A poor ending can ruin a film. An out of place or tacked on happy finale leaves the viewer with a sense of disillusionment. A good ending however can raise an average movie above its grade, after all the last thing you see is the abiding memory as you leave the cinema.

With that in mind here are the top five film endings.

1: The Good the Bad and the Ugly. Not just the convergence of the three main characters and the tense Mexican standoff but the final few minutes of Sergio Leone’s sprawling masterpiece. Hung up and presumably left for dead, Tuco struggles in vain issuing unfounded threats aimed towards the departing Blondie.

As Clint Eastwood’s stoic gunslinger dwindles into the distance the curses turn to pleas, until from an improbable distance he turns, lines up a shoot and does what he has done so many times before. Then that music.

2: The Empire Strikes Back. The second act of any story should present obstacles for the characters to overcome and as the middle part of the trilogy, Empire does this perfectly; the revel of Luke’s parentage, the cliffhanger nature of the end, the extinguishing of nearly all hope.  An ending so iconic people are still talking about it in popular culture today.

Whether questioning the decision of Lando to wear Han’s clothes or discussing why it is better than Jedi. Take it away Mr Hicks: Luke gets his hand cut off, finds out Vader’s his father, Han gets frozen and taken away by Boba Fett. It ends on such a down note. I mean, that’s what life is, a series of down endings.

3:Inception. One of the simplest but most effective ways to end a movie is to cut off without force-feeding the audience the conclusion. You leave it up to them to work it out.


Does the top ever stop spinning? Does Cob finally have the future he has always dreamed of? Do his children ever turn around? Or is he stuck forever in an alternate reality?

It is up to you to come up with your own theories and explanations. Notable examples included; The Italian Job, Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.

4:The Usual Suspects. Throughout Kevin Spacey has kept the viewers and Chazz Palminteri hooked with his enthralling tale. The moment of revel is expertly handled and everything falls into place at just the right instant. Verbal limping away as his interrogator has the sudden and shocking understanding of the whole picture.

It was all a story designed to buy the criminal genius time but then the waiting car is opened by Pete Postlethwaite, who featured and was killed in Spacey’s ramblings. Now the question of how much was real? How much imagined must be answered.

5:Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Even though this was Python at their most random there was still a narrative, the quest for the titular grail. It was basic but a great excuse for one of the most quoted films of all time and as the film ambled towards a conclusion you begin to think that a payoff is in the offering but then…


What was the point in that? Where did the police come from? Is it actually set in Arthurian times or is everybody bonkers? And those coconuts…

Then you realise the only point of the film and indeed the ending is to make people laugh and in that Terry Gilliam and co succeeded and in bucket loads.

So what are your favourite endings? Most hated endings? Comment below and lets break down some walls!


One thought on “The end cometh.

  1. Pingback: This is the end. | Doug M

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