Sunday, June 12, 2011

Top 5 Movie Endings

It's been a light month on NAGAYT, need to get some filler in here. Nothing like a top 5 list to get the blogging juices flowing. As for this post, the topic at hand is movie endings. I love a good movie ending. It should tie the plot together and leave you either fulfilled or wanting more. Relief, elation, sadness, anger, or just excitement are all emotions that a solid ending should invoke. A movie ending that leaves the audience with a strong sense of anticipation is something that has been abused in this era of hypersequelization. However, when the sequel-is-coming ending is done right, it's a thing of beauty.

The "ending" of a movie is more than just the concluding scene. To me, it's the last 15-20 minutes of a movie in which the plot reaches it's climax and the action concludes. Think of a movie ending as a save situation, because sports can be compared to anything in life, and that's what we do best here at NAGAYT.

"1-2-3 lights out": this is the best sort of movie ending. There's no unnecessary drama, no distractions, the ending gets in and gets out without any bullshit. No baserunners, no pitching changes, no unexplainable plot twists. The game isn't extended to an annoying length in order to figure out what we already know. A great cinematic example of a lights out movie ending would be One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest.

"How is that a save?": This would be the mediocre save effort. Yeah it gets the job done but it could've been so much better. Movies with mediocre endings leave you a bit annoyed and let down. You spent the last 2 hours committed to the movie, but the ending had more filler than a McDonald's chicken nugget. Imagine your team going to the 9th inning with a 3 run lead with the 7-8-9 hitters due up. Next thing you know, it's a 1 run game and the cleanup hitter is up there with 2 men on. Not what you bargained for. But this isn't a blown save, as the cleanup hitter ultimately strikes out and your team wins as you wipe sweat from your brow and stop cursing the closer. Movies that are guilty of this sort of sloppy endings are any comedies made after the year 2000 that are over 100 minutes in length. Also, they get a little too serious for your liking, I'm looking at you Knocked Up.

"The Blown Save": This is a pretty straightforward concept. The movie totally shits the bed in the final 20 minutes. The plot goes haywire, the inevitable happens (romance films), shortcuts are taken (War of the Worlds), the good guys win (basically all sports movies), or the incredibly well dressed bank robbers make out with alot of money (the "Ocean's" movies). It sucks when a decent movie loses it's way. It's even worse when a great movie loses it's way. You want so badly to believe your time has been well spent. But you get that sick feeling of forcing yourself to enjoy something which you truly aren't. But in the end, your team plays well, they take a lead to the ninth, and just can't hold it down.

Great Movies, Great Endings: The Top 5 (in particular order)

5. E.T.

A throughly great movie. The action was beautifully built up. The bike chase scene at the end is the greatest chase scene ever. Period.

4. Apollo 13

The audience knows full well that the Apollo 13 astronauts survived the crisis. Yet, if you put a lump of coal in my ass during the opening credits, by the time the command module splashed down you'd have a crown jewel.

3. Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back

Not only did Empire live up to the hype of the first film, it delivered new characters and a fantastic movie ending. The bad guys won. In fact, the bad guys rolled. But the rebels were still in the fight. Luke finally squared off with Darth Vader, and got his ass handed to him. Han Solo is frozen in carbonite. I could not imagine the angst of waiting 3 years for the final installment of the trilogy.

2. Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade

Spielberg and Lucas pulled off the improbable by making the third installment of the Indy trilogy an awesome flick. I absolutely love the ending, they find the 1000+ year old knight chilling with the Holy Grail, the Nazi's get an ass whooping, Indy, his dad, Marcus Brody, and Salah ride off into the sunset as heroes with John Williams' epic score playing. Fantastic way to wrap up the trilogy. If you think Crystal Skull was an Indiana Jones film, get the fuck out of here.

1. The Terminator

"There's a storm coming".

"I know".

Queue dramatic Terminator score. It doesn't get better than that.

Honorable Mentions: One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest, Back to the Future, The Sandlot, Saving Private Ryan, Raging Bull, Platoon, E.T., It's A Wonderful Life, The Godfather, The Wrestler, The Girl Next Door, Jaws, The Sting, The Great Escape. Other suggestions welcome.