A greatly written movie monologue can propel a film up through the ranks of cinematic history. If performed just right, they can become cultural moments that make a movie worthy of a few rewatches. You know one when you see one; It's that moment when a character drops resonant bar after bar. You might laugh, cry, or sit back and say to yourself, "Damn, I never thought about it like that." Don't get us wrong — great style and cinematography can make a film a thrill to watch. But writing is the glue that holds everything together.
In no particular order, we are going to take a look at some of our favorite movie speeches. These gems celebrate the underappreciated art of good film writing while highlighting memorable acting performances.
Here are some of the best movie monologues.
20. American Psycho - "Morning Routine"
Memorable Lines: "And though I can hide my cold gaze and you can shake my hand and feel flesh gripping yours, and maybe you can even sense our lifestyles are probably comparable, I simply am not there."
Christian Bale's stylish portrayal of Patrick Bateman is considered to be one of his most iconic performances. Occasionally campy, parts of American Psycho are unintentionally funny (the business card scene comes to mind). However, on the other end of the spectrum, we get genuinely unsettling scenes. In the opening of the movie, we get an extended emotionless expositional introduction to the protagonist. The scene famously concludes with Bateman removing a translucent exfoliating mask as he stares blankly into the mirror, as if he's peeling off his own face. American Psycho has been referenced a lot in pop culture; We're looking at you, Slowthai and Skepta. Also, Yeezus?
19. Queen & Slim- "What Do You Want?"
Memorable Lines: "I just want someone that's always going to love me. No matter what. Someone that's going to hold my hand and never let it go. But she got to be special though. Because she going to be my legacy."
Queen & Slim is not a modern-day twist on Bonnie and Clyde. This vibrant Black narrative stands on its own in a setting that is uncomfortably close to our reality. The Melina Matsoukas and Lena Waithe film has both overt and underlying commentary about Black relationships and Black people's relationship with America. The tale of two doomed Black lovers on the run features an unbridled performance by Jodie Turner-Smith and Daniel Kaluuya. Queen, played by Turner-Smith, and Slim, played by Kaluuya, are not feeling each other early on in the story. Yet, amid a looming threat, these two leading characters fall deeply in love with each other. As they open up, we get some of the most poetic movie monologues we have seen in recent years. The "What do you want?" scene has to be our favorite.
18. Star Wars Episode V - "I Am Your Father"
Memorable Lines: "If you only knew the power of the Dark Side."
This is how you subvert the audience's expectations. How could Luke Skywalker be related to this evil space wizard? Will the pure-hearted Luke eventually fall to the same fate? All these questions (and more) raced through fans' minds at the conclusion of The Empire Strikes Back. The darker sequel to A New Hope is considered one of the better films in the multi-billion-dollar franchise. Much of that can be chalked up to the big Darth Vader reveal. Yes, the, "No, I am your father" line has been memed to death in pop culture, but it was a twist that no one saw coming. We wonder what Taika Waititi has in store for the Star Wars universe?
17. Whiplash - "Break Up"
Memorable Lines: "And really, I'm gonna start to resent you for even asking me to stop drumming. And we're just gonna start to hate each other. And it's gonna get very... It's gonna be ugly. And so for those reasons, I'd rather just, you know, break it off clean... because I wanna be great."
Damien Chazelle's Whiplash was a sleeper hit, winning three Oscars at the Academy Awards. Andrew's musical, relentless quest to greatness by any means necessary sits on the edge of being an enduring relatable story and cautionary tale to audience members. Played by Miles Teller, Andrew's abusive relationship with his cut-throat music instructor Fletcher (J.K. Simmons) fuels the film's high-paced jazzy narrative. In short, there are some intense moments in this movie. Yet, nothing is more heartbreaking than when he breaks up with his girlfriend, Nicole. In this movie monologue, we watch as Nicole's heart breaks as Andrew rationalizes, out of nowhere that his dreams are more important than their relationship.
16. It's A Wonderful Life - "Lasso the Moon"
Memorable Lines: "You want the moon? Just say the word and I'll throw a lasso around it and pull it down. I'll give you the moon."
This Christmas time classic is an ultimate feel-good movie with timeless lessons for just about anyone. A common overarching theme in the movie is how a sense of community helps us truly feel connected to society. The film is riddled with gems, but the “Lasso the Moon” scene has to be one of our favorites. In a high school flashback, the protagonist George Bailey walks his future wife, Mary Hatch, home from the school dance. The quippy back and forth between the romantic couple is endearing as well as engaging. You cannot help but smile at the end of this movie monologue.
15. The Big Lebowski - "I'm the Dude"
Memorable Lines: "I'm The Dude, so that's what you call me. That or, uh, His Dudeness, or uh, Duder, or El Duderino, if you're not into the whole brevity thing."
Expertly played by Jeff Bridges, The Dude is on a quest to seek restitution for his ruined rug after being mistaken for the "other Lebowski." This funny movie monologue tells you everything you need to know about the Coen Brothers' cult classic, setting in motion a series of utterly hilarious events.
14. Training Day- "King Kong"
Memorable Lines: "King Kong ain't got shit on me!"
Denzel Washington is no stranger to terrific monologues. Malcolm X, Glory, and Philadelphia could have all been featured on this list. However, his Training Day speech stands above the rest. The iconic line, "King Kong ain't got shit on me!" has become a cultural moment. After being betrayed, Washington's character, the corrupt Detective Alonzo Harris, proceeds to go through an epic breakdown. Shakespearean in magnitude, the cadence and delivery of each line hits very hard. Washington rightfully won the Academy Award for this one. If you need to update your summer film rotation, here are "28 Black Films That Are Infinitely More Informative Than 'the Help". Add Training Day to the list, if you haven't seen it.
13. Rudy - Fortune's Truth
Memorable Lines: "In this life, you don't have to prove nothin' to nobody but yourself."
Rudy is an endearing feel-good movie with tremendous heart. Played by Sean Austin, a weary Rudy ponders giving up on his dreams of playing for the University of Notre Dame. Throwing a bit of a pity party, Fortune (Charles S. Dutton) reminds Rudy he doesn't have to prove anything to anyone except himself in a highly motivational speech. Fortune's monologue can be applied to anyone in any situation. It's a classic.
12. Avengers Infinity War - "Titan"
Memorable Lines: "I finally rest, and watch the sun rise on a grateful universe. The hardest choices require the strongest wills."
After Killmonger, Thanos is the second-best villain that Marvel has given us. He wasn't some big, gray, uninspired bad guy. He was cold, calculating, powerful, articulate, and even empathetic. This made him even more menacing and believable. In this one back and forth with Dr. Strange, we get a glimpse at the Mad Titan's reasoning for wanting to snap half of life out of existence. Yes, he is still a genocidal maniac, but he sure knows how to deliver a great monologue.
11. Uncut Gems -"This Is How I Win"
Memorable Lines: "This is me. Alright? I'm not a fucking athlete. This is my fucking way. This is how I win. Alright? All the fucking hard work I do. All the fucking ass-kicking and the dues I pay?" The anxiety-inducing Safdie Brother film Uncut Gems was one of the best movies of 2019. Adam Sandler's portrayal of a desperate diamond huckster was equally compelling and thrilling. In this monologue, Howard (Sandler) breaks down to Garnett how "he wins." This speech gives viewers insight into how Howard's mind works; Though mostly bullshit to justify his gambling addiction, it is oddly motivating. Also, who knew Kevin Garnett had a future in film?
10. Good Will Hunting - "Your Move Chief"
Memorable Lines: "I can't learn anything from you that I can't read in some fuckin' book. Unless you want to talk about you. Who you are. And I'm fascinated. I'm in. But you don't want to do that, do you, sport? You're terrified of what you might say."
Robin Williams was a true acting legend. From comedies to dramas, the late actor has given us one memorable performance after another. Just within the movie Good Will Hunting, you will come across a handful of inspirational and hilarious Williams-led movie monologues. Williams takes on the role of Sean Macguire, a therapist tasked with helping a troubled mathematical genius Will Hunting (Matt Damon). After Will attempts to dismantle Sean with his cold intelligence, Williams goes into an affectionate speech, asserting that the genius knows nothing about life.
9. Goodfellas - "Gangster"
Memorable Lines: "As far back as I can remember, I always wanted to be a gangster."
Martin Scorsese knows how to make an enthralling, beautifully violent mob movie that is riveting. Goodfellas is a masterclass. The 1990s film is considered to be one of the greatest of all time for a reason. It features an all-star performance from an all-star cast of veterans to the genre, including Joe Pesci, Robert De Niro, and Ray Liotta.
Like any classic Scorsese film, the narrator and protagonist of the film, Henry Hill, acts as our charismatic guide into the glamorous and violent mob life. Though the film is riddled with quotables, Hill's opening dialogue is our favorite. Let's not forget that this movie also has some timeless wardrobe choices.
8. Hidden Figures - "There is no bathroom for me"
Memorable Lines: "Well, I don't own pearls. Lord knows you don't pay the colored enough to afford pearls! And I work like a dog day and night, living on coffee from a pot none of you want to touch! So, excuse me if I have to go to the restroom a few times a day."
Based on a true story, Hidden Figures follows the lives of the black computers (mathematicians) Mary Jackson, Katherine Johnson, and Dorothy Vaughan, and their critical work for NASA during the Space Race in the 1950s. Our main protagonist is Katherine (Taraji P. Henson), a genius who hand-calculated the spacecraft trajectories that helped astronaut John Glenn to become the first American to orbit the Earth. Yet even with all her brilliance, she is treated less than human because she is a Black woman. In this scene, Henson delivers an effusive speech as she points out the racist and alienating behavior of her co-workers and the Jim Crow laws that force her to travel half a mile to go to the bathroom each day.
7. Inglorious Basterds - "Opening Monologue"
Memorable Lines: "Monsieur LaPadite, to both your family and your cows I say: Bravo."
In Inglourious Basterds, Hans Landa, played brilliantly by Christopher Waltz, is a quintessential Tarantino villain. Everything from his disgusting rhetoric to his inherent smugness makes you hate Landa. This impeccable and menacing scene does its job. It unveils everything you need to know about this villain setting off a chain of events that will inevitably have you rooting for his downfall.
6. Joker - "How about another joke, Murray?"
Memorable Lines: "I'll tell you what you get! You get what you fuckin' deserve!"
Todd Phillips and Joaquin Phoenix gave the infamous Joker a proper cinematic origin story. Similar to the way that Nolan's Batman is rooted in realism, Phoenix's portrayal of a depraved man abandoned by modern society is both stirring and terrifying to watch. In the final scenes, Arthur Fleck, played by Phoenix, has fully embraced his Joker alter ego. During his speech on his last appearance on Murray's talk show, the Joker completes a vengeful diatribe before taking the host's life on air.
You might find this scene too predictably edgy. But the film as a whole is rich with cinematic lore. Phillips references classics like the King of Comedy, Taxi Driver, Serpico, and Network, just to name a few. We encourage you to take another look.
5. The Social Network - "Betrayal"
Memorable Lines: "Sorry! My Prada's at the cleaners! Along with my hoodie and my 'fuck you' flip-flops, you pretentious douchebag!"
Looking back at The Social Network through the lens of today puts the movie in a very different light. Yeah, $1 billion is cool, but infringing on people's privacy and allowing for the spreading of misinformation is not, Zuck. The David Fincher film successfully captures the disorienting growth and hype around one of the world's most influential networks, Facebook. Written by Aaron Sorkin, the film is packed with a mix of unintentionally funny, insightful, and poignant dialogue. One of the best moments comes at the film's crescendo. After finding out that he has been screwed out of rightfully owned Facebook shares, Eduardo Saverin (Andrew Garfield) confronts his long-time friend Mark Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg). What ensues is a memorable monologue that establishes Zukerberg as more of a villain than an anti-hero.
4. Do the Right Thing - "LOVE and HATE"
Memorable Lines: "Let me tell you the story of Right Hand, Left Hand. It's a tale of good and evil. Hate: It was with this hand that Cain iced his brother. Love: These five fingers, they go straight to the soul of man. The right hand: The hand of love. The story of life is this: Static."
Spike Lee's Do the Right Thing is a cultural and cinematic classic. If you have not watched this movie for some reason, you'll still know about Radio Raheem's speech. The monologue itself is a clever re-enactment of a famous scene from Charles Laughton's classic, Hunter. Paired with fantastic camera work, here Spike Lee uses Radio Raheem's monologue to bring up the complex issues of racial antagonism as well as identity. Aside from the speech itself, Raheem's fit is iconic.
3. The Devil Wears Prada - "Stuff"
Memorable Lines: "However, that blue [sweater] represents millions of dollars and countless jobs and so it's sort of comical how you think that you've made a choice that exempts you from the fashion industry when, in fact, you're wearing the sweater that was selected for you by the people in this room. From a pile of 'stuff.'"
You probably knew exactly what monologue we are talking about before you watched the video. In this scene, Miranda Priestly (Meryl Streep) eviscerates Andy Sachs' (Anne Hathaway) naive preconceived notions about fashion. The Vog… Runaway Editor-in-Chief drops bar after bar about the fashion industry, reminding both Andy and the audience why she has her job.
2. Black Panther - "Killmonger's Death"
Memorable Lines: "Just bury me in the ocean with my ancestors that jumped from the ships because they knew death was better than bondage."
These have to be some of the hardest lines ever uttered in the Marvel cinematic universe. Michael B. Jordan did his thing in Black Panther and is arguably one of the best antagonists that Marvel has given us. Eric Killmonger's closing remarks after his epic defeat are equally poignant and badass. It was such a fitting conclusion to his character and a historic Black film.
1. Blade Runner - "Tears in Rain"
Memorable Lines: "I've seen things you people wouldn't believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhäuser Gate. All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain."
Film buffs consider this movie's monologue as the top of their list. That is impressive, considering that Rutger Hauer, who plays Roy Batty, the antagonist in the film, is said to have improvised the entire scene. After his drawn-out confrontation with Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford), Roy calmy glares at Rick as he awaits death. The replicant laments about how all his efforts, memories, and existence itself will be lost, like "tears in the rain." Hauer's line delivery will give you chills. There is a reason why some of your favorite designers love Blade Runner.