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Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Why I Love A Good Movie Ending. (Part I)

Being that the ending to the Man on the Ledge was so bad I decided to do a little focus on some of the best endings to movies. Some of the movies on this list are surprise twist endings and a few are just amazing endings.
The following post reveals the endings to some of the greatest movies of all time. If you have not seen these movies then please skip that paragraph so that I don’t ruin the movie for you.
“And Here We Go!”

25. The Game (1997)
This film got a mixed bag of reviews from the critics, some loved it and others hated it. The film is constantly leaving you guessing what is part of “The Game” and what is reality. There are so many little twists that you really get confused whether you are in the game or not. The ending is way over the top as Michael Douglas attempts to commit suicide by jumping off a building only to land on a big balloon that was part of “The Game.” There is no question that this was a surprise ending that no one saw coming. For that reason, it has earned the 25th spot on the list.

24. Chaos (2005)
In this little known film starring Jason Statham, Ryan Phillippe and Wesley Snipes, Statham and Phillippe are a mismatched pair of cops teamed together to catch Snipes who is a brilliant mastermind thief. It would take too long to explain the entire film but essentially no one is who they seem and the revelation that Lorenz (Snipes) is really former detective Jason York, (he killed the real Lorenz) and that Jason Statham was not actually killed in the house explosion are both great twists. Statham’s character escaped after it was revealed that we was secretly Lorenz’s partner in the all the bank heists. If you are confused, that is ok, just watch the movie and everything I said will make sense. Just trust me on this one.

23. Black Swan (2010)
The award winning performance by Natalie Portman is one for the ages. When Nina (Portman) gets into a fight with Lilly (Mila Kunis) and subsequently stabs her, it is revealed that she has stabbed herself and that Kunis was her alter-ego. With Nina subsequently going on to complete the greatest performance of her life as the Black Swan, she then dies after her performance; thus, causing her to reenact the story of Swan Lake itself. While everyone watching this film understood that Nina had issues, the ending that she was in fact both characters was an awesome twist and simply added to the brilliance of her performance.

22. Reindeer Games (2000)
In this cult-classic heist film; Rudy (Ben Affleck) assumes the identity of his buddy Nick (James Frain) who was murdered in prison. Once out of jail, Ben Affleck falls for Nick’s pen-pal love “Ashley” (Charlize Theron) and assumes Nick’s identity. Unfortunately for him, Ashley’s brother wants to use Rudy for a big casino heist. The film’s two big twists occur once it’s realized that Ashley and Gabriel (Gary Sinese) are actually lovers and that Ashley was playing Rudy the whole time. In the end, everything is turned upside down when in fact Nick was not killed in prison and was in fact in on the plan the entire time, hoping to pin the entire job on Rudy. The film has become quite the cult classic and the great twists and the classic casino heist as earned this film a place on the list.

21. Basic (2003)
This relatively unknown film is an underrated drama. The film stars Samuel L. Jackson as Master Sergeant Nathan West, as an elite and legendary Army Ranger who incurs a series of unfortunate yet unclear events when training a group of Rangers. The training mission goes terrible wrong leaving some killed and some whereabouts unknown. The investigation is unveiled as part of the interrogation of the surviving members by Captain Julia Osborne (Connie Nielsen) and Tom Hardy (John Travolta). The big twist at the end is that the mission-gone-wrong was actually a cover in order to end an illegal drug smuggling operation and that the “killed” men were actually all involved in the mission. Though the ending is a little tacky, having the results of this long interrogation unveiled was fun to watch.

20. Shutter Island (2010)
This Scorsese picture starring Leo DiCaprio was a very good film. Set in the 1950’s, U.S. Marshall Teddy Daniels (DiCaprio) is investigating the disappearance of a murderer from a mental institution for the criminally insane. As DiCaprio begins to unearth the mystery of the missing patient he begins to question the hospital, its staff and the methods used on the patients. Eventually all is revealed and Teddy is actually Andrew Laeddis and is a patient himself on the island. The entire disappearance was an elaborate show in order to help Andrew realize the truth about his life. Once all is revealed Andrew becomes aware of his surroundings only to apparently lose them in the final scene. In order to avoid a lobotomy, Andrew must succeed in leaving his delusional world. Once we think he finally has come to his wits, he brings everything into question In a great last scene. Andrew asks the doctor “Is it better to live and be a monster, or die a good man?” This statement was implying that the treatment did in fact work and he has not regressed, but he would rather be lobotomized than live with the knowledge that he killed his wife and was unable to save his children.

19. Identity (2003)
I loved this movie starring John Cusack. The film revolves around a group of people at a remote motel where members of the group are being killed off by an unknown killer. What begins as a normal thriller turns into something much more when in fact all the people at this motel are actual characters in the mind of a psychotic killer who is sitting in prison. No one seeing this movie saw this coming even if the scenes in the prison were confusing. Essentially, the prisoner had multiple personalities and the drama at the Motel was the showdown of these personalities. As it appears that the good portion of the killer’s mind prevails, it is his evil and maniacal child killer that wins in the end. These were two shocks that no one saw coming. The film had some good actors and was entertaining from start to finish.

18. Inception (2010)
Another DiCaprio film from the same year moves into the 19th spot. Inception is better known for its brilliant and innovative plot and dream worlds but in its purity the film has an epic and twisted ending. It is eventually revealed that Cobb (DiCaprio) agreed to do Inception because he has in fact performed inception on his wife Mal (Marion Cotillard). In order to convince his wife to leave Limbo after 60 plus years, he plants an idea in her head that she is dreaming, forcing her to come back to reality. Unfortunately, he planted the idea so deep that Mel thought she was in fact dreaming while in the real world; causing her to commit suicide. This alone was not the biggest twist at the end of the movie. As the mission appears successful, Cobb returns home to his kids and spins the top on the table as he is reunited with his kids. As the film ends, the camera focuses on the top which continues to spin yet wobbles on the table as the film cuts to the credits. No one knows if the top falls and Cobb is actually back with his kids or if the top continues spinning and Cobb is in fact still dreaming and caught in Limbo. This could arguably be the most debated ending ever to a film. It deserved this spot on the list.

17. Arlington Road (1999)
Yet another underrated film, Arlington Road stars Jeff Bridges and Tim Robbins. The film is a back and forth action/drama as college professor and widowed husband of a FBI Terrorist Specialist, Michael Farraday (Bridges) suspects his neighbor Oliver Lang (Robbins) of being a terrorist. It is unclear the entire movie whether the creepy Lang is in fact a terrorist or not but all is revealed at the end. As Lang is in fact exposed as a terrorist, the already deemed crazy Farraday is tricked into driving the bomb itself into the FBI building thus making himself the terrorist. I thought the movie was well done and intuitive. The ending was perfect in the way that it gave us a surprise ending and summed up the movie perfectly.

16. Back to the Future (1986)
Putting the fact that this was one of my favorite movie franchise of all time aside, this film has to go down as one of if not the most gutsy calls for a sequel. To be duplicated hundreds of time after it, this film was the first to so blatantly call for a sequel in its last scene. As all appears good in the world of Marty McCfly, Doc Brown appears in the last moments of the film informing Marty that something has happened in the past and the mismatched team needs to go back to the past to fix his future. The moment was not only a perfect ending to the film but was the perfect setup for a sequel. If not for the amazing ending, this film’s bold call for its sequel in its final scene deserves a mention on the list.

15. Twelve Monkeys (1995)
This is another relatively unknown film but boasts some impressive names. Bruce Willis plays James Cole, a convict in an apocalyptic world who is sent back in time to stop a horrible virus from being spread. Brad Pitt was nominated for best supporting actor as his role as Jeffery Goins, the leader of a group called the 12 Monkeys who are credited with releasing the man-made virus. Cole struggles through the movie with dreams and memories of when he was a child and witnessed a man killed before his eyes in the airport. The big reveal at the end of the movie is that it is in fact the older Cole back in time that is shot in front of his younger self. He is essentially scarred from witnessing his own death. The ending was shocking and disturbing yet very satisfying as a close to the film.

14. Citizen Kane (1941)
This is widely considered the greatest movie of all time. It would only be fitting that the greatest movie of all time had a great ending. One of the greatest enigmas in movie history was and always will be “what is the meaning of rosebud.” In the classic film, Charles Foster Kane, an infamous powerful man dies after living a very private life with his parting words being “rosebud”. The rest of the film delves into the unearthing of Kane’s past all the way to his childhood. In the last scene of the film, as Kane’s possessions are sold and disposed of, a seemingly meaningless sled is thrown away and burned as the name “rosebud” appears. The sled was a symbol to Kane’s childhood which was apparently the only time he was ever truly happy. Though not the glorious of endings, it put a close to the debate and to what many consider the greatest film ever made.

13. Unbreakable
In this debated M. Night Shalaman follow up to The Sixth Sense, Shyalaman once again stunned audiences with a fabulous ending. While many didn’t love this film, I have always been a fan. Bruce Willis plays David, a divorced security guard who has super strength and is basically unbreakable. He is the only survivor of a horrific train accident and without a scratch on him, Elijah Price (Samuel L. Jackson) sees the potential that David has as a real life superhero. The kicker to the film is that Elijah is in fact a killer and a villain who has been committing mass murder bombings to find someone who is unbreakable. Elijah suffers from a rare disease in which he is uber-breakable and performs these acts of domestic terrorism in order to find his opposite. The ending sequence in which the truth is revealed is done beautifully and shocks us regardless if we will admit it or not.

12. Scream (1996)
This has to go down as one of the most iconic horror films of all time. The film changed the horror genre for all time and it is no surprise that it had an ending that no one saw coming. Wes Craven’s classic pulled off a brilliant twist as he revealed that in fact there were two killers. It was both Billy Loomis and his best friend Stuart that were out to get Sidney (Neve Cambell). If you tell me you thought Billy Loomis was actually one of the killers after he was shockingly stabbed in the bedroom than you are simply lying.

11. The Prestige (2006)
In my opinion this is such an underrated movie. The film has tons of twists, has a fantastic ending and is worth seeing many times over as so many little nuances are revealed. I would expect nothing less from the brilliant Christopher Nolan. The film revolves around the feuding and competing magicians Robert (Hugh Jackman) and Borden (Christian Bale). If you have not seen this film than this will confuse you but the ending to this film was fantastic. Borden played a trick on Robert as his journal was in fact not full of secrets but actually a tool to fool Robert. Then it is revealed that Robert, in his attempt to duplicate Borden, was actually committing suicide each night but surviving by cloning himself. The beauty is that Borden was able to pull off the trick without any magic, he in fact had a twin who was performing the trick and sharing the spotlight. This amazing revelation is done perfectly and sheds light onto every scene. If you watched this film a second time you realize all the little nuances of having two twins living the same and yet very different lives. Nolan did it once again.

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