The 10 best film scenes of 2017
Movies are about moments – big moments that erase our cynicism about cinema and remind us of its capacity to dazzle as well as touch us. This happens in a way only possible with a medium that seamlessly combines so many other art forms. There are instances that prompt us to consider things in a different light, encourage us to think about issues from a different perspective, and empathize with others in a way we could never expect.
While sometimes memories of the overall plot of a film or its minute details may escape us, certain scenes stand out like a beacon in a bland cinematic landscape. What follows is a list of the 10 best scenes from the movies in 2017. While some of the films they’re from might not have been completely successful, perfection was achieved during these moments. These moments have proven powerful enough to stay with this viewer long after the credits have rolled and the lights have come up.
Wonder Woman – Confused about the violent world she finds herself in and dumbfounded over man’s hesitance to help others, Princess Diana (Gal Gadot) climbs out of the Allied Forces’ trenches to venture across No Man’s Land toward the German forces, serving as a symbol of inspiration that prompts others to join the fight. As lensed by director Patty Jenkins, the scene begins in slow motion, steadily building to a crescendo in which the character’s act of self-sacrifice is not only stirring, but powerfully moving as well.
Logan Lucky – Making sure to get back from a complex heist of the Charlotte Motor Speedway in order to see his daughter in a beauty contest, Logan (Channing Tatum) makes it just in time to witness his lovely daughter (Farrah Mackenzie) reward his loyalty and express her love by singing his favorite song, John Denver’s “Country Roads,” instead of Rhianna’s inappropriate for an 8-year-old, “Umbrella.” This unexpectedly moving moment proves even more surprising as it comes out of left field amid the caper hijinks that have just ensued. But more than anything, it reminds the characters and us of what is truly important and worth fighting for.
Get Out – Uneasy about visiting the home of his white girlfriend’s parents, Chris (Daniel Kaluuya) sits down for an uncomfortable, impromptu therapy session with Missy (Catherine Kenner), an encounter that causes him to hallucinate as he imagines himself falling into a dark abyss, unable to save himself or even cry for help. This is a shocking, powerful metaphor for the African-American experience many are grappling with today and may be the most powerful political statement made in an American movie this year.
The Big Sick – Distraught after being ostracized from his family and having just found out that his girlfriend’s medical situation is heading towards a fatal conclusion, stand-up comic Kumail Nanjiani breaks down on stage while trying to do a set, revealing his anguish over being unable to help the woman he loves. The film shifts gears dramatically at this point and, while it is serious at times, this moment grounds the story in an unexpected and powerful manner, making the film’s conclusion all the more meaningful.
Norman – Desperate to make an impression on an Israeli diplomat he’s happened to run into, would-be wheeler-dealer Norman Oppenheimer (Richard Gere) buys his new friend a pair of shoes that, to his shock when he gets the receipt, are $1,200. The comedic timing of this scene is priceless, and the wide range of emotions Gere brings to the fore in these brief moments is surprisingly human, reminding us of what an underrated actor he is.
The Shape of Water – Elisa (Sally Hawkins) has acted rashly in kidnapping (fishnapping?) a gill man from the government facility where she works. To make matters worse, she’s fallen in love with the thing and, in order to keep him alive, she fills her bathroom with water from ceiling to floor. Perverse yet romantic, this visual knock-out of a scene shows director Guillermo del Toro’s imagination in full bloom as he produces a wonderful visual metaphor for the feeling of euphoria one feels when in love.
Logan – Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) is headed cross-country to a mythical refuge with his ailing mentor, aging telepath Doctor Xavier (Patrick Stewart) in tow. Having left him in a hotel room all alone, the old man has a seizure that violently disrupts the brain waves of those around him. Our hero struggles mightily to save him in this tense, exciting sequence that underscores the unspoken love the mutant has for his mentor and serves as a reminder that our gifts, whatever they be, can come back to haunt us.
Lady Bird – Having applied to and been accepted to an East Coast college without telling her mother (Laurie Metcalf), Christine (Saoirse Ronan) desperately tries to apologize to her, the woman remaining silent and ignoring her regretful daughter as she calmly does household chores. Painful to watch, this scene brilliantly brings to life the complexities of the relationship that exists between parents and their children and how anger and disappointment can emerge through both, working towards the same goal but through different means.
The Florida Project – Moonee (Brooklyn Prince) has just found out that she is going to be taken away from her mother by a group of social workers. Desperate, she goes to find her best friend Jancey (Valeria Cotto) and convinces her to help her run away. They head towards the Magic Kingdom, moving towards Cinderella’s Castle as fast as they can. This devastating sequence brilliantly underscores the futility of Moonee and others living on the fringe as they futilely move towards a goal they’ll never achieve.
Atomic Blonde – Having been ambushed and severely beaten, government agent Lorraine Broughton hijacks a car and throws the wounded Spyglass (Eddie Marsan) in, the target she’s been sent to protect. What ensues is an elaborate chase done in one unbroken take, a 10-minute digital camera tour de force from director David Leitch that takes the duo from rundown tenements, crowded streets and, finally, into a canal where they’re captured. Invigorating and innovative, this was a highlight in action cinema this year.