It doesn’t matter if a movie’s good, bad, or just mediocre—any film can have a moment that makes your jaw drop in awe or tears come to your eyes, or makes you shudder in irritation and disgust. Here are all the greatest and worst individual moments from the cinematic releases of 2017.
Note: Many of these moments are major reveals in their films, so proceed at your own risk!
She’s in the trenches of World War I, and it seems like nothing could be more horrific. Everyone is trapped, knowing that rising an inch above the trench means instant death, but that death could still come at any moment. Diana is horrified by what she sees, and decides to put a stop to it. She takes off her jacket and climbs up to the battlefield. The music soars. The bullets fly. And she runs right at the enemy—not in anger, but to protect those who need protecting. Wonder Woman’s first appearance in Man’s World is literally perfect—not just because it’s incredibly badass, and not just because it’s the long-awaited arrival of the most famous, most popular female superhero on the big screen, right where she belongs. It’s also because it gets everything right about Wonder Woman, a character DC Comics often has trouble defining.
The Last Jedi is filled with exciting moments, so we forced ourselves to pick a single one, rather than flood this list with them. So we’re going with the Throne Room scene, where Kylo Ren shockingly kills Supreme Leader Snoke by quietly spinning Rey’s lightsaber on his armrest and turning it on, piercing Snoke’s body and killing him almost instantly. Then Kylo and Rey turn back to back in slow motion to prepare for an epic lightsaber battle with Snoke’s Pratorean Guard. It’s the “holy shit” moment in a movie full of “holy shit” moments, balancing that surprise with action-packed excitement in an unforgettable way.
The ending to Get Out is one intense action scene after another, to the point where it’s almost exhausting—as it’s intended to be. After surviving countless attacks, Chris collapses in the street as he realizes the fight is over.... which is when you see the flashing lights approach. Admit it, you gasped. We all knew exactly what those sirens meant—and, what’s worse, both Chris and Rose did, too. Director Jordan Peele originally thought to have the movie end just about the way you’d expect from the scene—but honestly, the fact that it was actually Chris’ friend pulling up was much better. It subverted our expectations and gave Chris the ending he deserved.
Putting aside the movie as a whole, there were few moments this year that were as entertaining as this one. Superman has been resurrected (in a very dumb way) but he’s disoriented and very, very angry. The Justice League members try to restrain him to calm him down, but Supes is having none of it, tossing them around easily. So the Flash starts running to help his friends with his incredible speed, to the point where everyone else looks like they’re frozen in time—until Superman’s eye slowly turns to follow the Flash as he races around the Man of Steel. Seeing Superman’s eyes follow him despite his insane pace is as chilling for the Flash as it is thrilling for the audience. Then Superman slowly speeds up to match his fellow hero, whom he takes out efficiently—and quickly. Justice League has its issues—so many issues—but these scene was truly a joy to behold.
M. Night Shyamalan’s Split was entertaining on its own, but right before the film ends, everything gets taken to another level. The Horde has escaped and the film suddenly cuts to a diner where the news is on, discussing the villain. Then a few people say this sounds familiar... like a story a few years ago about a guy named... what was his name? “Mr. Glass,” says David Dunn, played again by Bruce Willis. Out of nowhere you find out that you’ve been watching a backdoor sequel set in the Unbreakable universe—a sequel fans have been dreaming about for almost 20 years and didn’t know even existed until this moment. After years of wishing Shyamalan would stop forcing these sorts of twists into his film, we finally forgot about them—and he shocked us with the biggest reveal since the ending of The Sixth Sense.
The last 30 minutes of Coco left us shattered. The movie’s messages about family, forgiveness, and the fear of being forgotten are excellent. But it all culminates in Miguel’s final efforts to save Hector’s memory. He runs to Coco, guitar in hand, pleading with her to remember her father. But she’s old, and tired, and doesn’t have a lot more to give. So Miguel starts singing “Remember Me,” the song Hector had written for her, as he continues to sing, tears stream down his face, and Coco’s own face lights up as she starts singing along. In that moment, Miguel not only saved Hector’s legacy, he also saved his family. Now, if you’ll excuse us, we have so many somethings in our eyes.
After learning that Logan would likely be Hugh Jackman’s last appearance as Wolverine, fans were both excited and trepidatious when it was revealed that X-23, a.k.a. his clone-daughter Laura, would make her debut in one of the X-universe’s many dystopian futures. We needn’t have worried. Newcomer Dafne Keen’s turn as Laura was both shockingly good and shockingly violent; she was a tiny but fierce force of nature, and watching her tear through dozens of guys just as her clone-daddy used to was great. Laura’s conflict between being a kid and her killer instincts were a fantastic mirror not only to Hugh Jackman’s early, angry Wolverine, but also the conflict inside of Old Man Logan, who was trying to ignore his nature, too.
In the sequel to Ridley Scott’s beloved scifi noir classic, Ryan Gosling’s Officer K is hunting for something that shouldn’t exist—somehow, a replicant has had a child. In a moment that gains significance as the movie progresses, K meets the artist who designs replicant memories while confined inside a glass dome due to her illness. A memory she describes is one that K shares, making him think he’s the replicant baby. The moment when he finds out that he isn’t is cruel but perfect. K does wind up finding a sense of meaning for his life, but it’s not the one that he was so dead-set on.
Few films flipped on a dime like Spider-Man: Homecoming did. When Peter Parker opens the door to take Liz to prom, her dad opens the door—and Peter suddenly realizes her dad is the Vulture, played by Michael Keaton. The whole dynamic and tone of the film instantly shifts when that door opens. While the reveal may or may not have been a shock to the audience, it was definitely a gut-punch to Peter, a lesson that he can’t be a normal kid and be Spider-Man, too. It’s Marvel Studios’ way of telling Peter “with great power comes great responsibility” without actually saying it.
Everything fans hoped Luc Besson’s Valerian and the City of a Thousand Cities would be comes to life in the film’s opening. The movie has to show thousands upon thousands of years of space evolution, so it plays some David Bowie music over a non-stop barrage of alien civilizations meeting each other. And it keeps going and going. When it’s finally finished, the result is that the hyper-scifi universe of Valerian is grounded in reality, giving the bizarre and (literally) out-of-this- world story depth and stakes. Unfortunately, that incredible opening wasn’t nearly enough to make the rest of the film worth watching.
Scifi action film Life never found a huge audience, and that may be for the best. It has one of the most surprising, downer endings you’ll ever see. After a space monster kills almost everyone on their ship, the final two astronauts make a choice: One will sacrifice himself and take the creature into deep space, and the other will return to Earth so she can tell the story. Things do not go as planned, and the woman who was supposed to go safely home is flung permanently into space, while the man crash-lands on Earth... with an unstoppable killer alien in tow. All Life needed was a post-credits scene where everyone on Earth died.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 was filled with feelings. Dad feelings in particular. While Yondu wasn’t particularly sympathetic in the first film, the sequel did an incredible job of fleshing out his character. It helped that the movie focused so heavily on father figures; Peter “Star-Lord” Quill finally met his dad, Ego the Living Planet, before realizing that his foster father, Yondu, was a more loving parent, as well as being much, much less of an asshole. Yes, Yondu did some very bad things, but he also did some very good things, including sacrificing himself for Peter. This was emotional enough, but then came his funeral. Seeing Yondu’s former partners from across the galaxy salute the fallen Ravager was visually gorgeous, and heart-achingly emotional, too.
The live-action Ghost in the Shell movie was in trouble from the very beginning after casting noted non-Japanese person Scarlett Johansson in the lead role of Major Motoko Kusanagi, the Japanese character from the Japanese anime series (and manga) that the US film was based upon. So the movie renamed her character the Major, which of course fixed nothing. Its next solution was to address the disconnect within the film, by revealing that the Major—a character wrestling with her identity, specifically wondering if she is more machine than human—was actually a Japanese woman whose mind had been transplanted into a white woman’s body. It might have sounded like an interesting intellectual exercise on paper, but in practice it was an appalling instance of whitewashing that left fans, particularly Asian fans, upset.
We can’t remember the last time product placement was this unironically brazen in a movie. Krispy Kreme’s role in Power Rangers isn’t a one-off joke or the occasional shot of a store in the background of a scene, it’s vital to the culmination of Rita’s evil plan. She’s running around demanding these pitiful humans tell her where the Krispy Kreme is, and then there’s even an extended shot of her nonchalantly eating a doughnut mid-battle. It flies way beyond jokey reference and into some really gross shilling.
Ridley Scott’s decision to focus the continuation of the Alien franchise on his artificial intelligence designs has proved contentious at best, but at worst it resulted in an Alien: Covenant scene that was so bad it elicited immature laughter from audiences. Prometheus’ David comes face to face with Walter, an almost identical fellow android, and as the two attempt to learn from each other, the scene takes a surprising turn—one probably not meant to be homoerotic, but who knows? As David tries to teach Walter to play the flute, he says, “I’ll do the fingering.” It was weird. It was bad. It was weird and bad.
Most of The Mummy is very, very bad, but the worst part has to be what happens with the Tom Cruise character at the end of the film. This movie is set in the Dark Universe, a place designed to be populated by horror icons like Dracula, the Wolfman, Frankenstein, and more. So what monster does Tom Cruise transform into? This is The Mummy, after all—he must be the new Mummy, right? Nope. He’s just a slightly more monstrous but otherwise totally nondescript Tom Cruise. Ugh.
Everything that needs to be said about this nonsense is said right here.
Geostorm is a movie about an array of satellites that are supposed to protect Earth from violent weather—but mysteriously turn against us. Instead, the satellites are causing violent weather and major natural disasters. Sounds exciting, right? Well, the movie isn’t mostly made up of huge, effects-laden action sequences—instead, it’s full of characters talking about the cataclysm. But since some characters are in space and others are on Earth, they have to do it via video conference. And it happens again. And again. And over and over and over until it stops being bad and becomes hilarious... and bad. It’s awful, is what we’re saying.
The world is under attack by an uber-powerful army from another dimension. The world’s richest and most calculating man needs to resurrect Superman in order to save it. How to procure Superman’s body? By giving Flash and Cyborg a couple of shovels, apparently. This is just so, so dumb, it’s practically unfathomable.