The 100 Greatest Movie Quotes of the 21st Century
"Are you not entertained?!"
"Here's looking at you, kid." "Open the pod bay doors, please, Hal." "I have a feeling we're not in Kansas anymore." The history of cinema is littered with lines of dialogue that transcend context, but for the most part, what are considered the Great Movie Quotes are vintage in nature. AFI's 100 Years...100 Quotes remains the bible, reminding us that, yes, "Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn" is pretty significant.
These days, one way to mark a movie's cultural impact is whether a part of the script has gone viral. The "sunken place" is not just a dream state where an evil white psychiatrist traps her daughter's black boyfriend, it's a metaphor for race in America. "She doesn't even go here" is an easy way to vent your frustration with an interloper. "My wife" is, well, "MAH WIFE."
We here at Thrillist Entertainment have made an effort to canonize the movie quotes of the modern era, starting with the year 2000 and running through today. Our process was highly unscientific. We thought (and fought) through what moments had lodged themselves into our brains and stuck there. Not every entry on this list has become a meme, though some certainly earn their spots because of that. Others we included simply because they astonished us in some way: the perfect punchline, the gut-dropping reveal, the brilliantly written axioms. Some are so silly we've developed a deep affection for them. (Ever hear the one about sand from Star Wars?) All of these 100 selections have made us cry, laugh, or nod in solidarity, and they frequently pop unbidden into our heads.
Before we get to the list, we have to acknowledge our inherent limitations. We're an American site with English-speaking readers, writers, and editors. There is a virtually limitless amount of excellent filmmaking and screenwriting happening around the globe, from Mexico to South Korea and everywhere in between, so consider "greatest" as modified with "mostly American, English-speaking, Western cinema." And one procedural note: We decided to limit any given movie (including individual films of a franchise) to one quote maximum. So while we probably could have filled this list entirely with lines from Mean Girls and Anchorman, we had to make some tough choices.
ALSO READ: 'Looks Like Meat's Back on the Menu, Boys!': Three Orc Actors Discuss the 'Lord of the Rings' Trilogy's Goofiest Quote
100. "I don't have friends. I got family."
Furious 7 (2015)
It's the one line from the Fast & Furious franchise that everyone knows, the one theme that gets hammered home again and again in perhaps our best ongoing action film series. When some ignoramus asks you if all the F&F movies are about is driving fast and kissing chicks, you might snap, "NO, it's about FAMILY." Family, given a few new heartbreaking layers in Furious 7 after Paul Walker's death, is what holds Dominic Torretto and his crew together: It's the nitrous-oxide in the tank that fuels their everlasting bond (it's also a tad ironic, given all the drama that's transpired amongst the movies' stars in a series of petty Instagram posts). As the series evolved, its characters matured, transforming a brotherhood between pals into something much deeper. (Watch)
99. "Ogres are like onions."
Hell yeah, Shrek made it onto this list. Despite its slow decline into the maw of internet depravity, the first Shrek was a genuine big deal for DreamWorks Animation as its fifth production and highest-grossing to that point. (It was usurped by Shrek 2, which another DWA film has yet to top.) Believe it or not, Shrek premiered at Cannes in 2001, where it competed for the prestigious Palme d'Or alongside Baz Luhrmann's Moulin Rouge and David Lynch's Mulholland Drive. Insane, right?! Anyway, Shrek: In 2019, the animation looks terrifyingly deranged—no one needs to see every pore of a fleshy green ogre—but Mike Myers, bless his heart, gives a laudable vocal performance in a Scottish accent for 90 minutes, taking over for the departed Chris Farley, who was originally going to be Shrek. The "ogres are like onions" scene really is funnier than you probably remember, with Eddie Murphy and Myers' cheeky tête-à-tête, definitely teaching kids (and probably adults, too) a handy metaphor for social penetration theory. Now, please kill me!!! (Watch)
98. "You're my boy, Blue!"
Old School (2003)
If you happened to attend college in the years between 2003 and, oh, 2019, you've heard your fair share of Old School quotes. Despite how annoying it became to hear an endless stream of pastel-polo-wearing guys shouting, "We're going streaking!" and, "I'll do one!" and, "Once it hits your lips it's so good!" among others, that ubiquity is the definition of influence and longevity. Among several memorable lines, it's Will Ferrell's unhinged "You're my boy, Blue!" that best captures the nonsensical, uninhibited joy that can only be expressed by 30-something white guys in America. Blue (Patrick Cranshaw), of course, is the octogenarian willing to subject himself to extreme hazing just to get into the post-grad fraternity at the center of the movie, and Ferrell's Frank the Tank utters his infamous line twice, slightly reconstructed: The first, "Blue, you're my boy," comes when the frat founders make initiates drop from a rooftop cinderblocks attached by a long string to their penises. The second, more absurd delivery comes at Blue's funeral (spoiler!), where Frank ends an unfortunate version of Kansas' "Dust in the Wind" with the words, "You're my boy, Blue! You're my boy." It's a line out of nowhere, a nonsequitur that embodies the spirit of the times, when everything seemed to come out of nowhere, and the rest of us could only go along for the ride. (Watch)
97. "Jessica, only child, Illinois, Chicago."
There is an immediate electric energy among the characters in Parasite, the kind of feeling you get from a heist team that operates like a well-oiled machine, or a family that is so close they can anticipate each other's thoughts. When Ki-woo (Woo-sik Choi), possessed with an idea to infiltrate a wealthy family from the inside, brings his sister Ki-jung (So-dam Park) into his scheme, he instructs her to pose as a children's art teacher, hoping she'll get hired to tutor the wealthy family's young son. When the two show up at the front door of the Park family's palatial home, Ki-jung pauses before knocking, and sings a little mnemonic to herself as a reminder of the character she and her brother have concocted for her to play. It's a hilarious moment, and also a very sly way to show how close these two characters are, and how much thought they've put into this so-crazy-it-might-even-work idea. (Watch)
96. "You have bewitched me, body and soul."
Pride and Prejudice (2005)
Before he achieved prestige-TV immortality with his role as the sweetly conniving doofus Tom Wamsgans on HBO's money-obsessed drama Succession, actor Matthew Macfadyen was perhaps best known for his turn as the charmingly aloof heartthrob Mr. Darcy in Joe Wright's fog-drenched adaptation of Pride and Prejudice. Competing with Colin Firth's beloved take on the character was no easy task, but Macfadyen makes the most of his final declaration of love, which Wright shoots like a sumptuous perfume ad. As he works up the courage to tell Keira Knightley's Elizabeth Bennett how he truly feels, the words "you have bewitched me, body and soul" come tumbling out of his mouth. Though it might sound like the perfect swoon-worthy literary musing, the line doesn't appear in Jane Austen's 1813 novel; instead, it was the invention of the film's screenwriter Deborah Moggach, who bewitched a whole new generation with this tear-inducing monologue. (Watch)
95. "So be prepared, be enthusiastic, and leave your bullshit attitude and baggage at the door because we don't need it!"
Wet Hot American Summer (2001)
It was hard for the Thrillist Entertainment team to land on which Wet Hot American Summer quote to represent the movie because there are so many good ones. "It's always fun to get away from camp, even for an hour." "You taste like burger, I don't like you anymore." "Let's all promise that in 10 years from today, we'll meet again, and we'll see what kind of people we've blossomed into." "I love sluts! Sluts rock!" "You're covered in dirt. Take a shower." Etc., etc., etc. It's a goldmine, folks! Ultimately, we settled on this one from Amy Poehler's theater enthusiast Susie, who tells the camp kids to saddle up for the musical number from Godspell they'll be performing for the talent show—which Bradley Cooper's Ben is producing and Susie is directing-slash-choreographing. This D-plot concludes when Susie announces the kids later at the talent show: "Before we start, I'd just like to say the campers you're about to see suck dick! But nevertheless, please welcome them." (Watch)
94. "I just wanted to take another look at you."
A Star Is Born (2018)
The idea of "I just wanted to take another look at you" didn't originate with the 2018 remake of A Star Is Born. In fact, that interaction between ingenue and weathered celebrity has been with the story since 1937. But something about the drawl Bradley Cooper put on to play Jackson Maine turned the line into a minor internet phenomenon. He and Lady Gaga's Ally have just spent a delirious night together that ended in a supermarket parking lot, composing "Shallow" off the cuff. When he drops her off, he stops her. "Hey?" "What?" "I just want to take another look at you." In Cooper's mouth the words turn buttery, and the line indelible. (Watch)
93. "You gotta hear this one song. It'll change your life, I swear."
Garden State (2004)
The inclusion of a Garden State quote on this list generated some controversy among the Thrillist Entertainment crew, since it comes from a movie that in 2019 is nearly universally derided, but which in 2004 was loved unironically enough to turn it into a surprise cult hit. Fans weren't just twee indie men pining for a "manic pixie dream girl," a term Natalie Portman's Sam helped inspire—they were teenagers and young adults who identified with the sense of privileged malaise and vague sadness that runs through the film, and they probably harbored a fantasy that love could cure them. It may be cringeworthy to look back on the scene in which Portman excitedly tells Zach Braff's zombified Andrew Largeman (that name!) to listen to a life-altering Shins song ("New Slang"), but to ignore its influence in 2004 and the years immediately ensuing would be to deny history. The scene also points to the enduring legacy of the Garden State soundtrack, which itself has become part of a socially acceptable opinion: "The movie sucks, but the soundtrack is great!" Ridiculous as it is, the scene emits strong nostalgia vibes for anyone who loved it the first time around, and for those of us who have been hardened into cynical skeletons by the unforgiving forces of time and the internet, it's evolved into a very good meme. (Watch)
92. "This is how I win."
Uncut Gems (2019)
In the mid-to-late '90s, Adam Sandler was the reigning king of the goofy, quotable comedy. Movies like Billy Madison ("Stop looking at me, swan."), Happy Gilmore ("You eat pieces of shit for breakfast?"), The Wedding Singer ("I have a microphone, and you don't, SO YOU WILL LISTEN TO EVERY DAMN WORD I HAVE TO SAY!"), The Waterboy ("Now that's what I call high quality H2O.") and Big Daddy ("We wasted the good surprise on you.") endure partially because they were so fun—and, fine, sometimes annoying—to imitate. Despite consistently pumping out box office hits (and eventually Netflix originals), the last 20 years of Sandler's career were objectively less quotable, which made Uncut Gems, the Safdie Brothers' panic-attack of a crime film starring Sandler as gambling addict Howard Ratner, such a revelation. "This is how I win," a statement of purpose and a guiding philosophy, spiked as a meme around the time of the film's release, but it's gone on to have a wild afterlife, resurfacing during various Trump-era mishaps and most recently as an ironic celebration during the Game Stop meme stock rush. Though Sandler was snubbed by the Oscars for his dramatic turn, he won something perhaps more priceless: internet immortality. (Watch)
91. "You've got red on you."
Shaun of the Dead (2004)
Edgar Wright's zombie movie spoof Shaun of the Dead is full of recurring bits and visual gags: one opening scene is recreated midway through the movie with the added spice of zombie mayhem, and another great sequence uses stitched-together television clips to foreshadow the bloody mayhem that's to come. Throughout the whole thing, various characters pause their conversations with protagonist Shaun (Simon Pegg) to tell him, "You've got red on you," pointing to an ink stain on his shirt from an open pen in his pocket and, later, blood spatters from, you know, ganking the walking dead, turning a gory, gross horror movie trope into something hilariously mundane. (Watch)
90. "Honest to blog?"
Juno announced Diablo Cody's arrival as a distinctive new screenwriting voice, but her quirky dialogue ultimately gained her as many haters as adoring fans. When Olivia Thirlby's best friend character declares "honest to blog" incredulously, in reaction to the news that Elliot Page's Juno is, in fact, pregnant, she essentially summarizes all arguments for and against Cody's hyper-specific brand. Revisit a featurette on the movie and you'll find cast and crew praising her script for its realism, which feels inaccurate looking back. It's just how different Cody made her teens sound that now stands out and deserves as much praise as it does scorn. (Watch)
89. "I am Groot."
Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)
What is there to say about "I am Groot" other than simply: I am Groot. In the comics, Groot wasn't always so lacking in vocabulary, but when he made his big screen debut in 2014 his repetition became an adorable defining characteristic. To be honest, "I am Groot" isn't just one line—it's all of the loyal tree's lines. Vin Diesel had no easy task voicing the creature, but his subtle inflections turned a monosyllabic hunk of bark into a celebrated pop cultural figure. The unlikeliness of "I am Groot" ending up here is akin to the unlikeliness of Guardians become Marvel's breakout hit: It's weird, but it works. (Watch)
88. "Put some Windex on it."
My Big Fat Greek Wedding (2002)
The running gag of the theater-performance-turned-hit-rom-com of 2002, My Big Fat Greek Wedding, was a very Greek father who swore that a spritz of Windex could cure anything. On the day of her wedding, Toula (Nia Vardalos, who also wrote the film) wakes up with a zit (or mosquito bite, who's to say?) and her father recommends Windex. This magical thinking rubs off on her new husband Ian (John Corbett), who put some Windex on his zit on their wedding morning, making it disappear. It became such a bit for all the people who had seen the movie too: There were several pieces written, citing dermatologists, that Windex is not, in fact, a wonder drug. (Watch)
87. "It is the titular role!"
Lady Bird (2017)
It's commonly thought of as bad writing to use the word "titular"—i.e. to say that Christine "Lady Bird" McPherson is the "titular" character in Greta Gerwig's near-perfect coming-of-age comedy Lady Bird. That's probably why it's so wonderful when Lady Bird's best friend Julie (Beanie Feldstein) lobs "titular" as an over-enunciated insult during a fight. Lady Bird, having fallen under the spell of some cool kids, did not come to claim the role she was assigned for the school play. What's that role? The Tempest in, well, The Tempest. "There is no role of the Tempest," Lady Bird bellows, before Julie cuts in: "It is the titular role." It's an ideal representation of the dumb shit high school friends argue over, and a star-making moment for Feldstein. (Watch)
86. "I want to play a game."
The nearly $1 billion success of the Saw franchise is bewildering to viewers who dismiss the ultra-violent movies as empty exercises in what's often referred to as "torture porn," but the appeal is right there in this simple, terrifying phrase: "I want to play a game." It's all a bit of fun, don't you see? As far as villains go, Tobin Bell's mask-wearing Jigsaw was always on the chatty side—not prone to Freddie Kruger-like puns, but also not a silent slasher like Michael Myers or Jason—and his video message to poor Amanda Young, fighting for her life in a reverse bear trap in the first-ever Saw, is a stark bit of instructional sadism from screenwriter Leigh Whannell, who flipped the studied terror of Seven into an even grimier low-budget brainteaser. He's establishing the convoluted rules of a game you'd never want to play, rewriting the recent history of the horror genre in the process. (Watch)
85. "They called me Mr. Glass."
How do you both follow up one of the most shocking twist endings of the '90s and one of the most quotable horror one-liners of all time? If you're filmmaker M. Night Shyamalan, you escape the shadow of "Bruce Willis was a ghost the whole time" and "I see dead people" by writing a moody, somber family drama that reveals itself to actually be a moody, somber superhero origin story. "They called me Mr. Glass," whispers Samuel L. Jackson's tragically villainous Elijah Price in Unbreakable's final moment, James Newton's haunting score swelling in the background as the audience figures out the deception at the heart of the story. The film was considered an odd move at the time, failing to recapture the critical and commercial highs of The Sixth Sense, but Unbreakable's passionate defenders responded to the emotionally rich mix of melodrama and pulp, and Shyamalan got the last laugh, eventually continuing the story with the less quotable thrillers Split and Glass. (Watch)
84. "I have nipples, Greg. Could you milk me?"
Meet the Parents (2000)
You can probably trace Robert De Niro's underwhelming late-career moves like Dirty Grandpa to the mainstream commercial success of Meet the Parents, a franchise that spawned two sequels. Why not play an older guy who will say exactly what's on his mind when the formula has paid off in the past? But it's the chemistry between De Niro's ex-CIA tough guy and Ben Stiller's bumbling idiot fiancé that makes the movie tick, as exemplified in this scene. Stiller's Greg, caught in another lie, attempts to tell the story of how he milked a cat, eliciting one of De Niro's intensely probing responses delivered without a trace of humor or irony in his voice. It's the kind of line that everyone in the whole family will find funny, achieving a universality you'd expect from a movie that turns the most reductive stereotypes about marriage and family into a lucrative comedy. (Watch)
83. "This is Sparta!"
Like almost every detail of Zack Snyder's hyper-stylized, pro wrestling vision of ancient history, the line "This is Sparta!," bellowed by Gerard Butler before kicking a Persian messenger into a bottomless pit, was ripped directly from a panel of Frank Miller's graphic novel of the same name. Still, it's tough to totally blame Miller, Butler, or even Snyder for the quote's ubiquity amongst a certain strand of beer-slamming, weight-lifting brutes in the mid-to-late '00s. The quote was featured heavily in the marketing materials, almost instantaneously generating memes, parodies, and remixes on sites like YTMND (RIP). "This is Sparta!" was "a thing" before the movie even came out, celebrated and mocked for its macho gravitas. By the time the line became a punchline in the odious 2008 spoof Meet the Spartans, delivered with a big wad of spit and a giant smirk, the joke was already dead. (Watch)
82. "In one of our designs even these mosquito bites will look like juicy, juicy mangoes!"
Bend It Like Beckham (2002)
There's simply a funny melody to the backhanded insult a seamstress directs toward aspiring soccer star Jess (Parminder Nagra) in Bend It Like Beckham when she's miserably getting fitted for a sari. Jess' sister is chided by their mother for wanting her garment to act as a push-up bra, but the older women are desperate for Jess to show off any of her body. It's a miniature encapsulation of the notions of womanhood our heroine battles against over the course of the movie. (Watch)
81. "I wanna rob."
The Bling Ring (2013)
Sofia Coppola's films aren't inherently quotable. In fact, arguably the most indelible moment she ever constructed revolves around an impenetrable whisper in Lost in Translation. (We considered putting that on this list, but we still don't know what Bill Murray said to Scarlett Johansson). The Bling Ring is an outlier. Coppola put her own stamp on the true and entrancing story of a bunch of teens who robbed celebs, the likes of Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan, in the early aughts. There's perhaps nothing in her dreamy film as memorable as one of the real-life teens sobbing "Nancy Jo, this is Alexis Neiers calling" into the phone on the reality show Pretty Wild, but one moment comes close: Emma Watson, blunt in hand, popping her hip to the side and whining, "I wanna rob," in an effort to get her friends to break into Paris Hilton's house. (Watch)
80. "You're putting the pussy on a pedestal."
The 40-Year-Old Virgin (2005)
The bro-nerd comedy that made Steve Carell a bankable movie star features, like all the Judd Apatow-adjacent comedies on this list, a wide range of quotable lines. But the wrongheaded masculinity of "You're putting the pussy on a pedestal"—advice offered by Romany Malco's Jay and Cedric Yarbrough's unnamed dad at the health clinic—shows the ironic charm that makes the hokey premise of this sex comedy work. While the phrase has been unfortunately co-opted by misogynist online communities, in the film it's just a dumb aphorism beloved by overconfident bros. Jay speaks to Carell's Andy with learned authority while the four SmartTech employees are killing time by smashing lights. Then a random dad decides to insert himself into a stranger's life after they meet at a health clinic: The whole point is that it's a stupid thing to say! As Andy himself asks, "What are you even talking about? What does that mean?" It means that a lot of men have simplistic ideas about the way the world works, and they lack the self-awareness to know they sound like idiots. (Watch)
79. "Cello, you've got a bass."
School of Rock (2003)
Let's get one thing straight: Richard Linklater's School of Rock absolutely stands the test of time. Of course, shouldering most of its lasting greatness is Jack Black's performance as Dewey Finn, a deadbeat musician who steals his roommate's substitute teaching job, turning the classroom of serious private school kids into bona fide rockers. Part of that transformation entails Dewey showing the students that the skills they've already picked up from school band are applicable to rock 'n' roll. Just turn that big, four-stringed instrument on its side and, cello—you've got a bass. (Watch)
78. "I am gonna kill Bill."
Kill Bill: Vol. 2 (2004)
Although Quentin Tarantino's two-part martial arts vehicle Kill Bill Vol. 1 and 2 makes Uma Thurman's pursuit of revenge against the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad and their leader Bill (David Carradine) always apparant, hearing The Bride name drop the title of the movie (drink!!!) is just as satisfying as the calculated slays themselves. We're met with that bloodlust at the very beginning of Vol. 2 in black and white as Thurman drives with the top down, on a mission. With a monologue recap of the first film, looking just beyond the camera, she "roared and rampaged and got bloody satisfaction," and now she's ready to murder the one man she's dreamt of killing for years. Her angry confidence in saying what we've been waiting for makes your blood boil with sadistic excitement—we're also ready to watch one of Tarantino's few female protagonists come for the killing. You know she's going to get the job done. (Watch)
77. "Didn't I tell you not to come to my house? Nobody touches my child!"
"Come here, bitch. I'll wipe the floor with your skinny ass," says Beyoncé towards the end of this joyfully ludicrous erotic thriller, a twist on the proven Fatal Attraction formula with Ali Larter in the Glenn Close role and Idris Elba as the Michael Douglas-like master of the universe with a wandering eye. The big difference is that Beyoncé, coming off her I Am… Sasha Fierce record and her part in Dreamgirls, plays the scorned wife, and she makes the most of the role in the film's climactic fight scene, dragging Larter by the leg and punctuating her lines with punches to the face. Obsessed is not a great movie—much of it is dull and derivative—but it comes alive in the final stretch, enlivened by the intensity of the performances and the tawdriness of the material. At the moment, Obsessed is Beyoncé's last non-voice-acting Hollywood film role; if she returns to narrative feature films in the future, perhaps behind the camera, hopefully she'll bring a touch of Obsessed's pulpy, cathartic pleasure with her. (Watch)
76. "We could not talk or talk forever and still find things to not talk about."
Best in Show (2000)
Christopher Guest's dog show comedy is hard to encapsulate in a single quote. Sure, there are lines you can reference, but it's more about the characters his ensemble digs deep to create. The humor comes from getting to know these weirdos, who sometimes say hilariously un-self-aware things. Early in this dog show satire we're introduced to Jennifer Coolidge's daffy poodle owner Sherri Ann Cabot and her very old, very rich husband Leslie. While he remains silent she tries to convince the audience that they have so much in common: Soup, the outdoors, snow peas, talking, not talking. Coolidge's convoluted delivery is so precise it seems scripted, even though Guest's movies are largely improvised. (Watch)
75. "Why'd y'spill yer beans?"
The Lighthouse (2019)
With just two movies under his belt, Robert Eggers is becoming one of the most quotable directors in modern cinema. Perhaps it's his love of antique language that makes the dialogue take on a melodic quality. The sing-songy refrain of "Why'd y'spill yer beans?" from his second film, The Lighthouse, sticks in your ear and never leaves. It's a taunt from Willem Dafoe's Thomas Wake to Robert Pattinson's Ephraim Winslow, aka Thomas Howard, after the latter has just revealed his deepest secret: That he killed his foreman on a previous job and took on his identity. "Why'd y'spill yer beans?" is part hallucination, part joke, part murderous tease. It's also weirdly humorous, beans being a funny word and all. There were plenty of options we could have selected from The Lighthouse—Dafoe's speech about Triton; his impassioned defense of his lobster—but "Why'd y'spill yer beans?" is the one we'll be repeating over and over and over again. (Watch)
74. "Hell is a teenage girl."
Jennifer's Body (2009)
Screenwriter Diablo Cody's follow-up to Juno, for which she won a shit-ton of best original screenplay awards, including the Oscar, was Jennifer's Body. Directed by Karyn Kusama, it's a revenge horror-comedy unapologetically made for girls, and that completely baffled most critics at the time. A demonic indie band fronted by Adam Brody in emo eyeliner sacrificing Megan Fox's Jennifer—crowned hottest woman on the planet by every men's magazine—accidentally turning her into a boy-eating succubus, was just too much for people (read: men who paid the ticket price to ogle). Jennifer's Body has been somewhat vindicated in the last few years, with the new crop of bloggers and critics proclaiming that the film was way ahead of its time and a feminist horror classic full of sharp, ironic humor, and hinged on a poignant #MeToo story long before the movement began. But the film's opening line, in a voiceover by Amanda Seyfried's Needy, was a Tumblr anthem to puberty and the depth of emotions young women endure, long before the righteous revisionism began. (Watch)
73. "You gonna eat your tots?"
Napoleon Dynamite (2004)
No one expected the world to embrace the odd patch of Idaho that birthed Napoleon Dynamite and his friend Pedro, but boy, did it ever. Made on a budget of around $400,000, the film wound up grossing more than $46 million, which is what they call a "hit" in the movie business. Like so many other movies featured on this list, Napoleon Dynamite wasn't just popular, but a lexical phenomenon that helped return to common use non-profanities like "Heck yes!" and "Gosh!", and introduced solecisms like pronouncing both L's in "quesadilla." In a script packed with enough one-liners to spawn a T-shirt cottage industry, "you gonna eat your tots?" is the quote that best sums up Napoleon Dynamite's bizarre charm. Napoleon's brazenness and social ineptitude capture the uncomfortable feeling of being a high school outcast desperate for attention, but the scene goes beyond what most people can relate to when he stuffs Pedro's tots in the side pocket of his zip-up cargo pants. It's a moment of Dada logic in a film that had so many people asking, "What the hell is this?" and answering themselves, "I don't know, but it's really funny." (Watch)
72. "I have had it with these motherfuckin' snakes on this motherfuckin' plane!"
Snakes on a Plane (2006)
Snakes on a Plane is a convincing argument that the internet might have been a terrible mistake. What started as a goofy joke, some good-natured ribbing about the absurdity of high-concept thrillers on screenwriter Josh Friedman's blog and a audio-only parody trailer that helped popularize the "motherfuckin' snakes" line, became an irony-soaked online obsession, eventually spilling out into the world of late night talk shows and into the text of the film itself. Pre-release speculation led to reshoots where the "motherfuckin' snakes" line, along with more R-rated violence and nudity, was filmed to please the growing snake-crazed fanboy army. (I have a vivid memory of getting a personalized robocall featuring the voice of Samuel L. Jackson telling me to go see the film). Then the movie came out, riding months of hype, and it mostly sucked, perhaps proving that B-movies shouldn't be crowd-sourced by bored forum-dwellers. While Snakes on a Plane now plays like a cautionary tale about the cornieness of "totally epic" mid-'00's humor, what's disturbing is that Hollywood has only gotten craftier at cynically stripmining viral enthusiasm for a quick buck in the last decade. Blame the motherfuckin' snakes. (Watch)
71. "To me, you are perfect."
Love Actually (2003)
Love Actually doesn't exactly top Breakfast at Tiffany's in the Widely Loved, But Very Problematic Movie department, but it makes its best effort through pretty much every one of its 18,000 running storylines, culminating in the scene where Mark (Andrew Lincoln) turns up at Juliet's (Keira Knightley) house with a series of the creepiest romantic flashcards ever created. Lincoln himself called his character a "creepy stalker," maybe because Mark films no one but Juliet during her wedding (to Mark's best friend), or because he shows up on Christmas silently proclaiming undying love for the woman who literally just married his best friend. Seems like he might have had a chance to pull the flashcard stunt in the months or years preceding Christmas. Nevertheless! Love Actually lives on as one of the best Christmas films ever AND one of the best rom-coms ever. The treacly tagline that "love actually is all around" is driven home by Mark's desperate plea, one of those grand movie gestures that calls to mind John Cusack's Say Anything boombox. While much of Richard Curtis' script expresses more ambivalent feelings toward love than the title suggests, the cue cards have lived on as a meme, and "To me, you are perfect" has repeatedly bailed out romantic partners with nothing original to write in birthday or Valentine's Day cards. For the record, the only part of Love Actually that holds up is Rowan Atkinson's role—Mr. Bean wraps presents so slowly! (Watch)
70. "For a guy with a four digit IQ, I must have missed something."
Seven years before Bradley Cooper became the quadruple-threat actor/director/producer/songwriter behind A Star Is Born, he played Eddie Morra, a writer who finds a drug that gives him a quadruple-digit IQ. It's one of those "just go with it" premises that's made explicit in the poster and trailer, but is reinforced in a scene that comes before the opening credits, a kind of "record scratch, freeze frame" setup that shows Eddie at the end of his rope, with unknown bad guys closing in before we rewind to get the full story. In voiceover while he teeters on the edge of a skyscraper, Eddie reflects on his current state, lamenting the gaps in his otherwise airtight IQ: "I'd come this close to having an impact on the world. And now the only thing I'd have an impact on was the sidewalk." Is this Shakespeare? Certainly not. But it's the kind of dumb, repeatable line that makes good-bad movies so enjoyable. (Watch)
69. "My tastes are very singular."
Fifty Shades of Grey (2015)
Fifty Shades of Grey is an extremely creepy movie. Yes, it gave us the single best Beyoncé cover in the whole world, but it also gave us tons and tons of people who thought a man cajoling a woman into BDSM because he knows she likes him is… the height of romance? Christian Grey hems and haws around the issue of just telling the lady he likes that he's into some casual dom/sub action every now and then, describing his "tastes" as "very singular." Eeeugh. But, what better way to take back our power and agency from patriarchal depictions of desire than to meme the living daylights out of its weirdest scene? Look up "My tastes are very singular" on YouTube and you'll get everything from video game consoles to anime girl body pillows to One Direction theme bedrooms. Anything is better than a "Red Room of Pain." (Watch)
68. "I have to return some videotapes."
American Psycho (2000)
Mary Harron's adaptation of Bret Easton Ellis' savage satire of Reagan-era American capitalism does so much more than capture the brutality and humor of the book. With Christian Bale as the psycho, Patrick Bateman, his extreme aversion to human social interaction takes on a deathly serious tenor as embodied by the line Bateman uses to get out of any situation fast. It's a wholly unbelievable excuse that reveals how little empathy and social awareness Bateman possesses, especially when he uses it as an alibi and immediately following a claim that he's "in touch with humanity." Nearly 20 years after the movie came out and ages since videotapes were supplanted by other media, "I have to return some videotapes" still reigns as the absurd rejoinder that shows just how little regard you have for the person you're talking to. Try it out the next time you're breaking up with someone, or are being questioned regarding a coworker's suspicious disappearance. (Watch)
67. "Do you know what happens to a toad when it's struck by lightning? The same thing that happens to everything else."
Buffy the Vampire Slayer creator and Avengers director Joss Whedon worked on a draft of the first X-Men script that was almost entirely scrapped, but in interviews over the years, the writer has taken credit for two distinct comedic lines that made it into the movie. First, there's the Wolverine "You're a dick" quip to Cyclops, which is a perfectly fine piece of comic-book banter. The other one, which Halle Berry's Storm delivers right as she electrocutes the villain Toad in front of the Statue of Liberty, is more controversial. In a 2013 interview with Entertainment Weekly, Whedon called it "terrible" and criticized Berry's delivery, saying, "she did it like she was King Lear." (He also told the A.V. Club in 2001 that she "said it like she was Desdemona," proving the guy really does love his Shakespeare references.) I'd argue that Berry's performance—in a series that rarely gave her much to do—is actually what makes it so memorable. She goes for it! Despite the box office and critical success of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, you won't find many quotes from those movies on this list because the sitcom-like sheen to the dialogue and the slightly irreverent house style renders much of it completely disposable. Unafraid to play with cheesiness, Berry elevated a corny gag to camp poetry. (Watch)
66. "In moonlight, black boys look blue."
Moonlight, the Best Picture-winning sophomore feature from director Barry Jenkins, was the result of such delicate, thoughtful alchemy. Jenkins' lush visuals, inspired by the work of Hong Kong filmmaker Wong Kar-wai, supplement the poetic words of playwright-turned screenwriter Tarell Alvin McCraney, who developed the script as an unproduced conceptual theater project at Yale in the late '00s, and both elements are brought to life by actors like Alex Hibbert, playing the impressionable young Chiron, and Mahershala Ali, playing the wise drug dealer Juan. The intimacy of the "in moonlight, black boys look blue" monologue, which finds Ali telling a personal story and embodying the voice of "this old lady" from his childhood in Cuba, is different than many of the more abrasive, explosive quotes on this list. It can't be reduced to a meme or deployed as a GIF. But in a film built around small gestures, it has a profound, reality-altering power. The line transports you through time and space, the vulnerability of the performer and the character working in perfect harmony. (Watch)
65. "These are not spirit fingers. These are spirit fingers. And these are gold."
Bring It On (2000)
It's quite honestly insane that UCB staple Ian Roberts was Sparky, the pill-popping choreographer putting high school cheerleaders through boot camp to "transform [their] robotic routines into poetry written with the human body." The horrible goatee, the shirt with one too many buttons open, his scathing burns of everyone's physical flaws, and his crucial defining trait: spirit fingers, the "bad" ones practically indistinguishable from the "good" ones. Clearly just a derivation of jazz hands, "spirit fingers" was one of the defining schticks of Bring It On, directed by Peyton Reed (his first film—he would later go on to make Ant-Man), and a damn good one at that. (Watch)
64. "The law says that you cannot touch. But I think I see a lot of lawbreakers up in this house tonight."
Magic Mike (2012)
Remember how everyone collectively lost their shit when Magic Mike came out? Directed by Steven Soderbergh (I know, right?) and loosely based on Channing Tatum's experiences as a young male stripper, it was the box office hit of late summer 2012. Hot, half-naked buff men thrusting on screen will do that, it seems. The tone of Magic Mike is set masterfully: In the first, like, two minutes, there's the one-two punch of Matthew McConaughey's Dallas, owner of club Xquisite, delivering the rules of the show to a room of screaming women in one of the most insane monologues he's ever given in film (and he was a nomadic poet in a Harmony Korine film, for chrissakes), followed by an unimpeded shot of Tatum's butt. This is what you call "cinéma." (Watch)
63. "You're a wizard, 'arry."
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (2001)
The appeal of J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter stories is rooted in a raw, powerful fantasy of youth: Discovering that you're more special, more unique, and more magical than the other children around you. When Robbie Coltrane, the burly Scotish actor tasked with bringing the half-giant Hagrid to life in Chris Columbus's first Harry Potter film, leans forward and says the line, "You're a wizard, 'arry," Daniel Radcliffe, still a fresh-faced kid at this point, reacts with what looks like the beginnings of mischievous smile, hinting that he knows this is the truth he's been searching for. It's not exactly a shock. Yes, his eyes then bug out as he asks, "A what?" But it's almost like the character is performing the disbelief and surprise for his onlooking aunt and uncle, the two normal humans he despises the most. Hagrid's proclamation, one of the many economical and poignant bits of dialogue in Steve Kloves's script, is the sound of a door opening, inviting the boy to a world he can't quite imagine. In his heart, 'arry was always a wizard, but he needed to hear it out loud to confirm it was true. (Watch)
62. "I'm the guy who does his job. You must be the other guy."
The Departed (2006)
The Departed, Martin Scorsese's Boston crime saga adapted from the Hong Kong thriller Infernal Affairs, is a movie obsessed with the corrosive myth of professionalism. Cops and gangsters, the two feuding sides in the film's heightened moral universe, each like to think of themselves as fundamentally men of honor, guys who have tough jobs but go about them with dignity. They've all got a code, right? It's unsurprising that Sgt. Sean Dignam, the foul-mouthed authority figure played by a fired-up Mark Wahlberg, believes that saying he "does his job" is the most brutal insult imaginable. Like the macho put-down's found in a David Mamet play or an episode of Billions, it's an attempt at total emasculation built around the idea that you are what you do and you must do it well. Results matter. Efficiency is the goal. Put numbers on the board. There's a reason Dignam is the lone survivor in the movie's twist-filled climax: He's the guy who does his job, the cop who keeps his head down long enough to make his move, and those dead bodies are the other guys. (Watch)
61. "Look at my shit."
Spring Breakers (2012)
Harmony Korine's hedonistic "beach noir" indictment of wealth and youthful materialism was branded an "instant cult classic" on its release, if there is such a thing, and it really is an experience to watch this dreamy neon-lit crime film play out—one that, like many of Korine's movies, may require a certain substance or two to really, like, understand, you know what I'm saying. James Franco's Alien leads a group of teen girls down the path of despair and destruction, courting them by taking them back to his pad and showing off all his "shit." The scene is a direct condemnation of the American Dream, yes, but it's also a funny thing to say when you invite your date back to your place to look at your collection of African ceremonial masks—or, in Alien's case, board shorts and machine guns and gold bullets and Scarface on repeat. (Watch)
60. "Prepare to be fucked by the long dick of the law!"
Superbad, the defining teen movie of the 2000s, is yet another film on this list that contains many, many iconic quotes. How dare we not pick "I am McLovin,'" right? Well, prepare to be fucked by the long dick of the law—who is us in this instance—because we went with the declarative Seth Rogen's bumbling, drunk Officer Michaels shouts as he and Bill Hader's Officer Slater bust the high school rager. Jonah Hill's Seth is carrying out the very long Evan (Michael Cera) as the two cops come through the door, and Fogell's trying to lose his virginity upstairs. Like most of high school, nothing really goes as planned, but the one thing every high schooler can count on is at least one awkward (or worse) interaction with bored police officers. (Watch)
59. "Just keep swimming."
Finding Nemo (2003)
Before Ellen Degeneres was Ellen, the mononym, she was an out-of-work actress who had been sidelined in Hollywood after coming out as a lesbian in 1997. Then Finding Nemo happened. Not four months after the Pixar movie about Marlin, a father clownfish, in search of his son was released, Ellen premiered Ellen, the same daytime talk show that's still running today. Her stunning comeback can certainly be chalked up to her sweet, legitimately funny performance as the voice of Dory, the jovially undeterred regal blue tang who suffers from short-term memory loss. In a particular moment of helplessness, their previous leads to Nemo having dried up, Dory sneaks into the frame and shares with Marlin her sing-songy wisdom for when times get tough: "Just keep swimming, just keep swimming, just keep swimming, swimming, swimming. What do we do, we swim, swim…" The simple aphorism exploded into a positivity movement all its own, finding its way onto the senior quotes of high school students, tattoos, T-shirts, blog posts, GIFs… you name it. (Watch)
58. "You had my curiosity. But now you have my attention."
Django Unchained (2012)
In the second of his revisionist history films, Quentin Tarantino is in peak form, dishing out fantasy justice to abominable characters like Leonardo DiCaprio's Calvin J. Candie, a smooth-talking slave-owner with a passion for phrenology. Candie's gleeful hatred—covered with a slimy veneer of Southern manners—puts the efficiency of Tarantino's character development on full display. The slave-owner is the quintessential talentless, overconfident man who believes himself far superior to a foreigner and a free slave, despite all evidence to the contrary. As he takes a childish slurp out of a coconut filled with booze, DiCaprio delivers the film's best line with the kind of uncomfortable familiarity and condescension that make the final act's revenge fantasy fully earned. It's the kind of line you could imagine a venture capitalist or similar vampire uttering today; we thankfully no longer sell humans as commodities, but the sickening nature of business sharks remains. (Watch)
57. "You're the man now, dog!"
Finding Forrester (2000)
It's tough to explain why "You're the man now, dog" needs to be on this list. For one thing, the movie that the quote springs from, a coming-of-age drama starring Sean Connery as a J.D. Salinger-like literary recluse who mentors a teenage basketball player, is completely forgettable, a sentimental retread of Good Will Hunting from people who should probably know better. (Somehow, it made $80 million at the box office, a sign that the year 2000 really was a different time.) In the context of director Gus Van Sant's career, it's considered a semi-embarrassing speed-bump on the way to more experimental, riskier terrain like Gerry and Elephant. Sure, a grizzled Connery shouting, "PUNCH THE KEYS!" is funny on its own, but the importance of "You're the man now, dog!", which was featured in the trailer for the movie, is rooted in the phrase's digital afterlife. Launched in 2001 with a loop of Connery repeating the line, YTMND became an online community for users creating and sharing low-quality audio-visual jokes with each other, the kind of inexplicable and absurd concoctions internet users now take for granted as the basic language of being a little too online. The site became a pre-Twitter and -Facebook behemoth with four million monthly users at its peak, according to a Gizmodo article about its rise and eventual fall. And it did fall hard, almost disappearing earlier this year after suffering a "catastrophic failure," but the site's influence is massive. Thank you, Sean Connery. (Watch)
56. "Girl, you can't get no infection in your booty hole! It's a booty hole!"
Girls Trip (2017)
Tiffany Haddish's most famous moment in Girl's Trip, the riotously funny comedy written by Kenya Barris and Tracy Oliver, might be the instructional scene involving a grapefruit, but the "booty hole" exchange, which occurs in the airport before the big trip to the Essence Festival in New Orleans, is when we really get a sense of what her character, Dina, is going to bring to this movie. Simply, she's the funniest friend, the wildest travel companion, and the person most likely to stuff drugs in her butt. Haddish's performance is one of those truly special star-making comedy turns like Will Ferrell's in Old School, Melissa McCarthy's in Bridesmaids, or Zach Galifianakis' in The Hangover. She steals this scene and then proceeds to walk away with the entire movie. (Watch)
55. "I volunteer as tribute."
Hunger Games (2012)
Katniss Everdeen's declaration was taken directly from Suzanne Collins' bestselling YA novel, but it's Jennifer Lawrence's performance that makes it worthy of inclusion here. From her, the words became a chillingly desperate gasp. As the heroine of the dystopian fantasy, Lawrence shouts the phrase when her little sister is recruited to be part of the cruel games in which children from fantasy nightmare Panem's various districts are sacrificed. The Hunger Games films themselves have seemingly become less culturally relevant over time, but "I volunteer as tribute" remains alternately a rallying cry and a way to say you, uh, volunteer for a task. (Watch)
54. "Even artichokes have hearts."
We debated for a long time about whether or not quotes from foreign language films belong on this list, not because there isn't incredible writing in film from other countries (obviously, there is), but because fewer bits of dialogue from films from outside the US and Britain have entered our American cultural lexicon. "Even artichokes have hearts" from Amélie is an exception. Just take a jaunt to Etsy and you'll find all kinds of merchandise bearing the cutesy phrase. In Jean-Pierre Jeunet's sometimes aggressively twee comedy, Audrey Tautou's impish Amélie uses "even artichokes have hearts" as part of an imagined retort to a cruel grocer who verbally abuses his employee calling him a "vegetable." It's almost too adorable, the kind of thing you would find on the AIM away message of a particularly cultured teen in the early aughts. (Watch)
53. "Would that it were so simple."
Hail, Caesar! (2016)
You truly do not have to have seen the Coen brothers' satire of Blacklist-era Hollywood to appreciate the scene in which "would that it were so simple" appears. A pompous director (Ralph Fiennes) attempts to get a cowboy actor (Alden Ehrenreich) to say an overwrought line of old-timey dialogue correctly. Their back and forth is like an amped up Marx brothers routine and the actual phrase is so surprisingly convoluted that it's all fantastic comedy. (Watch)
52. "With great power comes great responsibility."
Mention "Spider-Man" to anyone who's ever dipped a toe into the pop culture wave pool, and they'll probably reply with some variation of this quote. It's a classic line from Marvel's Spider-Man comics that, because of the popularity of Sam Raimi's 2002 superhero masterpiece, is now ubiquitous. (Plenty of people probably don't even know it's from Spider-Man!) In Raimi's movie, Uncle Ben says it to Peter Parker while trying to have The Talk, not knowing that Peter is currently dealing with a puberty transformation of a different kind (the kind with six more legs than usual), and yet what he says to him in this moment ends up being the force that drives Spidey for the rest of his life. It's the inverse of "absolute power corrupts absolutely": people with strengths and abilities beyond others—superpowered or not—have a duty to understand how to use those abilities. Just because you CAN do something, just because you have a certain level of power that others don't, doesn't always mean that you should. (Watch)
51. "Ass to ass."
Requiem for a Dream (2000)
Nobody on staff here was jumping to write up the "ass to ass" quote, and who can blame them! It's the seediest, most repulsive line in a seedy, repulsively attractive film, and it serves as the three-word culmination of lives given over to the destructive power of drugs. The line comes during the film's final montage, which depicts each of the central characters' rock bottom: Harry (Jared Leto) learns his infected arm needs to be amputated, Tyrone (Marlon Wayans) has to kick heroin cold turkey in prison, and Sara (Ellen Burstyn) undergoes electroshock therapy. But it's Jennifer Connelly's Marion who's subjected to the most degrading act in her perpetual search for drugs. Having already set up an arrangement with the pimp Big Tim (Keith David), Marion takes him up on his offer to join a little party he throws, a party that's actually a sex show. As the scene intensifies and Connelly and the other girls continue blowing cocaine, one asks, "So what are we gonna do now?" Cue Stanley B. Herman's Uncle Hank (his name comes from the book), who knows exactly what they're gonna do now: The act that's pretty well described by its name. If you know nothing else about this movie, you probably still know this line thanks to its ubiquity on the internet—a line and scene that director Darren Aronofsky says on the DVD commentary were inspired by something he actually witnessed. No further elaboration given. Yikes! (Watch)
50. "You will ride eternal, shiny and chrome."
Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)
George Miller effortlessly created a whole world, complete with its own societal structure and mythology, within the first half hour of his epic Mad Max: Fury Road, adding fierce Imperators and albino "warboys" to his diesel-drenched post-apocalyptic saga. The tyrannical Immortan Joe has developed a religion in order to subjugate his people, convincing them that, when they die, they'll continue to "ride shiny and chrome" in the viking afterlife of Valhalla. That's what he says to young Nux (Nicholas Hoult) before he sends him on a suicide mission. It's the YOLO of the sandy, violent future. It's also the thing your lizard brain says to itself right before you run a red light. (Watch)
49. "I don't like sand. It's all coarse, and rough, and irritating. And it gets everywhere."
Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones (2002)
Hayden Christensen became an instant icon for all of his weird lines in Star Wars: Attack of the Clones and its sequel Revenge of the Sith—unfortunately for him, not because any of those lines were any good. The characteristically dopey delivery of his diatribe against sand to his lover Padmé Amidala is perhaps the finest bit of unintentionally comedic acting in the whole Star Wars saga. Anakin grew up as a slave on a desert planet, so yeah, naturally, the texture of sand would probably bring back those memories. But, geez, man, can't you think of a less creepy way to say it? (Watch)
48. "I am the motherfucker that found this place, sir."
Zero Dark Thirty (2012)
Jessica Chastain is not exactly a "funny" performer, and Zero Dark Thirty, the controversial drama about the years-long hunt for Osama bin Laden, is definitely not a "funny" movie. The character she plays, a no-nonsense CIA intelligence analyst named Maya, is obsessed with her job, and when she gets in the room with James Gandolfini's gruff CIA Director she doesn't back down. She's been pushing this rock up a hill for years. The "motherfucker" line has a grim matter-of-factness to it that speaks to the movie's focus on Maya's single-minded, ethically warped mission. Zero Dark Thirty and The Hurt Locker, the two tactics-obsessed war films written by Mark Boal and directed by Kathryn Bigelow from the '00s, are filled with functional bits of military jargon, bureaucratic double-speak, and terse commands. They're not exactly quotable, choosing to focus on creating feelings of dread instead, but somehow the "motherfucker" line cuts through the tension and adds a much-needed moment of levity. (Watch)
47. "Kiss me, my girl, before I am sick."
Phantom Thread (2017)
You wouldn't typically think someone poisoning her partner is "sweet," but Phantom Thread pulls it off. Paul Thomas Anderson's follow-up to the hazy, mumbling, postmodern mystery Inherent Vice favors the meticulous, harsh candor of Daniel Day-Lewis' Reynolds Woodcock and the narrative straightforwardness of a couple falling in love. A fashion designer with obsessive-compulsive and controlling tendencies, Woodcock spends the entire running time verbally cutting down those who fail him—including Alma, the waitress he's turned into his muse, though she's totally unwilling to give up her own assertiveness and independence (The tea is going out, the interruption is staying right here with me!). Their dynamic makes his response to Alma's revelation that his omelet is poisoned so perversely sweet. Just when the struggle of being together reaches its darkest moments, Alma and Reynolds lay their cards on the table. She wants him flat on his back; he's finally willing to give up control. It epitomizes the contradictory, painful, and transcendent nature of love, and puts a fitting capstone on Alma and Reynolds' courtship. (Watch)
46. "The wrong kid died."
Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story (2007)
For a while it almost seemed like Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story would be a footnote in the era of comedies defined by prolific man-babies Adam McKay and Judd Apatow. Thankfully, the years have been kind to this parody of tedious music biopics, especially considering Hollywood keeps making tedious music biopics. Walk Hard is now being appreciated as the masterpiece it is, and is used as a reference point whenever a new movie falls prey to the same clichés it lampooned. (Ahem, Bohemian Rhapsody.) Among those clichés: The unloving parental figure, who refuses to acknowledge that his son is a talented artist. "We kept noticing that most of the characters had the disapproving parents," Apatow said in an oral history of the film. You see, Dewey slices his brother in half during a playful machete fight, and his father will not stop reminding him: "Wrong kid died." Elton John may not have a dead sibling in Rocketman, but his grumpy father may as well be saying to him "wrong kid died" every time he serves up a look of disappointment. (Watch)
45. "Not the bees!"
The Wicker Man (2006)
According to Ethan Hawke, Nic Cage is "the only actor since Marlon Brando that's actually done anything new with the art of acting." He's right. Cage doesn't inhabit a role so much as he grabs it by the scruff of its neck and beats it into submission, and nowhere is that technique more evident than in Wicker Man, the mid-aughts remake of the 1973 British horror classic. It's a quintessentially insane Cage performance; some might call it bad acting, while we choose to recognize its unhinged gonzo genius. Throughout a film that has Cage running around yelling at children, punching and kicking women, the scene where the neo-pagans finally exact their punishment is among his finest work. "Not the bees!" concentrates all of Cage's brilliance into a primal scream, a desperate cry against unjust torture. It's outstanding. (Watch)
44. "I'm glad he's single because I'm going to climb that like a tree."
Bridesmaids is important for lots of reasons, but for our purposes here, we're going to focus on the fact that it unleashed the absolute comedic delight of Melissa McCarthy upon the world as Dougie's (Tim Heidecker) doofus-with-a-heart-of-gold sister, Megan. In the first scene we're introduced to her, we get a lot from Megan, oversharing with Kristen Wiig's Annie about getting pins in her leg after falling off a cruise ship and mistaking the extraordinarily tall Hugh Dane smoking a pipe and wearing a newsboy cap for Annie's "fella," which is when we get this gem of unfiltered libido. (Watch)
43. "Are you watching closely?"
The Prestige (2006)
The whole point of magic tricks is to deceive. That's why they're called TRICKS, and that's what makes the twisty-turny storytelling of Christopher Nolan's The Prestige so riveting, even if you already know what happens. Part of doing magic is making the audience think the trick is happening over here, while actually making something else happen over there. "Are you watching closely?" is the catchphrase of Alfred Borden (Christian Bale), one of the rival magicians warring for power in the movie, and he uses that phrase to misdirect the audience's attention. When you're watching the ball in one hand, you're not focusing on what he's doing with the other, which is what makes the trick work in the end. (Watch)
42. "Dear 8-pound, 6-ounce newborn infant Jesus..."
Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby (2006)
To this day, we as a culture are still dipping into the quotable comedy behemoth that is Adam McKay and Will Ferrell's Talladega Nights, but the single scene that's mined the most is Ferrell's Ricky Bobby delivering a rambling family prayer over a dinner of Dominos, KFC, and "the always delicious" Taco Bell. After giving thanks for his wife's 94/100 ass, his two sons, Walker and Texas Ranger, his best friend Cal (John C. Reilly)—*fistbump* "shake and bake"—and his wife's father with an open leg wound that smells bad, the dinner table conversation turns to how people envision Jesus when they pray to him. Ricky Bobby prefers the Christmas Jesus, and thus: "Dear 8-pound, 6-ounce newborn infant Jesus, don't even know a word yet... just a lil infant... so cuddly, but still omnipotent. We just thank for you all the races I've won and the $21.2 million—Woo! Love that money!—that I have accrued over this season. Also, due to a binding endorsement contract that stipulates I mention Powerade at each grace, I just want to say that Powerade is delicious and it cools you off on a hot summer day and we look forward to Powerade's release of Mystic Mountain Blueberry. Thank you for all your power and grace, dear baby God. Amen." (Watch)
41. "Man, fuck Jesse Jackson!"
The Barbershop franchise is all talk. For over a decade, the series, which spawned two sequels, a spinoff starring Queen Latifah, and a short-lived Showtime comedy, chronicled the bustling activity and nonstop banter inside a Chicago hair-cutting establishment owned by Ice Cube's Calvin Palmer Jr. But Calvin often ceded the floor to Cedric The Entertainer's Eddie, a gray-haired, glasses-wearing barber with opinions on just about everything. In a pre-social-media world, Eddie's provocative comments in the movie, which included takes like "Fuck Jesse Jackson," "O.J. did it," and "Rosa Parks ain't do nothin' but sit her black ass down," managed to generate newspaper headlines, strongly worded letters to the studio, and even threats of a boycott from Reverend Al Sharpton. It's hard to think of many other comedies where the dialogue actually spilled out into the real world to this extent, prompting Jackson himself to pressure the studio to remove the offending lines about Civil Rights icons from the DVD. What's noteworthy about the actual scene is that almost everyone else in the shop at the time is already condemning Eddie's remarks, grumbling and booing in the background, and the Jackson line gets the biggest groans of all, showing "straight talk" like Eddie's always comes with a strong reaction. (Watch)
40. "Would it be all right if I showed the children the whoring bed?"
Nymphomaniac Part I (2014)
Danish bad-boy director Lars von Trier is not for everyone, and his two-part sex addiction epic Nymphomaniac is definitely not for everyone, but for those who dig his t-t-t-tWiStEd filmography, Nymphomaniac Part I contains the single greatest, most bizarre, most shocking line reading of all his movies. It occurs when Mrs. H (Uma Thurman, god tier) decides to bring herself and her children to visit her unfaithful husband and the young girl (the movie's protagonist, played here by Stacy Martin) he's sleeping with, touring around her apartment and commenting on all of her possessions. The whole exercise is designed to show her husband how his infidelity has ruined the lives of his family—an extremely, extremely, painfully awkward setup for a scene—and when she finally gets to the "whoring bed" line, your whole brain will just be full of exclamation points and nothing else. (Watch)
39. "I was perfect."
Black Swan (2010)
Few could have predicted that Darren Aronofsky's psychological ballet thriller would clean up at the box office, but damn did it ever, raking in $329 million against a budget of $13 million. Much of its popularity comes down to the chemistry (and the much-hyped sex scene) between Mila Kunis and Natalie Portman, with Portman in particular delivering a crazed, obsessive performance as Nina, a ballerina losing her grip on reality as she struggles to embody the Black and White Swan in Swan Lake. Aronofsky's films typically demonstrate his eye for an dazzling final shot (The Wrestler or Requiem for a Dream, for example), but there's no better way to end a movie about the hazards of perfectionism than with Portman's Nina bleeding, looking into the lights, and saying for once: "I was perfect." She's already speaking in the past tense, but that momentary feeling is all she's ever wanted. (Watch)
38. "That's a bingo."
Inglourious Basterds (2009)
Christoph Waltz's international starmaking turn as Colonel Hans Landa, an SS officer working in Nazi-occupied France, allows him to lay on his weasely, morally bankrupt charm throughout Quentin Tarantino's Inglourious Basterds, but he lands on this gem right at the moment World War II can be won by the Allies. While almost all of Waltz's screen time features zingers delivered in three languages, this is the line that reveals how truly empty his soul is: He's smart, and has no conscience. As he presents his offer to Brad Pitt's Aldo Raine and B.J. Novak's Smithson Utivich, the perpetually cheery colonel tries his hand at an American expression. The result is a malapropism that belies the utter seriousness of the moment, and is instantly memorable; the war will be over that night, but Landa happily practices his American English as he preps a clean exit for himself. Even though Aldo corrects him, Landa's version is what lives on from Inglourious Basterds. (Watch)
37. "Why are you wearing that stupid man suit?"
Donnie Darko (2001)
Richard Kelly's dorm-room-poster of a movie, filled with stoner-logic time-travel shenanigans and enough adolescent angst to fill a heated LiveJournal entry, has a handful of lines that pop off the screen: "I'm voting for Dukakis;" "Smurfette doesn't fuck;" and "Sometimes I doubt your commitment to Sparkle Motion" were all named as possible candidates for this list. Kelly's ear for teenage vulgarity and suburban absurdity remains the movie's secret weapon, the aspect that keeps it from devolving into overwrought science-fiction mumbo-jumbo and messianic self-pity. (His less widely celebrated follow-up, Southland Tales, has a handful of memorable smart-ass one-liners too.) But the "stupid man suit" question posed by Frank the Rabbit to Jake Gyllenhaal's moody hero Donnie during a Halloween screening of Evil Dead boils down the movie's cult appeal into a single utterance. Genre films are always attempting to peel back layers of reality, pushing at the boundaries of consciousness and the limits of the body, and Frank, menacing and ridiculous in his voice-modulating bunny suit, was a fitting spokesman for the "whoa"-seeking philosophy Kelly was peddling. (Watch)
36. "I know that babies taste the best."
This one requires a spoiler alert. When Chris Evans, face dirtied, utters this line in Bong Joon-ho's Snowpiercer, a thriller about a class uprising on a train containing the last of civilization circling the globe, it's a total shock. Evans' hero, Curtis, has fought his way through most of the train before he makes the confession that, in the early days of this apocalypse, the poorest citizens were deprived of food and resorted to eating one another. Curtis is a tortured soul because he knows what people taste like, and, by extension, he knows that "babies taste best." The admission is dramatic and absurdist all at once, perfectly capturing the bizarre tone of Bong's film, which is both gritty and features Tilda Swinton in fake teeth. (Watch)
35. "Honey? Where's my super suit?"
The Incredibles (2004)
It's unlikely that Brad Bird and his cohorts knew that this was the one scene from The Incredibles that would go down in history as one of the best, funniest movie scenes of all time. It's mostly thanks to Samuel L. Jackson, who plays icy superhero Frozone, and Pixar employee Kimberly Adair Clark as his wife, who, in the movies, always appears as a voice. The two bicker about Frozone's missing suit, his wife telling him that, no, he shouldn't go off and save the city from a giant rampaging robot because they have a date planned. The scene has inspired many covers and cursed remixes, but perhaps the best thing it gave us was an instant knee-jerk response any time someone in the room says "HONEYYYYY?" All together now: WHERE. IS. MY. SUPER. SUIT. (Watch)
34. "What is this? A center for ants?"
It's difficult to overstate the influence Zoolander has had on comedy in the 21st century. The absurd concept, the over-the-top characters, the jam-packed script of lines designed to be repeated for months and years after audiences leave the theater. Plenty of quotes have taken up residence in standard pop-culture references: "Really, really, really, ridiculously good-looking," "So hot right now," "I think I'm getting the black lung, Pop," "Moisture is the essence of wetness," etc., and countless others. But the most iconic of all comes when Mugatu (Will Ferrell) reveals a scale model of the Derek Zoolander Center for Kids Who Can't Read Good and Who Wanna Learn to Do Other Stuff Good Too. Zoolander (Ben Stiller) is outraged, and his timing in this scene—destroying the model, standing expectantly, then asking his rhetorical line—makes the quote stand out. More than Blue Steel or Magnum, the "center for ants" quote defines Derek Zoolander… and countless others trying to be just as funny upon encountering a small-scale model of a large object. (Watch)
33. "Meet me in Montauk."
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)
Whispered by Kate Winslet's Clementine in the midst of a collapsing house and a disappearing memory, "Meet me in Montauk" is a last-ditch rescue attempt, a verbal Hail Mary tossed into the void before the clock runs out. Of all the clever dialogue in Charlie Kaufman's Oscar-winning script, which he penned during a wildly productive burst of creativity in the early '00s, it's this earnest request that hits home the hardest, evoking a dream of a shared life and a chance at romantic redemption. Even after all the pain and heartbreak, you still want to see Clementine and Joel find each other and get another shot at reconstructing their relationship. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind understands that basic yearning for hope and connection. Unsurprisingly, the line has inspired fans to travel to Montauk itself for trips and special screenings—perhaps discovering their own fractured love stories along the way. (Watch)
32. "It's the fucking Catalina Wine Mixer."
Step Brothers (2008)
Like the previous Adam McKay and Will Ferrell collaborations Anchorman and Talladega Nights, Step Brothers is a movie filled with incredibly funny lines, but this time the two writers were freed up by the movie's R-rating to chase some of their most bizarre, vulgar ideas. (That's part of why the famous but squeaky-clean trailer line "Did we just become best friends?" didn't feel like the right pick here.) How did "the biggest helicopter leasing event in the Western hemisphere since 1997" come to mean so much to the movie's fans? "It's the fucking Catalina Wine Mixer," is said by both Adam Scott's super-slimy jerk Derek and Richard Jenkins's dinosaur-loving patriarch Robert after John C. Reilly and Will Ferrell save the day with their ridiculous musical performance at the event. In the years following the movie's release, the line has become a celebratory shorthand and a way of life: The New Orleans Saints said it in the locker room after they won the Super Bowl in 2010, and it's also now a real event you can attend in California. As you'd imagine, McKay has expressed some ambivalence about the phenomenon, saying in a recent interview, "When you see the people who you're kind of making fun of embrace it, it's both hilarious, and at the same time, dispiriting." So, if you see the guy on the street, maybe don't yell it at him. (Watch)
31. "Rock stars have kidnapped my son!"
Almost Famous (2000)
Cameron Crowe's semi-autobiographical screenplay about a 15-year-old writer embedded with rising stars in the heyday of '70s rock is basically a sacred text for various groups: Journalists, musicians, and the proverbial "uncool." You could pick a moment of quintessential rock douchebaggery: Russell Hammond, high on acid and about to jump off a roof, proclaiming, "I am a golden god." Or Lester Bangs' career advice: "You cannot make friends of the rock stars." But we're going with a curveball. Frances McDormand's performance as William Miller's exasperated mother is borderline underrated given that it's perhaps the least glamorous of the entire film. But all you need to do is watch her stop a lecture to declare, "Rock stars have kidnapped my son," to see what power she has. It's not Crowe's most poetic line, but it's one of his funniest. (Watch)
30. "Not quite my tempo."
J.K. Simmons' ruthless jazz conductor Terence Fletcher seethes variations of "not my tempo" throughout Whiplash, but the scene where he grills Miles Teller's first-year drummer Andrew Neiman if he's rushing or dragging behind the kit while rehearsing the title track, "Whiplash," is the movie's most iconic instance. Anyone who's played in school bands can relate on some level to Fletcher's sociopathic motivational techniques designed to frighten his conservatory kids into nailing their repertoire—a drummer friend who put himself through music school and now teaches lessons relayed a story about a professor who would notoriously curse out freshman who showed up to rehearsal unprepared. Watching Simmons embody one of those types of band leaders is both exhilarating and horrifying. Am I laughing because this scene is funny, or am I laughing because I'm scared?? Either way, it's effective. (Watch)
Cast Away (2000)
For a long time, any beach-, summer-, or water-related activity was likely punctuated with your loudest friend shouting, "Wilson!" The still-recognizable bit from Robert Zemeckis' Cast Away is the survival epic's most unforgettable scene: the slow disappearance of Chuck Noland's (Tom Hanks) sole friend, a volleyball named Wilson. Largely because he is a volleyball with a bloody handprint for a face, the scene and Hanks' dramatic pleas became instantly memorable… and, for better or worse, the subject of many spoofs, despite the film's critical acclaim. In context, though, it gets at the raw emotion of the human need for companionship, one of the essential drives that makes us human. Hanks moves from desperation and sorrow to sheer guilt ("I'm sorry, Wilson!") and grief, which is part of what helped garner Hanks a Best Actor nomination at the 2001 Academy Awards. It may be just a funny line in retrospect, but nobody else can emote over a volleyball like Hanks. Wilson's death goes down in one of cinema's most tragic, and we mourn him just the same. (Watch)
28. "Now you're in the sunken place."
Get Out (2017)
"Yo, this is iconic," director and Oscar-winning screenwriter Jordan Peele told Daniel Kaluuya before shooting the scene in Get Out where Catherine Keener's eerie hypnotist Missy sends Kaluuya's Chris to the sunken place. Peele was absolutely right: It's more than the line Missy says to Chris as his consciousness sinks further away from his paralyzed body. Much like the movie itself, it's a metaphor about race dynamics in America and representation in horror films that's been picked apart (and memed) many times over. Chris's total loss of agency at the hands of a malicious white woman is a clear analog to the systems of oppression that have existed in this country since forever. It's far from the first dissection of this insidious societal mechanism on film—but it's definitely the scariest, most jarring depiction we can think of. (Watch)
27. "Why so serious?"
The Dark Knight (2008)
Heath Ledger's Joker is undoubtedly the most chilling superhero villain ever put on the silver screen, and most of his menace comes from his lack of backstory, motivation, or anything that usually humanizes a villain just enough to impart a smidgen of empathy on the audience. The Joker, by contrast, is a total blank, delighting in making up stories about his horrific facial scars. The most memorable, whispered to a group of gangsters in a pool hall, involves his drunkard father carving up his face with a kitchen knife, laughing while repeating to him, "Why so serious?" It became a needling catchphrase of sorts, emblazoned on bumper stickers and Hot Topic T-shirts, the Joker constantly testing how far people will go to save themselves. Why so serious, when bringing out the worst in humanity can be so hilarious? (Watch)
26. "Difficult difficult lemon difficult."
In the Loop (2009)
Before Armando Iannucci was scripting some of the most wonderfully cruel dialogue on television for his Veep, he made In the Loop, a film spinoff of his British series The Thick of It, starring Peter Capaldi as the gloriously profane director of communications Malcolm Tucker. Like Veep, In the Loop is concerned with cogs in the political wheels of both Britain and America. At one point, the hapless Secretary of State for International Development Simon Foster (Tom Hollander) gets himself an invite to the Future Planning committee in Washington and encourages his underling Toby Wright (Chris Addison) to leave the room and gather information. "It'll be easy peasy lemon squeezy," Simon says. To which Toby responds: "No, it won't, it will be 'difficult difficult lemon difficult.'" The nonsensical phrase "difficult difficult lemon difficult" took off online (where people have a love for nonsensical phrases), continuing on its second life as an ideal expression of exasperation independent of the movie. (Watch)
25. "I won't say it for Little Baby Ears over there, but it rhymes with 'smushmortion.'"
Knocked Up (2007)
In a far earlier era of blogging—2007!—the "smushbortion" line delivered by Jonah Hill while Seth Rogen's Ben rips a bong during Knocked Up was a study in primitive backlash virality, the internet's unique superpower. It was picked apart by writers on sites like The Atlantic, Slate, and The Guardian. "The a-word," as Jay Baruchel calls it, was effectively banned from Judd Apatow's second major directorial blockbuster from the mid-2000s, and critics read into that: Is Apatow a pro-life filmmaker? Probably not, if his current politics are any indication of his past. Back in pre-woke pop culture, it was just a satirical scene where an adult friend group of immature straight white dudes try, without appropriate language or informed politics, to talk about what to do when your bro knocks up a lady, thus begetting a hilariously backwards and stupid conversation. (Watch)
24. "Is this your king?"
Black Panther (2018)
"Wakanda Forever" is Black Panther's catchphrase, but "Is this your king?" is its crowning moment. Among the myriad reasons that Black Panther stood apart in the crowded superhero field was the characterization of its villain, Michael B. Jordan's Erik Killmonger. Killmonger is no one-dimensional bad guy. He's a man filled with justifiable resentment, who calls Wakanda out for its isolationist stance that allows black citizens of other countries like the US to suffer. So when he defeats T'Challa (Chadwick Boseman) in combat and shouts, "Is this your king?" at the shocked crowd, it's fair to have true doubts about the ostensible hero. "Is this your king?" is easily slotted into any number of memes, but its staying power is the result of Killmonger's status as one of the best antagonists to grace the screen in recent years. (Watch)
23. "If you're a bird, I'm a bird."
The Notebook (2004)
You'd be hard-pressed to find a cheesier, more pandering love story than The Notebook, based on the Nicholas Sparks novel of the same name, but just try to watch Rachel McAdams and Ryan Gosling fall in love without the icy protective shell around your heart melting just a little bit. It's the movie that created the "Hey Girl" Gosling image years before there was a "Hey Girl" meme. It gave fans a real-life Gosling-McAdams relationship. Like Love Actually, it gave couples lines to say to each other when their own feelings let them down. As McAdams and Gosling play and tease each other in the water, talking about reincarnation and feeling the exhilarating intoxication of new love, you just crave that killer romantic line that will make everything right in the world. Allie (McAdams) demands Noah (Gosling) call him a bird; Noah obliges. Everyone swoons, and Gosling enters movie quote history. (Watch)
22. "I am Shiva, the god of death."
Michael Clayton (2007)
Charting the machinations of a high-powered law firm fixer involved in a giant agrochemical cover-up, Michael Clayton is about as intense as thrillers come—but no scene is as intense as Clayton's conversation with one of his firm's attorneys (Tom Wilkinson) who is in the midst of a mental breakdown, having realized that he's helped to engineer said cover-up, which has exposed people to known carcinogens. Wilkinson's Arthur Eden, who's known to have manic episodes, rejects Clayton's pleas to start taking his medication again, and instead paces the floor and confessing his guilt. The scene peaks with appropriate self-aggrandizement when Arthur compares himself to the Hindu god of destruction, given how many innocent people he's allowed to die. (Watch)
21. "I'm gonna steal the Declaration of Independence."
National Treasure (2004)
Benjamin Franklin Gates has the greatest respect for our historical institutions, which is why it's so difficult for him to imagine ever committing a crime in one of them. After a long, inspiring speech about having the responsibility to take action when you know you need to do something right, Nicolas Cage pronounces one of the most famous lines in film history. It's a great scene, charting a character's decision to do something he knows is wrong for the pursuit of what is right… and it's also a hilariously melodramatic line in a very fun, exciting movie based on a bizarre idea. Since the movie opened, this line has been memed over and over again, so relentlessly that it reappeared again in National Treasure 2: "I'm going to kidnap the President of the United States." Sometimes, you gotta do what has to be done. Sometimes, you gotta steal the Declaration of Independence. (Watch)
20. "You shall not pass!"
The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001)
Ian McKellen became a badass in old age thanks to his roles as both Magneto in the X-Men franchise and Gandalf the Grey/White in the Lord of the Rings trilogy. In the latter, he's constantly defying expectations: His Gandalf is alternately goofy, sly, and terrifying. But when he faces off against the Balrog in The Fellowship of the Ring, he's just absurdly cool. "You shall not pass" is a feat of delivery, as it's McKellen's booming voice that makes a stand against the creature more than anything else. Listening to him, the room shakes. (Watch)
19. "If anyone orders merlot, I'm leaving. I am not drinking any fucking merlot!"
"The Sideways Effect" is real: After the 2004 movie came out, in which Paul Giamatti's wine snobby writer Miles Raymond famously loves pinot noirs and infamously hates merlots because his ex-wife drank them, the sales for each wine skyrocketed and plummeted, respectively. (For better or worse, merlot is back on the uptick.) There's a clear line from the hearty red's decline to a specific scene between Miles and his gross friend Jack before they head into an important dinner. Jack asks Miles to behave himself, and drink the merlot if their guests order it, to which Giamatti cannot contain himself in good conscience: "If anyone orders merlot, I'm leaving. I am NOT DRINKING any FUCKING merlot!" "You know, it was just a joke," director Alexander Payne told USA Today on the movie's 10th anniversary about Miles' outburst. "But it sort of became the equivalent of 1934's It Happened One Night, when Clark Gable removed his shirt to reveal no undershirt. Reportedly sales of undershirts plummeted. I never would have predicted this film would hit the zeitgeist." (Watch)
18. "But what I do have are a very particular set of skills, skills I have acquired over a very long career, skills that make me a nightmare for people like you."
We published an homage to the speech containing this quote, so perhaps you should peruse that for full context—including how it's usually misquoted—and appreciation. Suffice to say that this phone speech effectively launched Liam Neeson's second career as an older action star (and, somehow, several iterations of Taken), and made "a very particular set of skills" one of the most oft-quoted phrases of the century. (Watch)
17. "Look at me. Look at me. I am the captain now."
Captain Phillips (2013)
It's the soft menace and iron-hard gaze of Barkhad Abdi (then in his first-ever film role) that gives one of his opening lines its simple terror. After hijacking the merchant mariner Maersk Alabama, he holds its captain, played by Tom Hanks, at gunpoint, explaining the situation in the simplest possible terms. He's the captain now. That's it. The scene has, naturally, been memed so much that now all you really have to do is post the screenshot of Abdi's face with no text, and everyone in that Twitter thread explaining why letting your cats roam outside is a bad idea will know that you can take it from here, thanks. In a display of novice genius, Abdi ad-libbed this line in the moment, using the pirate instincts of his character to seize control of the scene. (Watch)
16. "Baby, you are gonna miss that plane."
Before Sunset (2004)
It's rare to find a beautiful piece of dialogue in 2019 that has not been co-opted into some sort of meme, but the line that nearly closes out the middle part of Richard Linklater, Ethan Hawke, and Julie Delpy's trilogy about two overly articulate people falling for one another defies that tendency. It is, quite simply, a perfect and devastatingly sexy way to end a movie, evoking classic moments like Shirley MacLaine's "shut up and deal" from The Apartment. Hawke's Jesse and Delpy's Céline have spent a magical day in Paris arguing and flirting with one another when they arrive back at her apartment and she puts on Nina Simone. He's supposed to go back to America to be with his wife and kid, but instead settles in and watches her dance. She looks at him, doing a quasi-impression of Simone: "Baby, you are going to miss that plane," she coos. "I know," he says. They laugh as the scene fades to black, their fate, for now, unknown. While all of the Before movies are scripted in a joint effort by Hawke, Delpy, and Linklater, Delpy takes credit for this specific moment. "Without telling them I kind of acted out the scene," she said in an interview. "I knew Richard would like it. And Ethan, too. And they did." (Watch)
15. "My wife!"
The thing about the "My wife!" quote as it's now repeated—very loudly, pronounced in an unidentifiable regional inflection to turn it into a nasally "Mah wahhhf!"—is that Sacha Baron Cohen never says it in Borat the way the general public says it. He does, technically, utter the words "my wife" several times in his fake Kazakhstani accent, but if you'd only heard the repetitions of it before seeing the movie, you'd think he shouted it at the beach in his unconventional lime green bathing garment. Such is the power of Borat's various references to his wife, which have transcended both the movie and Da Ali G Show to continue influencing pop culture in 2019. Even The New Yorker published an entire column about the evolution of the term in an online context, and how the wife as a concept has become inherently funny. The piece begins by pointing to Borat as a possible origin. It doesn't get much more influential than that, and barring any irreconcilable differences, we're bound to "My wife!" for the foreseeable future. (Watch)
14. "Are you not entertained?"
After contemptuously taking out a gang of burly fighters with a few swings of his sword, gladiator Maximus Decimus Meridius (Russell Crowe), a Spanish general enslaved following the betrayal of the evil Commodus against his family and his emperor, lobs a blade into the stands. "Are you not entertained?" he shouts into the crowd when they scream at the hint of real danger. "Is this not why you are here?" His brazen disrespect for authority and skill in the ring cause him to become, of all things, a favorite of the people, leading him finally to Rome and the possibility of revenge. "Spaniard," they all chant, as he spits on the ground and strides away. Quoting Gladiator quickly became a pop-cultural signifier of annoyingness, but over the course of the next two decades, "Are you not entertained?" evolved into an enduringly funny meme. (Watch)
13. "You sit on a throne of lies."
Buddy the Elf is a righteous man-child. During his travels to New York over the course of Elf, the Christmas comedy that turned Will Ferrell into a family-friendly movie star, he reserves his scorn, his judgment, and his condemnation for those who lack the proper reverence for holiday cheer. When he sees a "fake" Santa at the mall, played with the right degree of roughness by comedian Artie Lange, Buddy can't help but call out the counterfeit Kris Kringle with lines like "you disgust me," "you stink," and "how can you live with yourself?" But "you sit on a throne of lies" is the one that's lingered in the public consciousness, becoming a popular audio clip on the site YTMND (see #57) and turning into a meme you can use to accuse any wrongdoer of playing fast and loose with the truth. When the phrase is invoked, you're not just calling someone a liar; you're saying they've constructed a self-serving power structure based around total deception. In his role as Yuletide ombudsman, Buddy spoke truth to power. (Watch)
12. "Wouldst thou like to live deliciously?"
The VVitch (2016)
Robert Eggers' debut feature plunged its audience into the paranoia of 17th century New England by using actual language from that period. The script is full of antiquated phrasing that in turn makes the story of a family torn apart by suspicion and actual witchery all the more terrifying. But no phrase is more giddily unnerving than Black Phillip's offer to the teen Thomasin as the movie approaches its conclusion. The rest of her family has been ripped apart by the malevolent force pervading the woods, and she, bloodied, starts to commune with the Satanic goat. In a low voice he asks, "Wouldst thou like to live deliciously?" It's so simple and tempting, just like the devil himself. Thomasin is ready to give herself over. (Watch)
11. "Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people just don't shoot their husbands, they just don't."
Legally Blonde (2001)
Something people forget: Before Legally Blonde was 2001's movie of the summer and everyone was bending and snapping, there was a manuscript floating around, written by Stanford Law dropout Amanda Brown, about a stereotypical blonde from LA entering the cutthroat world of Stanford Law School to get her boyfriend back. Screenwriting partners Karen McCullah and Kirsten "Kiwi" Smith, the duo responsible for the 10 Things I Hate About You script and the 2020 sequel Legally Blonde 3, took the novel, subbing in the chilly east coast Harvard Law for Stanford to up the fish-out-of-water juxtaposition, and blew up its premise into an early aughts cultural touchpoint. The opening song was everywhere, and for certain demographics—i.e. teen girls—you couldn't have a conversation without dropping a quote from the movie, which is indeed extremely quotable. Reese Witherspoon's Elle Woods has many of the best lines, but none surpasses her defense of alleged husband murderer Brooke Taylor Windham, delivered in the first meeting of her law internship. Between Witherspoon's perfect delivery, her "aw, shucks" facial contortions, and the context of her speaking up about a case that seems cut-and-dried to everyone else, the "happy people don't kill their husbands" line perfectly sums up Elle Woods: unafraid and unapologetically herself in any situation, combined with an intuitive understanding of the law. (Watch)
10. "You're tearing me apart, Lisa!"
The Room (2003)
No piece of outsider art has had a bigger impact on film than Tommy Wiseau's masterpiece, which began as the fever dream of an obscure, fame-obsessed, inexplicably wealthy European of uncertain provenance and became the Rocky Horror Picture Show of the 21st century. No one will tell you the script is great, but in its complete lack of regard for narrative structure, common sense, and how humans interact, it achieves a brilliance that continues to draw audiences to theaters, footballs in tow. Just take a look at the few lines of dialogue surrounding Wiseau-as-Johnny's most famous line, which is cribbed from James Dean's Rebel Without a Cause:
JOHNNY: Why Lisa, why Lisa? Please talk to me, please! You're part of my life, you are everything, I could not go on without you, Lisa.
LISA: You're scaring me. [Stands up.]
JOHNNY: You're lying, I never hit you. You are tearing me apart, Lisa!
LISA: Why are you so hysterical?
JOHNNY: Do you understand life? Do you?
LISA: [Walking away] Don't worry about it. Everything will be alright.
One thing's for sure: Neither Lisa nor Johnny understands life, but in their ignorance they have stumbled on an eternal truth. (Watch)
9. "I'm a fiend for mojitos."
Miami Vice (2006)
The hardened career criminals and weary law enforcement officers of director Michael Mann's epic crime sagas often speak in clipped, coded language that reveals character through small details. Think of James Caan declaring "I was state-raised and this is a dead place" to a snooty administrator at an adoption agency in 1981's Thief. Think of Robert De Niro sneering, "You must've worked some dipshit crews" to Al Pacino across the dinner table in 1995's Heat. Mann's work in the last 19 years is filled with similar bits of verbal firepower—"Yo homie, is that my briefcase?" from 2004's hitman neo-noir Collateral almost made this list—but no quote has the same sleazy-yet-suave quality as a greasy-haired Colin Farrell telling Gong Li, "I'm a fiend for mojitos" in 2006's Miami Vice, a beautiful digital blur of a movie that's only become more celebrated since its release. What's so special about this relatively obscure line? In its mix of tough-guy swagger and unapologetic cheese, it perfectly crystalizes the appeal of this ultra-tense, visually striking remake of the '80s television series. Maybe you laugh. Maybe you shake your head. Maybe you nod in recognition. No matter what, you know Sonny Crockett is a fiend for mojitos. (Watch)
8. "Boy, that escalated quickly."
Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy (2004)
Will Ferrell was already a star by 2004, but his film roles to that point had mostly been secondary characters, a la Old School's Frank the Tank. Between Elf and Anchorman, Ferrell shot to superstardom, and Ron Burgundy became the legend the full title of the movie promised thanks to a string of one-liners and quotes that have been well worn in the 15 years since its release. There's "60% of the time, it works every time." There's "I'm in a glass case of emotion!" There's "I love scotch. Scotchy scotch scotch." There's "Milk was a bad choice!" There's "I'm kind of a big deal." And so many more. While many of these quotes made their way into everyday speech, the most universally applicable—and the one that turned into a meme around 2012—comes right after the giant fight between all the rival news teams, a fight that ratchets up from knives and threats to tridents and death very, well, quickly. It's the kind of quote that can apply to any situation that spirals out of control: A night out drinking, a work meeting, a family reunion, a Twitter exchange. In a world that changes constantly and continues to increase the speed of our lives, "Boy, that escalated quickly" has only become more relevant, if kinda annoying, over the years. (Watch)
7. "King Kong ain't got shit on me!"
Training Day (2001)
Is there anything better than watching Denzel Washington go off? After a career playing good guys, Denzel broke bad and found that playing a crooked cop suited him as well as playing a civil rights leader, a lawyer, or an officer in the military. It suited him so well, in fact, that his most famous line, which comes in a crazed speech as the paper-thin empire Washington's Alonzo has built crumbles around him, was an improvisation made up on the spot. In an interview from 2001, Washington said, "Almost that whole last scene where I'm screaming at everybody, I made it up... [Director] Antoine [Fuqua] encouraged me. He said, 'Man, some of this stuff you make up is the best stuff.' So, we would just flow with it. Like when I came up with that 'King Kong' line, I don't know where that came from. I was just riffing. I just think it was his ego." Like so many great movie quotes in history, a flash of genius enters this one into the canon, and it earned Washington a Best Actor Oscar along the way. Hey, if you make up one of the century's best movie quotes in the heat of the moment, it's the least the Academy can do for you. (Watch)
6. "I live my life a quarter mile at a time."
The Fast and the Furious (2001)
It's easy to forget that the Fast and the Furious series, the box-office dominating behemoth that's spawned seven sequels and a spinoff coming this summer, was based on an article about underground street racing in Vibe magazine. The Rob Cohen-directed original was built around a cast of relatively unknown young actors, featured a plot that was widely seen as a Point Break ripoff, and swiped its title from a Roger Corman B-movie from 1955. These movies had a humble beginning, and there was no grand plan. You might even say the series has lived its life a quarter mile at a time—just like Dom Toretto, the racing guru and family leader played by the heart and soul of the franchise, Vin Diesel. Nearly two decades later, it's hard to remember that the actual monologue that this bumper-sticker-ready, live-life-to-the-fullest quote comes from is incredibly bleak: Dom tells Paul Walker's blonde-haired undercover FBI agent Brian O'Conner a haunting story about how he "watched his dad burn to death" in a racing accident and remembers "hearing him scream." If that wasn't heavy enough, Toretto then says he nearly beat the man who caused his father's crash to death with a wrench. Dom's "quarter mile at a time" philosophy isn't a hedonistic creed or an inspirational TED Talk-ready bromide. It's an acknowledgment of the death drive by a broken man. (Watch)
5. "A million dollars isn't cool. You know what's cool?"
The Social Network (2010)
It's almost hard to overstate what a small miracle The Social Network script is. Aaron Sorkin and David Fincher turned the tale of Facebook's invention into a thrilling drama full of vindictive 6'5" twins and vengeful nerds. To do this, Sorkin perhaps embellished a bit. Take, for instance, this quote, which is one of many we could have included, but is the bit that most embodies this snappy depiction of greed during the internet boom. It's often misquoted. In the choral "Creep" trailer, Justin Timberlake as Sean Parker says it in full: "A million dollars isn't cool. You know what's cool? A billion dollars." But Timberlake's Sean never actually says "a billion dollars." Eduardo Saverin (Andrew Garfield) does, fed up with the bullshit the Napster founder is feeding Mark Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg). The real Sean Parker did not like his characterization or this specific line of dialogue. “Being a countercultural revolutionary is cool," Parker told the Financial Times. "So to the extent that you’ve made a billion dollars, you’ve probably become uncool.” Whether you're buying what the real life Parker is selling or not, at this point it almost feels like the smaller inaccuracies don't matter. The more Facebook's scandals pile up, the more it feels like Sorkin got to some internal truth about the company and the way it's run. So much so that the writer has publicly floated the idea of a sequel. (Watch)
4. "She doesn't even go here!"
Mean Girls (2004)
Maybe you're whining, thinking that "Stop trying to make fetch happen" is the more iconic Mean Girls quote, but listen: if you "have a lot of feelings," we have no time for you. Damian Leigh (Daniel Franzese) is the only one who will call out the random "Crying Girl" during the assembly in Mean Girls, when all the girls are tasked with writing apology notes to one another after Regina George's "Burn Book" goes public. It is, of course, extra funny that the entire time his towering frame is dressed in a giant light blue hoodie and dark sunglasses, as if those will disguise him in an all-girls assembly. Hey, he and Janis go everywhere together, where else was he supposed to be? Part of what makes this quote so funny is his nubby silhouette rising from the crowd of girls (perfect for screencapping and pasting on T-shirts and mugs and office desktop computers), then subtly covering his face with a graceful hand. (Watch)
3. "I wish I knew how to quit you."
Brokeback Mountain (2005)
Heath Ledger hated the homophobic memes. "He was extraordinarily serious about the political issues surrounding the movie when it came out,” Jake Gyllenhaal told Out for a 10th anniversary oral history of Ang Lee's romance classic. “A lot of times people would want to have fun and joke about it, and he was vehement about being serious, to the point where he didn’t really want to hear about anything that was being made fun of." It makes sense: The mainstream "gay panic" humor of the '00s was so prevalent that The New York Times devoted a whole article to Brokeback parodies in 2006, highlighting the popular trailer mashups on "curatorial video sites—including youtube.com, gorillamask.net, and dailysixer.com." Clips with wink-wink, pun-y titles like "Brokeback to the Future" could go viral by suggesting that Doc Brown and Marty McFly were actually lovers, playing on viewer expectations with mildly clever editing and music cues, and treating lines from Lee's movie as punchlines.
But as the spoofs have faded from the collective memory, picking up dust in YouTube's digital vault, the film, along with its most famous scene, has only grown in power. While Ledger's performance was the most celebrated at the time, earning the heartthrob a Best Actor nomination while his co-star was relegated to the Supporting Actor category at the Oscars, Gyllenhaal is the one who delivers the heart-breaking line, which first appeared in the short story by Annie Proulx on which the film is based. In fact, the script by Diana Ossana and Larry McMurtry grabs most of Jack Twist's yearning monologue, delivered with the titular mountain in the background, from Proulx's text. His emotional confession reaches its conclusion with "I wish I knew how to quit you," an admission of unfulfilled desire and unspeakable anger that's so raw it can only be said while the two stoic, wounded cowboys are facing away from each other. In her story, Proulx ends the scene with a stark, tragic description: "Nothing ended, nothing begun, nothing resolved." (Watch)
2. "Florals? For spring? Groundbreaking."
The Devil Wears Prada (2006)
Sometimes culture eats itself. The book The Devil Wears Prada was inspired by author Lauren Weisberger's time working at Vogue alongside the notorious editor Anna Wintour. In 2006, the film adaptation, written by Aline Brosh McKenna, hit the screens starring Meryl Streep as Miranda Priestly, the ice-cold Wintour stand-in. Now, Streep-as-Priestly is getting quoted in Wintour's publication. You see, Rita Ora can make "florals for spring" actually groundbreaking, according to at least one writer. McKenna—best known for her work on Crazy Ex-Girlfriend—told Thrillist that Miranda's slyly brutal takedown of a fashion cliché was not in the initial draft. "One of the fun things about working on this movie was it was just so fun to write those dry insults," she reminisced. "I truly honestly could have done that all day." Miranda throws out many such remarks, but it's "Florals? For Spring?" that sticks. She drops it at a pitch meeting. No one is pleasing her and an eager underling mentions that a lot of designers are adding flower-themes into their collections. Miranda is having none of that hackneyed crap. Streep delivers the line with the straightest face that ever existed, a little cock of her head at the end to put a fine point on the evisceration she just enacted. The truth is: There will always be florals for spring, and they will never be groundbreaking. (Watch)
1. "I drink your milkshake."
There Will Be Blood (2007)
The fervor around "I drink your milkshake" was immediate following the release of Paul Thomas Anderson's oil man epic There Will Be Blood. It was almost instantly canonized, though it's not the actual kicker of the film: That would be Daniel Plainview's plaintive "I'm finished." But the milkshake line comes during the furious climax, featuring an unhinged, bellowing Daniel Day-Lewis spewing mind-blowing anger while facing off against Paul Dano's sniffling preacher Eli Sunday. Daniel, raging, lays waste to Eli, first verbally, then beats him to death with a bowling pin. It's early capitalism gone awry, cutthroat instincts turned deadly. After he says he'll drink Eli's milkshake, Daniel slurps viciously, a disgusting period on a memorable threat. Anderson admitted that he cribbed the "milkshake" line from congressional hearings on the Teapot Dome Scandal involving Edward Doheny, an oil tycoon who served as inspiration for Plainview and the Upton Sinclair novel on which Anderson was riffing. The story goes that New Mexico Senator Albert Fall, accused and ultimately convicted of taking bribes, said during the 1924 hearings, "Sir, if you have a milkshake and I have a milkshake and my straw reaches across the room, I'll end up drinking your milkshake." Anderson told USA Today at the time: "I just took this insane concept and used it."
Despite the line's current status, it wasn't a given that audiences would be on board for the analogy. The film's editor Dylan Tichenor recently told Vanity Fair: "The milkshake line—I think everyone cocked their head and laughed when they read it, like, 'What?'" But it's the "what?" of it that makes it outstanding, combined with the specific historical weirdness. Anderson's writing has always been rooted in comedy even when the larger narrative is geared toward high tragedy. And, of course, it would be absolutely nothing without the full muscle of Day-Lewis skills behind it. Before There Will Be Blood, milkshakes were happily nostalgic treats. After, they were forever emblems of a man who has lost his mind. (Watch)
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Writers: Sadie Bell, Leanne Butkovic, Dan Jackson, Anthony Schneck, Emma Stefansky, Esther Zuckerman
Production: Sadie Bell, Paul Pierre-Louis
Design Director: Ted McGrath
Graphic Designer: Frannie Jiranek