Megan's Favorite Scenes of 2018
As we previously shone a light on our favorite performances of the year, I decided to also take a moment for my favorite scenes. These three picks are, in my opinion, the most memorable and well- executed sequences of some of the strongest films of 2018.
EIGHTH GRADE: KAYLA’S FIRESIDE TALK WITH HER DAD
At heart of Bo Burnham’s Eighth Grade is the all-too-real relationship between Kayla (Elsie Fisher) and her single dad (Josh Hamilton). The emotional culmination of the entire film is their conversation over the burning of her sixth grade time capsule. Hamilton’s entire character can be summed up by his confession, “I’m not exactly sure what this is, or means, but I hope whatever we’re doing here is a positive thing.” We find ourselves in his place as he is powerless to change her anxieties and help her find happiness. Though what his teenage child is experiencing is oftentimes inscrutable and alien to him, he has more confidence in her than she knows. It feels rare to see a father bare his soul to his daughter, explaining his unconditional love while reassuring her that she doesn’t make him sad. After watching the two continuously fail to communicate, they find understanding in each other. Burnham’s writing somehow manages to gut you more here than it already has, which is a feat unto itself. There was not a more poignant and honest scene in the entirety of 2018.
MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE FALLOUT: THE BATHROOM FIGHT
In a film that provides half a dozen of the most impressive set pieces of the past decade, it was hard to decide on a favorite. At first blush the bathroom fight is a chaotic knock down drag out, but under the surface, it’s a union of precision and skill. The scene begins by establishing the rules of engagement with a sequence of shots that telegraph the environment, the stakes, and the tension between Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) and Walker (Henry Cavill). Each impact of a fist or improvised weapon feels satisfying and weighty thanks to sharp sound design and kinetic editing. A broken pipe whistles through the air before hooking Walker by the throat to flip him. Hunt’s running tackle thoroughly obliterates an entire wall. Henry Cavill’s bicep lock and load. James Bond only wishes he could make close quarters hand to hand combat look this good. Yet as dazzling as it is, the set piece remains grounded in its characters. Hunt isn’t as young as he once was and his fighting style is juxtaposed with Walker’s; the brutal hammer to his scalpel. Their inability to put their differences aside is what makes their tag team battle a meaningful part of the narrative. The true star of the scene is Liang Yang, playing the ferocious adversary who makes this fight Fallout’s most compelling white knuckler.
THE RIDER: BRADY VISITS LANE SCOTT
Brady Jandreau and his community all play fictional versions of themselves in The Rider, drawing the thinnest of lines between fiction and actuality. Chloé Zhao’s sophomore feature is so dense with emotion, it proved a challenge to isolate a single scene to speak on. It is a highly nuanced perspective of the modern cowboy; a reality divorced form the American fantasy. One moment that shines the brightest is when Brady visits his friend Lane Scott. Lane experienced a traumatic brain injury and disability more severe than Brady’s own in a similar rodeo accident. Brady assists Lane in physical therapy, and both of them dream of the glory days they can never return to. The scene seems to encapsulate Zhao’s purpose, which is a gentle and noninvasive glimpse of their fight to continue living a fulfilling life. Brady and Lane’s nonverbal communication subtly conveys multitudes of emotional connection. Such a view of tender male friendships is something all too rare in contemporary media. The Rider is a nonjudgmental celebration of identity, refusing to solicit pity for the its subjects’ circumstances. The quiet smiles the two share in this moment of time and space are unforgettably evocative and beautiful.