My Moments Out Of Time – Glenn Gaylord’s Look Back At 2019 In Film

Instead of a top 10 list, every year I like to honor a long-discontinued but influential annual column from Film Comment magazine. I couldn’t wait for my father to come home from work with the “Moments Out Of Time” issue. The writers would cite their favorite scenes, images, or lines of dialogue, even from films they may not have liked, because let’s face it, even bad films may have a great moment or two.

Last year brought us so many wonderful films. Parasite wowed me with its ability to surprise while telling an important story about class divisions. I think Once Upon A Time…In Hollywood will stop me in my tracks over and over again with its immersive deep dive into late 1960s Los Angeles. The female-on-female gaze gets a workout in the stunning Portrait Of A Lady On Fire, while Jojo Rabbit masterfully walks a tightrope between hilarious and moving. Watching Eddie Murphy return firing on all cylinders in Dolemite Is My Name remains one of the most joyous movie experiences of the year. Yet, even I can’t see them all, but here, in no particular order, are my Moments Out Of Time in film for 2019:

A door opens, someone calls out “Honey?”, as the plot veers off in a jaw-droppingly unexpected, biggest WTF of the year direction, turning a light class comedy into something far, far, deeper- Parasite

Upon the assassination of JFK, his enemy, Jimmy Hoffa (Al Pacino) orders the half mast flag in front of the Teamsters’ Union to be raised back to its standard position. As Hoffa looks up at the flag, this chilling, diabolical scene feels like the end of civil society as we know it – The Irishman

“Climb in my fur” – my favorite line of dialogue last year, cementing Jennifer Lopez’s Ramona as an iconic film character who can take sexual innuendo and turn it into an invitation for friendship – Hustlers

“That was the best acting I’ve ever seen in my whole life” – dialogue runner up as a young actress (Julia Butters) whispers into the insecure but committed actor Rick Dalton’s (Leonardo DiCaprio) ear, causing him to weep uncontrollably and giving him the recognition he’s always craved – Once Upon A Time…In Hollywood

A boy spies a flitting butterfly and stands up to get a better look, notices a pair of shoes next to him, and in an instant his entire life heartbreakingly changes – Jojo Rabbit

A vacationing family looks out their window to see…themselves…lined up and waiting to invade their home – Us

A gate which will no longer close on its own. Two estranged parents and their child manually slide it shut with the barrier separating them from each other. The battle lines have been drawn with deft precision – Marriage Story

A woman stares at another across a theater. They have a history. The symphony plays a striking, propulsive piece which both women know so well. A searing two minute close-up of the woman she sees betrays her anguish, the pain, the missed opportunities, and the suffering of a woman who society demanded could not be herself – Portrait Of A Lady On Fire

Best final scene of the year: Two best friends sit in a car curbside at an airport. They awkwardly exchange pleasantries even though we can tell they’re really going to miss each other. A delicate cover of “Unchained Melody” plays over stellar performances of Kaitlyn Dever walking away and Beanie Feldstein looking forelorn, both conveying that painful moment when high school besties part. Then, suddenly remembering it’s a hilarious comedy, Feldstein almost crashes into Dever, who gets back in the car and they decide they have enough time to get pancakes. Feldstein yells, “F*ck yeah!” as we smash cut to black – Booksmart

While he’s wanted inside at his premiere, Rudy Ray Moore can’t walk away from the fans waiting outside the theatre, choosing instead to give himself over to them and melting everyone’s hearts, including mine, in the process – Dolemite Is My Name

Wait! This guy is at your Passover Seder? You’re related to him? Now I’m scared – Uncut Gems

A milked cow. A barn. A dogfight up in the skies above. A knife. Two soldiers foraging for food, safety, and a chance to survive the next minute. Everything changes. – 1917

Matthew McConaughey as Baker Dill (!) spends most of his time howling to the heavens or completely naked, and for these reasons, I will never forget this terrible, amazing film experience – Serenity

When she forgets the words to her signature song, the audience sings them for her, making us all realize that even though she was close to death, the memory of her will never fade away – Judy

Normally, I’d be delighted to open my window and see Isabelle Huppert staring at me from across the street, but here, it’s a hauntingly nightmarish image – Greta

Julianne Moore sings along to an Air Supply song in her car and somehow manages to make her lapse in taste seem heartfelt – Gloria Bell

I love comedic moments built from repetition or missed connections. When Jack (Himesh Patel) can’t get his parents to sit still for a moment so that he can convince them he wrote the song “Let It Be”, his incredulousness and frustration strikes comedy gold – Yesterday

A young writer negotiates her terms with a publisher, gloriously finding her voice and her power at a time where such bravery seemed impossible – Little Women

A drunk, lonely, middle-aged woman dances alone in a small town honky tonk to Leon Russell’s “Out Of The Woods”, giving us a glimpse into her less austere past – Diane

A dildo with a retractable switch blade – Knife + Heart

What do the sounds of Elton John and Bernie Taupin’s songs look like? A man crashing out of a window and joining a dancing flash mob at a carnival to “Saturday Night’s Alright For Fighting” felt alive and electric. Yet, even more so, in a moment achieving some level of transcendence, Elton (a fantastic Taron Egerton) falls sideways off of a diving board into a pool where his boyhood self plays the title song on a piano at the bottom. That we somehow end up at Dodger Stadium where a sparkly Elton greets his fans and flies up into the stratosphere makes his classic soar – Rocketman

A grunge pop star/recovering addict (Elizabeth Moss), not too dissimilar to Courtney Love, sits at a piano and performs a sober rendition of Bryan Adams’ “Heaven”, stripping away the outrageous bravado to quietly break out hearts – Her Smell

“Agency” seems to be on everyone’s lips when describing dynamic, plot-driving lead characters, but Leo’s (star in the making Félix Maritaud) choices don’t fit into a standard box. His decision, like it or not, is all his. – Sauvage/Wild

In a film filled to the brim with unforgettable, emotionally-laden images, its final shot of a man rowing a boat across turbulent waters moved me to tears – The Last Black Man In San Francisco

To learn from a documentary that the Ten Commandments monuments on display in front of many City Halls across the U.S. resulted from a Charlton Heston-led publicity tour for his 1956 movie epic is to realize, painfully so, that sometimes Hollywood and not the Churches, ruins everything! – Hail Satan?

Although, sooner or later, most of us will end up in a patch of dirt, some long for that moment more than others and find beauty in it – High Life

Watching Laura Dern pull off one of the most notorious literary scandals of modern times gives us one of the most original kicks of the year in a scene with an interviewer. She hides in plain sight as a novelist pretending to be the terribly British Manager to Kristen Stewart’s fake face of the same novelist in order to build mystique and sell more books – J.T. LeRoy

Who knew that a CGI-animated film for the whole family would have the most bone-chilling sequence of the year? But there it was in an antique store with Gabby Gabby and the creepy ventriloquist dummies – Toy Story 4

A woman enters her drab Chinese hotel room only to be asked if the U.S. is better by the anxious bellboy. Afraid to offend him, she merely tells him it’s different. The things we do to ease the pain of the less fortunate. – The Farewell

Three women. An elevator on its way to the chairman’s office. The sideways glances. The knowledge they all have of what awaits them. A silent sisterhood until Nicole Kidman’s Gretchen Carlson awkwardly comments, “Hot in here”. The year’s best calibrated scene – Bombshell

An out gay actor, Mark Patton, confronts the writer of the film which ruined his career and gets an apology. The years of pain written across his face don’t go away, but a little weight of the world gets lifted from his very relieved, very courageous shoulders – Scream, Queen! My Nightmare On Elm Street

While Tarantino played around with historical revisionist wish fulfillment, director Mary Herron and writer Guinevere Turner tapped into female rage in telling the story of the Manson murders. When Hannah Murray as Leslie Van Houten carries out one of the murders, screaming as she plunges a knife into someone, we get a rare glimpse into finally understanding what brought her to that point – Charlie Says

After Lily Collins’s Liz demands, “ Release me…what happened to her head?” as a way for doomed serial killer Ted Bundy (a chilling Zac Efron) to admit his guilt, he finally writes with his finger on the glass prison visitor’s window which separates them, one frightening word, “Hacksaw” only to wipe it away immediately – Extremely Wicked Shockingly Evil And Vile

A gay white man and his straight, non-English speaking Latino handyman bond over Madonna’s “Borderline” in the back seat of an Uber. Matt Bomer’s angsty character finally relaxes and connects with this adorable man (Alejandro Patiño) doing ridiculously cute seated dance moves – Papi Chulo

A young woman rushes to her apartment bathroom and in a seamless transition, she emerges down the aisle of a plane headed for Sweden – Midsommar

Sometimes one can derive great pleasure from a film by simply listening to how Adam Driver says the word “ghouls” – The Dead Don’t Die

An actress known primarily for her own murder gleefully watches herself on the big screen in a Westwood Village movie theater, and in that moment, we finally experience the gorgeous humanity and not the horrendous end of this lovely person – Once Upon A Time…In Hollywood

When you have an icy, almost robotic main character, you need Alfre Woodard to masterfully play drunk and show you all of her other shades – Clemency

I don’t care if the film felt like a xerox copy of the original or if the CGI ruined everything, because Billy Eichner’s Timon arrives at a now barren, picked apart Pride Rock and blurts out, “Talk about a fixer-upper. I think you went heavy on the carcass.” – The Lion King

When was the last time you saw a film where a character stops the action to demand of another, “I want you to know about me!”? – The Peanut Butter Falcon

A young Irish indentured servant in 1825 Tasmania watches helplessly as a soldier kills her baby just to stop its crying, and that’s only the beginning of a long line of justifications for her rage – The Nightingale

Nothing like a well-placed coffee mug to illustrate your main theme in the final image of your movie – Knives Out

Tracy Letts’ Henry Ford II feels the sheer power of one of his race cars and provides the most beautiful, unexpected crying scene of the year – Ford v. Ferrari

The funniest crossing a busy freeway scene since Eddie Murphy attempted it in 1999’s BowfingerGood Boys

A split second choice at what should have been a routine traffic stop changes the lives of our unlucky, racially profiled, sweet, smart but “not a match” Tinder date protagonists – Queen & Slim

A passport inspector asks, “Purpose of your visit?” The young man replies, “I’m going to see Bruce Springsteen’s hometown.” As he stamps his papers, the inspector responds, “I can’t think of a better reason to visit the United States than to see the home of The Boss” – Blinded By The Light

A horribly brutalized gay man wafts to shore only to see the haunting image of a scary clown reaching out to perhaps save him? Nah, he’s a midnight snack – It Chapter 2

A young child, caught between his parents arguing over the phone, conveys painful messages to the supposed adults in the equation – Honey Boy

Sometimes an unreturned text can send you spiraling so far out of control that you ruin your life and everyone else’s around you – Waves

That last moment of bliss between a husband and wife right before their quiet mountaintop hamlet gets invaded by the sounds of planes overheard and the Nazis arriving to recruit them – A Hidden Life

You may have gotten in shape, but without true growth, the fat girl inside you won’t hesitate to shame another – Brittany Runs A Marathon

Gabriel Luna wins the award for sexiest performance in a terrible movie as a new killing machine decked out in tight pants and a killer stare – Terminator: Dark Fate

A mentally disturbed aspiring comic turned homicidal maniac disastrously makes his late night talk show debut, posing ominously backstage, skipping out with a bizarre tap twirl flourish, and then…well…like a true comic…he kills – Joker

Alec Baldwin, in a stunning monologue, basically shows us the early rise of people like Donald Trump, as all sense of hope gets sapped away – Motherless Brooklyn

An old sailor and his new charge stare down the camera right at us, somehow letting us know that we have no idea what bleak is, so hold on tight – The Lighthouse

A farmer (a never better Bill Camp) barges in on a corporate lawyer to get him to investigate the dying cattle in his hometown. From such humble beginnings comes something which affects every single one of us – Dark Waters

An aspiring Scottish country singer sneaks away from her Grand Ole Opry tour group to sing alone on the main stage and perhaps get discovered. When she learns that everybody does that, she realizes she isn’t that special after all – Wild Rose

Biggest cinematic moment of dread: When a Chinese billionaire reopens a shuttered Ohio GM plant and hires back some of the workers at half their salaries and without benefits, you know you’ve just boarded a slow moving train to hell – American Factory

Did he do it? Is he a terrorist? Or is he a good guy? How much of his tragic past is still present within him? That final image will keep me guessing forever – Luce

A devoted Chinese Communist Party Member and abortion specialist knows she can never redeem herself from the part she played in ruining so many lives – One Child Nation

You may take issue with the implication that her real life character traded sex for intel and that she’s no longer alive to defend herself, but Olivia Wilde gave one of the most vivid, exciting, ballsy performances of the year – Richard Jewell

An actual minute of silence in a film would normally be its death knell, but when Tom Hanks as Mr. Rogers demands it, we rethink our own hurried, impulsive lives – A Beautiful Day In The Neighborhood

Sure she overdid it. Yes she had an odd, hairy, uncanny face and strangely manicured nails for days. Overwrought doesn’t even begin to describe it, but when she hits that big note and belts out, “Touch me / It’s so easy to leave me / All alone with the memory / Of my days in the sun”, damned if I didn’t snot cry right along with her – Cats

By Glenn Gaylord

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