In many ways, the ending is the most important part of a movie.
A great ending can save a bad movie, a bad ending can ruin a good movie, and no movie can be considered brilliant without a perfect ending. Here are a few of our favourites at Torrent This. These aren’t necessarily the best of all time – they are just a select few that we love. We’ve overlooked some of the more famous options (Planet of the Apes) or some of the endings that go down in movie folklore (Citizen Kane), but that’s not to say these are better or worse. They are just perfect.
Obviously, there’ll be spoilers here. It’s a bit like reading the last page of a book first. In some cases it won’t ruin the movie, but it won’t help either.
1. GOOD WILL HUNTING (1997)
There’s a moment earlier in Good Will Hunting that sets up this ending, and without viewing it in context you could be excused for thinking this is a little too understated to be on this list. The scene takes place in a quarry, where Ben Affleck explains to Matt Damon that his favourite part of every day is the walk up to his door where he hopes for a moment that he’ll be gone. “No goodbye, no see ya later, no nothin’.”
It’s as clear a foreshadowing as you’ll ever receive in a movie, and holy shit does it pay back in spades. When he finally comes to pick up Will only to find he’s not there, the acting from Affleck is as pure and brilliant as anybody could produce. When the reality of his best friend leaving hits him, it comes as close to flooring a tough Bostonian youth as possible. The movie soaks in that moment, and then, with a wry grin, life moves on. The icing on the cake is Robin Williams’ ad-lib “son of a bitch, stole my line.”
It’s a perfect ending. It calls back onto so much of what’s come before. It’s a moment of catharsis for the titular character who we feel has finally released himself. It is bittersweet as all those who’ve been closest to him realise they have had to let him go to let him be at peace, and in no small way sacrifice an element of their own lives.
2. THE DARK KNIGHT RISES (2012)
The first time I watched The Dark Knight Rises, I wasn’t entirely sure that I liked the ending. I thought it was a cop-out to give a happy ending, and that for the first time Christopher Nolan had given way to studio pressure not to end a summer block-buster on a downer.
Since then, I’ve watched it a few times and had a change of heart. Originally I felt that Batman giving up his life to save Gotham was perfect, but what hadn’t occurred to me until far too late was how bold an idea it was to end with Bruce being happy. Bruce Wayne has had to endure a terribly depressing life, and no matter how many times he has won, he has to get back up and do it all over again. It had never occurred to anybody to leave him in a content place. We cut back to the other players to see that Gotham is still in good hands, so nobody can accuse him of bailing on a city that needed him. Once, and for all, Batman has won.
3. THE MIST (2007)
The Mist is about a…mist…that mysteriously arrives and blankets a town, bringing with it a whole host of horrific creatures who put humans wwwwaaaaaayyyyy down the food chain. I hated it. I hated the stupid script. I hated the stupid actors. I hated the stupid plot holes. I hated that everybody in the movie was dumb. Then it ended.
I love The Mist.
It’s one of the best horror movies I’ve ever seen. It’s such a brutal twist of irony that it made everything that came before it perfect. I couldn’t wait to watch it again, just to enjoy those last four minutes again. After making a break for a car and finding nothing but devastation, a small handful of survivors decide to try and drive out of it. They drive, and drive, and drive, and drive, and nothing gets better. Eventually they run out of petrol. Stuck. Alone. They know that what awaits them is a fate worse than death. Our protagonist has a gun, but not enough bullets for everybody.
They all look each other in the eyes, and know what has to come next. He makes the ultimate sacrifice. Just as his son wakes up and flashes a look of horror, the camera cuts to outside the car and we see a flash as he shoots. Cue a bloodcurdling scream. He pulls the trigger on the now empty gun, hoping against hope to kill himself. He knows he can’t live with what he did. He gets out of the car and screams for something, anything to come kill him. He knows he won’t have to wait long. And then…the army arrives. They lay flamethrowers to everything in sight, saving the day…2 minutes too late. It’s probably the cruellest twist of irony in a film that I’ve ever seen, and the absolute balls that it must have taken to get it made mean I’ll also probably have to include it in an upcoming “Top 5 sets of balls” list.
4. INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS (1978)
Keeping with a horror trend, Invasion of the Body Snatchers was one of the rare movies that I sought out despite knowing exactly what the ending was first. In fact, it was the ending that made me want to watch all that had come before it just so I could enjoy it properly. In this remake, “pod-people” are slowly but surely taking over a town, replacing people in their sleep with soulless replicas. What follows is a desperate fight to stay awake, and to continue living as the word is intended.
Donald Sutherland is one of the last remaining characters to have survived, carefully making his way around a world where any wrong turn could spell doom. Here, Brooke Adams’ character finds him after being separated, and we get a sense that they will be reunited and off to fight the problem together, but as she walks to him we have the rug pulled out from under us courtesy of one of the most haunting screams in cinema history. There seemingly is no escape from the pod-people.
5. THE USUAL SUSPECTS (1995)
What do I possibly need to say about this? You didn’t pick the twist. Nobody picked the twist. Just when we thought we knew what was going on, we realise that the last 2 hours were all a lie. We’ve all been taken for a ride, but what a ride it was. The transition from cripple to Keyser Soze is a great piece of physical acting from Kevin Spacey, and left audiences everywhere breathless, speechless, and clueless.
Written by Mitch Grinter. Courtesy of TorrentThisTV