2020 has been a year to forget for many reasons. But today we’re here to focus on the positives. Even with only three months of cinema-going under our belts, the amount of incredible movie moments is as high as ever.

We assembled 10 of our writers to choose their favourite moments and write about them below, with spoilers all the way through.

Emma – Nosebleed Proposal – Tori Brazier

Autumn de Wilde’s pastel whirlwind adaptation of Emma has verve and cheekiness, but nowhere does it have more fun than with Mr Knightley’s proposal. With the tension between him and Emma having been drawn out to a painful degree, Knightley finally declares his feelings. The scene dutifully includes his essential “If I loved you less, I might be able to talk about it more” line, but the melodrama continues to lurch and surge uncomfortably, seemingly with nowhere to go – and then Emma has a nosebleed (allegedly achieved IRL). It’s an unexpected – and brilliant – undercutting, and re-imagining, of a stock Austen scene.

Birds of Prey – Funhouse Fight Scene – Katy Moon

It’s not the film’s best action sequence (that accolade surely goes to the police station assault), but Birds of Prey’s neon-soaked Amusement Mile fight sequence is certainly its most joyous. Holing up in the Joker and Harley’s old funhouse hideout, the gang defend young pickpocket Cassandra Cain from wave after wave of evil henchmen. Harley and co. each gets their chance to shine with enormously fun fight choreography that takes full advantage of an arena which offers bouncy floors and giant novelty hands. More playground than battleground, this is pure unbridled comic-book action in the truest sense of the term.

True History of the Kelly Gang – The Final Shoot-Out – Carmen Paddock

Ned Kelly 9

Courtesy of: Picturehouse Entertainment

In his anachronistic retelling, Justin Kurzel puts his own stamp on the Kelly Gang’s legendary shoot-out through deliberately disorientating framing that skyrockets tension and shatters expectations. As the approaching police extinguish their lanterns one by one, only to be lit neon white several silent seconds later by their own gunfire, the trapped bushrangers’ terror and claustrophobia is felt. When the fight narrows to the view of and through Ned’s armoured eyes, a mythic moment becomes intimate. In a revisionist film that overtly grapples with truth and its authors, its climactic brutality reads as personal – something entirely lost to history.

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood – Mister Rogers Visits – David Brake

Nearly 500,000 people have died due to Covid-19. Among the anger, instability and anguish in our world, there is no space or time for grief. No room to reflect or commiserate about the lives we have lost. This is where the ending of Marielle Heller’s A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood comes in.

Mister Rogers (Tom Hanks) visits journalist Lloyd (Matthew Rhys), who has just published his article on the legendary entertainer. On arrival he finds Lloyd reconciling with his father, Jerry (Chris Cooper), a messed-up man on his deathbed. With the family gathered around, Rogers says: “You know, death is something many of us are uncomfortable speaking about. But to die is to be human. And anything human is mentionable. Anything mentionable is manageable. Anything mentionable is manageable.” We are all managing our best. Heller’s humanist direction is beautiful and encourages the hope that in time we will get a chance to properly grieve, and that we might find a moment of peace soon.

Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga – The Song Along – Tom Bond

It’s fair to say it’s been a tough year so far. I can’t think of many more perfect prescriptions to lift your mood than a Eurovision Song Contest parody starring Will Ferrell and Rachel McAdams.

This comedy is full of some great Euro bangers which wouldn’t be out of place in the real competition, but it’s an off-stage performance mid-film which stands out. Throwing together Eurovision legends and a medley of pop classics, the Song Along showcases everything that makes Eurovision such a delight: the camp, the collaboration, the excess, and the complete disregard for anything as suffocating as ‘good taste’.

The Lighthouse – Willem Dafoe Monologue – Louise Burrell

What starts as a childish argument over cooking soon turns into a full-blown curse from the very bowels of the sea, as Willem Dafoe summons Triton himself to drag Robert Pattinson to the murky depths of hell. An astounding monologue which makes it still difficult to believe Dafoe’s Oscar snub, he delivered it in one take and doesn’t blink throughout. A high-contrast shot where Dafoe’s face takes up the full frame, it’s one of the key points in the film where you find yourself deeply unsure of his motives, and also trying to work out just what the hell is going on.

Portrait of a Lady on Fire – The Painting of the Abortion – Anahit Behrooz


Courtesy of: Curzon Artificial Eye

Depicting an abortion on screen is incredibly rare; depicting it twice is even rarer. Yet Portrait of a Lady on Fire – described by its director Celine Sciamma as a “manifesto on the female gaze” – is no ordinary film. After young housemaid Sophie is taken by aristocrat Héloïse and Héloïse’s lover Marianne to terminate an unwanted pregnancy, she lies in bed alongside them, recovering. Abruptly, Héloïse gets up, positioning herself alongside a willing Sophie to recreate the procedure as Marianne reaches for oils to sketch out the scene. It’s a powerful doubling of a historically erased act, a move beyond the erotics of the female gaze to consider what has traditionally been thought of as worth seeing and representing.

Bacurau – Udo Kier vs Sonia Braga – Rafaela Sales Ross


Courtesy of: MUBI

Combined, their careers span over a hundred years, and separately, they have delivered some of the most iconic performances in film history. When Sônia Braga and Udo Kier came face to face in Bacurau, greatness was the least one could expect. To the sound of Spandau Ballet’s seminal hit True, Kier holds a sharp knife against the defiant face of Braga’s Domingas, stating, almost in a whisper: “There’s so much you can do with a knife”. Their ephemeral gaze tells an odyssey in just a few seconds. It is cinematic glory at its peak.

The Assistant – The Photocopier – Robert Salusbury


Courtesy of: Vertigo Releasing

Kitty Green’s The Assistant, a vital post me-too portrait of workplace harassment and sexual abuse, is at times nigh unwatchable for its pitch-perfect exposé of the insidious toxicity that runs deep within our society. A short scene where Jane (Julia Garner) photocopies a pile of headshots of young female actors encapsulates everything that makes the film such a difficult watch. Seeing each photo of a young woman fall out of the photocopier becomes a sickening experience when you remember the disgusting abuses occurring within the office, and Green’s coldly formal filmmaking style and minimal sound design makes the office’s mechanical cycle of sexual abuse all the more chilling.

Parasite – “One-inch Barrier of Subtitles” – Anna McKibbin

The cast and crew of Parasite rightfully earned countless wins over the course of the 2020 awards season, but it was the film’s director Bong Joon-ho who provided the most memorable moment among many came as he accepted a Golden Globe for Best Foreign Language film, promising that, “Once you overcome the one-inch tall barrier of subtitles, you will be introduced to so many more amazing films”. As he waited for his words to be translated, the audience was treated to his wry smile. Here was a director, whose own films have been overlooked by Western audiences because of a supposed language barrier, slyly forcing Hollywood to confront their own self-obsession. Bong Joon-ho cut through the stuffiness and self-importance of the Globes to deliver something slightly subversive that might have changed Hollywood forever.