It should go without saying that this list has plenty of spoilers for the movies included. If you haven’t seen the films and want to one day, I’d suggest reading my reviews on them, skipping the paragraphs and the clips below to avoid having the surprise of these movies ruined altogether. You’ve been warned.
10.) Game Night – The Blood Bath
Sometimes the more we do, the worse things ultimately turn out, as is evidenced in one of the year’s most surprising movies at the midway point. During a pivotal moment in the playful Game Night, Jason Bateman’s character literally rubs in the comedy to great effect, supporting a story that’s already so wild and determined to elevate the stakes at every turn. Getting caught red-handed shouldn’t be this funny.
9.) Set It Up – The Munchies
Chances are you’ve been there before. A few too many drinks during a late night out, resulting in the dire need for a late night greasy treat, all too ready to burn the roof of your mouth off with a slice of NY style heaven no matter the next morning cost. Set It Up captures the moment of food porn bliss with the flat-footed elegance of a cognizant drunk. Is it really the best meal these two have ever had? Absolutely not. But they have truth serum running through their veins, and the scene shows us that food is just as much about company as it is about taste. What’s only mediocre can become unforgettable when shared with someone you can’t stop thinking about or looking at.
8.) Hereditary – The Dinner
During one of the decade’s greatest entries into the horror genre, nothing stuck with me more than the drama of a good old-fashioned shouting match across the kitchen table. Hereditary uses the supernatural elements of its story to really highlight situations like this, one that most have at least seen or even participated in. It’s expertly edited (the cuts between each shot are almost uniform in length), shows the careful calibration between two of the year’s best performances, and it prepares a proper feast for us to cautiously devour as everything gets darker and more dour.
7.) Ant-Man and The Wasp – The Big Short
As one of the few sequels that improves on the original, Ant-Man and The Wasp has a handful of scenes that really standout. The endearing and creative open. The final car chase. But for me, one of the biggest laughs I got this year was from watching Paul Rudd’s Ant-Man scaled down to and temporarily stuck at the size of a youngster. We see his adult face topping a tiny torso and stumpy legs, running the school halls like a grown man in a hilarious nightmare sequence. Having Rudd – who’s one of the most winsome and sympathetic actors in the movies today – effortlessly pull it all off only makes things better.
6.) The Rider – The Plea
Quite possibly my favorite film of the year thus far, The Rider evokes the spirit of religious belief with no adherence to its structured practices outside of communal or intimate worship. In this particular part of the picture, the protagonist offers up a prayer to God, he saddles his white horse, and their trot turns into a ride against the Badland’s beautiful sunrise before having to say goodbye. Like the movie as a whole, this clip from The Rider might seem plain and straightforward, but there sure as hell is a lot more to it than meets the eye.
5.) Annihilation – The Bear
I loved Annihilation. It confused me, so I saw it again in theaters. Then I bought it and watched it twice more. And the part that most sticks out to me is this unbearable (pardon the pun) scene of a wretched bear hunting the women fronting the film. This beast has cataracts for eyes and open ears, ripping the vocal chords from its screaming victims to continue its massacre as it performs the death of its latest meal. Similar to other parts in the movie, the moment is a careful metaphor for mankind’s easy manipulation by the subtle mutations of life, and how we often seek out the things most likely to destroy us. Watching this on a bright screen in a dark room with a big sound system will send shivers down your spine.
4.) Mission: Impossible 6 – The Cruise
Chock-full of set pieces that just continue to grow and build and surpass one another with a sense of militaristic duty, my favorite moment in Mission: Impossible – Fallout wasn’t the big money sequence. This is an action film of nearly unmatched caliber, and for me, no portion personifies such blockbuster beauty as the image of Tom Cruise fearlessly riding a motorcycle around the Arrondissements of Paris. Its choreography is as unbelievable as great sleight of hand, forcing us to focus and convincing us that what’s been carefully forged is actually organic and real, and the final product is a testament to the trust shared between the world’s best action star and the crew who helps him pull it all off.
3.) A Quiet Place – The Birth
As it builds a hushed world and regulates how these people are supposed to survive, tepidly tiptoeing across a piece of tempered glass, A Quiet Place adds emotional weight only until the rules must be broken and the glass must be shattered. It’s a nerve-wracking sequence that develops every single character in the tight-knit family, and shows how preparation and trust will help life find a way to carry on no matter the circumstance.
2.) Ready Player One – The Shining Redux
By combining the culture of gaming avatars with an important introduction to classic cinema, Steven Spielberg’s breathtaking vision for Ready Player One not only bridges a gap between generations, but fosters an environment where they both can co-exist and even interact. The entire film blew me away, yet to make an original sequence out of an already established and well-known piece of movie history takes great skill. Thankfully Spielberg is one of the very best directors to ever do it.
1.) Avengers: Infinity War – The Snap
During the final minutes of Infinity War, sitting in the opening night crowd full of comic book fans and Marvel die-hards, the entire theater was caught up in a communal gasp. “Wait a minute” and “Oh no” and “Holy shit” ringing around the aisles. Normally big blockbusters with huge fan bases end in empty-headed enthusiastic applause. Infinity War was different. People cautiously clapped but no one cheered. This movie shocked and awed, and I don’t think enough critics give it the credit for its willingness to go as far as it did. Maybe the next Avengers movie will undo all of the drama; that doesn’t devalue how Infinity War – and this moment in particular – left me with my head in my hands.