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17 in ’17: WTM?’s 17 best movie scenes in 2017

I don’t care what anyone says, 2017 was a great year for cinema. From chest-bursting extra-terrestrials to drain-dwelling clowns, it was a year of reboots. It was also the year of the moustache: those wonderfully over the top, to those outed (badly) by CGI. There were monumental awards cock-ups, some rather ‘meh’ emojis, as well as some of the most divisive cinematic works we’ve seen in a long time.

And to celebrate a year in which we had to endure all that fake news, here are WTM?’s picks for the best 17 movie scenes in 2017.

If you disagree, don’t @ me.

On second thoughts, please do – I need the attention.

Needless to say, SPOILERS ahead!

 

17. Spider-Man: Homecoming – The Dad Talk

Spider-Man: Homecoming, quite like it’s lead actor Tom Holland, was a charming breath of fresh air in the increasingly stale atmosphere of superhero franchise films.

A Spider-Man film in which Peter Parker doesn’t look like a 30-year old impersonating a 15-year old, Homecoming had many a merit, and earned its place on this list with a neat little third-act twist that few of us will have seen coming.

Like all good high school movies where teenage boys shoot sticky white stuff from their body (sorry, sorry), there’s a prom thrown into the finale somewhere. And where you have a prom, you have a date. But, what if the father of your date happens to be the villain you’ve been thwarting the entire film?

Well, in Jon Watts’ take on the web slinger, that just happens to be the case. The scene in which Michael Keaton’s Adrian Toomes (A.K.A The Vulture) drives his daughter Liz and Holland’s Peter Parker to the school dance oozes tension as Toomes slowly deduces Parker’s secret identity. As Liz leaves the car, hero and villain lock horns as Toomes lays out exactly what he means to do if Parker crosses him again. Something along the lines of “if you do, I’ll kill you, and everybody you love.”

It’s a fantastically simple curveball used so unexpectedly that it adds an entirely new narrative complexion to Watts’ film and throws all manner of moral dilemma for our kid-arachnid.

Read WTM?’s full review here.

 

16. My Life as a Courgette – Happiness at the Disco! 

 

 

 

White stuff. Disco. But not what you might be thinking.

Nope, instead, Claude Barras’ My Life as a Courgette offers up a beautifully realised children’s tale that is wonderfully astute in its dealing with some tough social issues. And despite the harsh reality that exists all around the orphanage in which their characters reside, Barras and Girlhood director-turned-screenwriter here, Céline Sciamma, still take the time to show us fleeting moments of heart-warming happiness.

The pick of these takes place on a trip to a snow resort where the children are shown dancing beneath a disco glitterball to the sounds of Swiss band Grauzone. For the children, it’s here that their harrowing pasts and uncertain futures are put on hold, and for a few short musical frames, they live exclusively in the joys of the now.

In a word, this is perfection.

Read WTM?’s full review here.

 

15. The Death of Stalin – Lying in a puddle of indignity 

 

 

Easily one of 2017’s best, and yet criminally, Armando Iannucci’s The Death of Stalin seems to have fallen of everyone’s radar come year-end – shame on y’all!

The script is nothing short of superb; combining the satirical with the slapstick, and the humorous with the harrowing – all without even a whiff of a Russian accent, surprisingly.

The ensemble cast is equally impressive – with Palin, Isaacs, and Tambor being standouts – each firmly staying within the category of comically detestable. But if one scene were to encapsulate the film’s tone more than any other, it is the moment Stalin’s subordinates find his body, as Buscemi’s Nikita Khrushchev neatly puts it; “lying in a puddle of indignity.” What proceeds is straight from the pages of the handbook on physical comedy, as our bickering band of central committee members attempt to move the body (the Chuckle Brothers meet 1950’s Soviet state, if you will), all the while squabbling, and plotting, about who should take up the leadership reigns.

Genius, just genius.

Read WTM?’s full review here.

 

14. Split – A Familiar Face at the Diner 

GLASS GLASS GLASS GLASS GLASS GLASS GLASS GLASS GLASS GLASS GLASS GLASS BRUCE WILLIS GLASS GLASS GLASS GLASS GLASS GLASS GLASS OMG IT ALL EXISTS IN THE SAME CINEMATIC UNIVERSE GLASS GLASS GLASS GLASS GLASS GLASS GLASS GLASS GLASS.

Read WTM?’s full review here.

 

13. The Killing of a Sacred Deer – Rifle Roulette

 

 

 

 

 

Divisive would be an understatement. Yorgos Lanthimos’ bizarre film, The Killing of a Sacred Deer, certainly isn’t for everyone. An actual beating heart during actual heart surgery; strange illness; casual chats about menstruation; and some rather mesmerising spaghetti eating, Lanthimos’ film has uncomfortable oddness in abundance.

The peak of this, however, comes at the film’s very end, in which Colin Farrell’s surgeon, Steven Murphy, binds his family to chairs, blindfolds himself, and begins spinning uncontrollably with a loaded rifle, shooting at random intervals. Some viewers might think they know his reasoning, others will be left totally befuddled. Either way, understanding is not necessarily the point – the point is to leave the cinema feeling as unnerved and unhinged as possible. And boy, oh boy, do we!

Read WTM?’s full review here.

 

12. Paddington 2 – The Pawshank Redemption

It doesn’t get much more fuzzy and warm than this. Yea, and the bear is pretty cute, too.

Without doubt one of the sweetest delights 2017 has to offer, if Paddington 2 didn’t leave you with a craving for marmalade sandwiches, it will have definitely left you with a smile on your face. So many great performances (yes, finally a Hugh Grant film I can get on board with). So many fabulous moments. All built around a wonderful – and very timely – message about kindness and acceptance.

But for me, in a film where the feel-good ambience trumps the year’s Trump blues, the scene that trumps them all is Paddington and his cohort of convicts’ daring escape from prison. Brilliantly comical and dazzlingly inventive, it features some great set-pieces that wholeheartedly epitomise the film’s wholesome heart.

Get busy livin’. Get busy givin’ – that’s God damn right!

 

11. It – LoVers

I’ve repeatedly said it to almost everyone I’ve come into contact with since September (and subsequently pissed them all off no-end), but It isn’t really about a child murdering clown at all. The true monster, shared by all versions of Stephen King’s novel, is the reality of life itself and the hardships of growing up.

And nothing quite epitomises Muschietti’s 2017 box office smash more than the scene in which the members of the self-proclaimed Losers’ Club join hands and unite in pact to put an end to Pennywise’s dancing should the sinister clown ever return to Derry. Despite all that they’ve been through, and all they are yet to experience, in this moment they are bonded by their outcast status, loveable idiosyncrasies, togetherness, and most importantly, their ties of friendship.

Here, there is a beating heart amidst the bloodshed.

Read WTM?’s full review here.

 

10. Moonlight – The distance between Mother and Son

Barry Jenkins’ powerful Moonlight – a deserved (eventual) winner at the Oscars – has played an important role in illuminating the previously taboo subject of homosexuality within the African American community; exploring forbidden love in ways that have rarely been seen on screen before. In a film of so many touching and mesmerising moments, its finest comes as a result of one of Moonlight’s most universal narrative threads: that of the relationship between a mother and her son.

The film’s three-act structure – spanning protagonist Chiron’s journey from child through adolescence to adulthood – lends itself to the development, and the distancing, of Chiron’s relationship with his junkie mother (played wonderfully by Naomie Harris). Allegedly based on Jenkins’ own experiences, it’s a distressing sub-plot of narcotics and neglect that builds to a scene late on in which the adult Chiron visits her at a drug treatment centre where she now resides.

What follows is a simple, honest, but nevertheless immensely powerful exchange between a mother and her estranged son, during which he admits remorse at his lack of empathy towards her, and she apologises for not showing him love when he needed it most, telling him she loves him even if he doesn’t love her back.

As liberating as it is heart-breaking, the power of the scene comes as a result of Jenkins’ intricate attention to character, relationships, and interactions; and you’ll all do well to leave with a dry eye.

Read WTM?’s full review here.

 

9. War for the Planet of the Apes – Flowers for Luca 

Along with Get Out, War holds the esteemed title of being one of only two releases this year I saw more than once at the cinema. And yet both times I found myself tearing up at the same moment: the death of a CGI Gorilla named Luca.

A minor character by anyone’s standards, and a death that in lesser hands might’ve been there simply to give the film some mid-point action; but when Luca is stabbed and killed part-way through proceedings, there’s real power to his demise. This is because Matt Reeves takes the time to invest in his apes, and uses earlier, quieter character interactions to reinforce the heightened emotion of later scenes.

One such moment – that between Luca and Amiah Miller’s mute human girl, Nova – involving the exchange of a flower, displays kindness, acceptance, and affection amidst the destruction and decay occurring all around them. Later, as she sobs over his body, Nova returns the favour, and in doing so, adds poignant thematic and character layers to Reeves’ film; showing both how the machine of war threatens to destroy innocence, and how the burden of Caesar’s road to redemption starts to bring out the Koba within him…

Read WTM?’s full review here

 

8. Dunkirk – Farrier’s one man stand

Come on, in the year a Christopher Nolan film is released, did you really think it wouldn’t have at least one scene that would make this list?

Dunkirk was a rousing success. From its three-pronged narrative, to its interwoven timelines, to its Harry Styles proving the haters wrong, Nolan’s WWII epic had a whole host of wonderful moments.

But a Nolan film wouldn’t be a Nolan film without some face-covered Tom Hardy goodness, and in typical fashion, Hardy delivers Dunkirk’s finest scene.

After a daring display of selfless courage in the air above Dunkirk, with depleted fuel supplies, Hardy’s RAF polite Farrier eventually lands outside the Allied perimeter. Against the orange glow of his burning Spitfire (courtesy of some mesmerising Hoyte van Hoytema cinematography), Farrier is taken prisoner by German troops; and in doing so, reminds us that War rarely has time for happy endings, especially for heroes.

Read WTM?’s full review here.

 

7. Logan – X marks the end

If Logan really is Hugh Jackman’s curtain call as the leather-wearing, sideburn-sporting, one-liner-spouting Wolverine, then what better way to go than in a blaze of bloody, sweary mayhem. Writer/director James Mangold gave us everything we ever wanted from a Wolverine film, but ultimately had to end it with everything every super fan never wanted – the death of our Adamantium hero.

Luckily for us though, the shaking of Wolverine’s mortal coil was given a real touch of class by Mangold, with something as simple as a quote from George Stevens 1953 classic Western, Shane, a cross turned 90 degrees, and a lingering camera shot packing a powerful and haunting punch.

Bravo, Mr Mangold, bravo!

Read WTM?’s full review here.

 

6. Get Out – Closet Secrets

 

Jordan Peele’s directorial debut pretty much everything you could want from a horror film. Scares? Check. Satire? Check. Easter Eggs? Check. Sincerity? Uh-huh. Instantly quotable dialogue? In abundance. Memorable scenes? Yes. Yes. Yes, yes, yes, yes (nods head as tears fall down cheek).

For my money, the finest moment is the one we were all waiting for ever since the catchy – and relevant – lyrics of Childish Gambino’s Redbone befell our ears during the film’s opening: Get Out’s big final-reel reveal.

As Daniel Kaluuya’s Chris spots a closet door conveniently ajar (see number 6 of my 6 Hidden Messages You May Have Missed in Get Out for the reason why), he does exactly what we’re shouting at him not to: goes snooping rather than scooting. Inevitably, what he finds isn’t pleasant – a box of rather damning photographs. The phrase ‘a picture paints a thousand words’ immediately springs to mind…

It’s a culmination of all our laughter, our screams, our speculation, that makes for a satisfying plot twist that sets up a fabulously inventive thrill ride of a finale, as our hero finally realises the extent of his predicament, and indeed the deception of those closest to him.

Read WTM?’s full review here.

 

5. Detroit – Night at the Algiers 

Has there been a more tense, breath-taking 45 minutes of cinema anywhere this year?

If you’ve subjected yourself to Kathryn Bigelow’s Detroit – a gritty depiction of the Algiers Motel shootings during the heated riots of 1967 – you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about.

Call me a rule-bender, but the best scene here is actually a collection of scenes. After rumours of a sniper in the motel annex reach a handful of racist Detroit police officers, they proceed to contain those staying there, using brutal methods in an attempt to snuff out the shooter. What follows is a frenzy of ferocious racial frictions, foul-mouthing, and unfriendly fire; underpinned by fine turns from its largely youthful cast – Poulter, Boyega, and Smith are notable standouts.

Rarely is cinema this harrowingly pertinent.

Read WTM?’s full review here

 

4. Toni Erdmann – Nightclub Dad

From a rather revealing (quite literally) final act, to one of the finest fancy dress outfits ever to grace the cinema screen, Maren Ade’s wonderfully bonkers comedy Toni Erdmann – the tale of a father trying to reconnect with his estranged daughter – has a plethora of memorable moments.

The best though, is one of those blink-and-you’ll-miss-it moments that occurs when the central pair wind up at a nightclub together. Amidst the neon lights, loud music, and overwhelming feeling of embarrassment at seeing your dad ‘out out’ (I hope to never relate to this), there’s a moment when Sandra Hüller’s Ines sinks into the couch and tearfully looks in her father’s direction. It’s a fleeting, seemingly throw-away scene that in-fact holds real power and meaning.

Is it simply the effect of having one too many glasses of wine? Is it the feeling of reaching rock-bottom in life? Or is this the moment a daughter’s love for her desperate, buffoon of a father starts to return?

Whatever Ade intended here, it’s some of the richest few seconds in cinema this year.

Read WTM?’s full review here.

 

3. Raw – Finger Food

 

 

 

 

The premise of Julia Ducournau’s French-Belgian horror drama – a teenage girl attending a Veterinary college begins to have cannibalistic urges – makes for rather grisly viewing (believe me, that really is a compliment). But Raw is so much more than it appears – a coming-of-age tale of adolescent sexual awakening and sibling rivalry that’ll certainly alter your definition of finger food…

Raw’s dish of the day – the scene in question – is served up in brilliantly meaty fashion.

When her sister faints after inadvertently slicing off her own finger when trying to give a bikini wax, Garance Marillier’s Justine starts to feel a tad peckish, with certain cravings that point to one thing…

I’ll leave you to fill in the rest.

 

2. Manchester by the Sea – The Interrogation

Few scenes in 2017 will stay with you longer than the interrogation of Casey Affleck’s Lee Chandler in Kenneth Lonergan’s Manchester by the Sea.

After devastating tragedy strikes, Chandler is questioned by police on his involvement. During the interview, Chandler blankly confesses to all his wrong-doings on the night in question – the alcohol, the drugs, the negligence – expecting to face the legal consequences of his actions. When he isn’t, a distressing sense of injustice – and masterfully constructed character confliction – is felt by both protagonist and viewer.

The next few frames outside the interrogation room are some of the most shockingly sobering in many a year.

Read WTM?’s full review here.

 

1. Blade Runner 2049 – Two-that’s-actually-a-three-some

In a film of so many dazzling moments – thanks to some sensational Roger Deakins cinematography – one really is spoilt for choice when it comes to memorable scenes in Blade Runner 2049. But, how exactly does one single out a scene from the most visually impressive film in the last decade?

Needless to say, it’s a tough one. For me, however, 2017’s finest cinematic moment is actually a sex scene. Call me a perverted weirdo, but this is no ordinary sex scene.

In a two-some that is actually a three-some, the scene involves Gosling’s K, a replicant prostitute, and K’s holographic girlfriend, Joi. For those that have seen the film, you’ll know exactly what I mean.

Going one better than the intimate exchanges in Spike Jonze’s Her, this is a sublime piece of beautifully crafted character development that elevates Blade Runner’s distinct brand of sci-fi above all else in the genre (sorry Star Wars fans, this is light years ahead).

According to director Denis Villeneuve, this scene alone took his team of CG artists well over a year to complete. The results, a near perfect blend of heartfelt, heart-breaking visual splendour.

Fabulous on the eye; touching on the heart; terrible for the internet browser history…

Read WTM?’s full review here.

 

 

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