Top 10 iconic movie scenes of 2019: From the Joker dancing and Rocketman's sex scene to Stan Lee's cameo and 'Avenger's Assemble'
Look back at 2019 and you see history-in-the-making with some iconic moments from films that make you hit the replay button
The year 2019 hasn't been a bad year when it comes to iconic movie moments, running the gamut from horror, to action, to romantic to just plain bizarre. Here are the scenes we think will make you hit the replay button again and again.
1. Joaquin Phoenix's Arthur Fleck dancing on the Bronx staircase in the 'Joker'
After the release of 'Joker', a staircase sandwiched between apartment buildings in the Bronx was dubbed the "Joker Stairs". With Instagram hashtags mushrooming and an influx of tourists (much to the annoyance of locals), the stairs have become nearly as iconic as the Philadelphia Museum of Art's "Rocky Steps" from the film 'Rocky'.
The stairs play an important symbolic role that underscores the journey of Joaquin Phoenix's Arthur Fleck becoming the 'Joker'. In some early scenes of the film, Arthur Fleck drags himself up the long flight of stairs, his movements mimicking his sad existence. But when he fully embraces his murderous Joker persona, he dances down the same stairs, symbolizing both his descent into criminality and how he revels in his own villainous nature.
2. Elizabeth Moss's Kitty Tyler tries to "call the police" in Jordan Peele's 'Us'
Paying homage to Kubrick's 'Singin' in the Rain' scene in 'The Clockwork Orange', Jordan Peele mixes a home invasion with the unlikeliest of soundtracks. The scene starts off with The Beach Boys' 'Good Vibrations' playing in the background when "The Tethered" make their sudden appearance and kill the two twin sisters, Becca and Lindsey Tyler.
After witnessing her family being murdered and as she crawls bleeding on the floor surrounded by "The Tethered", Kitty Tyler makes a last-ditch attempt to call the police through a smart home device called "Ophelia".
She gasps out, "Ophelia, call the police!" to which Ophelia responds: "OK. Playing 'F**k tha Police' by N.W.A." Instead of using the usual horror music score to "normalize" the on-screen deaths, Peele uses the soundtrack as a contrast, its very incongruity heightening the horror. It also depicts an all-too-real facet of all our lives of failing to communicate with Siri or Alexa, upping the reality quotient in what is otherwise a surreal scene.
3. Massacre scene in 'Once upon a time... in Hollywood'
Quentin Tarantino usually gets two things absolutely right — the talkie-talk, back and forth dialogues and the violence. 'Once Upon a Time in Hollywood', where fact meets fiction in a revisionist take on the Sharon Tate murders boasts of a superlative funny/violent scene.
Yup, you guessed it right. The massacre scene where Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt) and Rick Dalton (Leonardo DiCaprio) go after Charles Manson's disciples. Cliff confronts "Tex" first who is pointing his gun at him, casually baiting him, after Tex says he is "the devil".
When one of the female disciples screams at Tex to shoot him, Cliff clicks his tongue at the dog who attacks and reduces the man to a ragged piece of meat and ends the assault with a particularly juicy bite between his legs.
As the female members of the posse attack Cliff, Cliff uses a variety of objects and surfaces to bash the women's heads in.
One woman, chewed out by the dog and hit by Cliff with a can, runs outside screaming, and she falls into the pool while firing a gun. Rick Dalton floating in the pool is shaken out of his blissful stupor.
In between several "Jesus" oaths and curses, he hurriedly climbs out of the pool and marches to the toolshed. He brings out the piece de resistance of the entire sequence — a flame thrower — with which he proceeds to flambe the girl to a blackened crisp.
4. 'Rocketman' sex scene between Taron Egerton and Richard Madden
Taron Egerton won rave reviews for his portrayal of Elton John in the biopic. But his sex-scene with Richard Madden, who plays John Reid, Elton John's manager and abusive lover, became a talking point in itself for portraying gay sex.
After 2005's 'Brokeback Mountain', it was the first explicit sex scene between men in a mainstream, big-budget Hollywood film. The scene was stirring controversy even before the film was released.
Two months before the official release, news reports stated Paramount Pictures studio was pushing director Dexter Fletcher and producer Matthew Vaughn to cut the sex scene so that he could get a PG 13 rating.
The studio wanted to recreate the financial success of 'Bohemian Rhapsody' released just months earlier that presented a largely sanitized version of Freddie Mercury's life. But the scene stayed because it represented an important part of Elton John's story.
5. 'Midsommar' bear sacrifice finale
A folk horror fairytale played out in warm, sun-lit scenes. 'Midsommar' terrified audiences and delighted critics with its story and setting that demolished horror film tropes like teenagers devouring pizzas.
It starts out as an evocative portrait of a woman, Dani, in crisis, who is dealing with the death of her family. She is unable to depend emotionally on her boyfriend, Christian, who wants to break up with her but stays with her reluctantly.
When they head to the Swedish village where the Harga live, the cracks in their relationship become apparent. Christian, who continuously gaslights Dani, becomes a symbol for the sins of the Harga.
At the end of the film, which culminates in the nine human sacrifices, Dani as the "May Queen" decides to sacrifice Christian in the cult's ritual. That is when the purpose of the bear in the cage that makes its incongruous presence felt in the beginning of the film becomes apparent.
Christian is sewn into the bear carcass and wheeled to the ritual spot and burned alive with the other eight sacrifices. Using the bear (an important animal in Norse folklore) is foreshadowed throughout the film but it still comes as a shock making the finale one that audiences cannot forget. So much so, now there is a 'Midsommar' "Bear in a Cage" toy.
6. Tony Stark's snap that takes care of Thanos and his forces in 'Avengers: Endgame'
In the previous 'Avengers: Infinity War', Doctor Strange saw 14,000,605 futures and only one in which they won. As it turns out Tony Stark is vital for that future being realized as Doctor Strange gives up the Time stone rather than see Tony Stark die.
Stark proves his point in the next film when he uses his suit to trick Thanos and harness the Infinity Stones for the snap that takes care of Thanos and his forces. It costs him his life, but Stark gets to see Thanos' stupified expression as he melts into dust and so ends the saga of the biggest, baddest villain the Marvel Cinematic Universe had ever encountered.
7. Captain America's final "Avengers Assemble" call and the opening of the portals in 'Avengers: Endgame'
The famous "Avengers Assemble" phrase was purposely avoided in the Marvel Cinematic Universe films. It wasn't used in 'The Avengers', 'Avengers: Age of Ultron', 'Captain America: Civil War' and even 'Avengers: Infinity War'. When it was finally used in the 'Avengers: Endgame', it was a goosebump moment as the portals open and the strongest and the mightiest of earth's and other worlds' heroes step out to line up behind Captain America to stand against Thanos and his army.
Chris Evans nails the moment as he roars the word "Avengers" following it up with a lower toned but menacing "Assemble". The Mjolnir flying into his hands, deeming him worthy, is just the icing on the cake.
8. 'Captain Marvel' features a meta hat tip to Stan Lee
The Stan Lee cameo was something fans looked forward to (in addition to the mid-credit and end-credit scene) in every Marvel movie. He could appear as the Fed Ex driver (Captain America: Civil War), a dog walker (Venom) or an informant for the Watchers (Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2) — shape-shifting across the MCU as anyone but himself.
But after Stan Lee's death on November 12, 2018, Marvel decided to do something special. 'Captain Marvel', which premiered in February 2019, was the first Marvel film to be released after Stan Lee's death.
In it, Lee makes an appearance as himself, riding on a subway train. He is holding the screenplay for the film 'Mallrats' (which released in 1995), and repeating the line, "Trust me, true believer," referencing Lee's first-ever movie cameo.
When he sees Carol Danvers, he smiles at her, and she smiles back. In the film, Carol Danvers has landed on Earth in 1995 and so featuring Stan Lee practicing his lines for his first film cameo is a meta moment fans won't forget in a hurry.
9. Catching a Helicopter in 'Hobbs and Shaw'
Over the years the 'Fast and Furious' franchise has featured some jaw-dropping stunt scenes, with each film trying to outdo the previous ones. The spin-off 'Hobbs and Shaw' gave us "The Rock ", Dwanye Johnson (playing Luke Hobbs), catching a helicopter with a little help from Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham) and his Samoan friends.
It is an incredible action scene using practical effects. In the scene, Idris Elba’s Brixton has captured Shaw’s sister, Hattie, an MI6 agent, and is about to fly away with her. Shaw revs his truck and follows as Hobbs (who has a crush on Hattie) jumps on the truck, screaming: “Go! Go!” This is followed-up by Shaw's going-to-battle slogan "You catch ’em, I’ll gut ’em!”.
As the truck leaps into the air behind the copter, Hobbs throws a heavy chain that wraps around the chopper's wing. But a mere truck is no match for a helicopter, which then results in Shaw's truck being hooked to three other trucks driven by Hobbs' Samoan friends to give the heroes the heft they need to keep the helicopter from flying off.
But in the end, as the accompanying trucks are taken down by the chopper's guns, it is just The Rock Vs. the Helicopter as he stops the helicopter with the sheer awesomeness of his bulging muscles pulling at the chain as Shaw's truck plummets down a cliff. Physics, you say? When did that ever come into it?
10. 'John Wick 3: Chapter 3 - Parabellum' knife shop scene
With every succeeding 'John Wick' film, the action gets more creative with fight scenes being elevated to an art form. The film's battle, set in a knife shop, is a take on the trope of "never bringing a knife to a gunfight".
John Wick shows that sometimes it is just a matter of how many knives are allowed. As he battles his foes, he quickly sends most of the guns flying into corners where they can't be retrieved.
It is only then that both Wick and his assailants realize they are in an antique shop that specializes in knives. In an entertaining sequence, John dodges the knives and the stray gunshots as he effectively impales his attackers.
He flings knives at them and then uses their dead bodies to shield himself from further attacks as he gets more knives for his next round of throws. In the end, John plunges a knife clean into the eyeball of one attacker and kills the last one of the herd with a well-aimed ax to the head.