This is always the toughest list to make, but also my favorite to make. Movies are comprised of many scenes and when you see as many movies as I do, that leads up to thousands of scenes I see in a year. But these scenes are the ones that stuck with me the most throughout 2018. Whether it was a scene that scared me, thrilled me, or one of just pure entertainment, these are the ones that knocked me out in 2018. Here are my picks for the best scenes of 2018.
You’ve been warned.
10 – WILLIS (SEARS) TOWER DESTRUCTION – RAMPAGE
Rampage is not one of my favorite movies of the year. I remember seeing this movie on IMAX strictly for the fact the films finale featured a giant ape, a giant crocodile, and a giant flying werewolf battling in Chicago and that battle did not disappoint. It was a loud, rambunctious, chaotic scene of pure destruction and mayhem. But the wildest moment was watching the creatures climb up Chicago’s Willis (Sears) Tower and bring the whole building down. Being a Chicagoan and knowing the legacy of the Willis (Sears) Tower and how big of a staple it is to the city and the United States as whole (it’s the second tallest building in the country), seeing this monument fall was simply jaw-dropping. Rampage was a big movie in every sense of the word and this was its biggest moment.
9 – PRISON EFFECT – IF BEALE STREET COULD TALK
Sometimes, a good monolog is all you need. A beautifully written piece of dialog that is delivered by a top-notch actor is one of my favorite things to see in a movie and we got just that in Barry Jenkins’ tragic love story, If Beale Street Could Talk. After Fonny (Stephan James) runs into an old friend who has just been released from prison, Daniel (Brian Tyree Henry), the two spend an afternoon drinking some beers, laughing, reminiscing about the good times. But the conversation quickly goes from joy to sadness and Daniel talks about his time in prison and what it has done to him. It is the most powerful moment in the emotional drama, and that is saying something. Henry deserves awards recognition just for this scene alone. He begins to talk about his time like it’s nothing, but then quickly descends back into the fear and loneliness that he faced in prison and how it has changed him. It’s perfect writing by Jenkins (and author James Baldwin, who wrote the novel the film is based on) and astounding acting by Henry. Bringing the two together makes for beautiful cinema.
8 – “WHO ARE YOU?!” – BLACK PANTHER
Black Panther took the world by storm in 2018 becoming the highest grossing movie of the year and likely to become the first comic book movie to nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars. I’ve rewatched Black Panther a number of times since its release (thank you, Netflix) and one scene that always gets me is Killmonger (a sensational Michael B. Jordan) announcing who he is. The scene starts as a confrontation between Killmonger and T’challa (Chadwick Boseman) talking about the role of Wakanda and the oppression of black people all over the world. That conversation alone would have made for a great scene, but that’s until someone yells to Killmonger, “who are you?!” and the scene takes a turn to brilliant. The beat drops and Killmonger announces that he is Wakandan royalty and has a right to the throne. This is really a testament to Jordan’s performance, as the angry, hate-fueled Killmonger unleashes a furious speech that shakes the landscape of all Wakanda. Jordan is fierce, with a fire in his eyes, carrying this scene and capping it with a smooth, devilish, “Hey auntie.” This is the scene where Black Panther went from good MCU movie to great movie.
7 – BULLET REMOVAL – GAME NIGHT
I love Game Night. My favorite comedy of 2018 is filled with wonderful moments and hilarious quotes, particularly the soon-to-be-iconic, ” Yes! Oh no, he died!” line. But the scene that gets me every cracking up every time I watch it is when Annie (Rachel McAdams) is attempting to remove a bullet from Max’s (Jason Bateman) arm. From the Chardonnay and squeaky toy to the back-and-forth attempts to not vomit, this scene is comedy gold. McAdams and Bateman are firing on cylinders, with McAdams trying to make the best out of a terrible situation while Bateman is in agony. The ending of the scene is comedy gold. This could have been a perfect short film in and of itself. But instead, it’s the best scene from 2018’s best comedy.
6 – SCREENSLAVER FIGHT – INCREDIBLES II
This fight sequence in Brad Bird’s Incredibles 2 is a testament to the mad genius that is Brad Bird. When Elastigirl (voiced by Holly Hunter) tracks down her hypnotizing villain, Screenslaver, it leads her to a weird apartment and into a small room. She is then ambushed by Screenslaver and the two battle it out in a strobe-filled room. The fight itself is exciting, but what makes this scene great is the technical piece of it. Bird keeps the strobe lights going the whole time (which forced theaters to put a warning sign up for possible seizures) while also making a fast, smooth fight that includes Elastigirl using her powers and then loosening up when she gets shocked. Coupled with a great Michael Giacchino score, this scene made me audibly gasp and say, “whoa” when I saw it.
5 – THE WALL CRAWL – HEREDITARY
In Ari Aster’s horror masterpiece, Aster does a great job of maintaining a tight control over the movie the entire time until the final moments. This is the beginning of the control snapping. As soon as the scene cuts from day a to night, and you see the house surrounded by a number of naked people, you know some shit is about to go down. After a tough day at school where he bashed his face into a desk after briefly being possessed, Peter (Alex Wolff) wakes up after a much needed rest. The house is quiet, and he notices the shed light is on again. But what awaits behind Peter is the true horror. Seeing his mother, Annie (Toni Collette, in the best performance of 2018) hang in the corner of the wall staring at Peter is the scariest shot of 2018 and maybe the decade. You have no idea what she is doing up there, why she is up there, or what she is going to do next. Aster lets the camera linger, making our palms sweat as we scoot towards the edge of our seats. When Peter begins to turn his head around, Annie scurries away, a startling movement you would never expect. It is a scene that will haunt your dreams.
4 – THE WEDDING CEREMONY – CRAZY RICH ASIANS
This wedding sequence in Crazy Rich Asians is one of the greatest weddings I’ve ever seen on screen. A stunning, classy, wildly extra wedding that will have your heart soaring and tears rolling down your face. Kicking it off with a beautiful rendition of the Elvis Presley classic, “Can’t Help Falling In Love” this scene not only gives us a dream wedding ceremony, filled with plants, a tiny river, and lights that look like lightning bugs, illuminating the church and making it seem like the bride is walking through a magical forest, but this is the peak of Rachel (Constance Wu) and Nick’s (Henry Golding) relationship. The scene cuts back-and-forth between the ceremony happening and Rachel and Nick, who gaze at into each others eyes, realizing how much they truly love each other. This scene is the literal definition of, “I want someone to look at me the way Henry looks at Constance.” It’s beautiful in every sense of the word.
3 – THE MOON LANDING – FIRST MAN
A movie like First Man is interesting because we already know how it is going to end. It’s not like the moon landing didn’t happen, contrary to what some people say. So in order for a movie like this work, the build up has to be compelling and the climactic ending has to stick. Damien Chazelle’s film has both. The entire film is a build up for the actual moon landing and Chazelle made sure to finish the film off in a truly masterful, emotional fashion. On a technical level, this is the best thing Chazelle has ever put on screen, and that is coming from a guy who loves Whiplash and La La Land. The cinematography, score, and editing highlight some of the years best work and that actual landing looking incredibly realistic. But what takes this scene to another level is the emotional center to it. Neil Armstrong (Ryan Gosling) worked so hard and lost the ones closest to him, including his daughter, to get to this moment and he finally lets go of all his pent-up emotion. It’s a moving tribute to those lost during the exploration and further proof that Chazelle is one of the very directors working today.
(BEHIND THE SCENES)
2 – THE H.A.L.O. JUMP – MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE: FALLOUT
Mission: Impossible – Fallout is simply one of the greatest action movies ever made. With Tom Cruise going full maniac and doing every single stunt you see in the film, one of which he broke his leg during, and the outstanding filmmaking by Christopher McQuarrie, Fallout is a non-stop roller coaster ride of thrills. But the first stunt of the movie is one of the greatest captured on camera: a H.A.L.O. (High Altitude, Low Open) jump that Tom Cruise actually did. Starting off at 30,000 feet and opening at under 3,000 feet, H.A.L.O. jumps are designed for the highly trained military men, and apparently Tom Cruise. Having a cameraman follow Cruise as he falls through the air, giving us a front row view of how crazy this fall is, is nothing short of extraordinary, especially seeing it on IMAX. Cruise doing this shows how great of a performer he really is and how far he is willing to go for the movies he is in. This scene will leave you breathless.
NOTE: I added two videos here: one of the actual scene and one of the behind-the-scenes making of it. Both are necessary viewing.
1 – “SHALLOW” – A STAR IS BORN
2018 offered up a lot of great movies. So much so, in fact, that any list that I’ve made has been really difficult because I didn’t want to leave certain films out. So in order to narrow down these lists, I picked films that affected me emotionally. I looked at movies, performances, and in this case, scenes, that stayed with me throughout the year and hit me the hardest while seeing it in theaters. The performance of “Shallow” in Bradley Cooper’s A Star is Born was the most overwhelming movie experience I had in 2018. A scene of pure power, love, and emotions that had my eyes almost in tears. The dizzying, almost dream-like first act of the film comes to a head in this scene, as Jackson (Bradley Cooper) invites Ally (Lady Gaga) up on stage to sing a song he just wrote. Ally owns it, and sings her heart, much like Jackson knew she would. Perfectly shot and edited, with Gaga belting her heart out and Cooper presenting a confidence and swagger while being in a state of bliss as he falls in love with Ally and watches her become a star. The song is Oscar-worthy, but its Cooper’s direction and editing and Gaga’s stunning voice that make this the very best scene of 2018.
Follow Kevflix on Instagram and Twitter, @kevflix, or on Facebook by searching Kevflix.