Every year when I begin to look back at the movies of 2019 and begin to make my lists, this is always my favorite list to make. It is a tough list to make, but always an exciting and interesting list to make. I get to look back and look at my favorite moments of the year in movies. Whether it was a scene or a moment that scared me, thrilled me, caused an emotional reaction, or one of just pure entertainment, these are the ones that knocked me out in 2019. Here are my picks for the best movie moments of 2019.
You’ve been warned.
10. LANDING ON NEPTUNE – AD ASTRA
- The third act of James Gray’s brilliant sci-fi film is one of great filmmaking and visual effects. Astronaut Roy McBride (Brad Pitt) is on the tail end of his mission and goes to Neptune to find his father and this scene literally took my breath away. Just the sheer idea of traveling that far into space is unbelievable, but this also sets the movie up for its big emotional climax. It’s a gorgeous scene and the best part of James Gray’s stunning achievement.
9. SOCCER BALL PREGNANCY – GREENER GRASS
- Greener Grass was one of the weirdest movies I saw in 2019, yet one that I grew to love the more I thought about it and the more I saw it. This is a twisted, hilarious, dark comedy that is full of bits and scenes of bizarre behavior. My favorite bit, and one that is making me laugh as I type this out, is a simple one and one you have to see to understand, as explaining it doesn’t do it justice. During a neighborhood soccer game, Lisa (pictured above, played by Dawn Luebbe) takes the soccer ball as it was kicked out of bounds, sticks under her dress, and from that point on is pregnant. This is a recurring bit throughout the movie, which included a baby shower, the child being born, and family pictures. Again, it’s strange stuff, but it is also the funniest running joke of 2019.
8. OPENING SHOT – CLIMAX
- Gaspar Noé films are films that stick with you. He completely immerses you into them and makes you feel some kind of way when watching them, usually a feeling of discomfort or horror. The opening to his latest film, Climax, is no different. This five-minute, uncut introduction features over a dozen actors dancing their hearts out to techno music. It is an exhausting, hypnotic shot, filled with slick camera moves, stunning colors, and crazy dance movements that sets us up for what is to come in this horrifying, claustrophobic trip.
7. FINAL SHOT – PORTRAIT OF A LADY ON FIRE
- Céline Sciamma’s Portrait of Lady on Fire is a movie that has stuck with me since I saw it back in October. It is a beautiful love story about two women who’s love grows stronger and deeper the more they observe each other, yet they know their relationship cannot last. The final shot of the film a master stroke from Sciamma and powerhouse acting from Adèle Haenel. Marianne (Noémie Merlant) and Héloïse’s (Haenel) relationship has ended when Héloïse was forced to get married. Having not seen each other since, Marianne sees Héloïse at a concert on the other side of theater. Vivaldi’s “Concerto No. 2”, a callback to an earlier scene, begins to play and we watch Héloïse go through a whirlwind of emotions. We watch as she remembers everything about her time with Marainne, the good times, the bad times, the times that they laughed, and the times they cried. Sciamma doesn’t cut from Haenel and we watch for a solid two minutes as the emotions rush through her. It’s a beautiful final shot in one of the most beautiful movies of the year.
6. “I AM IRON MAN” – AVENGERS: ENDGAME
- “I am Iron Man.” These words shook the comic book movie landscape forever and kicked off one of the biggest franchises in cinematic history. Eleven years later, these words are more powerful than ever. When it seemed like Thanos had gotten the best of the Avengers once again, capturing all the infinity stones on the infinity gauntlet, he tries to snap everything in existence away, only to realize Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) has taken the stones and made his own gauntlet on his suit. Iron Man then utters the words, “I…am…Iron Man.”, then snaps Thanos and everything he brought away, saving the galaxy. These would be last words Tony Stark would ever say and it was the perfect end to a character arc, coming full circle from the time he said them at that press conference back in 2008 to his dying words in 2019.
5. “IT’S GONNA HAPPEN” – THE IRISHMAN
- There were a number of scenes from Martin Scorsese’s three-and-a-half-hour gangster masterpiece that I could have chosen here. But this small scene really hit me hard. In a quiet dinning room on their way to a wedding, Russell Bufalino (Joe Pesci) informs Frank Sheeran (Robert De Niro) that he will be traveling to Detroit to kill his friend Jimmy Hoffa, all while eating cereal and drinking coffee. This is Pesci’s Oscar scene, as his calm, yet terrifying demeanor really puts Frank in a bind. De Niro doesn’t say much, but his eyes say everything. He is now torn between the man who brought him into this life and his friend. It’s a powerful scene and a sucker punch to the gut.
4. MEETING MR. ROGERS – A BEAUTIFUL DAY IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD
- The opening of Marielle Heller’s wonderful film starts exactly how every Mr. Rogers episode started, with Mr. Rogers (Tom Hanks) walking into his home singing “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?”. This is our first glimpse of Tom Hanks as Mr. Rogers and it is the moment we fall in love with him. There was a lot of speculation around Hanks as Rogers, as he doesn’t look and sound anything like Rogers. But with the help of brilliant costume design, some small make-up, and Hanks hitting all the vocal notes, you immediately believe Hanks is Rogers. Heller brilliantly shot the opening like the T.V. show and set the stage for one the most heart-warming movies of 2019.
3. “GO TO WAR” – FORD V. FERRARI
- Ford v Ferrari is a great American sports movie. A movie about the underdog overcoming all obstacles to to rise to the top. One of the key aspects of a great sports movie is a great, inspirational speech, a la Miracle or Friday Night Lights. Ford v Ferrari has one and it is said by the wonderful Tracy Letts as Henry Ford II. Ford is giving a speech to Carroll Shelby (Matt Damon) about the history of Ford Motors during time of war and how the company persevered through tough times, symbolic of how everything is going for Shelby in trying make a car that is capable of winning the 24 hour at Le Mans. Ford ends his speech by telling Shelby, “go to war” and it is a moment that might as well have come with a bald eagle screeching in background. A speech that represents everything red, white, and blue and makes you want to stand up and yell, “AMERICA!” while pumping your fist in the air.
2. THE FIGHT – MARRIAGE STORY
- Two of the best performances of 2019 come from Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansson in Noah Baumbach’s Marriage Story. The two actors give arguably the best performances of their respective careers and commit to being a couple attempting to go through a divorce with as little stress as possible and as cordial as possible. However, that doesn’t happen and the two end up at each other’s throats, in an explosive scene of emotion and acting mastery. The entire film was building to this moment and it is as an absolute explosion of a scene. Johansson and Driver is incredible and Baumbach’s writing is top-tier. You feel everything they are saying. You feel the pain, the anger, and the sadness that comes with every word. It’s acting at its finest and if these two end up winning Oscars for their performances, this is the scene that got them those statues.
1. “AVENGERS! ASSEMBLE!” – AVENGERS: ENDGAME
- As soon as I saw this scene, I knew it would be number one on this list and it wouldn’t be close. This scene is not only the definition of awesome, but it is epic on every scale. When all hope seems lost for Captain America (Chris Evans), Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), and the remaining Avengers and it looks like Thanos’ army will take over the planet, we hear the static of Falcon’s (Anthony Mackie) voice in Captain America’s ear, followed by the appearance of T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman) coming from a Doctor Strange portal. It is then an onslaught of everyone from the MCU appearing on screen, both those who disappeared in the snap and those who survived, all culminating in an attack on Thanos and his army with Captain America commanding, “AVENGERS! ASSEMBLE!”. Alan Silvestri’s epic score takes over and we watch as eleven years and over twenty movies come together on the screen at the same time. You can’t help but get emotional watching this. We have grown with the MCU and The Avengers and all of these characters and seeing them all on screen at the same time fighting for their lives and the galaxy is something we had been waiting for for over a decade. This is not only the best scene of 2019, but possibly the best scene of the decade, symbolizing so much of what cinema has become while also being the as big as anything that has ever been on the big screen.
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