On Monday night, Virginia won its first national basketball championship in school history. Few feelings could top the excitement, pride and love coursing through Charlottesville as students took to the streets to celebrate the long-awaited victory. In fact, I’m not sure any moments — even ones that are scripted — can compare to Monday night’s joy. And to prove that fact, I’ve compiled a list of contenders — some the most jubilant, powerful, iconic moments in film, television and music history — which all, alas, fall short.
The first 14 seconds of “Clouds” by One Direction
In 2014, the kings of my heart released “FOUR,” their fourth studio album since forming the boyband on the X-Factor in 2010. After three offerings jam-packed with bops — both hype and tender — they really outdid themselves with the 12th track, “Clouds.” Specifically, the boys go all out in the first 14 seconds of the song, which is basically just them yelling “WOAHHHHHHH” in harmony at top volume. It’s the most triumphant way to start a track — a kick in the face in between two other bangers, and supremely underrated in One Direction canon. But this infectious, guttural, harmonious screech is nothing — nothing — compared to the screams of thousands of students sprinting and dancing down 14th Street to join the gathering crowd. Sorry, 1D.
O Captain My Captain, “Dead Poets Society”
The 1989 film “Dead Poets Society” focuses on a group of students at a private academy who are taught the importance of thinking freely, seizing the day and pursuing their passions by their English teacher, John Keating (Robin Williams). Tony Bennett is honestly such a Mr. Keating. Humility, passion, unity, servanthood and thankfulness? I would stand on a desk all day to show my devotion to the man who brought this program and the University a decade of those values, who led a school to its first national championship ever and did it all — this year at least — without wearing a tie, which is a straight up flex. The man has the heart, he’s got the smarts and he did it for all of us. Cut to me ugly-crying on the Lawn at 4 a.m.
The part at the end of “Return of the King” where Eowyn says “I am no man” and freaking stabs the Witch-king of Angmar
This iconic moment of what could be the best film trilogy of all time — checking in with rules analyst Gene Steratore, it totally is — comes when Eowyn, a woman, joins the cavalry of Rohan to aid Gondor in their fight against the forces of Sauron. There was this prophecy, because isn’t there always a prophecy, that no mortal man could kill this big baddie. Of course, Eowyn is no man, which she proclaims before stabbing him in his weird ghost face. I remember how stoked 9-year-old me was seeing this moment for the first time. My eyes got so wide, like oh s—t, lady power. Winning the natty felt like that. But turned up to an 11.
Cardi B flirting with Chrissy Teigen and Rihanna on “She Bad”
This was a big thing because I just had a hard time imagining this much power in one room when I first heard Cardi B suggest this teamup. On the 11th track of her Grammy-winning album “Invasion of Privacy,” Cardi raps “I need Chrissy Teigen / Know a bad bitch when I see one / Tell Rih-Rih I need a threesome.” Like where would this threesome be? Probably at the Met Gala now that I think of it. But that’s besides the point — the mere thought of this trio being together is so wild — borderline unbelievable. But the power has a similar vibe to our team, if you can believe it. It’s about being better than the sum of your parts, working as a collective instead of individual actors. That perfection of teamwork and brotherhood made the dream a reality.
When Sam Neill and Laura Dern see the brachiosaurus in “Jurassic Park” for the first time and the theme swells
God, what a scene. Paleontologist Alan Grant (Sam Neill), paleobotanist Ellie Sattler (Laura Dern) and chaos theorist Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum) are touring the park for the first time, not sure what to expect. Their jeep pulls up in a valley, and Grant bolts up in shock, ripping off his hat and sunglasses, unable to believe his eyes. Sattler is staring at a leaf but also gawks in disbelief when Grant turns her head towards what the audience discovers is a brachiosaurus lumbering beside the car. The dinosaur roars, the John Williams theme swells. The sense of wonder this scene instills has never met a worthy opponent — until Monday night.
Ramsay Bolton getting his face chewed off by his own dogs in “Game of Thrones”
“Game of Thrones” has a tradition of having some of the most hateable characters in television history. For much of the first four seasons, Joffrey Baratheon (Jack Gleeson) occupied this role as the cruel child-king who sentenced Sean Bean to yet another on-screen death. But he may have met his match in Ramsey Bolton, who did all manner of gruesome and horrible things in later seasons until meeting his own, fitting end in the penultimate episode of season six. It’s gross as hell, but so satisfying that the beast will never be heard from again. In our reality, Ramsay Bolton is represented by the idea that our style of play is boring and doesn’t work in March. Both of those tired, whiny statements are now pronounced officially dead. Hoos don’t lose, xoxo, pack line defense.
Kid Cudi dancing to “Electric Feel” at Coachella
I mean… the euphoria. It’s what we all felt, it was the energy of the massive crowds at JPJ and outside Boylan and on the lawn until the early morning. It was the sheet-banners strung in front of houses lining 14th Street and the raucous chants at the end of the Good Ole Song. Nothing else compares.