2018 in Review: Jesse Rifkin’s Favorite Moviegoing Moments

I wasn’t alive in 1980 when Darth Vader was revealed as Luke Skywalker’s father in The Empire Strikes Back. In 1999, I was alive but not old enough to experience the Sixth Sense’s reveal that Bruce Willis had been dead the whole time. What’s the 21st century equivalent to these iconic plot twists? A moment that no one saw coming and that dominated the cultural conversation for months afterwards?

I’d argue that that honor goes to Avengers: Infinity War, the finale of which gave us not only the defining movie theater moment of 2018 but—unless something surpasses it in 2019—maybe the entire decade.

I was able to attend a screening a few days before the film’s official release. During its final moments, a sense began to wash over the audience that we were witnessing something monumental. A stunned hush permeated the theatre as the credits began to roll. Little wonder that the trailer for Infinity War’s sequel, Endgame, shattered the record for most online views in its first 24 hours. Everyone wants to know what happens next.

The shock of Infinity War aside, A Star is Born stands out as my favorite movie of 2018. Electric during the rock concert scenes—best viewed on the big screen—and moving during the more character-based moments, the arc of the film takes its characters and the audience alike on a true emotional journey.

And, a rather important note for a musical: The songs are all incredible. “Shallow” is getting the radio play and a likely Oscar victory, but I’d put “I’ll Never Love Again” right there alongside it. It’s one of film history’s great sad songs, deserving of a spot alongside “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” and “My Heart Will Go On.” 

In addition to its on-screen quality, the behind-the-scenes talent makes A Star Is Born a pleasant surprise. If you’d told anybody back in 2009 that the best drama of 2018 would star Lady Gaga and the actor who played that jerk frat bro in Wedding Crashers

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