Movie and Film Reviews (MFR) Uncategorized The Top 15 Greatest Movie Endings

The Top 15 Greatest Movie Endings

The end of a movie is really the capture point for a member of the audience if they are thinking about buying a movie. Many films wrap up with a terrible, colossal waste-of-time ending (Brothers (2009)), and many others deliver a fantastic ending that makes people say aloud “whoa.” These are, in my opinion, the ten best movie endings of all time. (p.s., Tarantino is on here 4 times.)
15. Daft Punk’s Electroma – Directors: Daft Punk – Hero Robot #2 sets himself on fire shortly after Hero Robot #3 has Hero Robot #2 flip the switch on #1’s back causing a self-destruct which blows him up. #2 is running aflame through the desert as Daft Punk music plays in the background.
14. Solaris – Director: Andrei Tarkovsky – Father and son unite as the camera backs out and shows that they are in the middle of the ocean on Solaris.
13. Planet of the Apes (1968) – Director: Franklin J. Schaffner – Heston end up going back to Earth, and he finds that he was THERE THE WHOLE TIME! And he also finds that the Statue of Liberty is half-submerged in the ground.
12. The Usual Suspects – Director: Bryan Singer – Not the twist, but the very end. Kobayashi is working for Verbal, who is actually Keyser Soze. Kujan runs outside to try to find him but cannot. You don’t know what is real and what isn’t.
11. Memento – Director: Christopher Nolan – Leonard turns out to be Sammy Jankis, and he accidently killed his wife because of his memory problem, but he makes himself think that his friend who is a detective that helped him kill some people before so that he can feel better, is actually his wife’s killer, which is what happens in the beginning, which is the end, in chronological order.
10. Reservoir Dogs – Director: Quentin Tarantino – The whole everyone dies clause is perfect for this film since it is less scattered but more complex than the Pulp Fiction idea. Mr. Orange is lying in the hands of Mr. White as the police come in, and when Mr. White realizes that Mr. Orange is a cop, Mr. White shoots him, and then the police unload on him as the screen cuts to black.
9. Inglourious Basterds – Director: Quentin Tarantino – Aldo Raine cuts a swastika into the head of Hans Landa and proclaims to Utivich that he thinks the swastika he carved into Landa “might just be my masterpiece.” Then the screen goes black and reveals the trademark yellow font that Tarantino is associated with.
8. Pontypool – Director: Bruce McDonald – The government announces a 10 second countdown for a bomb and as it hits one, Sydney kisses Mazzey and the screen goes black. The after-credits coda was something that can be interpreted in many different ways, and I’ll leave it to you, the viewer, to decide.
7. Avatar – Director: James Cameron – Jake Sully opens his eyes in his Avatar body from his soul being transfered by Eywah.
6. Primal Fear – Director: Gregory Hoblit – You find out that Aaron was really Roy because Roy made up the identity of Aaron. He really did murder the archbishop and his girlfriend, but the trial is over, and Aaron (Roy) only had to go to an evaluation for mental illness since the trial was over. Vail walks outside to a road and just stops as the camera turns black.
5. Easy Rider – Director: Dennis Hopper – This films ending is very sad and good. Hippy-haters shoot Billy after he flips them off in their truck, and when Wyatt goes for help, the hippy-haters shoot at him and hit his gas tank, blowing his bike up and showing that their journey had finally ended.
4. TIE:
>The Blair Witch Project – Directors: Daniel Myrick & Eduardo Sanchez – After going down the stairs, Mike is found standing facing the corner of the room. Heather drops the camera and screams, and as the screams die out, the camera goes out.
>Donnie Darko – Director: Richard Kelly – Donnie has died since it is the only way to save everyone, and Gretchen rides her bike over to the house where the airplane turbine fell into their house, and she waves to Donnie’s mom. It shows Gretchen waving for a moment longer, and then it blacks out.
3. Fight Club – Director: David Fincher – Edward Norton kills Tyler and then watches as Project Mayhem begins, the buildings around them collapsing. Marla and he hold hands and watch as the buildings fall to the tune of Where is My Mind by The Pixies.
2. TIE.
>Vanilla Sky – Director: Cameron Crowe – Tom Cruise jumps off of the building, and his eye opens to the noise of Penelope Cruz’s voice, which in the beginning was a dream. So it is a dream inside of a dream inside of a dream… or is it?
>The Departed – Director: Martin Scorsese – Mark Wahlberg kills Matt Damon, and a rat runs across his windowsill. Booyah.
1. Kill Bill Vol. 1 – Director: Quentin Tarantino – Bill reveals that Beatrix’s (which you find out is her name in the sequel) daughter is alive.

43 thoughts on “The Top 15 Greatest Movie Endings”

  1. Pretty good list J.C. I’m confused though, you have The Departed as the best movie of all time…but it failed to make this list? Doesn’t add up to me.

  2. Great list. Totally agree. Haven’t seen all of them so I skipped the ones I didn’t see.

    Momento, Primal Fear, and The Departed were great.

    I also really liked the ending of Seven with Brad Pitt.

  3. I’m confused as to why Avatar made this list…sure it’s a great film, but the ending wasn’t anything close to mind-blowing. I’d say The Sixth Sense deserves a spot. Sure, M. Night’s work has been getting consistently worse as the years go by, but his first film has one of the greatest twists of all time.

  4. Gathering opinions here only cause I like you guys. In your mind what makes a movie great, as we all have different opinions, is it the acting, the story, the directing, a little of each, more of one, the sum of all, or just the type of film?

  5. Robert: To answer your question; I’d say it depends. Take Avatar, for instance: the acting & story are nothing new or jaw-dropping, but the direction, feel, and groundbreaking technology made it quite the movie-going experience. Sometimes top-notch acting, as in Revolutionary Road, makes a film great. And sometimes everything comes together perfectly; a’la Forrest Gump. In actuality, I just want a movie to give me something…whether it’s one or all of the qualities you listed.

  6. You forgot Carrie. When her hand comes out of the rubble where her house once stood, and grabs the schoolmates arm as though she’s one that she missed, and when she wakes up screaming with her mother holding her and then screen goes black.

  7. I completely agree with Annie, and I would also venture to say that the things that really rub off on me are the ending (go figure), the message, the acting, the visuals and the script. The direction is normally good, and if it is very good then it is striking, but it isn’t an immediate necessity. The ending gives you that last little spark, the message makes what you just watched have a meaning to you personally, the acting is to be true, the visuals are to be stunning, and not just graphics, I mean the graphicism of the scenes involved and how they are portrayed in a fashion that makes the film grab all attention from where you are, and the most important part of the film, the script, must be good. Because when the script sucks, the movie tends to lack on something (The Hurt Locker, for example), whereas movies with a more filling and rich script are so much better (Pulp Fiction, Inglourious Basterds, The Departed, for example). I really just look for something that sends chills down my spine at the end of it, and when that happens, you know it is awesome (in this example, Forrest Gump, Avatar’s ending, Kill Bill Vol. 1, Vanilla Sky, Donnie Darko, etc.) It is all mainly about perception, though. If you ask a Japanese man what his favorite Pacific island is, he’s gonna answer differently than someone that lives in Indonesia, and him differently from someone that lives in New Zeland.

  8. Annie711pm, to you Sixth Sense thing, I thought the ending of Avatar with his eyes opening wasn’t mind-blowing, but it was the PERFECT ending for the movie because it ended it with something that made you say “okay, he’s happy, everything’s all good, and I understand everything that happened.” The Sixth Sense was good, and my second favorite film by Shyamalan (Signs wins, in my book) but I don’t think the very end was too fantastic.

  9. J.C.: I loved what you said about movie endings, and how if they really get you, sometimes that makes a film. And yes, also perception. I do agree with your description that the ending of Avatar left you feeling that all was right with the world…I just didn’t think it was one the greatest endings of all time. :)
    Also, Signs is my favorite M.Night movie as well. It still scares the hell out of me. And has great music. :)

  10. I think that the music was brilliant, and that the best aspect was absolutely the acting from Mel Gibson who supremely delivered. And Joaquin Phoenix did good, too. The scripting and direction were also fantastic, and the plot was beautiful. It was almost a perfect movie. The thing that, again, got me, was the ending, where it shows that he got his faith back and gave that feeling of content, again. I just think that Signs epitomizes the things a film should truly be: a thrilling, superbly acted, well scripted yarn that adds brilliance from its direction, theme (yet again, message is also key) and plot, and has an ending that will make you very happy. Did you like Lady in the Water?

  11. Dude. I actually DID like LITW…I completely understand why many people did not like it; honestly I don’t think it all came together in a very satisfying way, and while the story was unique & different, it was just kind of lame. That being said; Paul Giamatti is one of my favorite actors, period, and he was WONDERFUL in this. Bryce Dallas Howard did a good job as well. Also, the music was goosebump-delivering perfection. I love how M. Night he uses James Newton Howard for all of his films…he always delivers, but LITW is my favorite film score for any of M. Night’s movies. Any time I catch this movie on TV I will watch it; and it always touches something inside me and makes me sob like a baby. I guess what I liked was the message that everyone has a purpose; you are right the overall theme is paramount; it got me over the wobbly, silly storyline.

  12. I LOVED LITW. No one else that I know liked it, but I thought it was great and that Paul Giamatti, who deserves an Oscar for many different roles, was fantastic. There are two movies that I don’t like by M. Night, and you cn probably guess which ones those are.

  13. The Happening, for sure (One of the worst movies I have EVER SEEN)..and The Village??? I actually didn’t mind the Village, because I never saw the end coming, lol. Most people I know despise that movie.

  14. Bingo. Well, the reason I didn’t like The Village is mainly because it was weak in substance. The twist was good, I thought, and the very ending where the viewer was left to decided the fate of Joaquin Phoenix was good, but if the film had actually had real monsters, that would be cool, but the set-up was okay. It was just weak in substance, and the script was less than mindful. Adrian Brody did amazing, though. And that whole woods scene with her was very suspenseful and wonderfully done. I think a better ending would have been if she got the medicine and the camera was zoomed out on her and it watched as she went back into the woods and then it cut off, letting you decide what happens. But the Happening sucked HORRBILY. Not enough violence for an R rating, Zooey Deschanel sucked in it, and Markie Mark even seemed to be faulted in it. Plus, the script and twist sucked. I called the whole thing before the movie even came out, that it was nature bitch-slapping humanity.

  15. I do agree with you about The Village; however I still enjoyed it. I reallllly wish there had been real monsters–the trailers were so deceiving. As for The Happening…my GOD. When they were running from the wind; I had to hold back from laughing my a** off out loud in the theater. So unbelievably ridiculous; I cannot believe ANYONE agreed to make that piece of fecal matter. The stuff with the old woman was BEYOND wtf-batshit-craziness, came out of nowhere, and added NOTHING to the already ludicrous plot.

  16. BTW, Annie, are you planning on seeing The Last Airbender, because it looks good to me, seeing that M. Night is actually making an alright film for the first time since 2006.

  17. J.C.: I wouldn’t mind seeing it; I thought it looked kind of interesting…but I don’t see myself rushing out to the theater…I’ll probably be a wuss and wait to hear what kind of reviews it gets…

  18. well, from experience with underestimating M. Night, it will probably be pretty good. I would also wait to see how it does though. A must-see movie in theaters is a little Nolan Brothers film called “Inception” coming out July 16. It will be amazing. The Nolan Brothers have NEVER made a movie that was either par or below.

  19. also, i think that two other great endings would be No Country for Old Men and Saw because of their substance. Saw’s twist was amazing and included the ending in its twist, and the Chigurh-getting-away thing and also the amazing speech from Tommy Lee Jones really struck me as a beauty. Though the film didn’t deserve the Oscar for best picture, in my mind, it was still very good.

  20. yes, that was, but the twist was more to that than the ending. I am mainly talking about the VERY end of a movie, like in Signs where Mel Gibson dressed for church and then left the room showing he got his faith back, or in No Country for Old Men where Tommy Lee Jones gave that amazing speech about his dream. Or in Saw when Jigsaw got up from the middle of the room, went over to the door and slammed it, locking the other guy in the room. It is just like the ending sequence, and though The Others had a very good bit of effectiveness in the end, it wasn’t good enough, in my mind, to be on this list.

  21. Oh, absolutely. That is one that I forgot, thank you for bringing this to my attention. Speaking of Andrew Niccol films, The Truman Show’s ending was also stupendous.

  22. Have any of you guys seen Sleepaway Camp? The movie itself is a giant rip off of Friday the 13th but it has the best ending to a movie I have ever seen.

  23. where the chick has a penis, yes I know, but it was completely not off the wall and kinda stupid, but thanks for the input. My new number 1 is Inception for this list, I saw that you had written a review for Inception, and you must know how awesome the ending is, then.

  24. There is no twist, but I like the ending in “Enemy at the Gates”. Never have i felt such satisfaction in a movie than when Ed Harris gets a bullet right between the eyes. His charcter got what he deserved.

  25. Snatch did have a good ending, a valid point, so did Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and Rocknrolla. And Revolver. ESPECIALLY Revolver, damn, I should’ve put Revolver on here. Almost all of Guy Ritchie’s movies have fantastic endings.

  26. How about The Mist? The ending to that movie was well done simply because it pulled no punches and was like a swift kick to the nuts.

  27. Tough list. Nice job. I’d never even be able to attempt this. I’d just say what was my favorite endings. I tip my hat to you sir for the attempt. Can I make some weird suggestions for the sake of being weird?

    American History X
    There Will Be Blood
    Synecdoche New York
    Bonnie and Clyde
    The Breakfast Club
    The Shining
    Dancer in the Dark
    The Good the bad and the ugly
    Duck, You Sucker!
    Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
    Perfect Blue
    The Shining
    12 monkeys
    Mulholland Drive
    Evil Dead 2 ha ha ha!

    I know it’s against the rules but the end of season 1 of the BBC serious “House of cards” is a much more ironic ending than typical TV. …I’ll stop now.

  28. Haha, Micah its all good. Good list. sreekiran, I would agree with both of those. Marky Mark… eh, yeah, it deserves to be honorably mentioned, but idk aside from that.

    1. Nah man… I wouldn’t say it sucks. It’s a difficult list to make especially when you’re forced to consider that the best endings may not necessarily be attached to the best movies.

  29. Pretty cool list but you can’t deny certain other movies that could/should have been on it. Such as Seven, Kiss of the Dragon, A Scanner Darkly, Jesus DIE HARD?, there’s a heap more.

  30. I almost totally agree with your list, though I thought The Usual Suspects should have been a little higher on the list. And I’m not sure about Inglorious Basterds, good movie though

  31. Great piece, J.C. Still trying to wrap my noodle around those cacophonous crazy chaotic whacked out final seconds of “The Blair Witch Project”………:O!!

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