The end can make for a terrific film, or a bad one. It can also create careers (ask M. Night Shyamalan) or break them. When you leave a multiplex screen after watching a film there is a good chance that how the movie ended is what stays with you.
Having watched hundreds and hundreds of movies, we have handpicked not just the good, or better, but the very best film endings for your viewing pleasure. Our criteria being the impact it had on its audience as the end titles rolled on screen. Careful though, as this article is filled to the brim with spoilers. See if you can spot some of our manliest me in there. Without further ado, here’s our selection of the very best:
1. The Usual Suspects
Bryan Singer’s 1995 Nu-Noir classic makes it to the top of our list. A warning before we proceed: if you have not watched this film…then what the hell have you been doing with your life? When Kevin Spacey walks out of the interrogation room, out on the footpath, corrects his limp, and coolly gets into a waiting car to reveal himself as Keyser Soze, we could not help but marvel at the twist. Three words: Pure Cinematic Genius.
2. The Sixth Sense
Halley Joel Osmen could clearly see dead people, but none of us saw the twist at the end – Bruce Willis was ‘dead people’ too. No.2 on our list, not just for leaving us shocked and awed, but also for giving Mr. Shyamalan a career.
In 2012, Vertigo was declared the greatest movie ever made by the highly respected British Film Institute’s Greatest Films Poll knocking Citizen Kane off its perch. The film is classical Alfred Hitchcock and probably the master’s greatest work. James Stewart embraces Kim Novak in the bell tower of a church only for a nun to emerge, scaring Ms Novak, and causing her to trip and fall from the bell tower to her death. For the second time in the film James Stewart loses his ladylove (the earlier being a death faked by Ms Novak to fool Stewart) and, probably, his marbles.
4. Les Diaboliques
Why would we have a 1955 French black-and-white film at No. 4? Because it deserves to. The plot revolves around a man and his mistress who plot the suicide of his wife, by faking his death, and then coming back to haunt the wife resulting in her death. The film ends when a student (who earlier claimed to see the husband when he was presumed dead) breaks a school window with a slingshot and claims it was given to him by the dead wife. We urge you to watch this film right away
Will the top stop spinning or won’t it…the camera tracks in close to the top, and just as the answer is about to reveal itself, cuts to the end titles. Breathtaking stuff by Christopher Nolan. This was one film ending where the audience actually gasped when the movie ended. No. 5 on our list because we continue to debate whether the top stopped spinning or not.
“Here’s looking at you, kid.” And Ingrid Bergman runs away from Humphrey Bogart to her husband who is aboard a plane ready to take off to Lisbon. According to us, the film is the greatest love story ever told just for its ending when Bogart sacrifices his love so that Ms Bergman can have a better life and remain loyal to her husband. Would you be man enough to do the same?
Well, we just couldn’t resist having Davind Fincher’s Se7en at No.7 on our list. How far would you go to commit the perfect crime? In the movie’s climax, Kevin Spacey instigates Brad Pitt to kill him, and Pitt obliges. Spacey’s death completes the seven deadly sins: one murder for each sin. Though the murderer is killed in the end, you are left with a sense of uneasiness, of justice denied.
8. The Godfather Part II
Considered by many to be better than its prequel, The Godfather Part II captures perfectly the isolation as well as the complete control of Al Pacino: the godfather who has vanquished all his enemies. He sits all alone by the lake at the family compound while his men bump off his enemies, including his own brother, one by one. Sometimes, blood isn’t thicker than water.
9. Primal Fear
Edward Norton, in his debut film role, is pure genius. His last taunt to Richard Gere, the attorney who gets Norton acquitted of a murder charge on the grounds of insanity, is simply bone chilling. Gere walks away disillusioned from the mental asylum, while the audience walked from the screens deeply impressed by Norton. I have to say – I didn’t see it coming.
10. The Dark Knight
“ Because he’s not our hero. He’s a silent guardian…A Dark Knight.” Gary Oldman explains to his son why Batman is running away and the police chasing him for a crime the caped crusader did not commit. Makes our list because we think it is the best superhero film ending ever.