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Favorite Movie Endings?

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Kylee Peña
Favorite Movie Endings?
on Mar 11, 2013 at 2:12:15 am

Since awards season is sadly behind us and we only have nonsense like Jack the Giant Slayer, Identity Thief, and a couple White House disaster films to hold us over, I thought I'd ask: your favorite movie endings? Or maybe the best movie endings because a film can end the way it needs to, but not the way you want it to, I guess.

And of course, this thread is full of spoilers.

I was wandering YouTube, watching movie endings last night (a typical Saturday night, basically). One I stumbled upon is The Graduate. I like the film well enough, but I think it's one of my very favorite film endings ever. Everything I love in an ending.



Among the films I saw in 2012, I think I'd say Zero Dark Thirty was possibly my favorite when it comes to endings. I guess I'm a fan of happy endings turned inside out. Funnily, Argo was probably my least favorite ending. No, go be more miserable, you!

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Rainys Andrew Blekaitis
Re: Favorite Movie Endings?
on Mar 11, 2013 at 3:05:44 pm

Kylee:

I have many favorite movie endings, of course, and the denouement is an important part of Freytag's Pyramid; you can't slouch, banging anything out to wrap up your story. "Toto the Hero" should've been a masterpiece except for its denouement. However, I love how "Angel Heart" ended. We come full circle, wrapping up the story so everything before is explained, but it's not a happy ending: "Alas, how terrible is wisdom when it brings no profit to the wise..."


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Stephen Smith
Re: Favorite Movie Endings?
on Mar 11, 2013 at 3:37:40 pm

I'm a big fan of happy endings where everything works out. I love cleaver endings where you didn't see it coming. I think the Sixth Sense was an amazing ending that I didn't see coming. (Spoiler, seriously, if you haven't seen it yet you deserve to have the movie ruined for you) Even if you new he was dead you probably didn't realize that he didn't know he was dead. The boy was finally able to confront his fear and finally be happy while Bruce was able to help someone and move on with his life...or next life...or whatever. When I watched the film I didn't know anything about it other then it was a great film.

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Rainys Andrew Blekaitis
Re: Favorite Movie Endings?
on Mar 11, 2013 at 6:07:00 pm

Stephen:

Oh, I agree with you. Great ending! And it was my favorite performance by Bruce Willis.


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Tim Wilson
Re: Favorite Movie Endings?
on Mar 11, 2013 at 7:09:27 pm

The amazing thing about the ending of The Sixth Sense is, as surprising as it was, how organically it's tied into the movie. You get a sense of it in quick set of mini-flashbacks after he realizes it, but you REALLY get it when you watch the movie again. There are a thousand small marvels in the specificity of Bruce's performance and the filmmaking.

It's not just a nearly perfect surprise ending. It's a nearly perfect movie from start to finish. Otherwise, we wouldn't have cared and we wouldn't have bought it. Otherwise, people would be howling at how stupid and gimmicky it was...when NOTHING about it was gimmicky.

Another movie that completely changed itself in the final scenes is The Usual Suspects. I didn't find it as emotionally resonant, but truly audacious storytelling hung on another note-perfect performance.

Most recently, I gotta tell ya I'm fond of the ending of Silver Linings Playbook. Not that it's a shocker -- SPOILER ALERT: the two very attractive lead characters find each other attractive!!! I most like it because it's NOT a shocker. But it was hilarious, because even while the wheels were falling off, you could still feel it coming together. Funnier still is that while the "will they or won't they" act was a little thin, Bradley Cooper's character SAYING that he strung it out because he wanted the ending to be romantic -- THAT was perfect.

Part of the magic of Rocky is also its simplicity, but in the way it DOESN'T play to expectations. It's the story of the plucky can-do underdog, right? He's gonna pull out some magic way to win, right? No. He loses. He loses BIG. The script writes the fight as a split decision, but I think only because some of the judges were scoring Rocky's ability to absorb punishment.

Since then, I still can't think of another movie that ends ON the loss. Dude is covered in blood as the credits roll...oh yeah, except he has the girl, which is wonderful. But he doesn't even get a shower. He loses. The movie is OVER.

The sequels were inevitable. Him winning in a lot of the movies was inevitable -- but the glory of the first movie is that Rocky loses.

Those are the ones off the top of my head...but a really good question. I'll keep thinking about it.


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Mark Suszko
Re: Favorite Movie Endings?
on Mar 11, 2013 at 7:30:12 pm

Off the top of my head, "Penn and Teller Get Killed". One of the most honest endings ever. Penn explains it at about the 1:26 mark here:







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Kylee Peña
Re: Favorite Movie Endings?
on Mar 11, 2013 at 8:43:38 pm

I'll tell you why I liked the ending of Silver Linings Playbook. The two broken but attractive people like each other, yes. But there's no way those people have a successful relationship with each other. They're too screwed up, their time is limited....unless it isn't. The "well, what if it's different THIS time, for THESE people" is what I really loved.

[Tim Wilson] "I still can't think of another movie that ends ON the loss."

Unless you're being completely literal about sports and stuff, how about Dancer in the Dark? She gets what she wants, but the credits still roll practically the moment her neck snaps.

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Scott Roberts
Re: Favorite Movie Endings?
on Mar 11, 2013 at 8:50:16 pm

[Kylee Wall] "[Tim Wilson] "I still can't think of another movie that ends ON the loss."

Unless you're being completely literal about sports and stuff, how about Dancer in the Dark? She gets what she wants, but the credits still roll practically the moment her neck snaps."



And then to go towards the extremely literal sports/competition film ending on a loss, there's Friday Night Lights. Team loses, and everything they fought for came up a yard short. Then in the credits we are told that the team won the championship the very next year. In that story, the losing team was more impactful than the (eventual) winning one.


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Kylee Peña
Re: Favorite Movie Endings?
on Mar 11, 2013 at 8:52:06 pm

[Scott Roberts] " In that story, the losing team was more impactful than the (eventual) winning one."

That's really interesting, I hadn't actually seen that so I didn't know they did an epilogue that said they won. Says a lot about what's interesting in a story.

When it comes to loss in any way, it's hard to think of films where it ends on the loss and there's nothing that comes after. We should make a list. Feel bad movies!

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Scott Roberts
Re: Favorite Movie Endings?
on Mar 11, 2013 at 8:55:04 pm

I don't recommend the movie The Mist (based off a Stephen King short story), because I thought it was just ok, but it indeed ends on an insanely depressing note without happiness following.


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Tim Wilson
Re: Favorite Movie Endings?
on Mar 11, 2013 at 9:21:36 pm

[Scott Roberts] "The Mist (based off a Stephen King short story), because I thought it was just ok, but it indeed ends on an insanely depressing note without happiness following."

Wait, weren't we just talking about Dancer In The Dark? LOL

I sort of liked the ending to The Mist, but it's a classic short story ending. Short stories are often just set-ups to a punchline, with that O. Henry "sell the hair to buy the fob/sell the watch to buy a comb" Christmas BS at the top of the list. A lot of episodes of the Twilight Zone were like that too -- bookish guy wants to be left alone so he can read: survives a nuclear explosion to be left alone, but steps on his glasses so he can't read. When the old woman swats down the teeny tiny spaceship that has been torturing her, we see its USAF markings. That kind of thing.

That's the kind of twist that Sixth Sense avoids. It's not a twist that you'd accompany with a rimshot or, as in the case of The Mist or Dancer In The Dark, with a sad trombone.

Seriously, tack this clip onto the end of Dancer In The Dark, you'll see what I mean.




LOL

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Kylee Peña
Re: Favorite Movie Endings?
on Mar 11, 2013 at 11:46:17 pm

How not surprising you aren't a Gift of the Magi fan!

I love endings like this where you're like WHAT, THAT'S IT because usually it's not it and you're waiting for the redemption but oh wait, entirely appropriate sad trombone, no redemption for you. We're so conditioned to get the happy ending that when we don't, we have to go be comatose for a while. I love it a lot.

Likewise, endings that go exactly where you expect: another von Trier film, Melancholia. The frigging ending is the first thing you see in the film. There is NO WAY that doesn't happen. It's pretty definitive. But the whole film, you kind of wonder if maybe they'll find a way to not have their planet collide with another planet. Turns out no, that's pretty much not avoidable. Bummer. Awesome.

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Tim Wilson
Re: Favorite Movie Endings?
on Mar 11, 2013 at 9:23:56 pm

Dancer and FNL are both very good examples, thank you. And actually, That Thing You Do ends with the band breaking up and our hero getting thrown out of his hotel, so I'm sure we can come up with others.

BUT STILL. Rocky is the one that spins it into magic in my book.

My other favorite thing about the ending of SLP is that it's set up more than anything else by J-Law's takedown of DeNiro, one of my favorite scenes taking place at any point in a movie last year. LOL At that point, it's clear that this woman will not be denied. We should have known RIGHT THEN that J-Law was taking home the Oscar.

In the meantime, can't say enough good things about Poltergeist, arguably one of the most underrated pictures of all time. Tomatometer for critics at 87% and audiences only 74%?!? Insanity. A MOCKERY of the Tomatometer. A MOCKERY I say.

As I'm typing this, I'm not sure there's been a single week since 1982 that my wife and I haven't managed to slip "Stay away from the light" or "Allll are welcommme" into a conversation at least once. I just checked her with now in fact, and she confirms. LOL

But pushing the TV cart outside the motel room door is priceless.

Another sign of my advancing years is that I'm belatedly thinking that both Casablanca and Some Like It Hot belong on this list. If not the greatest endings (and maybe only Casablanca enters the fray), certainly among the best last lines of movies...which might be a whole 'nother thread.



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Kylee Peña
Re: Favorite Movie Endings?
on Mar 12, 2013 at 3:08:50 pm

I've now seen mention of best last line, best first line, best opening, worst ending...we should schedule these threads out to get us through to summer. Er, I mean you should. You can do that? With COW magic? Sure why not!

[Tim Wilson] "As I'm typing this, I'm not sure there's been a single week since 1982 that my wife and I haven't managed to slip "Stay away from the light" or "Allll are welcommme" into a conversation at least once."

They're heeeeere. My husband and I share a similar affinity with Dumb and Dumber.

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Tim Wilson
Re: Favorite Movie Endings?
on Mar 12, 2013 at 3:51:02 pm

[Kylee Wall] "Er, I mean you should. You can do that? With COW magic? Sure why not!"

The magic of the COW is that it's full of editors like YOU who can do this. We have our hands full running a website and slipping in to sometimes make snarky and/or overly long posts in this forum....

Tim Wilson
Vice President, Editor-in-Chief
Creative COW



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Kylee Peña
Re: Favorite Movie Endings?
on Mar 12, 2013 at 4:05:34 pm

But of course!

Which makes me think of another awesome movie ending for no particularly good reason: Batman Begins. A fanboy explosion even I can approve of, you can't NOT be excited when Batman flips the card over and you see THE JOKER and you're like holy crap, this is happening right now. I think it's made better by the fact The Dark Knight was so incredibly good. If they set up the Joker and he sucked, maybe that ending would have not been so fun...

Interesting thought about how other films can affect film endings. To me, anyway.

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Bob Cole
Re: Favorite Movie Endings?
on Mar 20, 2013 at 1:17:34 am

The ending of The Apartment is my favorite, but the motorboat scene at the end of Some Like It Hot is wonderful.

What does Jack Lemmon say (inaudibly) at the end? The music comes up and drowns it out. I suspect that somebody realized during the edit that ending on Brown's "Nobody's perfect" was funnier than whatever Lemmon said.

Bob C


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Stephen Smith
Re: Favorite Movie Endings?
on Mar 20, 2013 at 2:44:47 pm

Lots of mentions of Back to the Future 3. I really like the ending of number 1. The most blatant ending wanting a sequel ever...yet, as far as I recall that was a joke with no serious intent to make a sequel. I thought I watched an interview with one of the writers saying they got a call after the movie became the number 1 movie and was told they better get started on the next one. Maybe I need to go back and watch the special feature on my Blu-ray. Can anyone confirm this or am I dreaming?

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Stephen Smith
Re: Favorite Movie Endings?
on Mar 11, 2013 at 8:57:58 pm

[Tim Wilson] "I still can't think of another movie that ends ON the loss."

Good point. Not something most movies do, especially sports movies. Most movies that end on a downer that I can think of don't perform well at the box office or they are a comedy, such as Dr. Strangelove. What a great iconic ending. Love that bomb dropping scene.

Sir, you can't let him in here. He'll see ... I mean, he'll see everything, he'll... he'll see the Big Board!

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Tom Sefton
Re: Favorite Movie Endings?
on Mar 11, 2013 at 7:43:55 pm

I love the ending to inception.


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Tim Wilson
Re: Favorite Movie Endings?
on Mar 11, 2013 at 7:49:31 pm

[Tom Sefton] "I love the ending to inception."


Perfect. Absolutely perfect.


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Kylee Peña
Re: Favorite Movie Endings?
on Mar 11, 2013 at 7:56:11 pm

Interesting how the only satisfying ending to that film is the one that doesn't have an on screen resolution.

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Stephen Smith
Re: Favorite Movie Endings?
on Mar 11, 2013 at 7:51:44 pm

Loved Inception and loved the ending. Either way you look at it the main charter is happy. I really loved that film. I would say it is my all time favorite.

More to add to the list. Plant of the Apes. I remember when I first watched that movie and thought it was okay. Then the ending, wow, that was super cool.

Another film is Wait Until Dark. I hate scary movies probably because of this film. This is a film that you must see if you haven't. Then ending is great. I remember some people saying it won't be scary because it is black and white and old. They admitted they where wrong.

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Scott Roberts
Re: Favorite Movie Endings?
on Mar 11, 2013 at 8:40:57 pm

One of my favorite endings of all time is in Poltergeist. It's great because the film has two climaxes. We go through the epic first ending, with pulling Carole Ann out of the other dimension, being as exciting as can be, and we get the whole "this house is clean" stuff from that short lady. And everything is back to normal! They're packing things into a moving truck, and their lives will be safe once again. A different film could have just ended it right there, and I'm sure most audiences would have been satisfied.

But then the family just has to relax one more night in their ghost-free house before they can leave. And then the clown doll in Robbie's room disappears from its chair. Uhhhhh, that makes me kind of uneasy. OH CRAP, THE CLOWN DOLL IS ALIVE. THE GHOSTS ARE STILL THERE. THIS THING SHOWS UP:



And the action has escalated further than it ever has before. Graves are popping up. Skeletons are shooting at car windshields. We have Coach yelling "YOU ONLY MOVED THE HEADSTONES BUT YOU DIDN'T DIG UP THE BODIES!" like a maniac. Absolute chaos. And then the house implodes upon itself. Awesome, awesome ending.


Also, just throwing it out there, not to add a different element to this thread, but Poltergeist also has one of my favorite movie BEGINNINGS as well. Sorry, I just really love Poltergeist.


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Kylee Peña
Re: Favorite Movie Endings?
on Mar 11, 2013 at 8:46:50 pm

That's a good one, particularly because I really don't like false endings switcheroos. That one was done really well. Maybe they should have stopped with the false happy ending switcheroo after this.

I'll throw another one in there, similar to Sixth Sense in how organic it is within the film and stands up to rewatches - Fight Club. The twist itself, but also the final shot in the film. One of my favorites.

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Rainys Andrew Blekaitis
Re: Favorite Movie Endings?
on Mar 11, 2013 at 9:34:24 pm

Thank you Scott for including horror movies. The creepiest horror movie to me was John Carpenter's The Thing precisely because of its bleak ending. In the end Childs and MacReady huddle together outside the decimated outpost, each not knowing whether the other is a thing, and wait to freeze to death. But since the outpost had not been thoroughly burned to ashes, the human race lost.


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Scott Roberts
Re: Favorite Movie Endings?
on Mar 11, 2013 at 9:41:17 pm

If you like The Thing, and you have 20 minutes to spare, you should watch this two part, very detailed analysis of the ending when you can.


http://io9.com/5833047/watch-this-hyper+detailed-video-analysis-of-the-endi...













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Stephen Smith
Re: Favorite Movie Endings?
on Mar 11, 2013 at 9:46:31 pm

A movie ending I HATE but I think a lot on this thread would like is Night of the Living Dead. At the end I kept thinking, the writers better not do it, they better not do it....dang them!

And can anyone explain the ending of The Birds to me?

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Tim Wilson
Re: Favorite Movie Endings?
on Mar 11, 2013 at 9:57:19 pm

[Stephen Smith] "And can anyone explain the ending of The Birds to me?"

I was so confused by the ending of the movie that I decided to read the 1942 novella by Daphne du Maurier looking for clues. NADA. It turns out that there's a pretty big difference between "ambiguous" and "vague."

Since you asked, though, here's screenwriter Evan Hunter (who I've written about in this forum before) talking about his shock at the difference between what he wrote, and what he saw on the screen.



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Rainys Andrew Blekaitis
Re: Favorite Movie Endings?
on Mar 12, 2013 at 1:45:46 am

Scott, thank you for the analytic clips. I didn't realize how much other people appreciate this overlooked horror classic. The Washington Post panned The Thing the day it debuted, but nowadays it refers to it as a "horror classic."

I watched both clips narrated by Mr. Ager and realized that I never noticed the change in coats by Childs at the end. What surprised me is that Mr. Ager fails to point out when Blair was infected. After the thing is first roasted in the dog cage Blair explains to the others that it wasn't dog but imitation and he touches it with the eraser of his pencil. But what he touches isn't ash. Then he absentmindedly taps his lip with the eraser. Blair becoming infected was so significant because he was the smartest member of the outpost, endowing his imitation with greater power to threaten humans.

Fuchs tells MacReady that any trace of a thing not thoroughly destroyed was still active. And later he tells MacReady that since a trace of the thing is infectious the crew had better eat canned food not prepared by anybody else.

Blasting the erupting thing in the dog cage with shotguns spattered alien tissue. The only way mankind could've prevailed was with perfect disinfection by incineration, but this didn't happen. Oh so creepy, and so too is the closing sound track before credits.

Thank you.


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Tom Sefton
Re: Favorite Movie Endings?
on Mar 11, 2013 at 11:07:28 pm

Inception was such a great film. In spite of its huge budget and massive cast, it is a very personal film. I like how Christopher Nolan has stated that he will never tell anyone what the ending meant for him, but that there are clues that point you in the right direction (like David Chase and the ending of the Sopranos - another of my favourites).

If I had to make a list, like if I had to because making lists is my favourite OCD thing to do about films, then I might put these films in it;

The Good the Bad and the Ugly - Tuco screaming at Blondie after THAT scene
Usual Suspects - obvious choice, but Kevin Spacey's limp straightening out is brilliant
Dr Strangelove - mein fuhrer, I can walk!
Pulp Fiction - Zed's dead baby, Zed's dead
The Searchers - John Wayne, a doorway, the end.
The Godfather - Al Pacino, a doorway, a monster is born, the end.
Memento - so, what the f*(& just happened!!?
Don't Look Now - oh look it's his daughter...... ARRRRGHHHHHH!
The Empire Strikes Back - Han frozen, Luke has no hand and a new dad, Lando is a traitor!
Blade Runner - no, not the happy ending, the one where the unicorn is on the step and the lift doors close
Chinatown - It's Chinatown....
One Flew over the Cuckoos Nest - devastating/happy?


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Kylee Peña
Re: Favorite Movie Endings?
on Mar 11, 2013 at 11:53:15 pm

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest is so great! That's a good one. You know your ending is good if it gets parodied to oblivion.

Also, congratulations to this thread for not making the obvious "one of the endings in Return of the King" joke. So proud!

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Tim Wilson
Re: Favorite Movie Endings?
on Mar 12, 2013 at 1:27:30 am

That's because you didn't ask "what's your favorite movie with 5 endings?"

It's not that I don't like gift of the magi...although I don't LOL and I'd honestly forgotten the name. It's that this kind of surprise ending stopped being a surprise, and even moreso that this is a distinctively story kind of ending. It sometimes feels more like sleight of hand than actual storytelling. Look! She's not really cut in half!

See also: Sound of Thunder.

I can't believe I forgot Empire and Cuckoo. Two more bits of genius. I still have nightmares about Cuckoo. (Me? Nightmares of being imprisoned in a mental institution? Smartassing my way into a lobotomy? Hoping only to have a friend good enough to kill me? THOSE nightmares? Nahhhh....)


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Kylee Peña
Re: Favorite Movie Endings?
on Mar 12, 2013 at 2:11:02 am

I've never seen this before today, and it's relevant to this discussion. My god, it doesn't get much worse than THIS. I can't believe this was scripted, let alone SHOT.



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Tim Wilson
Re: Favorite Movie Endings?
on Mar 12, 2013 at 3:54:25 am

And then the crack wore off.

Are you sure that this wasn't made just to be shown at the cast party or something?

Although let's be honest, even the ending they shot is one of MY least favorites, and probably yours, and I LOVE that movie.


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Mike Cohen
Re: Favorite Movie Endings?
on Mar 12, 2013 at 4:31:26 am

OMG that Titanic ending is so cheesy - it's like the After School Special version.

Ok, here's my list. Anyone who knows me in real life or by my writing on the COW will not see too many surprises here:

Empire Strikes Back - about 10 simultaneous cliff hangers and the good guys lose big

Rocky - the classic screenplay writing / structure lesson

Back to the Future Part III - the end of the journey, or is it? Nice after school special final line by Doc Brown "Your future hasn't been written yet. No one's has. The future is what you make of it, so make it a good one." I recite that to myself all the time.

It's a Wonderful Life - man is redeemed by those he loves

Sixth Sense - what Tim said - too bad M. Night continued making surprise ending movies with less surprise.

Godfather - yeah Part I was a masterpiece. Part III is underrated - it starts with the dilapidated Lake Tahoe estate and ends with Michael Corleone losing his most precious possession as a result of his "business"

Mrs Doubtfire - pretty funny - big reveal to Sally Field - everyone else knew of course - happy ending in a movie essentially about divorce

ET - because I need a good cry now and again

Close Encounters - it's just so darn cool from the time the mothership lands until the end - yeah there are about 50 versions of this

Die Hard - the original - John McClane saves the day, and then Carl from Family Matters saves John - classic

Star Trek I: A superior alien intelligence turns out to be bad at reading

This list could go on for dozens more but that's what comes to mind.

Great thread.

Mike Cohen

PS - Titanic - I never saw that whole ship sinking thing happening - total surprise for me - I thought for sure they'd find a tool chest and an acetylene torch in a janitor's closet and repair the ship

PPS - Superman I - flying around the Earth fast to reverse time - in 1978 this was brilliant - if you want the Donner cut of Superman II this makes more sense

PSS - Schindler's List ends showing actual Shoah survivors in Israel - if that isn't enough to make you cry, try seeing it with your grandfather in Boca Raton with 300 or so Jewish retirees. Powerful stuff.

PSP - Jurassic Park - good guys win, velociraptors get eaten by t-rex, t-rex eats lawyer - should have stopped with one.

ESPN - Jaws - good guys just barely win - shark loses - boat loses - Quinn loses, but after his ordeal with the USS Indianapolis he probably saw it as a form of revenge (sacrifice himself knowing the shark was about to get it) - sort of like Randy Quaid flying his F-16 into the mother ship in Independence Day as payback for being abducted

OK - this has to stop


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Scott Roberts
Re: Favorite Movie Endings?
on Mar 12, 2013 at 2:23:24 pm

I am blown away at that Titanic ending, and I'm sad and disappointed in myself that I've gone this long without knowing of its existence... I can't even fathom how much that ending would have undercut the tone of the entire film leading up to it had it actually been in there.

It also reminded me about what a selfish jerk Rose is. Even if she didn't want to use the money from selling the necklace for her benefit because it would just remind her of her terrible ex-fiance, she could have used the money to build the Jack Dawson Memorial Children's Hospital... Instead of, ya know, throwing it away so no one can benefit. I guess Rose hates children. And probably puppies, too.


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Tom Sefton
Re: Favorite Movie Endings?
on Mar 12, 2013 at 3:37:09 pm

She also hates cinema goers too, in the same way that Michael Bay does.


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Kylee Peña
Re: Favorite Movie Endings?
on Mar 12, 2013 at 3:10:59 pm

[Mike Cohen] ""Your future hasn't been written yet. No one's has. The future is what you make of it, so make it a good one.""

That is so totally after school special and I LOVE it. Good one. Also, awesome flying train. Can't go wrong.

Jaws is a really good one too. A well-crafted and suitable ending that's just BARELY happy. I would have been fine if the shark had won, though.

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Mike Cohen
Re: Favorite Movie Endings?
on Mar 12, 2013 at 8:32:02 pm

[Kylee Wall] "Jaws is a really good one too. A well-crafted and suitable ending that's just BARELY happy. I would have been fine if the shark had won, though."

The mechanical shark very nearly killed the whole movie! But it set the standard for Spielberg's future movies - show very little of the alien/dinosaur/monster yet still tell a good story


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Tim Wilson
Re: Favorite Movie Endings?
on Mar 13, 2013 at 12:23:52 am

[Mike Cohen] " it set the standard for Spielberg's future movies - show very little of the alien/dinosaur/monster yet still tell a good story"

That actually came from his 1971 TV movie Duel, where the truck is obviously shown, but the antagonist driving it is not. Because he had no face, he almost became a force of nature, every bit as impersonal and inexorable a force as the shark four years later.

Steven has said he thinks of the two movies as inextricably connected, and indeed...watch this; I'm about to go back on topic!!...the roar of the truck going over the cliff at the end of Duel is used when the shark's carcass sinks into the ocean in Jaws! The EXACT sound, which Steven placed as a specific tribute to Duel.

Kinda cool along those lines: Duel won an Emmy for Best Sound Editing.

He also said that he still watches Duel at least twice a year to remember just what he accomplished. I agree that it's magnificent. He had plenty of growing ahead of him, but it's the movie where he ARRIVED as a filmmaker.

In fact, the ending of Duel is kind of cool. After being terrorized for the whole movie, with the truck finally driving over the cliff, Dennis Weaver tries to find out who this driver is -- and as far as he can tell, it's nobody. Just some dude f*cking with him. Awesome.

The movie was released theatrically in 1972, with some newly shot extra scenes added to bring up the running time -- and PROFANITY added to make it seem less like a TV movie. Also awesome.

I talk about Jaws a lot. I'm not sure I always think that this is true, but I feel like I can make the case on any given day that this is the best movie ever made. One of the most important forces used to create the sense of dread was the editing by Verna Fields, who had cut Steve's first theatrical feature, Sugarland Express. (SEE THIS. A TERRIFIC MOVIE.) She was known as Mother Cutter after working on some of the great pictures by these upcoming punks like Spielberg, Bogdonavich (What's Up Doc, Paper Moon) and Lucas (American Graffiti).

I can DEFINITELY make the case that she's the highest profile editor that Hollywood has ever seen, much more so than Murch, who mostly became famous as Apple fanboys cried hosanna and laid down palms before him as he rode into the city on a donkey's back. Before that, he was incredibly highly regarded by people who know movies, an Oscar-winning genius -- but to promote Jaws, VERNA was on the talk show circuit for eight months -- ie, famous not just to fanboys or film nerds, but to nearly anyone who watched TV. If you can think of another editor who did this, let me know.

She's not well-remembered because her next job after Jaws was VP of feature production at Universal -- not only among the first women to be that far up the food chain, but the ONLY editor to become a studio production executive. Indeed, to this the day, the only person who actively MADE movies (not just produce them) to become an executive. She also passed away in 1982 at 64, but before she left, she made an impact like few others.

I mention (and mention and mention) her because, as much as she hated getting too much credit for her work on Jaws, Steven was always quick to say that he kept fighting for MORE shark, and she kept fighting for LESS. Not only that, she decided that every time she wanted to make a cut, she WOULDN'T. She'd make the cut WAIT. And WAIT. The tension was insane because she refused to let either Steve's first instincts or her own to change what she felt was ultimately the right thing to do.

Steven learned those lessons well, needless to say. But he certainly got his own ball rolling with Duel in 1971.


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Jeff Breuer
Re: Favorite Movie Endings?
on Mar 15, 2013 at 11:40:48 pm

Sorry I am late to the party, been out for a week. But great conversation. First of all I second a lot of the films mentioned here, Rocky, 6th Sense, Dumb & Dumber, Empire Strikes Back...great choices. Here are a few more.

Loosers:

You have been talking about good endings where the hero looses. Here are some of my favorites.

The Wrestler - Typically not a big fan of films this depressing, but I loved the ending. Really it's the only ending that would have worked for that movie. It's compelling, and even in it's darkness you still see a sense of redemption within himself to make the dive.

Casablanca - One of the all time best endings. He looses by choice, of course, but it's a sacrifice. And it sets up an entirely new story for us to think about. The only way to ruin this ending would have been to make a sequel. But thanks God they didn't. Oh CRAP, THEY ARE!!!

Butch Cassidy & The Sundance Kid - The story is about the two of them and I love their conversation before heading out into the fight. As a man you pretty much cheer them on. Men like to go down fighting. The only tragedy would be if they made a sequel where they really lived. OH CRAP THEY DID!!!

Treasure of Sierre Madre - It doesn't turn out how ANY of them planned and boy does it suck for them. But the story and characters have great arcs and like Casablanca, it sets up a sequel for you to think about in your head. It would just ruin it if they made a...oh phwew...I think we are safe here. No Squekquel.

Sort-Of-Loosers:

(500) Days of Summer - Well played. Clever. A kick that hurts, but honesty (they weren't gonna make it) and yet still some nice cheesy hope at the very, very end.

Hard Luck - The great Buster Keaton. This short film is all about a guy trying hard (and failing) to kill himself (really it's funny!). He ends up in an adventure that builds his confidence and he swings to the other end of the spectrum and gets lavishly cocky. He is diving off of a high dive into a nice pool, but over-shoots and buries himself into a hole in the ground. A caption tells us that years have passed and Buster Keaton comes out of the hole in a Chinese robe with a Chinese wife and kids. Buster said it was the biggest laugh he ever got and that the audience laughed all the way through the credits of the next film.

Winners:
Clue: On the DVD/VHS we get all three endings, but for those of you who didn't know, they only put one ending at the end and shipped out copies with different endings. Then people could call up their buddies and argue about the endinng.

Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans - One of my all time favorite movies and one of the last great silent films to be made. I know Murnau wanted a sad ending and was forced to make it happy, but I like happy endings. And I love how the water, this place marked for death, becomes a desperate hope for salvation. Another story with great arcs and well played out.

Back to the Future: Great wrap up with the story and set up for another story that I can make up in my head unless they....oh yea.

The Man Who Knew Too Little - Great Bill Murray film and one of the most underrated comedies of all time in my opinion. I mention this film not necessarily because of any big surprises or laughs at the end, but I absolutely LOVE that the movie ends with him still thinking this was all a game and people still taking him seriously. If this movie was made 99 other times in Hollywood they would have had the awakening moment at the end and crapped all over a great joke.


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Rainys Andrew Blekaitis
Re: Favorite Movie Endings?
on Mar 20, 2013 at 1:10:51 am

This thread seems to be losing steam, but whatever became of Paul Brinkman? "Risky Business" had an almost perfect ending where the story comes full circle. I love that movie because of its script. Many of the choices in here are fabulous. I love "Some Like It Hot" and its ending, too. I admire the ending to Alan Parker's "Angel Heart." In the end the protagonist finds himself and realizes he can't escape his fate. Alan Parker liberally sprinkled in shots of fan blades spinning, circling; time coming full circle. I think that ending, though not a happy one, was fantastic. Thank you.


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Tom Sefton
Re: Favorite Movie Endings?
on Mar 21, 2013 at 11:33:04 pm

The big lebowski - "f**k it dude, lets go bowling"


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Tim Wilson
Re: Favorite Movie Endings?
on Mar 22, 2013 at 2:11:16 am

Tom wins.

"I don't know about you but I take comfort in that. It's good knowin' he's out there. The Dude. Takin' 'er easy for all us sinners. I sure hope he makes the finals! Well, that about does 'er, wraps 'er all up."

And in a single shot no less.




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