Film lists

Set the Tape’s Favourite Film Scenes of 2018

Ahead of the unveiling of our collective Top 10 Films of 2018 later this week, we here at Set the Tape figured we’d prelude those festivities by celebrating some of our favourite individual scenes of this past year in movies.  After all, great scenes can come from anywhere.  Great movies, obviously, but also bad movies, forgettable movies, disappointing movies.  A great scene can stand apart from the film it’s featured within or it can be the logical culmination of hours of storytelling up to that point.  It can be emblematic of a great film’s many qualities or it can stand in stark contrast to an otherwise dismal affair.  A great scene can shock or delight, surprise or comfort, shatter preconceptions or solidify expectations.  Below are just a sample of what we feel were the best individual moments in 2018 Film, listed in order of spoiler-iness.  Because of the limited field of writers who responded to the call, we’ve definitely missed many other scenes in this write-up, so share your own favourite highlights in the comments!  We’ll see you back here soon for the big one. – Callum Petch


First Man – Riding the atmosphere

As Neil Armstrong’s X-15 rocket plane hurtles towards the unwelcoming vacuum of space, its pilot silent, his view restricted and claustrophobic inside the cramped, violently shaking cockpit, we’re told immediately that Damien Chazelle’s First Man is not going to be your standard space exploration picture. Or an historical chest thumping American biopic. Instead, we’re overwhelmed by Armstrong’s (Ryan Gosling) experience; seeing what little he sees, feeling the imminent danger he feels in one the many rickety, yet remarkable machines of NASA’s 1960s space program. A master of his craft, Chazelle sets the tone for First Man perfectly with a practical setup that included a life size X-15 and Gosling in full suit and breathing gear. When his craft pierces Earth’s atmosphere for the first time and lingers teasingly on the edge of space, wonder and relief collide for a beautiful, if heart-wrenchingly fleeting moment. – Nicholas Lay


 

Mission: Impossible – Fallout – Paris free-fall

Let’s face facts: nobody expected Mission: Impossible – Fallout to be that damn good, did they? Six films into a franchise headed by Tom Cruise, who is such a divisive screen presence he might as well call himself Tom Marmite, and even given Rogue Nation being great fun, Fallout had no right to end up as great as it was – a heady fusion of impossible espionage, Christopher Nolan-esque gravitas, and eye-popping stunts that Daniel Craig is really going to have up his Bondian game to top. Chief among them my favourite moment of 2018 at the movies and, surely, the most bonkers sequence of any M:I film (maybe even any action epic in years): the Paris free-fall set piece. In which, not even 20 minutes in, Marmite jumps out of a bi-plane after Henry ‘Supertache’ Cavill, whose life he has to save mid-air after he gets struck by lightning as they’re plunging 10,000 ft onto the Paris rooftops. It might be the most joyously ludicrous set piece in cinema since the pre-credits sequence of GoldenEye – you know, where Pierce Brosnan breaks the laws of physics to save a crashing airplane.

When I saw the film again at the movies, I watched this moment in the batshit gimmick that is 4DX and it was. A. Rush! The cinematic equivalent of being on a rollercoaster for three pulse pounding minutes, backed by a brilliantly percussive, perilous score from Lorne Balfe. It’s just great. And the fact it ends with a deft landing and a cheeky quip proves that Chris McQuarrie might end up being the best Bond director never to make a Bond film in history. – Tony Black


Mandy – Forging the battle-axe

Some moments make you laugh, make you cry, or just flat out make you glad you got to see it on a big screen. This moment though, is something else. Panos Cosmatos’ Mandy can claim the record for the fastest a film has ever found a massive cult following. From its trippy atmosphere to its unflinching and sometimes downright disturbing violence. But the point that it all comes together arrives in one gloriously insane moment when Nicholas Cage’s Red Miller, a man who previously showed no skills as a blacksmith, forges a battle-axe with which to exact his revenge. It’s a beautifully mad scene, doused in a million fiery shades of red and topped off with the late Jóhann Jóhannsson‘s glorious soundtrack, maybe the greatest, most deliciously Heavy Metal thing seen in a cinema this decade. – Andrew Brooker


Ready Player One – Checking into the second trial

There are some films that should never be touched by the hands of the dreaded remake and The Shining is one of them. Stanley Kubrick’s famed horror film may have been disliked by Stephen King, but it has remained a high watermark for the horror genre, so much so that Steven Spielberg’s adaptation of Ernest Cline’s phenomenally successful novel Ready Player One decided to change course from the book, turn it effectively into a video game level, and pay a superb tribute to one of the all-time greats.  Made even more funnier by having key character Aech (Lena Waithe) being the only one not having seen the film in the first place and react with genuine horror to the film’s most famous visual moments – The Grady Twins, the woman in Room 237, the rushing blood from the elevator – it takes one of the most terrifying films in history and turns it into something genuinely funny and deeply thrilling. – Eamon Hennedy


Deadpool 2 – X-Force

We got swerved, bro.  The genius in the X-Force fake-out didn’t come from swerving just the kind of comic-book fans who would probably get incredibly pissed that the live-action debut of Zeitgeist involved him getting minced by a woodchipper, but from Deadpool 2 swerving everyone.  The entire marketing campaign was built around the idea that Deadpool was going to form his own super-team in order to stop Cable, they cast faces just about recognisable enough to make it seem like Fox was putting together their own budget Avengers and sent them around the talk-show circuit to give interviews about their time on-set, the film introduces each of them in a big ‘getting the team together’ montage, AC/DC soundtracks their parasail towards their prison convoy target… only for each of them (save for Domino) to be picked off one by one in the most Looney Tunes of comedic pratfalls, impeccably timed by director David Leitch who, turns out, has a real knack for physical comedy.  The first time I saw Deadpool 2, I figured out exactly what it was doing the moment Shatterstar was shown drifting towards the whirring helicopter blades and my resultant hysterics caused actual physical pain to my sides which took the rest of the day to fully subside.  And I now know that wind advisories are very serious business!  Deadpool 2, saving lives and splitting sides. – Callum Petch


Solo: A Star Wars Story – The escape from Kessel

Solo: A Star Wars Story features one of the best action sequences of 2018: The escape from Kessel and maelstrom chase. Magical moments abound, whether it’s Han snatching the blaster from the air and spinning to fire, Lando’s run to L3, the camera following Han up the ramp, or the Millenium Falcon’s legendary run. It’s pure delight from moment to moment. Two shots during the flight tie the spiritual journey throughout: Han’s smile as Chewie takes the copilot seat, friends now who once tried to kill each other, and a tight shot of Han’s eyes, mirroring a shot from his earlier escape on Corellia – but instead of showing fear and panic, we see confidence and joy. For those two moments alone, it’s all worth it, but surrounding them is a kinetic masterwork of action, music, and editing that miraculously never lose their visual cohesion like so many blockbusters. – John W. Mills


Suspiria – The dance

Few film scenes this year have stayed with me longer than those of Luca Guadagnino’s loose remake of Dario Argento’s 70s cult classic Suspiria. And at 153 minutes long, there are plenty of scenes to pick and choose from in this discombobulating horror epic, set inside a world-renowned Berlin dance school run by a coven of witches. However, one scene in particular stands out as the latest recruit, American amateur dancer Susie (Dakota Johnson), performs a complex routine in front of the penetrating gaze of Madame Blanc (Tilda Swinton). But this is no ordinary foxtrot. Underneath the studio dance floor, a mysterious presence lurks, reaching out to touch the virginal Susie through the cold hard surface. The energy pulsates through the dancer – but what makes the scene so memorable is that with each throw of her arm, each twist and turn, the wantaway dancer Olga (Elena Fokina) is viciously mutilated, bent and broken, over and over again, by an invisible force inside a glass-walled studio elsewhere in the building. The ambiguity of the scene means it’s never clear if Susie really knows what is happening to Olga and the excruciating and relentless torture she endures with her bones snapping and limbs popping as she screams in agony. Suspiria will require multiple rewatches to fully understand its complexities, but one thing is for sure: this scene will no doubt hold the exact same impact time after time. – Owen Hughes


Hereditary – The accident

Hereditary is a movie of standout moments, mostly good, some bad, but there is one that stands above them all. The car accident. Following a party where his sister, who is allergic to them, has accidentally eaten cake tainted with nuts, he rushes home in the car seeking help. The music is racing, his sister is thrashing and gasping for air, the engine is roaring. He swerves to avoid something in the road, there’s a thud, the car screams to a halt. Silence. He finally forces himself to look in the mirror and you know. You don’t see it, you don’t need to see it. You know. His face tells you everything. You’re there with him in that moment, in that absolute, unthinkable horror. One of the finest moments of cinema this year, hats off to both director Ari Aster and to actor Alex Wolff. – Shaun Rodger


What were some of your favourite movie moments from 2018?  Why not jump on down into the comments and let us know?  More Year-End articles like this will be appearing on Set the Tape every day this week, so keep checking back!

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