10. The Searchers
There are many films that match their opening scenes with their closing ones as an attempt to connote a circular story, one that brings the character back to their roots or to where they started. However, there is no better ending that stands in perfect harmony with its opening as that of John Ford’s The Searchers. John Wayne, who embodies the Western in every way, perfectly encapsulates the isolation of the Wild West and its outdated ideology that is simply no longer accepted in this hauntingly somber closing scene. As he stands between the doorway and walks off into the vast nothingness, you bid farewell to the legendary cowboy and everything that he once stood for.
The inner monologue of a psychopath provides a chilling and all too fitting close to the historic Hitchcock horror film Psycho. Norman Bates, played to perfection by Anthony Perkins is sat all alone in the police interrogation room with only his thoughts to keep him company. As we are gifted the uncomfortable pleasure of listening in on the twisted monologue of the mother persona, with only Bates’ combined discomfort and sinister grin to accompany us.
On first time viewing, The Usual Suspects toys with you for two hours over the unknown identity of the mysterious Keyser Söze. Yet when the penny drops for customs agent Kuzan we are given a perfectly fitting reveal as the pieces slowly come together in poetic brilliance. As we watch the footsteps of a man shaking off his limp, the mastermind is finally revealed.
How fitting that this unforgettable comedy ends on its best joke. As Jack Lemmon’s dolled up Daphne rides off into the sunset with miilionaire Osgood still swooning after him, he quickly tries to remove the wool from his eyes and show his true gender. As the wig comes off, Osgood’s perfectly delivered ‘Well, nobody’s perfect’ is the crescendo to close a classic.
6. Fight Club
David Fincher’s adapataion of Chuck Palahniuk’s Fight Club finds its place atop many great film lists, helped to no end by its memorable closing scene. With the Pixies anthem ‘Where is my mind’ bellowing out as the buildings all around begin to crumble, we look on and bathe in all the despair and paralysis.
Whether you like it or not, the ‘starchild’ scene is iconic in popular culture. For a film as audacious as 2001, Kubrick’s closing creation is something else entirely. It’s an ending that will have cinephiles analysing and over analysing it for decades to come, yet however you understand it you can’t argue that it’s hard to emulate. Almost 50 years on and it’s still an impressive visual masterpiece.
Even though many argue with ‘Hollywood’ endings when it all comes perfectly together with a nice little bow, it’s difficult to say that any person watching Brazil is not deflated when it turns out that the perfect heroes ending is a figment of a tortured man’s dreams. Though there was a version released that had the ‘happily ever after’ ending, for the purpose of cinematic integrity Gilliam’s version of events should be the only way to watch his greatest achievement.
Does it or does it not fall over? The question of whether Cobb is still in dreamland has been asked by many after watching Christopher Nolan’s Inception. With Hans Zimmer’s beautiful score playing over top of the closing moments of the film, Cobb finally achieves his goal of returning home to his children, only for Nolan to tease us with the possibility it isn’t all that it seems. A very clever ending to what was a purposefully frustrating ending.
‘Louis, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.’ The iconic closing line uttered by Humphrey Bogart at the end of Casablanca is one of many memorable quotes throughout this noir classic. The closing scene itself is eponymous with the Hollywood golden age, representing cinematic beauty that provides a lasting enchantment over its audience.
As George Bailey realises what Bedford Falls would be like if he never existed, the snowfall starts again and pure cinematic joy comes raining down from the heavens. The quintessential Christmas classic, It’s a Wonderful Life‘s ending comes as the relief for the lovable George who comes to realise that no man is poor who has friends. An instant heart warmer.