretation, but the entire, nightmarish sequence is a crowning achievement in one of the best cerebral horror films of 2017. (Hoai-Tran Bui)

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