For my last top 10 list, I listed the greatest movie intros of all time. Pretty much as important as the beginning is the end. It can make the movie better and more interesting or even, ruin it. Here are 10 of the greatest movie endings of all time.
Warning: Spoilers ahead. If you plan on seeing any of these movies, skip them.
1. Chinatown- There is still no ending that could match its bleak and pessimistic view of the world. The woman is killed, the villain gets away with his crimes, and the hero is told to simply walk away. So dark and shocking. It jolted me out of my seat the first time I saw it and still remains the finest example of the fact that films don't need to exist in a fairytale world: they can be as real as night and day.
2. The Shawshank Redemption- After finally being released from his life sentence after nearly 60 years, Red doesn't think he can make it in the outside world. That is until he remembers his old friend Andy and his dream of going to Mexico. The final shot is the two men hugging and reuniting. It is a great feeling of hope and an uplifting ending that strives away from schmaltz. Makes me tear up every time.
3. One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest- Free-spirited McMurphy winds up in a mental hospital just to get out of jail time, but as he grows more reckless, the doctors leave him dumb and brainless. Chief kills his friend just to put him out of his misery and then breaks through the window and runs away. It is an incredible ending that brings up life and death; hope and despair; sadness and joy all at the same time. It stirs you and makes you feel like you've never felt before.
4. The Good the Bad and the Ugly- After a standoff, the Man with No Name walks up with the gold. That's not the important part though: it's the standoff. It's incredible tension that builds up for minutes with just a few stares. Without this ending, there would be no Quentin Tarantino or Robert Rodriguez.
5. The 40 Year Old Virgin- After 40 long years, Andy finally gets lucky. What better way to celebrate his joy? By rounding up the entire cast for a rendition of "The Age of Aquarius". Each actor adds their brilliant comic skills to the song that will have you singing along. What other way could there have been to end one of the dirtiest, sweetest, and funniest comedies of the decade then something like this. Judd Apatow is the true king of comedy.
6. Jaws- Steven Speilberg is one of the greatest directors of all time but his one fault is usually the ending of his films. Here though, he hit it perfectly. It's one shot of Roy Scheider and Richard Dreyfuss. After their boat has been totally destroyed and the shark is dead, they paddle away together on the only piece of the boat that remains. A feeling of relief, and the thrill that we've just witnessed one of the best thrillers and the first true blockbuster ever made.
7. Wayne's World- This movie isn't given all of the credit it deserves as comic genius. It has three endings: a sad, a happy, and a very happy ending. The sad ending ends with Wayne and Garth loosing everything while carrying themselves out of their destroyed home. In the happy ending, Wayne gets the girl and the bad guy is foiled. But they settle for the very happy ending in which everything works out and everyone is friends again. Here the characters break the fourth wall and literally control the movie. Not to mention, it's a brilliant inside joke on Hollywood's love for extremely happy/sappy endings. To Wayne and Garth and the film's creators I say: Party on!
8. Reservoir Dogs- A huge standoff, a bloody mess, and huge confusion. The conclusion to Tarantino's first film ends with all the main characters, once friends, being betrayed and lied to and end up blowing each other away as the undercover cop is also about to die. One gets away with the diamonds (some people have theories about what happened to him). The very last shot is of Harvey Keitel, about to blow the brains out of a rat, getting shot down by the cops and falling dead. Wow.
9. Children of Men- This is one of few films from this decade I am proud to say will go on to be a classic and be reconsidered as a masterpiece. The ending will be talked about for years. Theo, a man who cared so little and now cares so much has served his purpose and saved the last child on earth and his mother. He dies but the Human Project comes to the rescue, Like the ending of Cuckoo's Nest, it arises both a feeling of sadness yet utter joy and hope overcome it. In this movie exists a future without hope. In this world without hope, even the tiniest bit can save mankind.
10. Braveheart- "FREEDOOOOOOOM!" That's all I've got to say.
Other Contenders: Casablanca, Amadeus, A Clockwork Orange, Sunset Blvd., Some Like it Hot, The Graduate, Full Metal Jacket