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Our Favorite Line Readings of 2018

Every day a new Year in Review round-up as we joyfully bid 2018 adieu...

For today's entry we asked Team Experience and a few of our friends to share their favorite line reading of the year. No one was assigned anything so these are direct from our faces to your faces. Yes, Toni Collette's towering work in Hereditary is on our minds lately. Remember that gem? 

And all I get back is that fucking face on your face."

Or these:

I am your MOTHER." 

I did everything they told me not to do, but it didn't work. I'm happy it didn't work.

So, that was my mom’s life.

God she's extraordinary in that new horror classic, isn't she?

Okay, ready for more actorly gems as actors elevating specific lines or sometimes whole films. Here we go...

"I can picture it." - Bryan Cranston, Isle of Dogs
In the year's funniest movie, Bryan Cranston's stray dog character Chief has always lived on the outskirts of affection and society.  But when he meets tough Nutmeg (voiced with peerless deadpan by Scarlett Johansson), he lets down his guard.  Twice in the movie, Nutmeg performs tricks for Chief without the benefit of her props, asking him to imagine her performing absurdly over-the-top maneuvers.  Both times, Chief replies with wonder and amazement:  "I can picture it" as a bubble appears over her and we see the full routine.  Cranston loads the line with desire, admiration, and the glimmering promise of love.  He zaps to the heart of why dogs are so often much better than people  -Eric Blume

"Be still my beating vagina" - Christine Baranski, Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again
Christine Baranski has never delivered a subpar line reading. This hot streak only continues as she effortlessly slips back into the role of Tanya, the thirstiest former backup artist ever. As Tanya and BFF Rosie (Julie Walters, the Guildenstern to Baranski's  Rosencrantz) return to Calicari, Tanya feasts her eyes on the new hotel manager, Fernando Cianfuegos (Andy Garcia, the eternal 2018 thirst trap). “Be still my beating vagina,” she utters as an involuntary, guttural response. The movie may have been on for 20 or so minutes already. However, it’s not until this moment that the movie arrives. May we all exhibit the thirsty energy that Baranski lives out every moment. And may we all find our own Fernando Cianfuegos under the tree this Christmas. - Chris James (Awards Circuit)

"What language is even that?" - Gabriel Byrne in Hereditary
Gabriel Byrne’s performance as the put upon papa of Hereditary by necessity shines less brightly than does Toni Collette’s stark mad central one – he’s the straight man in a crooked world who’s been dulled down by years of frantically trying to keep the stuffing inside his rag-doll of a family; his own seams are worn sealed like a shut-in to a sofa. But as things go from worse to worsest Byrne starts getting all the good lines since he’s the only one able to peek out from under the plagues raining down upon them to see that it ain’t rain – God is straight up peeing on them. His exasperatedly garbled reading of “What language is even that?” never fails to leaven the panic of that last act – the language is even what, madness, you’ll never understand, dude. - Jason Adams

"Thank you for the letters." - Linda Cardellini, Green Book
Even if you find its racial politics problematic, there's no denying Green Book has charm to burn, much of it percolating from the chemistry between the odd-couple protagonists played by Viggo Mortensen and Mahershala Ali.  But Cardellini remains an equally warm and memorable presence throughout as the former's wife, doing a good deal with a relatively underwritten role, and arguably steals the entire movie with its last spoken line.  In a single, semi-whispered sentence, she underscores how well she knows her husband, how quickly she's taken the measure of Dr. Shirley, and how much she understands the impact the two men have had on each other.  It's a great comic punchline, but it's also a fitting and perfectly delivered testament to Dolores' love and perceptiveness.   - Lynn Lee


"You will never be enough." - Michelle Yeoh, Crazy Rich Asians
Rachel had flown to Singapore to meet her boyfriend’s family, who she just found out are incredibly rich. She is not. She met his mother, Eleanor, who came in the imposing shape of Michelle Yeoh. She was condescending to her. Rachel approached her when she encountered her on her own. And with five words, Eleanor not only obliterated any hope Rachel held that she would ever be welcome, but she asserted her own position as the only woman with power in Nick’s life: “You will never be enough.” Best Line Reading, Or: the moment I wanted Michelle Yeoh to step on my neck. - Jorge Molina

"I was so tempted to trip you, just now." - Melissa McCarthy, Can You Ever Forgive Me?
If Can You Ever Forgive Me? can be said to be about the friendship between two queer people living in ‘90s New York when they really wish it were the ‘70s, what best embodies their prickly, yet deeply intimate bond and the way they see the rest of the world, or how the world might see them? At the end of it all, a reconciliation but also a final goodbye between Lee Israel (Melissa McCarthy) and Jack Hock (Richard E. Grant) does the trick. As he gets up to leave Julius’, their little safe haven in the West Village, she catches herself and, when pressed for more, says, “I was so tempted to trip you, just now.” She fights back tears, knowing they may never see one another again, and that their lovingly acidic friendship might never be replicated. That’s all the love she has for another person. - Kyle Turner (Freelance) 

“Sometimes it is hard to remember if you have loaded the pellet or not. I do fear confusion and accidents.” -Rachel Weisz, The Favourite
The highlight of The Favourite for me was watching Weisz as Lady Sarah have her droll way with a cutting line, insulting everyone who comes into contact with her. Telling off Harley (Nicholas Hoult) ‘Your mascara is running”, or commenting after his feelings have been hurt “Sometimes a lady likes to have fun.” Even Queen Anne (Olivia Colman) doesn’t escape unscathed from her putdowns “You look like a badger.” But she reserves the best - or the worst depending on what end of her acrimony one is - for her rival for the Queen’s affections Abigail (Emma Stone). Watch the determined but reserved glee - she never shows too much emotion - as she fires an unloaded gun right at Abigail. Then drops that scathing  threat. No wonder Abigail plots to poison her soon after. -  Murtada Elfadl

"We are vegetarians." - Winston Duke, Black Panther
It still gets me whenever I remember M'Baku (Winston Duke) saying “I'm kidding, we are vegetarians”. The slyness of his delivery adds to the fact that as he sits on his own throne, the Black Panther's royal family is at his mercy. A leader doesn’t have to shout his truths even if he can. That line also adds to M’Baku’s characterization as well as how Duke fits into the Hollywood market as a gentle giant. This revelation, whether true or not, subverts our expectations of someone of his stature. - Paolo Kagaoan (In the Seats)

“Eh I don’t know. I was gonna go to FedEx or something.” - Awkwafina, Crazy Rich Asians
The set up “What are you doing tonight?” The line “Eh I don’t know. I was gonna go to FedEx or something,” in the most dry, flippant tone you have ever heard. What? WHAT?! Just when you think that the classic quirky, rich best friend to the main character in a romantic comedy is going to reply with “Nothing! Come over to my mansion and try on my Valentino and Elie Saab couture and we’ll have a whole fashion montage right before the big wedding that the whole movie centers around!” No. Completely out of left field. “Eh I don’t know. I was gonna go to FedEx or something”. Tears were streaming down my face in the theatre. I couldn’t shut up about this unexpected gem of a line. It was a rose in a field of daisies. To this day I can’t see a FedEx truck without giggling. Did she ad lib that line? What would possess her to say such genius words?! Do they even have FedEx in Singapore? Who cares? Awkwafina was gonna go there anyway if she wasn’t going to help dress her best friend for the wedding. That’s all that matters. And therefore that matters to me. - Ginny O'Keefe (Actress)

“You’re like a book of fun facts for unpopular fourth graders” – Charlize Theron, Tully
When you find a magical pairing of actor and screenwriter, you hold onto it as ferociously as you can. The artistic marriage between Theron and Diablo Cody began in 2011 with Young Adult, and it has only developed and matured in 2018. No one writes kitschy dialogue like Cody, but no one can say it as assuredly as Theron. -  Spencer Coile

"I am your MOTHER" - Toni Collete, Hereditary
The real terror of the film is the mid-film dinner scene blowup by should-be Oscar nominee Toni Collette.  Up to that point, Collette's character Annie has been more repressed in expressing her emotions, but when she let's it fly, she let's it go all the way.  Everything that is said before and after is punctuated by the matter-of-fact assessment of her parentage.  Also, this would be a perfect Oscar clip. - Ben Miller

"Oh no... he died." Rachel McAdams in Game Night
While Game Night is a mixed bag of silly highjinks and underdeveloped concept, its most consistently gleeful element is Rachel McAdams. Also evidenced by Mean Girls, McAdams is such a stealthy comedic performer that we often forget how easy she makes it seem. Here she's as offhandedly hilarious, her response at an exploding man as serious as a tumbling tower of Jenga. It's unfakeable naturalism but also flat stupid genius. - Chris Feil

"You don't want to be my friend." - Blake Lively, A Simple Favor 
"Did you just look at me? Look at me! How dare you!? Close your eyes!" Olivia Colman, The Favourite
I'm pairing these two line readings because they're both maddening confusions for the unfortunate recipient, a naive mommy vlogger and a lowly servant boy, respectively. The joy of both of these beats in two of the year's best films, is in the magnetic friction between electric star charisma and savvy character work. Emily and Queen Anne are both unbearable narcissists but Blake Lively and Olivia Colman are totally upfront about their innate character, warning you away consistently. Lively's line tilts toward the blunt but enigmatic (neat trick) to ignite the films mystery while Colman opts for high comedy, both beautifully serving their movies larger plans. These are impossible women, drawing you in despite the cost of their companionship. Come closer... no, closer; Now, fuck off! - Nathaniel R

"That was a start." Natasha Rothwell in Love Simon
Natasha Rothwell, as high school drama teacher Ms. Albright, is my favorite scene stealer of the year. She's immediately memorable. The first time we see her onscreen she's desperately hoping that she can just will her students to be even slightly better than they are, but resigned to the fact that it's never gonna happen. What really sells the character, though, is when she has to get up and tell them all how their performance of “Wilkommen” was. She can't even find words to describe it, so she has to get help from a student in the pit orchestra. That was "a start," he offers. Rothwell takes that one sentence and makes a meal out of it. She's the special spice that gives the sweet vanilla of Love, Simon a kick whenever she appears, putting her own unique twist on lines that are only kind of funny on their own. I can't wait to see what she does next. - Dancin' Dan

“Same thing that’s wrong with you isn’t wrong with me” – Thomasin McKenzie, Leave No Trace
This girl is only 18-years-old! How she managed to break my heart with the most delicate delivery of the year at such a young age, I will never know. With a tear sliding down her cheek and a voice so frail it might break, she finally reveals the singular insecurity that has been plaguing her for years. But McKenzie accomplishes something miraculous here: in so few words, she redefines Tom and turns the film on its head in ways that are so sneaky, but so brilliant. It’s a revelation to her father, to the audience, but to herself most of all. - Spencer Coile

How about you, dear reader, which line reading this year really sold you on the character or the larger film around it?  

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Reader Comments (34)

"I was so tempted to trip you, just now." - Melissa McCarthy, Can You Ever Forgive Me?

100% Yes. So funny and so bittersweet, their relationship in a nutshell.

December 28, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterRob

I love McCarthy's delivery of "Quite by accident, I've found myself in a rather criminal position." But all her line readings (and Grant's) are lovely.

I feel like something from "Sorry to Bother You" and "Eighth Grade" should be mentioned, but not sure what.

December 28, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterJonathan

'I am your MOTHER' Is my favorite just because i love madly Toni Collette in Hereditary as much as Alex Wolff. She is my pick for best actress of the year.
We need more brilliant performances in horror movies.

December 28, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterCésar Gaytán

Great choices.

For me there were two clear stand outs, one dramatic, one comedic:

Ethan Hawke's "Well, somebody's got to do something" in First Reformed


Shayne McHayle's matter-of-fact "I would kill you." in Support the Girls

December 28, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterMichael C.

OMG i forgot all about the teacher in LOVE, SIMON


December 28, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterDAVID

That line in Leave No Trace is my favourite this year as well.
Loved Can You Ever Forgive Me? as well.

"Don't give up on your dreams" in The Rider.
"Shame on you" by Nicole Kidman in Boy Erased.
"Unnnnnannnnimously" in The Death Of Stalin by Tambor.
And the father in Eighth Grade when he was telling Kayla what a special kid she is in the campfire.

December 28, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterRod

"And all I get back is that fucking face on your face." is my pick for line of the year. The way she spits it out is amazing.

Second place for me is from Avengers: Infinity War "I bid you farewell and good luck, morons" - Hemsworth is an underappreciated (still!) comic actor

December 28, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterPoliVamp

And there's always


So adorbs.

December 28, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterRob

My favourite moment of Toni's performance is when she gasped and puts her hand to her mouth after admitting she never wanted her son, almost as though she's trying to cram the confession back in her mouth. Her performance is utterly visceral every second she's on screen. It's infuriating that Blunt's passable work in Poppins (she was given nothing to do) will likely shut her out.

December 28, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterEoghanMcQ

EoghanMcQ -- but it's not really Blunt's fault. (Or Yalitza's for that matter who might also be the one to shut her out). It's just the nature of the fact that it's a horror movie and Oscar has to be convinced to watch those and the critics werent unanimous about Toni. Lord knows why some groups wanted Gaga (for example) instead.

December 28, 2018 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

I've not seen a lot

Sam Elliott in the driveway with his brother,he doesn't say much but what a wallop.

the way Emma Thompson says "He was just a child" to Stanley Tucci.

John Krasinksi shusshing the old man in the woods.

The bereavement meeting in Herditary anything from that scene is Oscar worthy.

Glenn Close saying it with her eyes during her husband's big speech.

Rami Malek at Live Aid.

December 28, 2018 | Unregistered Commentermarkgordonuk

"Yo no quería que naciera...pobrecita" (I did not want her to born ... poor thing), Yalitza Aparicio in Roma, just heartbreaking!

December 28, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterÁngel Ramos

Anything with Toni Collette in Hereditary.

"You hurt me." Lady Gaga in ASIB

"How you gonna eat that with his dick in your mouth." Melissa in CYEFM.

December 28, 2018 | Unregistered Commenterbrookesboy

Best “reading” of a non-line.

Steven Yeun: *yawns* *smiles coyly*

December 28, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterCarnivorousCouch

“Why was she up there?”

Danai Gurira in INFINITY WAR

Alex Baldwin interrupting his own speech with sudden spastic vocal warm-ups in BLACKKKLANSMAN

December 28, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterNate

"How could that be profitable for Frito-Lay?" Jesse Plemons, Game Night

"Yo Equisapiens...we out." Forest Whitaker, Sorry to Bother You

"I like it when her tongue is inside of me." Olivia Colman, The Favourite

December 28, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterMDA

Gosh, I want to see CYEFM so bad! So many great quotes in this article and in the trailer.

Anyway, I agree about Rachel McAdams (Game Night was the first time I loved her performance) and Natasha Rothwell. The latter had also some killer line readings in Insecure this last season. 'Remember me different!' was a showstopper.

Akwafina had also a great moment in O8 reacting to the news about her 16 million share: "That's a lot'.

December 28, 2018 | Unregistered Commenterpawel

"Oh no.... he died". That line killed me. Rachel McAdams' delivery of that and reaction was perfect. She needs to do more comedies.

December 28, 2018 | Unregistered Commenterthevoid99

“Is that a rabbit?” - Rachel Weisz (THE FAVOURITE)

December 28, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterRyan Crowe

Pretty much anything that came out of Weisz’s mouth in THE FAVOURITE, she delivered her lines with so much wittiness, intelligence and ferocity. I can’t rememver the exact line, but when her character was entering the mud bath with Queen Anne she said something along the lines of how great mud baths were to get rid of the toxins, her line delivery was superb and the look she gave Abigail gave me so much life. She read Abigail to the filth, in such an understated way.

December 28, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterB. Lermontov

Toni Colette really is wonderful in Hereditary. If the film wasn’t as nihilistic and gory, she’d be a lock for the nomination. I fear not enough Academy voters will make it through the first act to see her let loose because of the violence, and the ones that do might be turned off by the ending sequence. This is not an easy horror film to watch

December 28, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterRobert G

Agree with:
"Oh no... he died." -Game Night
"Did you just look at me? Look at me! How dare you!? Close your eyes!" -The Favourite

I would add:
"I bite." -Isle of Dogs
"There are starving children in America!" -Crazy Rich Asians
"Is this an Uber?!?!" -Blindspotting
"Sir, it seems that you're no better a judge of human beings than you are a specimen of one." -The Ballad of Buster Scruggs (Tim Blake Nelson is a font of great line readings.)

December 29, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterEvan

100% agree with all the Collette mentions & Thomasin McKenzie.

I’d add Alessandro Nivola’s monologue (particularly those two words) toward the end of Disobedience & earlier in the film McAdams line reading ‘would you really want it?’ In Ronit’s fathers house tell you so much about the history between these characters.

December 29, 2018 | Unregistered Commenterchoog

"Oh, sure nuff have. Two times, attempted, I should say. One fella I shot dead - BINGO! The other I held for the marshal. Both his legs were shredded some, had to lock him in the vault there! Marshal don't come through but once a month and he'd just visited the previous week, had to billet that scamp for what - 3 weeks applying a poultice of wet leaves and urine - he's in Yuma now busting rocks, fella by the name of Civilly, uh, Chevilly unless I misremembered said his pappy was fr-fr-fr-fr-fr-fr.......from.......from France".

"Pan shot!"

God bless Stephen Root in The Ballad of Buster Scruggs

December 29, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterMorgan (the 1st)

"Hey Auntie." It has become a part of the Black lexicon now.

December 29, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterVal

"You can't" from The Tale is still my line reading of the year. Slay Debicki.

Everyone cites "Oh no, he died!" from Game Night, but I'm a slightly bigger fan of "Oh. Well. Thank you?" from about 15 seconds earlier.

"Happy Birthday Aunt Lucy" - tears + "Exit bear pursued by an actor"

Throwback all the way to 50 Shades Freed when Dakota Johnson tells a character to "get in their shit coloured cat and drive back to Seattle" which is a ridiculous line and also randomly savage.

Emma Stone's derisive snort when asked how her marriage is going in The Favourite.

Finally, an honorable mention for the way Emily Blunt sing growls MUsic in the Royal Doulton Music Hall song.

December 29, 2018 | Unregistered Commenterchasm301

That line from “Leave No Trace” is so devastating.

A few of my own picks:

“Does the duck have to be here?” - The Favourite
“The difference between me and you is...I ain’t a killer.”/“You sure?” - Blindspotting
“THAT WAS AWESOME!” - Black Panther (really, any line Klaue says)
“Now’s not a good time.” - Vox Lux (a throwaway line on paper, but in context it beautifully sums up what an utter mess Celeste is)
“If you feel like screaming, I definitely think that you should.” - The House That Jack Built
“I don’t fetch.” - Isle of Dogs
“DO NOT DEFY ME!” - The Death of Stalin
“I find out you’re lying, you’re gonna have one unfortunate act of God.” - Widows
“I’m about to JUMP OUT OF A WINDOW!” - Mission: Impossible - Fallout

December 29, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterJamDenTel

I was just reminded of the Prospector in The Ballad of Buster Scruggs screaming, right after being shot, "He didn't hit nothing important!"

December 30, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterEvan

Val -- what is "Hey Auntie" from?

Evan -- i guess i need to watch this movie clearly - Ballad of Buster Scruggs

December 30, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterNATHANIEL R

Maybe Collette will be the one nom n Gaga will b the shocking snub on nom morning?! 😂

Wldn't it be interesting if Blunt n Gaga won the globes, Close the SAG, n Colman the Bafta, n threw the whole race open!! 😁

December 30, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterClaran

I think I have the quote slightly wrong, but I loved the throwaway "Chocolate milk is awesome!" from Haley Lu Richardson in "Support the Girls".

December 31, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterDave S.

"Hey Auntie" - Killmonger, Black Panther

December 31, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterMorgan (the 1st)

So many good choices in the article and the comments. (The Leave No Trace line kills me.)

My favorite line reading of the year is from Bradley Cooper in A Star is Born. When Jack and Ally are grabbing a drink in the cop bar towards the beginning of the film, there's a quick throwaway "It's a good thing we met."

Cooper delivers the line with a such a tipsy glee, mixed with a real childlike innocence. It's very quick but its a great glimpse into what makes Jackson tick and how big his heart really is... It makes the "You're just fucking ugly" line later on the in the film, another great line read, that much more heartbreaking.

December 31, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterGraham Greenlee

"i don't care; just look at me while you do it"

willam - a star is born

February 10, 2019 | Unregistered Commenterpar

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