The Biggest Emotional Gut Punch Moments In 2022 Movies

List Rules
Vote up the 2022 movie moments that delivered an emotional wallop.

A major part of why we go to movies is to have an emotional experience. We want to feel something, whether it's excitement, romantic yearning, optimism, or even controlled fear. Blocking out the real world to spend a couple of hours having our emotions manipulated through a well-told story can produce a real high. In the best of times, the films we see will leave us choked up or even reaching for our tissues. Who could forget Elliott bidding farewell to E.T., or college-bound Andy giving away all his toys at the end of Toy Story 3?

The year 2022 had its share of emotional gut punch moments. What's most interesting about them is that they didn't just come in straight dramas. Action, science-fiction, comedy, superhero, and even horror movies produced scenes that gave audiences all the feels. That's a testament to how good these films are. They didn't just provide viewers with a surface-level experience, they took time to develop stories and characters that were genuinely worth caring about. In other words, they earned their big emotional beats.

Photo:

  • It doesn't take long for Black Panther: Wakanda Forever to turn on your waterworks. In fact, it happens even before the Marvel Studios logo comes on. The movie opens with a funeral for T'Challa, the Black Panther himself. We learn that he has died, and watch as Wakanda's citizens, including mother Ramonda (Angela Bassett) and sister Shuri (Letitia Wright), mourn his passing. An entire ceremony is held in his honor. In one shot, we can see a mural of T'Challa painted on a wall. 

    Although technically a fictional funeral, the sequence is also kind of a real one. Audiences are well aware that actor Chadwick Boseman passed away far too young, as a result of cancer. Showing T'Challa's funeral accomplishes two functions - it pays tribute to the Marvel star, and it also allows the filmmakers and the viewers a few moments to grieve together. That catharsis is helpful, as Boseman was not just a massive talent, he was a person who radiated decency and was beloved by his fans. Not many movies can get you as choked up in the first three minutes as Black Panther: Wakanda Forever does. 

    73 votes
  • 2
    31 VOTES

    Dewey's Murder In 'Scream'

    Ghostface is back in the reboot of Scream, once again terrorizing Woodsboro's teens. In particular, his goal is to torment Sam Carpenter (Melissa Barrera). What he wants and why he's targeting her is the mystery to be solved. Original heroine Sydney Prescott (Neve Campbell) is called back into action by cop Dewey Riley (David Arquette), as he thinks she might be able to put the pieces together. Before she arrives, Dewey and reporter Gale Weathers (Courteney Cox) follow the clues to the local hospital, where Sam's sister Tara (Jenna Ortega) is likely Ghostface's next victim.

    Because Scream is a legacy sequel, it's bound by the unwritten rule that one of the original characters has to die. That ends up being Dewey, who is tricked into thinking Ghostface is dead, only to have the masked killer pop up and stab him. The sequence stings because Dewey has always been a fan favorite, so seeing him dispatched is a bummer. But the murder is also really brutal, with Ghostface showing zero mercy. Watching Dewey die in such a visibly painful, unpleasant manner feels like a grave injustice against a good guy. 

    31 votes
  • The Mother/Daughter Heart-To-Heart In 'Everything Everywhere All At Once'
    Photo: A24

    Evelyn Wang (Michelle Yeoh) runs a laundromat and owes a whole lot of money to the IRS. Those matters seem small in comparison to what she discovers in the early scenes of Everything Everywhere All at Once. While visiting the IRS offices, an alternate version of her husband Waymond (Ke Huy Quan) arrives to notify her that there's a multiverse, it's under threat from a malevolent entity named Jobu Tupaki, and she's the only one who may be able to save it. Jubo, she eventually learns, is an alternate version of her daughter Joy (Stephanie Hsu).

    For a long while, it appears the two will be locked into combat no matter which universe they're in. During the movie's finale, though, the women have a heart-to-heart talk in their natural dimension. Joy confesses the resentment she's long felt toward her cold, critical mother. Evelyn, finally getting the message after all this time, airs a few minor grievances too, but then tells Joy that “I will always, always want to be here with you.” Watching the mother and daughter finally bury the hatchet and express love for each other after seeing them fight - across multiple dimensions, no less - for two hours offers a heartwarming catharsis. 

    60 votes

    Available On:

    subscription

  • The central figure in Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris is Ada Harris (Lesley Manville), a cleaning lady in 1950s England. She works for a wealthy family, and often envies the expensive dresses owned by her female employer. After coming into an unexpected economic windfall, Ada decides to treat herself to a Christian Dior dress she could never afford otherwise. She heads to London, only to find that the gatekeepers at Dior don't want to sell a dress to a “commoner." Through a series of efforts, Ada is finally able to obtain one. Her dream has come true.

    Before she can ever wear her dress in public, though, she loans it to struggling actress friend Pamela, who needs something fancy to wear to an event. Pamela ends up accidentally causing it to catch fire, leaving it beyond repair. When she brings the charred dress back, the look on Ada's face says it all. She worked so hard and went through so much trouble to obtain one nice possession for herself, and she never got the chance to enjoy it before it was taken away. It's a devastating moment for the audience, too, because we know what that dress represented - a small, yet significant escape from her mundane life. 

    20 votes
  • Pete “Maverick” Mitchell is in a bad spot at the end of the second act in Top Gun: Maverick. He's been brought in to prepare a group of elite pilots for a mission that will be nearly impossible to pull off. Despite his best efforts, they aren't picking up the techniques quickly enough, and time is running out. Maverick is ready to throw in the towel when he's summoned to visit his commanding officer, Tom “Iceman” Kazansky (Val Kilmer). Iceman gives him a pep talk, not just about the mission, but also about his need to stop blaming himself for the death of wingman Goose thirty years ago.

    The scene plays on so many different factors. For starters, it's an onscreen reunion between Cruise and Kilmer, who starred in the original Top Gun together back in 1986. The pained look in Maverick's eyes as Iceman tells him to forgive himself is also touching, allowing the audience to understand just how deeply he's been pained by Goose's tragic passing. Perhaps most impactful, we know by this point that Iceman has terminal cancer. Kilmer has fought a similar devastating real-life battle with the disease, so seeing him push through his own health conditions to take part in the sequel brings a tear to the eye. 

    63 votes

    Available On:

    subscription

  • Jake Watching The Recorded Memories In 'After Yang'
    Photo: A24

    After Yang is a futuristic tale in which a family loses the “techno-sapien" they've hired to be a brother to their adopted daughter. Yang (Justin H. Min) has practically become a member of the family, so when he abruptly stops functioning, it feels like a death. Father Jake (Colin Farrell) is determined to see if Yang can be fixed, even going through illicit channels in his efforts. Eventually he makes the unexplained discovery that the data processor inside Yang's head is filled with unexplained “memories” he's not supposed to have, including repeated ones about a woman named Ada (Haley Lu Richardson). 

    The big scene comes when Jake watches what's in that data processor. He realizes that, while not technically a human being, Yang has defied his programming to become human-like. He's made memories, found his life impacted by other people, and experienced his own form of emotions. This moment drives home the impact of the character's malfunction, while also reminding Jake - and, by the extension, the audience - of the way we touch and are touched by so many others during the course of life. 

    29 votes