There’s nothing better than a movie moment you immediately know will be stuck in your mind forever.
It might be the emotion of the moment, the way the music matches the powerful visuals, or a line that’s delivered just the right way. Whatever it is, it’s the moment when you are hooked on the movie not just for the rest of the year, but for many more to come.
With 2017 coming to a close, I looked back on 11 moments in the movies this year that I won’t forget anytime soon.
Warning: Some spoilers are also included.
11. The K-Ci & JoJo scene in “Ingrid Goes West”
I’ve pretty much been cracking up about this scene since I first saw it at the Sundance Film Festival back in January. Ingrid (Aubrey Plaza) befriends Taylor (Elizabeth Olsen), the person she’s been stalking on Instagram, and they take a girls’ trip to Joshua Tree.
During the car ride they play the late 1990s hit “All My Life” by K-Ci & JoJo. Ingrid gets so into the song that she begins to stare at Taylor as she sings the lyrics, “I pray for someone like you, and I hope that you feel the same way too.” This leads to her slamming into the guardrail.
Plaza’s lust stare for Taylor makes the entire moment incredibly funny.
10. Paz de la Huerta interrupts “My Scientology Movie”
- Magnolia Pictures
This is definitely one of the top bats–t moments I have ever seen in a documentary.
Louis Theroux is having a serious chat with former Scientology member Marty Rathbun in a hotel room when out of nowhere a bikini-clad Paz de le Huerta knocks on the window of their room. Theroux opens the door and the actress walks in demanding not to be filmed, though goes on to brag that she’s been in over 45 films (there’s a lot more to this story). And as quickly as she appears she’s gone, and the two men are left wondering if somehow Scientology was behind the encounter.
The randomness of the encounter and Theroux’s handling of the situation is something I can watch on a loop for days (and perhaps I have!).
9. Rachael reunites with Deckard in “Blade Runner 2049”
- Warner Bros.
The appearance of a CGI version of Sean Young, as she looked in the original “Blade Runner” movie in 1982, filled me with nostalgia and a burning desire to find out how they did it.
She looks flawless (though Deckard finds a flaw) and the moment beautifully links both movies.
8. Miguel sings “Remember Me” in “Coco”
“Coco” is a beautiful story about how important family is. It reminds you to never forget relatives who have passed away. That’s highlighted in the end of the movie when Miguel returns from the Land of the Dead and sings “Remember Me” to his great-grandmother, Coco. The song – which she recalls her father, Héctor (Gael García Bernal), singing to her as a child – saves Héctor from being forgotten forever in the Land of the Dead.
It’s this moment in the movie that elevates it from a solid Pixar movie to a really great one.
7. Lady Bird screams in “Lady Bird”
There are a lot of moments in “Lady Bird” that are great. But for me, the standout is a very brief shot.
It’s after Lady Bird (Saoirse Ronan) kisses Danny (Lucas Hedges). The camera cuts to her walking down the middle of the street in full puppy-dog love glee. She then stops and gives out a scream.
It’s a real moment that adds to the authenticity of the movie.
6. Tom Hardy prepares for capture in “Dunkirk”
- Warner Bros.
Christopher Nolan just has a knack for delivering strong endings. For “Dunkirk” it’s wrapping up the land, sea, and air motif he’s given us. But it’s the air one that’s the most powerful.
Tom Hardy lands on the beach at Dunkirk after running out of fuel, burns his plane so the Germans can’t use it, and then waits for them to show up and capture him.
This shot of him waiting for the enemy soldiers with his plane burning, as the sun goes down, is a goose-bump moment. It’s bolstered by the amazing score by Hans Zimmer, and Tommy (Fionn Whitehead) in voiceover reading Prime Minister Winston Churchill’s address to the nation about the evacuation at Dunkirk from a newspaper.
5. The “No Man’s Land” scene in “Wonder Woman”
- Warner Bros. Pictures
There have been a lot of superhero movies made in the last decade, but I don’t think there are many iconic shots that have come out of most of them. But with “Wonder Woman” all you have to say is “No Man’s Land” and the shot of Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) taking on a trench full of Germans by herself instantly comes to you.
The build up, the reveal of the Wonder Woman costume, and the camera angle showing that she is taking on all the gun fire (which lets Steve Trevor and his team to sneak up and take out the Germans) – everything works.
4. The father-son moment in “Call Me by Your Name”
- Sony Pictures Classics
When Oliver (Armie Hammer) leaves Italy at the end of “Call Me by Your Name,” it leads to an incredible moment between a heartbroken Elio (Timothée Chalamet) and his father (Michael Stuhlbarg), who can see his son is in pain.
Taken almost word-for-word from the book the movie is based on, Stuhlbarg delivers a powerful monologue encouraging Elio to not forget the love he’s built for Oliver. To cherish it. “If there is pain, nurse it, and if there is a flame, don’t snuff it out, don’t be brutal with it,” he tells Elio as the two share a cigarette.
It’s not just a moment of a father recognizing that his son is gay and accepting it, but a father telling his son never to close up his emotions, to always lead with his heart. And, most importantly, it’s telling a son that his father is always there for a talk or shoulder to cry on.
3. The last shot of “Mudbound”
Why is Jason Mitchell an incredible actor? Just look at the last scene of “Mudbound.”
Without uttering a single word we feel his character’s emotion as following the PTSD of war, and surviving the brutal beating by the KKK, he’s now at the doorstep of his love and about to meet his child for the first time.
With Tamar-kali’s uplifting score playing, the scene is a powerful one.
2. Lightspeed crash in “The Last Jedi”
It’s a sequence that recently has received a lot of attention because there is no sound at a very important part. But that’s just one aspect of it that will make this part of “The Last Jedi” go down as one of the best moments of any from the saga.
At a crucial moment when the Resistance has evacuated General Organa’s (Carrie Fisher) ship, “Raddus,” to try to escape from the First Order’s massive ship, “Supremacy,” it’s the one person left on the “Raddus” who delivers the counter-punch.
Seeing that the First Order has its sights on the smaller ships they are using to try and flee, Vice Admiral Holdo (Laura Dern) turns “Raddus” around and goes into hyperspace directly into “Supremacy.”
The visual is a wide shot that captures both ships right at impact. It is magnificent and the use of no sound on impact elevates the power of the image on screen.
1. Running through Disney World in “The Florida Project”
The final scene in Sean Baker’s incredibly powerful “The Florida Project” is the best ending of any movie this year.
Moonee (Brooklynn Prince) and her mother are on the verge of being separated by Child Protective Services when Moonee runs away to her friend’s house at the neighboring motel. As she cries, her friend grabs her hand, and with music coming on for the first time since the opening credits, we see the two run through locations we saw them in during the movie in a series of cuts – and suddenly through the gates of Disney World’s Magic Kingdom.
The sequence, shot from the point-of-view of the back of their heads, and following their path until they finally disappear into the crowded streets of Magic Kingdom, has a different feel and tone than the rest of the movie.
The emotion of what has occurred, the sudden use of music; Baker is taking us to the place that cheers up all kids. It’s the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. And as quickly as the sequence starts, it ends and the credits begin.
You are left sitting there recounting what you experienced and looking forward to when you can go through it all again.