2017 was filled with movie moments that made us laugh, made us cry, and – occasionally – freaked us the hell out. Below are our top ten best movie moments of the year. Of course, it’s impossible to talk about our favorite moments without some spoilers, so proceed at your own risk!
Goodbye, Space Princess – Star Wars: The Last Jedi
Probably the most anticipated movie of the year, Star Wars: The Last Jedi was almost certainly the most divisive. Love it or hate it, however, it easily gave us one of the best movie moments of the year.
I am definitely not alone in saying that Carrie Fisher’s Princess Leia was a beloved part of my childhood. Outspoken about her flaws and open and her struggles with drug addiction and mental illness, she was an inspiration to countless fans. She will always be my favorite space princess (and badass general), and it was bittersweet to see her on the screen in this final role.
One of her last scenes of the movie gave a moment fans had been waiting for since The Force Awakens – the reunion of Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia. When he told her that the people lost to us are never truly gone, my heart broke. By the time he leaned down and kissed her forehead, I was crying.
I don’t know how they will explain her absence in the next film. Whatever, they do, however, I don’t think it could possibly top the moment Luke said goodbye to the princess, the general, and the woman we all loved.
No Man’s Land – Wonder Woman
Given how often studio interference is blamed for good movies gone bad, it’s almost a miracle that good movies happen at all. For proof that studios don’t always know what’s best for their films, one need only look to this year’s hit, Wonder Woman.
The most memorable moment in the film was also one that almost didn’t make it in. Reportedly, the studio wanted director Patty Jenkins to cut the scene where Wonder Woman charges across No Man’s Land. Shielding beleaguered soldiers and innocent civilians alike, she takes on the full force of enemy fire, standing alone until others are inspired by her action and join the fight.
It was the moment Princess Diana of Themyscira truly became Wonder Woman. Every superhero has a defining moment – a moment that encapsulates everything that the hero is and stands for. A moment that embodies the reason they matter and are loved. This was hers. The No Man’s Land scene was so well done that one doesn’t even need to see the rest of the film to understand who Wonder Woman is and why she matters. It is all there on the screen when she charges into a battle that isn’t hers to protect the innocent, and when she stands as a shield for those who cannot protect themselves.
Honorable Mention: Love on the Water
While I wasn’t much of a Wonder Woman shipper prior to this film, the chemistry between Gal Gadot and Chris Pine made a believer out of me and gave me one of the year’s best OTPs. While their meeting was cute and their scenes on the island had their share of humor, it is the scene on the boat where the two of them stole my heart. That it was apparently largely unscripted, showing the natural chemistry between the two actors, perhaps proves why they were so perfect on-screen together. It was charming and funny and laid the groundwork for the bond and love story that would follow.
“So This Is What It Feels Like” – Logan
It’s hard to believe that I once considered the prospect of Hugh Jackman as Wolverine with a healthy dose of skepticism. Fox’s X-Men franchise has been rather hit and miss. Still, even during the low points (and there have been some extremely low points), Hugh Jackman has always thrown himself into the role with an admirable level of both passion and dedication. He has done his best to stay true to the character and to give the fans moments that they will forever remember.
Logan may not be the typical superhero movie, but it couldn’t be a more fitting goodbye to a character has grown along with his audience over the past 17 years. He’s always been an unlikely hero with a mysterious past, but Hugh Jackman brought both humor and pathos to the role, truly making it his own.
His healing factor breaking down and slowly being poisoned by his iconic adamantium, Wolverine wants to put his battles behind him as he nears the end of his life. He wants nothing more than to care for Professor Xavier with a measure of peace. Of course, peace has never been easy to come by, certainly for him. Logan is the story of a man who has lived for centuries and who has carried more than his share of grief and rage, pain and violence over the years. And, in the end, his connection with a daughter he didn’t know he had, who is (and he fears could be) so much like him.
Thus, it is somewhat poetic, I suppose, that he is killed by a feral clone of himself – perhaps what he could have become, if not for the Professor and the rest of the X-Men. He is a character who has died thousands of times over the course of his life, but he’s always come back. In connecting with and saving Laura, he finds perhaps a moment of redemption. In his death, he finally finds a measure of peace.
Though I will miss this character that has come to mean so much to me over almost 20 years, I could not have imagined a more perfect goodbye.
Honorable Mention: “Nature made me a freak. Man made me a weapon. And God made it last too long.”
It may not be one of the most memorable moments, but it’s one of the most memorable lines of the year.
The Hero We Deserve – Star Wars: The Last Jedi
The only movie to get two entries on this list, Star Wars: The Last Jedi is not without its problems. Although I have my complaints about the handling of Luke Skywalker’s character throughout much of the film, I absolutely adored his last battle.
I had been hoping to see his character come full circle, to watch him take on the mantle of an Obi-Wan Kenobi mentor. Though I didn’t get as much of that I as I would have liked, I got the hero I hoped to see in his final standoff against Kylo Ren. When the dust cleared and Luke stepped forward and brushed off his shoulder with little more than a smirk, I cheered out loud. The ensuing fight gave me a taste of what I’d wanted to see of his character in this movie, and I was left wanting more.
I Know Who You Are – Spider-Man: Homecoming
Villains have almost universally been a pervasive weakness across superhero movies as a whole. Even the best films have often been hindered by weak villains with nebulous or short-sighted motivations, who tend to be just dark versions of the heroes themselves.
For several reasons, I think Vulture is one of Marvel’s stronger heroes, and Michael Keaton carries a good share of the credit. One of the most memorable moments in the film is his stand-off against Spider-Man in the car. A new take on the “father threatening his daughter’s boyfriend” trope, it is the moment that Vulture realizes that his nemesis is the teenager who is taking his little girl to the school dance. Keaton could have gone over-the-top with his villain as so many have done, but he plays the scene with such underlying menace instead that it is somehow even more intimidating.
When he ended his threat with, “Hey, I just saved your life. What do you say?” – forcing Peter to thank him – I felt a shiver down my spine and an almost desperate desire to watch Spider-Man punch him in the face.
Honorable Mention: “Come on, Spider-Man!”
During his penultimate battle with Vulture, Tooms outmaneuvers Peter, leaving him under a pile of rubble. At first, Spider-Man is just a terrified kid, trapped and alone, and you remember just how young he is as he cries and screams for help. Then he remembers that Spider-Man isn’t just his suit but who he is, thus finding the strength and determination to lift the rubble and continue the fight.
The Sunken Place – Get Out
I wasn’t quite certain what to expect from Get Out, but I can see why it was a breakaway hit of the year. The hypnosis scene, leading to the first shot of the Sunken Place, was positively chilling. As an allegory for the way people of color are treated in society, it was even more so. I generally find the most effective horror movies – and moments – to be the understated ones, and this one proved my point. The horror in Get Out wasn’t in the blood and gore but in the helpless silence that hero Chris faced. The terror was in the villains who would trap him in the sunken place with a smile.
I have to give a shout out to Keith Stanfield as Logan King. It was through him that we first get a sense of the terror and helplessness – and hopelessness – that is in store for Chris. He played both characters so perfectly that the switch from one to the other was both jarring and horrifying.
The Curse Wins – Beauty and the Beast
Disney’s Beauty and the Beast is one of my all-time favorite films, and so I knew it was going to be a hard act to follow. If I’m honest, this year’s live-action Beauty and the Beast didn’t quite live up to my expectations. However, it was memorable in the tiny moments that were beautiful additions to the story I could recite by heart. In those moments, I was left with regret that it didn’t veer from the source material a bit more, telling this beloved story in a new way.
One of my favorite additions came in the end, when all hope seems lost. The villain is thwarted, but just as the servants are about to celebrate, all seems lost. It appears the Beast is dead and the spell will forever remain unbroken. It is with grief and heartbreak that the servants watch the final stage of the curse, as those they love turn into inanimate objects and they know they will be next.
No moment is more heart-wrenching than Mrs. Potts searching desperately for her son, Chip, wanting one more moment with her child before they are lost to each other forever. Before she can find him, however, the curse takes hold and she’s nothing more than a teapot. Then, with one more farewell, frienemies Lumiere and Cogsworth say farewell to each other before they, too, succumb to the curse.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I believe I have something in my eye.
He Is His Father’s Son – Thor: Ragnarok
Thor has never been my favorite superhero, and the trailers of Thor: Ragnarok left me with more questions than answers. I was expecting a wild ride, and that’s certainly what I got. There were a few stand-out moments in the film, but my favorite came at the end. During his final battle, Thor lost first his eye and then his entire world.
He started the series as a selfish, glory-seeking warrior. In Ragnarok, Thor’s character came full circle. Far from the self-centered prince seeking battle for the glory of it, he fought instead for the good of his people. Willing to sacrifice his life to give his people a chance to escape, he finally became the king that his father always knew he could be.
Honorable Mention: The Thor/Hulk Smackdown
This Gladiator-style battle was absolutely everything I could have hoped for. Bonus points for Loki’s glee seeing Thor get the ragdoll treatment.
Meet Pennywise – It
The movies that terrified us as children don’t always have that same effect when we become adults. It (1990) is one of those films. As Pennywise, Tim Curry gave me endless nightmares when I was younger, but those days are well behind me. What once so terrified me now seems a bit ridiculous in retrospect.
I wasn’t sure what to expect going into the theater to see this remake. I was reasonably certain that I wouldn’t love Bill Skarsgård’s Pennywise as much as the original – but Tim Curry has been one of my favorite actors, so he’s hard to top. And it’s true that Skarsgård doesn’t have the special place in my heart that the Curry has.
That said, there is nothing ridiculous about Pennywise in this year’s It. From his very first scene, hiding out in the sewers, he conveys such a feeling of sinister malevolence that it carries throughout the rest of the film. Even though I knew how it would end, he had me on the edge of my seat from start to finish. It was that first appearance that set the tone for the entire movie – and really drove home how terrifying clowns can be.
He’s Mary Poppins, Y’all – Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2
Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2 was a story about families. About strange, dysfunctional families, perhaps. But about families. In particular, it dealt with Peter’s father and father figures, Ego the Living Planet and Yondu.
Yondu is an anti-hero at best. His relationship with Peter is certainly not the healthiest. It is far from the stuff of a Hallmark movie. And yet, in its own way, there was love between them. Yondu sacrificing himself to save his son was moving. His funeral, when he finally is given redemption and the forgiveness of his fellow Ravagers, was beautiful.
Honorable Mention: Baby Groot
Just. All of Baby Groot. All of it.