Top 20 movie scenes of 2018

Ali Gray

30th December 2018

Look, we just woke up and realised it was New Year's Eve and thought, shit, we'd better mark the end of the year for some reason, so here's a round-up of our favourite bits of scenes of films that happened in 2018, accompanied by pictures featuring very big numbers denoting their position. If you need further explanation of this concept then please send me a stamped and addressed envelope. Good bye.

As seen in: Black Panther

I didn't really know what to expect from Marvel's Black Panther, an afro-futurist superhero film from a studio seemingly content to churn out formulaic product. As it turns out, the movie was deeply rooted in African culture, history and design, and married that proud heritage to a deeply satisfying blockbuster narrative. What I really wasn't expecting, however, was how affecting the plight of villain Erik Killmonger was - it's a movie that's happy for its bad guy to be way more interesting than its hero. Killmonger, played by an over-inflated Michael B Jordan balloon, doesn't thirst for power like most villains do - the only reason he wants Wakanda's throne is to violently right the wrongs that his people have faced over the centuries. The Disney model could never allow an aggressive African-American vigilante to succeed in his plight, but a defeated Killmonger still gets a 'Holy shit' sign-off before the Wakandan sunset, a final line that resonates louder than any other Marvel villain dialogue to date: "Bury me in the ocean with my ancestors who jumped from ships, because they knew death was better than bondage." Ali

Read the full Black Panther review

As seen in: Bros: After the Screaming Stops

In my humble opinion, every spot on this list could come from the Bros documentary, whether it's Matt's nonsensical metaphors ("He was a rectangle, I was a rectangle and we made a square that's a fortress") to Luke's hissy fits at every perceivable slight against his very being. It's This Is Spinal Tap except with David Brent on vocals and Alan Partridge on drums (although dashes of Nigel Tufnell are still there). The standout scene in a film of constant meme-able quotes is Matt's passionate rant about conkers during a trip to their childhood home: "Kids aren't allowed to play conkers any more, they have to wear goggles. Can we start a petition in honour of Bros? How ridiculous is it that kids can't even fucking play conkers any more?" Luke's delayed response - "I can live with it" - is so witheringly perfect, it needs to be encased in glass and preserved forever in a museum. Becky

Read the full Bros: After The Screaming Stops review

As seen in: Bohemian Rhapsody

I didn't much care for Bohemian Rhapsody, if I'm being quite honest, because there are some bands who feel like they should transcend the usual music biopic tropes - Freddie Mercury deserves more than the 'rise and fall' boilerplate treatment. One area, however, where the movie excels, is the Live Aid concert, reimagined here as Queen's comeback gig (no such break-up even existed) but restaged with unerring accuracy. Bizarrely, for a dramatisation that's otherwise quick to skip through the fillers until we get to the killers, the band's benefit slot is allowed to play out in full, meaning we get a complete performance from the best Queen cover band we're ever likely to see - and Rami Malek, out in front, ten foot tall with teeth hovering over the first few rows, is up to the task. Sure, you could just watch the actual performance from Live Aid, but the Hollywood gloss that's added here does give the performance an added frisson of excitement. Ali

Read the full Bohemian Rhapsody review

As seen in: Suspiria

Despite a wealth of innovative films in recent years, there is still the stigma that there is no new ground to break in Horror. Luca Guadagnino's remake/reimagining/reappropriation of Dario Argento's classic Suspiria can hardly claim originality, but it does contain an early monstrous sequence that truly feels like something we've never seen before. As Dakota Johnson's Susie performs a contemporary dance routine, it doubles as a ritual for fellow student Olga, trapped in a room full of mirrors and gradually being twisted and snapped into a mash of flesh and bone. Every contortion of Susie's body results in a sickeningly bone-crunching, sinew-tearing contortion of Olga's, and the whole sequence is so visceral it makes you aware of the taste of your own gums. It also serves as a perfect reflection of the film as a whole, as balletic poise belies a hidden ugliness rooted in supernatural evil. Even after the film ends in a blood-soaked hell of monsters and mayhem, it says a lot that the only image that sticks in the brain is Olga's gnarly corpse face. Matt

As seen in: Incredibles 2

I'm torn, because one the one hand, I like my kids movies to come with a soupcon of drama and a dash of terror, the healthy kind of horror that makes you appreciate why the good guys are the good guys. On the other hand, I'm the dad who has to do emotional clean-up when my kid starts bawling because the cartoon man did something scary. Incredibles 2 features a CRAZY intense scene, in which Elastigirl suddenly finds herself trapped in a very small room with Screenslaver, where the walls are covered in mesmerising and epilepsy-inducing hypno-screens. This sequence would be scary enough without the bright flashing lights and dramatic music, let alone the fact the villain is wearing a leather gas-mask and is trying to smash Elastigirl's head in, but it was a scene of such sudden impact, my five-year-old son jolted about a foot in the air the instant it began. He's forgotten about it now, because childhood fears are fleeting, but I still remember it in vivid detail, including the small fact that I was just as scared as he was. Ali

Read the full Incredibles 2 review

As seen in: Mandy

I don't know if it's written into Nicolas Cage's contracts, but it seems that every new film of his these days contains at least one scene of uncaged Cage. For all the 'Open It!'s and 'Saws ALL's, only Mandy contains a moment that has bottled the pure, unfiltered essence of Cage, a man whose tired eyes you have always suspected hide a harrowed, damaged soul that howls into a dark abyss of torment. In pants. Having witnessed the brutal treatment and subsequent abduction of his beloved Mandy at the hands of a drugged-up demon biker gang, Cage survives the ordeal and steels himself for the torturous personal hell he has just embarked on. And he does it by crying in his bathroom, alternating between grief, fury and a bottle of vodka, unleashing guttural screams into a void of despair, while at the same time embracing the new nightmare that has engulfed him. In pants. The result is unfettered, animalistic, primal savagery, as portrayed by an actor who is never afraid to cross the line and make the performance choices that no one else dares to make. In pants. Matt

Read the full Mandy review

As seen in: A Quiet Place

Fact: John Krasinski and Emily Blunt are ultimate relationship goals. Further fact: A Quiet Place is one of the most innovative and emotional horror films of recent years, but then you already knew as much. No one could have predicted that a silent horror would be so breathtaking, let alone one directed by Jim from The Office. In a world where even just a tummy rumble could sign your own death warrant, Krasinski amps up the adrenaline by not only having the female lead go into labour, but having her walk into a situation that preys on the most universal of fears: stepping on a sharp object with bare feet. Left alone in the house, Blunt's Evelyn starts having contractions with her fourth child (because not even an alien invasion can keep these two off of each other) and makes her way to the family's control centre only to impale her foot on a spike, which as we all know ruddy hurts like mad. It's a startlingly effective scene, delivering a real shock to the system as Evelyn manages to stifle a scream only to trigger a sequence of events that leads to the film's thrilling final act. From the sound design to Blunt's mesmerising performance, it's a near masterpiece, which is what you'd expect from the most perfect couple ever to grace this planet. Becky

As seen in: BlacKKKlansman

Never has there been a more tantalising synopsis than, "Black man infiltrates the Ku Klux Klan", a tale so crazy that it just has to be true. Ron Stallworth's (John David Washington) dangerous mission to take down the extremist hate group as it attempts to go mainstream is as horrifying as it hilarious, with Spike Lee delivering a challenging yet entertaining watch - and a sucker-punch of a denouement. Just as Stallworth manages to get one last laugh on the idiotic Klan, Lee switches to real-life footage from the Charlottesville rally in 2017 - events which occurred only a month before production began. Members of the far-right spew racist and anti-Semitic chants before we get a stomach-churning view of the car that ploughed into counter-protesters and killed 32 year-old Heather Meyer. There are the immediate reactions and witness accounts from people crying in disbelief at what they’ve just seen, cut with Trump's unbelievable assertion that "there was blame on both sides", placing the white nationalists on the same moral ground as those that opposed their hateful ideology. Lee draws a clear line between the KKK of the seventies and Trump's current political rhetoric, ultimately proving that not much has changed. It's a difficult and sobering coda, but a necessary one. Becky

As seen in: Coco

This year's Pixar offerings were a double-edged sword: Incredibles 2 was an all-out attack on the senses, whereas Coco was tantamount to emotional assault. I refer you to #16 and my Incredibles 2 experience with my son, where he sat enraptured by the action and the drama - young kids don't yet understand the code that says good guys always win and no one ever really dies. With Coco, however, the experience was flipped: he was delighted by the colourful visuals and the silly characters and the flying dog but unmoved by the character's emotional plight, whereas I was a bawling mess come the movie's close. The real tear-jerker was the final rendition of the film's central song, 'Remember Me', an ode to keeping the memory of loved ones alive, a paean to the power of music. As young Miguel artfully plucks his guitar strings while singing the tune to his great-grandmother Mamá Coco, the music lights a fire within her, and a smile slowly creeps across her wizened face as she finally remembers her lost love. It's just lovely, so bloody lovely, such a brave and admirable way to end a movie that's ostensibly about wacky skeletons. Ali

As seen in: First Man

Kind of like how if you asked James Cameron about Titanic he'd claim it wasn't really a movie about a boat crash, it was a love story, I feared First Man wouldn't really be about the Moon landing at all - the real moon landing was the family they made along the way, or some shit like that. Fear not: there is an actual Moon landing featured in the film, and the two hours of sensible ground-work put in down on terra firma makes the Apollo 11 mission feel even more other-wordly. Props to the best aspect ratio change of the year, as Neil Armstrong steps out of the lunar rover onto an IMAX planet: vast, dark, cold and alien. It's literally breathtaking - an absence of everything. I can't think of another movie moment this year that has left a cinema full of people quite so uniformly awestruck. Ali

Read the full First Man review

As seen in: Sorry to Bother You

Boots Riley's debut movie starts with an anarchic streak and continues with no small measure of absurdity, set in a kind of quasi-alternate present where an Amazon-like corporation has monetised and repackaged slavery as a lifestyle choice. There is, however, a literally startling horror-esque reveal around an hour into the movie, one that's too brilliant and balls-out bold to spoil in detail here, a jolt of insanity that revitalises the movie just as it's starting to flag. The fallout from the discovery - highlight here if you really want it spoiled: the movie's hero discovers the corporation are turning its employees into half-human half-horse mutant hybrids to increase productivity - is no less hilarious, as Armie Hammer's CEO scrambles to rationalise the decision in a matter-of-fact tone that belies the hideousness of the act itself. "You see?" he stutter in a coke-stutter, "It's all just a... just a big misunderstanding!" It's the kind of psychotic and blinkered confidence present in only the most terrifying CEOs, or, say, Presidents. Ali

As seen in: The Favourite

This isn't your grandmother's period drama. Unless of course your grandmother is Yorgos Lanthimos, in which case it's your grandmother's most vibrant work yet, with all the trimmings of a period piece put through a surreal, hilarious and filthy filter. There are plenty of surprises peppered throughout, the least shocking one being that the three leads of Stone, Weisz and Colman are all astonishing. All costume drama cliches are present; the stiff corsets, upper lips and even stiffer wigs the size of a small child, plus the perennial favourite, the lavish ballroom dance. At first glance, the scene appears to illustrate the power Weisz's calculating Lady Sarah has over Colman's temperamental Queen Anne, exclaiming she must dance when the glum queen is slumped in her wheelchair with the best view of the dance floor. But then Lady Sarah and Joe Alwyn's lackey start flailing their limbs: they're vogueing, they're popping, they're locking and they're kicking it old school in an 18th Century version of Soul Train, and now we know we're firmly in Lanthimos' world. The fact that it's done with complete seriousness to period-appropriate harpsichord makes it all the more hilarious. I can't wait to see someone attempt it for Movies Week on next year's Strictly. Becky

Read our interview with Olivia Colman

As seen in: Annihilation

As Alex Garland presents a mysterious alien threat in his original sci-fi horror, he goes out of his way to get across a sense of disorientation. With Natalie Portman's Lena tagging along a team venturing further into the unnatural Shimmer, there's unfamiliar flora and fauna, disturbing animal hybrids, and lapses in time and memory. It's all provocatively curious and sinister. It turns out, however, that there is nothing more discomfiting than a massive fucking bear monster with a skull for a face and blood around its fangs whose every snarling growl mimics the screams of its last human prey. That pretty much sits at the top of the eerie list for many people. Throw in a brutal attack, some bloody-thirsty munching and a whack that knocks the jaw clean off Lena's teammate, and we have the most terrifying copycat killer since The Thing. Matt

As seen in: Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

It's hard to pick a single highlight from Into The Spider-Verse, a film that feels like it's made from a million memorable moments, some of which due to the density of the frame are yet to even be discovered. I've seen some great-looking movies this year, but none as overwhelmingly beautiful as this, an animated Spidey spin-off, which - if I'm being generous - few had high hopes for. If I'm pressed to select the most indelible image from a movie packed full of mini masterpieces, then I'd have to plump for the above shot of Miles Morales in the ascendancy, having flipped the Spider-Verse on its head. It's the perfect way to illustrate just how significantly Into The Spider-Verse has subverted the superhero genre: white is now black, down is now up, and the MCU no longer has a stranglehold on great Spidey movies. And for picture-perfect details, I can't help but adore that lone, dangling shoelace. More Miles Morales movies, please. Ali

Read the full Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse review

As seen in: A Star is Born

For all the loud bangs and big noise of 2018, I've enjoyed a few moments of quiet contemplation and respectful silences in movies this year - it's entirely possible I'm projecting all sorts of #MeToo responses where they've been accidental or unintended, but some of my favourite scenes from 2018 films have been when men shut the fuck up for just one goddamn second. A Star is Born has a quite vivacious back-and-forth between its male and female leads, and the balance of power tips to-and-fro throughout the movie, but the film's stand-out scene is a perfect moment of harmony, when Bradley Cooper's rock star Jackson Maine invites singing waitress Ally on stage to sing her own song. After a few butterflies, Ally strides on stage and grasps the mic, and with Lady Gaga's trademark pipes, transfixes the entire stadium crowd, including Jackson, who can only stand alongside her on stage, beaming, utterly content at the precise moment the movie earns its title. Ali

As seen in: Hereditary

Is Hereditary the most disturbing movie ever? Probably not. But does it contain unsettling scenes and visuals that will linger in your mind for days afterwards? Yes, yes it does. On a scale of The Babadook to Ghostwatch, we’re definitely closer to end of the scale that has Sarah Green getting killed on primetime TV by a cross-dressing ghost. The most unnerving aspect is that Hereditary refuses to follow the rules, and it informs you of this fact in the most violent way it can. After an allergic reaction at party, a high Peter (Alex Wolff) drives his little sister Charlie (the remarkable Milly Shapiro) to the hospital. As she wheezes and Peter starts to panic, she leans out the window for some air...only to be decapitated by a telephone pole with a weird symbol on it. Rather than cutting to a gruesome shot of her head, director Ari Aster instead keeps the camera trained on Peter’s shocked face, following him as he then drives home with his sister’s headless body in the back of the car. We're still with him until the early hours of the morning, when his distraught mother makes the horrifying discovery off-screen. Only then do we see the grisly aftermath: Milly's head after a few hours in the sun, covered in flies and ants. And that’s just the visuals. I'm not even going to go into the sounds that make this scene just so affecting. Becky

As seen in: Game Night

I'm absolutely not going to bother wasting 200 internet words on describing the best four-word line reading of the year, when a YouTube video will do the job for me. Find me a better delivery, I'll wait. Ali

As seen in: Journeyman

Paddy Considine threw a paddy of his own earlier this year when he announced publicly that he didn't have the fight to make movies any more if they were going to play to "empty rooms" - a symptom, no doubt, of independent films receiving the rope-a-dope treatment at the hands of the big bruising blockbusters. If this means Journeyman is to be his last feature film, then British cinema has lost a major player before he's even had a chance to prove himself properly. The film follows a conventional storyline about a boxer and family man who suffers a brain injury and subsequently separates from his wife and child. The execution, however, is frequently breathtaking; Considine, playing the lead role, is quietly devastating as Matty, who must learn to walk and talk as if from scratch. The movie's centerpiece sees Matty receive a phonecall from his wife, played by Jodie Whitaker, in which he is overwhelmed with emotion but unable to express himself outside a few stock phrases. It's an incredibly intense, internalised performance by Considine, a director who is able to make you feel like you really are the only one in the room. Ali

Read the full Journeyman review

As seen in: Avengers: Infinity War

Even when Marvel's Cinematic Phases number in their hundreds and new audiences are enjoying Thor 17, starring the CGI life-model of an adult Jacob Tremblay, the films that make up the MCU as we know it so far will always be remembered as the most groundbreaking era of the most successful franchise of all time. And, of everything that happens across these 22 films, there is not a single moment that has as much dramatic impact as the split second when Thanos snaps his fingers and children everywhere saw some of their favourite superheroes die tragically without reason or mercy. Truly, it is the 'Bambi’s mum' of our times.

Everything about this moment, from its elegant simplicity to the devastating way it plays out, is made for generation-defining cinema. It's equally heart-wrenching and heart-stopping, and even the very idea of what constitutes "50% of the universe" is a concept that not only perfectly captures the imagination, but most likely inspired a million debating Twitter threads. Did Ben Kingsley's Mandarin survive? Did Harry Dean Stanton's security guard make it? What about the kid from Iron Man 3? The fact is, there is no other moment on this list that needs an entire other film to address the consequences and, ultimately, undo it. And even then, nothing will be the same again. This is the moment that launched Marvel's Endgame. Matt

Read the full Avengers: Infinity War review

As seen in: Mission: Impossible - Fallout

A fun way to tell if I'm getting knackered when writing a movie review is if I use some variation of the line "it's what movies are made for!" or "it's why we go to the cinema!" - your bog-standard, lazy-ass, I'd-better-finish-this-review-with-a-grandiose-statement type sign-off. HOWEVER. In the case of Mission: Impossible - Fallout's pulse-pounding final sequence, I can state with absolute certainty that scenes as intense and painstakingly crafted as this really are the reason I love movies. The fact that I am also knackered is neither here nor there.

The entire 20-minute sequence is classic M:I territory - multiple threats, parallel narratives, one clear goal and a whole bunch of obstacles. We've got the ground team, defusing a nuclear bomb, providing our ticking clock, while Tom Cruise's Ethan Hunt takes to the skies to bring down Henry Cavill's big bushy chopper. I'm naturally cynical of any movie's PR blitz tactics - it's impossible to watch a Mission: Impossible movie without knowing exactly how much danger Cruise put himself in - but when the results are this exciting, the hype actually helps. Watching Cruise throw himself from pillar to post is one of the last true old-school Hollywood pleasures left to enjoy: watching a genuine Movie Star in action feels like a thrill indeed. I found myself gasping - literally gasping! - between action beats, even ones as cliché as 'creaking helicopter teeters on edge of mountain' and 'two burly men fight near cliff-top' - we're supposed to be immune to this sort of hoary old drama, aren't we?

But no. The classic tropes still endure. The oldies are still goldies. Star power can still propel a movie. The entire Kashmir sequence is staged to perfection, shot with consideration, balanced with precision and performed with pantomime gusto: somehow, an action scene from the sixth movie in a 22-year-old franchise starring a 56-year-old man has ended up feeling like the freshest, most exciting, most vital scene of the year. I only wish all blockbusters gave it as much welly. Ali

Read the full Mission: Impossible - Fallout review
See you next year, almost certainly.

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