Ten Memorable Movie Endings

If you’re going to go to all the trouble of making a movie, you might want to ensure it has a great ending. There’s nothing worse than sitting in a theater for two hours only to have the final few minutes horribly suck. We’ve all been there. It ain’t fun. Throughout cinema’s 100 plus years there have been scores of fantastic finishes. Citizen Kane, Gone With the Wind and Close Encounters of the Third Kind are just three off the top of my head. It would be impossible to single out every film, so the following ten are not meant to represent any sort of “Best Of” list. These just happen to be a bunch that I find particularly satisfying for one reason or another. Grab some popcorn and a box of Junior Mints. It’s time to experience ten memorable movie endings. (Warning: Spoilers dead ahead!!!!!)

10 – The Lost Boys (1987)

I remembering renting this horror classic on a Friday night back when videotape reigned supreme. Me and a couple pals watched it over and over until three in the morning. These vampires were cool. They dressed the part and rode motorcycles. Rad, man. I dig this wrap up because after Grandpa kills the head bloodsucker, he calmly walks to the fridge, gulps down a Dr. Pepper, and reveals he knew all along about the damn vampires in Santa Carla. Cue “People are Strange.”

9 – The Matrix (1999)

Without a doubt, one of the best movie-going experiences in my life was seeing The Matrix. I was beyond impressed by its story and groundbreaking special effects. Hell, even Keanu Reeves was tolerable. After the incredible subway fight, Neo starts to believe. Next, he makes a phone call. “Wake Up” by Rage Against the Machine blares on the soundtrack. Then Neo puts on his shades… and takes flight. An ending that oozes cool.

8 – The Karate Kid (1984)

I must have seen this crowd-pleaser at least six times in the theater. It was right in my adolescent wheelhouse. I wanted to be Daniel Larusso. I wanted a short Japanese handyman to be my martial arts mentor. I wanted that yellow convertible. Once Cobra Kai kingpin John Kreese ordered Johnny Lawrence to sweep the leg, things looked bleak for Daniel. Then Mr. Miyagi gave the nod and Daniel took the crane position. The rest is history.

7 – No Country For Old Men (2007)

The finale of the Coen Brothers’ Best Picture Oscar Winner left most scratching their heads. What was everyone expecting? Sheriff Bell to hunt down Chigurh and take him out? The Coens don’t play that way. Instead, we get a monologue from Bell recounting a dream about his father. Bell is the product of a simpler, more innocent time. The world in which he lives is no longer recognizable. Only in death will he again find peace. Tick, tock. Cut to black.

6 – Heat (1995)

I could watch this movie all day long. Director Michael Mann’s cops and robbers masterpiece featured a first: Al Pacino and Robert De Niro acting together in the same scenes. Unlike last year’s deplorable garbage pile Righteous Kill, these two screen legends didn’t disappoint. The last shot is absolutely stunning. As Moby’s “God Moving Over the Face of the Waters” crescendos, Vincent Hanna clasps the hand of a dying Neil McCauley. Resembling a fallen king slumped on his throne, McCauley departs this life. Powerful stuff.

5 – Fight Club (1999)

I respect any movie that can dupe me. I didn’t see the whole split personality thing coming. I applaud you David Fincher. You pulled off one of the most clever twists in the history of cinema. Tyler Durden was so whacked-out, his only recourse was to shoot himself in the face. While a bleeding Tyler and a bewildered Marla hold hands, Project Mayhem is executed right before their eyes to the sounds of “Where Is My Mind?” by the Pixies. A fitting end to an amazing flick.

4 – Unforgiven (1992)

Clint Eastwood has been kicking ass since the ’60s. Besides Paul Newman, Clint is easily my favorite Hollywood star. Last year’s Gran Torino proved the old man still has skills both in front of and behind the camera. Unforgiven gave Eastwood some long overdue Oscar gold and all of it was deserved. Once William Munny disposes of vicious Little Bill Daggett, he climbs on his horse to leave the town of Big Whiskey. Before riding off into a pouring night rain, he issues a warning. Beware the wraith of William Munny.

3 – Apocalypse Now (1979)

Surreal. Poetic. Eerie. Intense. All these words perfectly encapsulate Francis Ford Coppola’s Vietnam epic. I could sing the praises of this film six ways to Sunday, but I’ll spare you my incessant fawning. Safe to say, when Captain Willard finally gets around to killing Colonel Kurtz, we are treated to two of the most famous words ever uttered on film. If you don’t what what they are, you live a very sheltered life.

2 – Blade Runner (1982)

Greatest. Sci-fi. Movie. Ever. Just my opinion, folks. The dystopia created by Director Ridley Scott was done in an era without CGI. The results still hold up today. Scott’s cut of the film is the only one I acknowledge. Gone are the hokey narration and out of place cheery coda. As Replicant Roy Batty breathes his last moments, he laments for all the beautiful things he has seen. “Time to die.” A poignant close to a visionary work of art.

1 – The Usual Suspects (1994)

Who is Keyser Söze? No one knows. And like that, he’s gone….

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