There so many great movie scenes in 2018, that I wound up having to expand the list to 12, and even then there were several I had to cut (like “most devastating ending” which belongs to The Kindergarten Teacher)
Best Twist–“Tully”…I still don’t want to give it away for anyone who hasn’t seen it (the movie’s coming to HBO in January), but it’s a brilliant metaphor for aging, and all the things growing older takes away from you, while also replacing them with some things you might take for granted.
Best Death Wish (tie)–“The Rider”‘s riding scene and “Mandy”‘s Chainsaw Fight…In “The Rider,” the main character is a rodeo star who can no longer do the thing he loves without risk of dying, but seeing him ride a horse through wide-open country shows you just what he’s giving up, that sense of freedom and possibility. Meanwhile, “Mandy”‘s Nicolas Cage fights a bad guy in a chain saw duel.
Best Epiphany–“The Favourite”…Emma Stone’s face at the end says it all. You can scheme your way to the top and still find nothing much changes. You get the sense Melania Trump may have learned this the hard way.
Best Post-Credits Scene–“Deadpool 2”…Post-credits scenes have become standard (and unnecessary) for comic book movies, but “Deadpool” doesn’t waste one setting up a sequel so much as correcting all the hideous mistakes Fox has made with the character, as well as Reynolds’s own career.
Best Allegories–“Sorry to Bother You”…Director/Writer Boots Riley has a lot on his mind about income inequality and the current “sharing” economy (the movie’s insightful, scathing take on the world we live in right now may be why its critical reaction has been colder than the safely old-fashioned “If Beale Street Could Talk”), and there’s no better allegory for moving up in the world than having newer appliances “grow” out of the main character’s crappy furnishings or in using a literal “white voice” to get ahead or in transforming “live in workers” (sharing economy slaves) into horse-men.
Best Fight (tie)–“Buybust” and “15:17 to Paris”…Two very, very different fight scenes that shows great battles come in all forms. “Buybust” showcases the squad/hitmen of a Phillipines drug unit literally going to war with an entire neighborhood in an absolutely bananas sequence that barely seems possible. [It doubles as great commentary on Duarte’s “War on Drugs” which seems more like a war on his own country’s citizens.] Meanwhile, “15:17” spends a lot of downtime softening us for the kill–the blistering battle that takes place between our central heroes and a determined terrorist.
Most Cringe-Inducing–“Eighth Grade”…You pick half-a-dozen moments from this film, but the most squirm-inducing (to me) was our heroine being subjected to a very, very uncomfortable game of “Truth or Dare” by an older boy in the back of his car while he’s supposed to be driving her home safely. It may give you fresh respect for the “MeToo” movement, especially when the older boy tries to make it sound like he’s doing her the favor (for his part, he’s no mere villain, just someone horny and wounded when his “affections” aren’t returned).
Best Musical Performance–“A Star is Born”…Although I loved the ending of “Bohemian Rhapsody” and Cynthia Erivo’s musical numbers in “Bad Times at El Royale,” the best musical moment was when Lady Gaga’s undiscovered drag singer gets seen by Bradley Cooper’s famous rocker early on in “Star.” It’s the film more than living up to its title, and the kind-of moment any novice performer may be hoping for in any bar in America right now. It may also be the most romantic movie scene of 2018.
Wildest Ending–“First Reformed”…It’s really like three crazy, “what the hell did I just see?” endings in one. To give anything away would be criminal.
Most Terrifying–“Annihilation”…The bear attack sequence. If you’ve seen the movie, you don’t need a further explanation. I still shiver thinking about it. [I also loved the wild, 2001-ish lighthouse climax.]
Most Exciting–“Mission Impossible: Fallout”…I could pick half a dozen moments from this movie, and no one would disagree–from that show-stopping bathroom brawl to Tom Cruise’s wild motorcycle chase (I love the 180-degree shot of all the police cars closing in around him while he figures out where to go next). But my personal favorites are the skydiving sequence and the insane helicopter chase. Tom Cruise has been a movie star for longer than I’ve been alive, and this shows you why.
Best Moment to See on a Big Screen–“First Man”…Once we finally get to the moon-landing sequence, the film soars. It’s not something I can imagine watching on a cellphone and having half the impact.