Nothing makes a movie quite as memorable as a good ending. Whether they come suddenly or they’re expected, the most satisfying movie endings leave you thinking about what you just watched for a while. Similarly, there’s nothing worse than a good movie with a bad ending. Thankfully, we’re here today to talk about good endings: the best movie endings of all time.
There’s no single way to achieve a great film ending. Some of the best movie endings leave you wanting more, while others wrap everything up in a neat bow. The perfect plot twist can leave everyone in the crowd gasping, or a great soundtrack can end things on a perfect final note. A beautiful final shot or a devastating line of dialogue can really stay with an audience.
Horror movies have to end with one last good scare. Comedies have to end with one last good joke or payoff to a running gag. Romantic movies have to end… well, they should end romantically, but that doesn’t always happen. Ultimately, what ties together all of the best movie endings is that they exceed expectations. We’re talking about the movie endings that you immediately need to talk to your friends and coworkers about, the ones that prompt immediate discussion of serious issues, the ones that leave you in a puddle of your own joyful or heartbroken.
Without further ado, here are the best movie endings of all time. Spoilers abound, obviously.
8 1/2 (1963)
2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
Boogie Nights (1987)
Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964)
The Godfather (1972)
The Graduate (1967)
Director: Spike Jonze
Stars: Scarlett Johansson, Joaquin Phoenix, Amy Adams, Rooney Mara, Olivia Wilde
Invasion Of The Body Snatchers (1978)
La La Land (2016)
Director: Damien Chazelle
Stars: Emma Stone, Ryan Gosling, John Legend, J.K. Simmons, Rosemarie DeWitt
Lost In Translation (2003)
Director: Sofia Coppola
Stars: Scarlett Johansson, Bill Murray, Anna Farris, Giovanni Ribisi, Catherine Lambert
Night of the Living Dead (1968)
No Country for Old Men (2007)
One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest (1975)
Planet of the Apes (1968)
Rosemary’s Baby (1968)
The Royal Tenenbaums (2001)
Say Anything (1989)
The Shawshank Redemption (1994)
Sunset Boulevard (1950)
The Taking of Pelham One Two Three (1974)
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)
The Third Man (1949)
Director: Carol Reed
Stars: Orson Welles, Joseph Cotten, Alida Valli
Hero solves the crime, wastes the bad guy, and gets the girl. That's how things are supposed to end, but that's not exactly the case in Carol Reed's masterful film noir. The Third Man weaves a pulpy murder mystery set against the backdrop of post-WWII Vienna. While the Allies divide up the country, bumbling American fiction writer Holly Martins (Joseph Cotten) arrives, stumbling upon a conspiracy and the fetching woman Anna who is tied up in the ordeal.