56 Movie Moments We Loved in 2017

“No, No, No” in Get Out

If Chris (Daniel Kaluuya) getting tossed into the Sunken Place wasn’t a shocking enough moment, there’s even creepier tension that comes in this scene when the Armitage family maid appears to be a bit flummoxed in her interaction with the visitor. The performance here by Betty Gabriel is so unnerving as she appears to be holding back the Armitage’s grandmother from taking back her body from inside her mind. A single tear rolls down her face as the most forced smile imaginable is put on display. It’s one of the most unsettling moments of the movie, and it’s perfectly executed. (Ethan Anderton)

John Denver and a Crushed Skull in Free Fire

The music of John Denver was inexplicably prominent in 2017 films (including Alien: Covenant and Kingsman: The Golden Circle), but nothing could top Free Fire. Late in this feature-length shootout, after most of the cast is dead and everyone else is pretty much dying, “Annie’s Song” kicks in on the van radio as Stevo (Sam Riley) and Harry (Jack Reynor) battle to the death in the front seat, using their last remaining bullets before resorting to their teeth. And then Stevo falls from the van and Harry sloooooowly turns it around, crushing Stevo’s head beneath his wheels as John Denver’s soft voice echoes through the decimated warehouse. (Jacob Hall)

okja

The Heist in Okja

It’s not a heist in the traditional sense of the word, but more a series of hilarious blunders, sweet heartwarming moments, and surprising feats of strength from a 13-year-old girl. But boy, does it move. Mija’s (Ahn Seo-hyun) spirited attempt to rescue Okja from the clutches of the Mirando Corporation spans nearly the entire length of Seoul before she is joined by the quirky cabal of Animal Liberation Front protestors, intent on using Okja for their own means. Their sabotage of the truck carrying Okja is where the heist “begins,” but it only succeeds thanks to the overwhelming apathy of the truck driver and the incompetent Mirando workers.

As tense and action-packed as the rescue scene is, following Okja at one point rampaging through a mall, it never lets up on its tongue-in-cheek tone (example: the fleeing girl who takes a quick selfie with a panicked Okja in the mall). The chaotic sequence is grounded by Mija’s prevailing love and loyalty to Okja, as well as Paul Dano’s eerily calm demeanor as Jay, the leader of the ALF. But Mija and Jay’s wary alliance all ends in betrayal thanks to the efforts of Steven Yeun’s smarmy K, who mistranslates Jay’s message to Mija so that the ALF can move forward with their plan to expose Mirando. It’s a heartbreaking ending to a previously triumphant and almost light-hearted action scene. (Hoai-Tran Bui)

Good Time trailer

The Search for the Bottle in Good Time

Good Time is a 99-minute panic attack, a ruthless and relentless thriller about ill-fated and ill-equipped criminals that drains the oxygen from your lungs as you witness one poor decision after another. Late in the film, after the mistakes have begun piling up so high that the slightest rumble will cause everything to come crashing down, Constantine “Connie” Nikas (an astonishing Robert Pattinson) decides that the only way out of his predicament is to obtain a bottle filled with LSD stashed in a carnival funhouse. By this point, Connie is neck deep in bad choices and it’s borderline impossible to remember how he even got to this point…which makes his nightmarish trek through the attraction all the more insane, especially when a security guard and a few police officers get involved. (Jacob Hall)

The Losers’ Club Says Goodbye in It

For all of It’s loud, clown-based horror, the moments that truly stand out in Andy Muschietti’s Stephen King adaptation are the quiet, surprisingly sweet moments. One of the key ingredients to making the film work is how much time Muschietti devotes to developing the Losers’ Club, a group of seven social misfits who come together to save their cursed hometown from evil. It helps that the kids playing the Losers – Jaeden Lieberher, Jeremy Ray Taylor, Sophia Lillis, Finn Wolfhard, Wyatt Oleff, Chosen Jacobs, Jack Dylan Grazer – are incredibly likable, and have real chemistry with each other. As It draws to a close, and evil is (momentarily) defeated, the seven friends gather one last time as the summer is coming to an end. They cut their palms and clasp hands in a ritualistic circle, binding themselves to each other for all time, come what may.

And then one by one, they go their separate ways. Wyatt Oleff’s character Stan is the first to go, and anyone who has read King’s book, and knows what happens to Stan later, will find a poignancy in this detail. Soon, everyone is gone, except Jaeden Lieberher’s Bill, the default leader of the Losers, and Sophia Lillis’ Bev, the lone girl of the group. “Just so you know,” Bev says to Bill, “I never felt like I was a loser when I was with all of you.” This is the part of the movie where I begin to slowly weep. In this one simple, effective moment, Muschietti’s film has captured the true power of King’s novel. It’s not the horror; it’s not the jump-scares. It’s the power of a group of self-proclaimed losers coming together and finding each other; of realizing they’re not as alone in the world as they once thought they were. Yes, evil will rise again, but for this one brief, fleeting moment, that doesn’t matter. (Chris Evangelista)

Peter Parker Meets the Parents in Spider-Man: Homecoming

There hasn’t been a twist this shocking in the entirety of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the fact that it’s pulled off so easily and impressively only makes it that much more satisfying. For the entire film, we’ve seen the back and forth between Spider-Man and the Adrian Toomes, aka Vulture (Michael Keaton), the latter only trying to maintain his business (albeit an illegal one) so he can provide for his family. Meanwhile, Spider-Man has just been trying to do the right thing by stopping him from putting dangerous weapons into the hands of thieves in New York City. But we’ve never put together the fact that the family Toomes is providing for includes none other than Peter Parker’s date to the homecoming dance, Liz. That makes the moment when Peter meets Adrian at the door of Liz’s house a truly jaw-dropping moment that elicited audible gasps and whispers both times I saw the movie in theaters.

The drive to the homecoming dance that follows has the perfect amount of tension as Peter struggles to figure out how to deal with this revelation and Adrian slowly becomes aware that his daughter’s date is none other than the pesky wallcrawler who has been messing up his business. Both Michael Keaton and Tom Holland play off each other fantastically, and you couldn’t ask for a more perfect scene in the movie. (Ethan Anderton)

the killing of a sacred deer trailer

The Living Room Meeting in The Killing of a Sacred Deer

My longstanding belief about conspiracy theories is that they’re popular because deep down, humans prefer to believe there’s a higher power at work. It’s terrifying to contemplate the possibility that every occurrence is completely random. Much more reassuring to think that someone is pulling all the strings, even if that someone is malevolent. The Killing of a Sacred Deer turns this notion on its head. Here, surgeon Steve Murphy (Colin Farrell) becomes increasingly certain that teenager Martin (played chillingly by Barry Keoghan) exerts an other-worldly power over his family, causing them to become increasingly sick. The only thing that will cause it to stop is if Murphy takes one of his family member’s lives – retribution for Murphy’s own errant hands taking the life of Martin’s father in a botched surgery. After agonizing over how to proceed, Farrell decides that introducing randomness into the equation is the only solution. He ties up his family in the living room and spins around randomly, firing a rifle until one of them is dead. It’s a brutal, heartbreaking scene with an unspeakable outcome, demonstrating that sometimes, chance is only outcome we can live with. (David Chen)

thelma

Thelma’s Dad is Engulfed in Flames in Thelma

Self-actualization becomes violent in Thelma. The antithesis to another repressed powerful teenage girl film, Carrie, Thelma posits the theory that you can build your own world — you just might have to kill your parents to do it. Toward the end of the Norwegian supernatural thriller, the titular Thelma (Eili Harboe) has taken refuge with her parents after she lost control of her powers and accidentally erased the girl that she loved. But her overprotective parents only feed the resentment in her as she slowly becomes aware of the drugs they give her and the memories they hid from her. Finally, the emotional battle between Thelma and her parents culminate in her telepathically setting her father on fire as sits alone in his lakeside boat — the spontaneous flames swallowing him up even after he attempts to jump into the lake. It’s a violent moment of self-discovery for Thelma, who counters the cruelty against her father with a gesture of forgiveness towards her distressed, disabled mother, healing her paralyzed legs with a touch.

Embracing herself for who she is, she leaves her horrified parents, essentially an all-powerful god. It’s a cunning metaphor for coming out — as soon as Thelma accepts her true self, only then can she control her own world. (Hoai-Tran Bui)

Bill Camp stars in MOLLY'S GAME (Michael Gibson/Motion Picture Artwork)

Harlan Eustice Loses a Hand in Molly’s Game

For one brief yet wonderful moment, Aaron Sorkin’s Molly’s Game stops being about Jessica Chastain’s Molly Bloom, and suddenly turns into a movie about a character named Harlan Eustice, played by character actor extraordinaire Bill Camp. Harlan is a master poker player – a guy who tends to win constantly. Then one night, while playing at one of Molly Bloom’s high-stakes poker games, Harlan comes up against Brad (Brian d’Arcy James), an abysmal poker player who just likes to play so he can hang out with the guys.

Harlan doesn’t know Brad is a terrible player, however, and mistakes Brad’s ineptitude for master bluffing. As a result, Harlan folds, only to discover Brad didn’t have a winning hand at all. This sends Harlan off the deep end, and he begins a marathon poker session that ends up putting him deeper and deeper into the hole. Sorkin does a wonderful job setting all of this up: we see Harlan’s confidence, and then we see it crumble before our very eyes, as Camp’s performance becomes more and more unhinged and desperate. This is, all in all, a brief moment in a long film, yet through Sorkin’s crackling writing, and Camp’s flop-sweat drenched performance, it becomes one of the most memorable scenes in the film. (Chris Evangelista)

Thor and the Hulk Reunite in Thor Ragnarok

Thor: Ragnarok was one of the most enjoyable superhero movies of 2017, and one of the film’s best moments was a centerpiece of its earliest trailers. As a captured Thor (the very funny Chris Hemsworth) is led out into a massive gladiatorial arena on Sakaar under the watchful eye of The Grandmaster (Jeff Goldblum, delivering the Jeff Goldblum-iest performance imaginable), The Incredible Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) bursts through the gates on the other side and presents himself as Thor’s opposition. While the cheering fans and the Grandmaster expect a shocked or horrified reaction from Thor, the Asgardian hero instead bellows his excitement, and as the crowd falls silent, he looks up and explains that the Hulk is “a friend from work.” Hemsworth’s childlike delivery deflates the supposed import of the moment (a tactic used with great success by director Taika Waititi time and time again in this movie), and even though we’d seen it dozens of times in trailers already, it’s a testament to the way all of the elements came together that the line works even better in context.  (Ben Pearson)

the florida project

The Ending of The Florida Project

Almost all of Sean Baker’s remarkable The Florida Project strives for realism. The film presents a warts-and-all look at poverty, never glossing things up and never sentimentalizing either. The film is set mostly in a run-down Florida motel near Disney, and focuses on six-year-old Moonee (Brooklynn Prince) as she gets in one adventure to the next.

The film’s powerful, emotional conclusion finds Moonee about to be taken away from her mother (Bria Vinaite) to foster parents, a move the young girl clearly doesn’t understand. The tension continues to mount, and Baker does an incredible job escalating the scene from calm and controlled to near hysterics. Then The Florida Project decides to break your heart. Moonee runs away to find her best friend, Jancey (Valeria Cotto), and when she does, Baker’s camera lingers on Moonee’s face as she struggles to find words she doesn’t fully grasp. If you’re not sobbing uncontrollably at this point, I’m pretty sure you’re a robot or a sociopath. Things seem hopeless and bleak, and then something magical happens: Jancey grabs Moonee’s hand, and they take off. The speed of the film changes, the music picks up, and the children run until they’re right in the heart of the Magic Kingdom. It’s a fairytale ending; a fleeting, lovely moment of peace to relieve a tension filled scenario.

Baker shot the scene undercover, using an iPhone 6s. “It has what’s called a rolling shutter, and it gave it this hyperactivity and a very different, jarring feel, and we liked that,” the director told THR. “We could have shot it on a 5s and made it more smooth, but we actually wanted to the audience to know that we were jumping from 35mm to another medium.”

As wonderful as this ending is, several people have taken issue with it (several members of the /Film team love the movie but are divided over the ending). Frankly, I’m baffled by this. To each their own, of course, but the ending is the most essential part of the entire film; it’s the moment that solidified The Florida Project as my number one movie of 2017. For his part, Baker too was surprised at the reaction to the ending. “It’s left up to interpretation but it’s not supposed to be literal, it’s supposed to be a moment in which we’re putting the audience in the headspace of a child,” he told THR. “And in the end, with this inevitable drama, this is me saying to the audience, ‘If you want a happy ending, you’re gonna have to go to that headspace of a kid because, here, that’s the only way to achieve it.’” (Chris Evangelista)

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