You’ll get lists thrown at you ad infinitum come December, but we always like to get in early with a slightly more eclectic pick of our favourite movie moments. Not just the best films we saw, but the moments on and off-screen that really stuck in our minds. And we begin, with the best opening sequence of the year…
Baby Driver – ‘Bellbottoms’ Car Chase – Tom
Edgar Wright is notorious for his fast-paced filmmaking and his love of music, and this might be his strongest combination yet. Baby Driver begins with driver Baby (Ansel Elgort) sat behind the wheel of his getaway car, grooving along to ‘Bellbottoms’ by the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion. One minute later, the spiky song explodes into life, and Baby puts his foot down, igniting one of the most memorable car chases ever committed to film. Baby’s car glides and slides across the tarmac and away from the cops in a balletic battle that will take your breath away.
La La Land – Another Day of Sun – Jack
One of the first scenes of 2017 remains my cinematic year’s high point even in mid-June. After ending Whiplash with the monumental drum solo, it was hard to see how Damien Chazelle could possibly keep that energy up, and yet that’s exactly what happens, and then some, in La La Land’s opening number, ‘Another Day of Sun’.
It’s the best song in the musical masterpiece, on a technical level at least, with choreography and cinematography that spin your head with awe and joy. The most purely enjoyable moment in one of the most purely enjoyable films of the last decade.
Moonlight – Pollo a la Plancha – Calum
The act of creating a meal for someone is a lovely gesture, but at Moonlight‘s romantic climax (no, not that one) it goes several steps further. Kevin’s moonlit chicken represents not only a declaration of feeling, but also his new skill, the positive outcome of prison – a way if not out, then certainly forward.
For Chiron, always so ill-treated, it is an unquantifiable statement; an emotional link to his dreams, and to the best of his past. Barry Jenkins elevates the language of the food montage to tender poetry – after the lifetime that’s come before, this simple sequence becomes an immeasurably transcendent display of pure love.
La La Land vs. Moonlight – The Oscars Mistake – Bertie
(It’s worth watching the whole eight minutes here just to really remind yourself how catastrophically everything went wrong.)
The 89th Academy Awards will be remembered for one thing only. Not the huge cultural significance of Moonlight becoming a highly awarded black LGBT film, nor Mahershala Ali becoming the first Oscar-winning Muslim actor. Not that La La Land was nominated for a record-matching 14 awards, nor that among the six the film won Damien Chazelle became the youngest Best Director. No, the 2017 Oscars will be remembered as the one where Bonnie and Clyde announced the wrong Best Picture winner. La La Land took the snatched defeat gracefully; Moonlight‘s team got their deserved moment in the sun.
Get Out – The Auction Scene – Kambole
Jordan Peele’s masterful satire Get Out walks a very fine line between horror and humour, revelling in putting the worst tendencies of white America on display. While many of the uncomfortable situations that the very unfortunate Chris (Daniel Kaluuya) finds himself in are played for laughs, there’s plenty of tension lying underneath each scene. This comes to a head during the “auction”.
Starting out fairly innocuous, Peele slowly reveals the true nature of the bidding, as the film switches from “harmless” micro-aggressions to what is essentially a slave auction – and for a couple of minutes, the film really stops being funny, in the best way possible.
Heal the Living – Tracking Shot – Patrick
Katell Quillévéré’s Heal the Living was the organ donation scheme endowed with a feel for the epic. Nowhere was her craft more in evidence than a scene that matches content superbly to form. As Simon lies brain-dead in a French hospital, about to become secondary to the chase to donate his heart to a worthy recipient, Quillévéré gives him one last requiem.
As his life support machine is turned off, she flashes back to Simon embracing his youthful vivacity when courting a girl in one continuous tracking shot as he cycles up a steep road to beat her funicular ride to the top. It’s ingenious in its own right as well as electrifying the film’s moral of the sanctity of life.
Toni Erdmann – The Greatest Love of All – Laura
It is incontestable: Maren Ade has made continental cinema great again. In this scene, she effortlessly masters what Hollywood just doesn’t understand. Storytelling does not need to be laboured to be effective; the sublime is in everyday moments too.
Hüller and Simonischek balance gravitas and levity to carry moments of scripted spontaneity. Father and daughter, we realise, have teamed up at the keyboard many times before – here is their whole history in a show-stopping four minutes. Toni Erdmann is the most meaningful, the most deeply compassionate comedy of this year. Paramount, you can go do one.
Wonder Woman – No Man’s Land – Christopher
Thirteen actors have now played the Doctor, and each time a new regeneration is cast, he (or she) has self-baptised their incarnation with an utterance of “I am the Doctor” to earn their cut of the TARDIS key. It’s a silent covenant between pop-culture and fandom, and the kind of ceremony that has been mostly ignored by the DCEU. Until now.
Wonder Woman gives its beloved hero her moment at the very edge of the Western Front. Ignoring logic and orders, she selflessly thunders into the mud and blood of the battlefield, and provides us with a most important sequence: Wonder Woman is born, the DCEU is saved, and no man’s land lives up to its promise – for now, it belongs to a woman.
Ken Loach’s BAFTA speech for I, Daniel Blake – Sinead
An impassioned depiction of the working class and an attack on austerity, I, Daniel Blake holds a mirror up to British society, asking us if this is who we really are. This honesty is also what made I, Daniel Blake’s appearances at glamorous events like Cannes more jarring; especially when Loach used the opportunity to promote the film’s message even more.
After winning the BAFTA for Best British Film, Loach’s speech reminds viewers his film’s topics do not end once the credits roll; there are still thousands of Daniel Blakes in Britain and around the world. As Loach says, films can “tell us something about the real world we live in.”
Logan – Finale – Phil
After a whole film spent watching one of the greatest superheroes of all time reduced to a greying, coughing shadow of his former self, James Mangold gives us just a glimpse of the glorious, feral beast we remember – only to have him brutally cut down.
As strange as it is to think that Hugh Jackman has been playing Wolverine for more than 17 years now, it’s almost stranger to think that Logan will be his final performance. It’s almost impossible to imagine anyone else taking the part after him. Some actors are defined by their roles, but this role was defined by its actor.