×
Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

The most unforgettable movie moments of 2019

It's been a year of massive movies. That's more or less true of most years, of course, but 2019 feels like it's gone above and beyond on the big screen. After all, it's given us everything from a massive culmination of the Marvel Cinematic Universe to the first-ever Fast & Furious spin-off film to much-anticipated pieces of auteur cinema by the likes of Quentin Tarantino, Jordan Peele, Ari Aster, and more. It's been a year of scares, of laughs, and of epic action setpieces, and that means we've seen plenty of amazing moments unfold on the screen. 

Even among all those great moments, though, some stand out above the rest as truly unforgettable pieces of cinema. These are the moments you bring up right away when talking about the films with your friends, the moments you go to sleep thinking about even days after you've left the theater, and the moments that will stick in your head long after you've let go of some of the finer points of the film's plot. Here are our picks for the most unforgettable movie moments of 2019.

Captain Marvel: Nothing to prove

One common criticism of Marvel Studios is that their superhero origin stories can be a little homogeneous. Since Iron Man, they've had a certain tried-and-true formula for a hero finding their destiny. Recent solo debuts like Black Panther and Captain Marvel have done their best to break this mold, and in Captain Marvel's case, that took the form of one of the best exclamation points in superhero movie history. 

The moment comes at the end of the film's climactic battle, when Carol Danvers (Brie Larson) has broken free of the artificial restraints placed on her by her former Kree mentors, and learned to embrace who she is as a human gifted with great power. Her last obstacle is her once-trusted teacher and commander, Yon-Rogg (Jude Law), who tries to exploit her previous weaknesses by arguing that Carol can't truly prove herself until she's defeated him... without the aid of her powers. Carol's having none of it, and after she blasts her former friend back several feet, she simply declares, "I have nothing to prove to you." It's an applause-worthy moment that's a cherry on top of a final sequence packed with applause-worthy moments.

Us: The Tethered attack

The trailers for Jordan Peele's much-anticipated follow-up to Get Out did an admirable of obscuring exactly what the film had in store. When Us was finally released, we discovered that we had really only seen a small part of a much grander premise. But the most unforgettable moment has to be the attack sequence in which the doppelgangers known as the Tethered launch their invasion of the Wilson family home. 

You might expect everything to be downhill after that instantly iconic shot of the Tethered standing menacingly in the driveway, but no. Peele executes the whole sequence masterfully, and it's all anchored by Lupita Nyong'o's dual performances as Adelaide and Red. The whole film could have stayed in that house, playing up the tension, and we would have kept watching. The rest of the film is still compelling, but the sense of pure menace with which Peele infuses that first attack is brilliant.

Shazam!: The power of family

Shazam! Is a superhero origin story about a selfish young man who learns to be heroic through a lot of very comedic trial and error, but it's also a film about the search for family. Billy Batson (Asher Angel in teen boy form and Zachary Levi in superhero form) has to learn to let go of his ideas about the family who left him behind, and spends much of the film figuring out how he fits into the strange foster family that's taken him in. 

Billy's superhero life and his life as a boy just looking for love come together in the climactic sequence, when Billy's Shazam form has to fight off Doctor Sivana (Mark Strong) while his foster siblings run for their lives. Then, he realizes that he can share his gift with the people who are willing to be there for him no matter what. It's a little surprising to see the Shazam family to pop up in the hero's very first movie, but when they all emerge in their adult forms and start gleefully showing off their powers, Shazam! hits another gear of joy.

Avengers: Endgame: "I knew it"

It's no surprise that there are a lot of massive moments in Avengers: Endgame that Marvel fans will never forget. This is a movie billed as the conclusion of an 11-year saga spanning more than 20 films, so naturally it was going to go for broke. We got that surprising death of Thanos in the opening minutes, the fall of Black Widow, Iron Man with a daughter, and of course that massive final battle that is itself full of multiple unforgettable moments. So, which one is the most unforgettable?

Well, with all due respect to the all-female Avengers spotlight, the return of Captain Marvel to the fray, and of course Iron Man's snap, we have to go with the moment when Captain America finally proves he's worthy to wield Mjolnir. The sequence is set up so that you can practically predict what's about to happen before it happens, but it doesn't matter. When that hammer flies across the battlefield and into Cap's hands, you're cheering even if you did see it coming.

John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum: Excommunicado

The John Wick franchise is known for massive fight scene setpieces, "gun-fu" displays of bravado, and incredible final showdowns. It comes as no surprise that Chapter 3 — Parabellum certainly delivers on all of these fronts. This is the biggest, most ambitious John Wick film yet, expanding on the franchise mythology and setting the stage for an even bigger clash yet to come in the fourth chapter. In terms of what makes it unforgettable, though, you don't have to look further than the opening sequence. 

Parabellum picks up almost immediately after the second film, with Wick on the run and just minutes to go before his "excommunicado" declaration takes effect and assassins start trying to kill him to earn a massive bounty. That means a gauntlet of fights, from Wick killing a guy with nothing but a library book to a fight in a room full of knives that ends... well, it ends pretty much exactly the way you'd expect it to, but that doesn't make it any less awesome.

Godzilla: King of the Monsters: Kaiju showdown

Though its human characters may have left something to be desired, we were really going into Godzilla: King of the Monsters to watch massive kaiju rip each other to shreds. On that score, we definitely got our wish. The film piled on the giant monster action across the globe, giving us new takes on classic "Titans" and introducing brand new companions for them, all culminating in an epic battle in Boston that still has our jaws on the floor.

Things kick into gear after the Monarch scientists revive Godzilla with the aid of nuclear detonation, powering up his radiation-fueled body. From there Godzilla, Ghidorah, Mothra, and Rodan all converge, and it's a tag team monster slugfest for the ages that packs in plenty of references to classic kaiju clashes. We get to see Ghidorah getting the better of Godzilla, Mothra making a sacrificial play to save her king, and Godzilla powering himself up to dangerous levels to disintegrate Ghidorah and eat one of its heads. It's an epic pile-up of monster mayhem worth watching again and again just to absorb all the little details.

The Dead Don't Die: An alien visitor

The Dead Don't Die is indie film icon Jim Jarmusch's take on the zombie apocalypse subgenre, with all the typically Jarmuschian quirks that entails. It's more than just a comedy that pokes fun at our obsession with end-of-the-world horror stories, because plenty of films have done that before. It's a highly specific satire packed with little moments that make you chuckle before also making you pause to contemplate what exactly you just saw. 

That level of compelling quirkiness begins right away with the Sturgill Simpson theme song, which itself becomes a fascinating little piece of meta comedy running throughout the film. It continues with the zombies growling out words like "coffee!" and "chardonnay!" as an echo of their former lives. Then there's the Smart Car, the katana, the Hobbit jokes, and even characters referencing the movie's script. If there's one moment that reigns above all others, though, it's the moment when Tilda Swinton's character Zelda Winston, a perfectly eccentric Tilda Swinton type, ascends in an alien flying saucer after seemingly fulfilling her purpose in the town. It's a great moment because of how gloriously bonkers it is, but also because those of us obsessed with the unique strangeness of Tilda Swinton's acting career might start to suspect that it explains a lot.

Spider-Man: Far From Home: Mid-credits madness

Spider-Man: Far From Home delivers everything you could want from a film that has to serve as both a Spider-Man: Homecoming sequel and a follow-up to the events of Avengers: Endgame. We've got more of Peter Parker's high school adventures as he just tries to have a normal summer vacation, more of MJ's mysterious nature, more of Ned being Ned. On a grander scale, we also see Peter trying to navigate life in the shadow of Tony Stark's legacy, and of course the cinematic debut of Mysterio, a supervillain posing as a hero to gain the trust of Nick Fury and the world at large. 

One of the great joys of the film is the way it balances all of these major elements while also creating a sense that anything can and will happen. All the comic book twists and turns we've come to expect are there, but they never feel either predictable or forced, and that holds true right up through the mid-credits sequence. That's when we learn that not only has Mysterio released Spider-Man's identity to the world, but that Peter must now contend with the attentions of J. Jonah Jameson — a triumphant return for J.K. Simmons. It's two big reveals for the price of one, and theatrical audiences went nuts for it.

Midsommar: The final sacrifice

Ari Aster's Midsommar was billed from the very beginning as a horror film that unfolds in broad daylight, thanks to the midnight sun of its Swedish setting. This gives the film a very particular aesthetic, preventing Aster from relying on shadows and obfuscations to do the horror work for him. He lays it all out in the open, and that means the images have to be particularly memorable if they're going to incite terror in the audience. 

Midsommar pulls this off on just about every level, from the macabre reverence on display in the first sacrifice to the way hallucinogenics slowly creep in to that final, breathless May Queen dance. If there's one moment that stands out above all others, though, it might be when we find out just what the bear — who was just chillin' in a cage for much of the film — is actually there for. It's a key part of the final sacrifice, and when we see just how that plays out, it's a true jaw-dropper in a film already packed with jaw-droppers.

Once Upon a Time in... Hollywood: The ending

From pretty much the moment Quentin Tarantino revealed Once Upon a Time in... Hollywood as his next film, fans began speculating over how exactly the legendary writer/director would work the Manson murders into his story of Los Angeles at a turning point in the late 1960s. The more we learned about the film, it seemed, the less we knew about the way the murders themselves — including the death of actress Sharon Tate, played by Margot Robbie — would play a part in the narrative. 

Then we finally got to the ending, and while many people predicted that Tarantino would indeed change history by preventing the Manson murders in some way (a precedent set by the death of Hitler in the climax of Inglourious Basterds), how we actually got there still turned out to be an unforgettable moment. Whether or not Tarantino went about it the right way has left fans divided, but the final showdown between Cliff (Brad Pitt) and Manson's followers definitely fits the bill when we're talking about unforgettable movie moments. We'll be thinking about it for quite some time.

Hobbs & Shaw: Helicopter fishing

Hobbs & Shaw is the first-ever Fast & Furious spin-off, which means it had a dual mission going in. The film had to both firmly cement itself as part of the Furious universe — that world that's given us everything from cars parachuting out of a plane to a race against a nuclear submarine — while also justifying its own existence with enough new details and story beats to set itself apart from the pack. 

The film achieves this freshness with the introduction of Idris Elba's "Black Superman" and a few massive sci-fi concepts, but much like Dwayne Johnson's character, it never forgets where it came from. That means the final action sequence needed to have a truly massive automotive setpiece to bring it all home. 

And that's how we get the moment when the titular heroes are trying to stop a helicopter by chaining it to a truck, which then has to be pulled by another truck, which then has to be pulled by another truck, which then has to be pulled by a hot rod just to even the odds. By the time all the vehicles turn on their nitro boosts, we have a bona fide Fast & Furious classic moment on our hands.