Best movie endings ever : Twists in the tale

by - May 09, 2009


The heroine and the hero's mother are tied up, strapped to some colourful time bombs. The villain and his gang of goons are all laughing ridiculously, even though technically they're close enough to get blasted if the time bomb explodes. Not to worry however as the warehouse door gets smashed as our hero enters jumping/in a horse/in a jeep. He and his gang of 3 college friends, one servant and one father ( and horse, if applicable ) fight the 35 goons, with the servant defeating his opponents using comical tactics. After beating the crap out of 34.5 goons, the focus turns on the heroine and suddenly the villain remembers he has a remote control for the time bomb as well. But our hero's too quick for him, beating the crap out of him till the police arrive. They arrest the villain. Just as the time bomb is removed and the couple hug, the villain steals the head officer's gun and turns towards the hero. Luckily his bullet hits the diving geriatric father and before he can shoot a second round, the hero takes a gun and kills the villain. Of course, the shot to the old dad is harmless and with the dead body lying there, the couple, the servant, dad and 3 best friends form a line and tell a cheap joke looking directly into the camera. THE END.

There. I'm sorry everyone but I've just told you the ending of 80 % of all Bollywood movies.( 95 %, if this were still the 90's. ) Sure, there maybe variations ( Daddy dies of the bullet wound, there maybe a NRI babe who's been chasing the hero but in the end decides to let the other girl keep him, gives up mini skirts and spends the rest of her life wearing white sarees ), but this was the standard formula, wasn't it ? And that's where we always got stuck. We never knew how to end movies... and the fact is that a good ending always tugs at your heart or mind, depending on what it aims to achieve.

So what were the best movie endings ever ? Here's my list of some movies that raised the bar simply because of a tremendous ending.Please note, there are movie spoilers here revealing the endings, so be warned before you continue reading.

Category I : The "Oh my God !! No way !!" ending.

Excluded : All teenage slasher/gore movies wherein in the last scene the dead villain suddenly comes is seen hidden in the cupboard/under the bed/ in my shorts. So that means no Scream/I know what you did last summer/Urban Legends/Final destination. Because we expected that !!

Consolation prizes : Too many to choose. So I had to leave out quite a few from the final 5 list. Still here are some movies worth the ticket just for the twist in the tail.
* Seven : "What's in the box ?" he asks. I remember this movie more than a decade after I last saw it for the tremendous ending between Brad Pitt as a cop who has no idea what's in the parcel and a very very calm murderous Kevin Spacey.
* The Usual Suspects : Watch it for Kevin Spacey. Avoid the Hindi version - Chocolate.
* Fight Club : Same director as Seven. You feel there's a twist coming up, but you ain't expecting what happens in the end.
* Primal Fear : This is more out of respect to the book really. But still, Edward Norton playing a choir boy with split personality accused of murder and on trial with only a pompous lawyer ( Richard Gere ) to save his ass from the gallows makes for compelling viewing. But somebody's gotta secreeeeeeet....

5.a Memento : You have a guy telling the story backwards. He loses his memory every 15 minutes and we're seeing it from the ending when he's killed someone to the beginning in short 5 minute bursts. It should have been a terribly annoying "creative concept" movie. But the ending when you realise you've been wrong about our hero all along changes the whole way you look at the movie and makes this a classic.

5.b Dead Silence : I really thought this was a cheap B-grade horror movie from the 80s. It's only while doing research to write this bit that I found out it was released in 2007 !!! Let's see. You have a ventriloquist dummy that's around when people die, their face stuck in a horrific pose. And then you have a guy trying to find out how the dummy's involved. Everything about this movie suggests it's gonna be a cheesy, cheap graphic, blood laden movie. Quite the opposite actually. It turns out to be a spooky horror mystery ( yes, with cheap graphics ) with an ending you'd never guess. Oh !! And the reason the dummy here has the same name as the dummy in the Saw series... same director/ writer for both !! Should have known.. should have known.

4. The Ring : Tell me you didn't get freaked out when the kid's face goes into shock when Naomi Watts tells him she saved the little girl Samara. And then you realise that little Samara doesn't want your pity or to be heard, after all. She ain't after redemption.. She's just after you.
That's the last time I'm ever gonna trust a uncombed little Japanese girl who comes out of Tv sets EVER AGAIN in my life.

3. The Prestige : 2 turn of the century magicians spend their entire lives trying to understand and outdo the other. While Hugh Jackman and Christian Bale ( Wolverine and Batman, for crying out loud ) meant eye candy for the girls, the script was totally filled with hidden hints that there was more than met the eye. And the ending revealed just how far both magicians were willing to go to succeed. A smart man's movie. Another movie loosely based on magicians with a good ending - Edward Norton's The Illusionist.

2. Saw : The movie had a pretty creepy feel to it throughout. Two guys awakening to find they're chained in a toilet with a dead man lying in between them. That was the introduction to the phenomenon that was the vigilante serial killer who 'doesn't kill', Jigsaw ( I still say India needs a 100 Jigsaws in real life. Maybe then, people will be a little more scared to commit crimes. ) Anyway, the ending catches you totally unawares. The signature theme music rising to a crescendo followed by awesome 'betcha didn't see that coming' endings would become a trademark of the series. Isn't it weird though that there have been 5 Saw movies even though the villain died in the 3rd part ???

1. The Sixth Sense : Well, really, there's no way this wasn't getting on the list, right ? If you're lucky like me, noone told you the ending before you saw the movie and you enjoyed the moment when Bruce Willis's wife drops the ring and the flashbacks begin, suddenly turning a pretty dull movie into an amazing art of storytelling. Shyamalan has tried repeatedly to repeat this kahani mein twist style of his with terrible results, though Unbreakable had a good ending too which you don't see coming.

I'm sure I've missed out some movies here. Anyway, tell me what you think of this list and if there are any you'd recommend just for their totally unexpected endings.

post-blogpost Recommendations ( In no particular order ) :
21 - Prats
A Wednesday - Nags
Lucky Number Slevin - Brocasarea
The Others - Gazal
Shawshank Redemption, August Rush - The Geekie
Eden Lake - Raj Prasan
Old boy, Donnie Darko, Ek Khiladi Ek Hasina - Careless Thinker
Stigmata, Gupt - Meira
Fracture, Silence of the Lambs, Hannibal Rising, Hannibal - T-Rex
Identity - Sourcebound

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  1. I guess u r in the process of changing the template..there's some html script on the top..

    As for the list..seen only seven.had loved it.Yet to check the rest.

  2. Some problems with the Template. Feed war perfect. Loved the article.

    By the way you missed 21, I thought being a doctor yourself you shouldn't have missed that one :-)

  3. Both of you, Thanks. I had just been viewing via Chrome so I couldnt see the template error.. found it while viewing under Firefox.. corrected it..

    And Prats, honestly, never seen one called 21.

  4. Of the movies I saw recently, 'A Wednesday' had a pretty decent ending, although I guessed it before we reached the end! I am yet to see Saw 4 and 5 too..

  5. my fav among these are saw[just too good],usual suspects[totally unexp ending] and prestige....

    p.s-u have left out "lucky no slevin" man[bruce willis] it..its too good!!

  6. Nags, true. A Wednesday's ending is a bit predictable. I guess Race was a more unexpected ending if you think of it. As for Saw series, well's i guess even 4 was ok, but i felt 5 really lost the plot. It was like they kept the 'tests' as an afterthought.

  7. Brocasarea, absolutely right. That's a movie i've missed in that i've never had a chance to watch it. Wil add to my wishlist

  8. shamefully have to admit.except for seven and sixth sense haven't seen the rest.You are right Shym. hasnt been able to recreate that magic in his other movies.

    my recommendation"the others". loved nicole kidman in that movie.

  9. My God, Gazal.. totally my mistake.. I'd thought of it earlier, but forgotten all about it while making the final list.. definitely THE OTHERS deserved a mention in here

  10. Like Ghazal, I am quite embarassed about not having seen anything save Sixth Sense and Unbreakable. I kinda lost my will to expect the unexpected from Shyamalan's movies afterwards. But the rest would have climbed up my list if I didn't have to expect the endings!! :D

  11. Must say a good selection...have seen all except The prestige. and that is one hell of a movie- my girlfriend tells me.

  12. Purpleheart, I havent had the will to even watch the last few Shyamalan movies. The Happening DVD has been with me for atleast 7 months now.. even during extreme boredom i dont pick it up..

    T-Rex, enjoy The Prestige. It's one of those movies you'll want to watch again to see if you missed any clues in between.

  13. ohh i luv the new template!! very pretty and much more easier to read! :)

    ive seen Prestige, Ring and Sixth Sense along the ones u listed and wholely agree! Prestige especially was one such movie where everything sort of falls into place only in the last 5 mins..before that i was just suuper confused with all the flashbacks and time travel the script was doing!

  14. coming back again to the rest of the movies..the japanese version of the ring was too scary..and sixth sense and illusionist were awesome.

    And now the blog looks all sorted out :)

  15. Sunshine.. do watch the others.. I assure you you won't be disappointed. And thanks.. I find this template among the simplest Ive ever used, but very likeable.

    Illeen.. somehow I liked the American version better... I felt they made better use of the images in the video. Thats what I remember anyway.

    And ya, thanks for the heads up on the blog look.. if I'd remained seeing it via Chrome, Id never have noticed the weird html

  16. seven.....ring...sixth sense watched..

    best ending i liked was in Shawshank Redemption and August Rush..i hope u seen hv those

  17. no for a change i wont talk abt ur post today... i am gonna trip over ur tempy instead

    man.. awesome change... Psst i hated ur purple layout... so this one roxxx esp as it is my favurite color... yay

    and i still lauging out loud at ur d author wants to stress column... do u really have tht heart listening thingy, doc...

    har har har

  18. Geekie, never saw August Rush.. and Shawshank Redemption will definitely get featured in a different category of best movie endings..working on it.

  19. Rat, thanks a bunch. Noone's really commented on that "author wants to stress thingy" and its something i took a bit of effort on... still, wanted something different from the usual as always.

    as for template, I remember Ashwini telling me the purple one sucked.. in hindsight u gals were right.. just so focussed on changing... this seems more pleasant doesnt i could change every little bit in it, header, colour scheme etc

    and honestly, i dont know if i still have the heart listening thingy.. its should be safely tucked away in pune i hope

  20. do watch it...who might become ur favo

  21. haha ha.. i actually read thru it thrice befor jumping to d comment box....

    am i lucky today.. no shotguns please :-P

    but u need not have worked hard on this.. humor comes naturally to u, doctor..

    and i hope al ur things are safe at pune including my teddybear.. i ll kill u if u lose it...

  22. will do, Geekie.

    Rats, no promises till i reach back and see it for myself.

    read an interesting tidbit today... seems they're making THE PRESTIGE in Hindi. Sanjay Leela Bhansali directing, with Hrithik and Ash in lead roles.. weird

  23. Yeah they have named it "Guzaarish"

    seems both of us are as jobless as one can.. :-P

  24. seriously.. how do u find out so fast i reply ? I just wrote my reply now !!!

  25. @rosh
    there's something called 'follow up on comments',so everytime someone comments you get an update and lo !!
    (i wont charge you for that gyan)

  26. @ Ghazal..

    clap clap clap... u are more fast than me..

    @ Rosh...

    no wonder ppl are suspicious of u being a doctor...ha ha ha

  27. At both you ladies ( if u really are ladies and not evil mind reading aliens from the planet KiskiMaa 3 ), uhhh.. I knew that. I was just checking to see if u knew about it.. this magic button that follows up on my every word .. oh!! there it is!! cool :)

  28. Hey..Nice Post!!!.Thanks 4 stopping by my space....Do visit again :)

  29. Well.. I dunno if its one of the best.. but its definitely the most sickest and most unexpected end of a good movie

    You missed EDEN LAKE !

  30. Here is a small list of movies you should have included :

    Old Boy: No the ending is way different then Zinda's

    Donnie Darko : You could say it had somewhat of a twist when you piece together everything. It makes you think.. really think.

    Ek Khiladi Ek Haasina : ANother flop from Pardeen Khan, However the ending was all in the last 2 minutes.

  31. Raj.. well, to be frank I never considered it. I'd seen Eden Lake and was really pissed by the ending actually.. not my kind of movie. But ya, definitely has a different ending.

    Careless Thinker.. havent seen old boy so I'll have to take ur word or it. Donnie Darko was definitely something different and merits being in this list. EHEK.. hmmmm :)

  32. @careless thinker

    ek khiladi ek hasina is a good movie but not very original, it is the exact copy of con-fidence(again hollywood)

  33. AnonymousMay 14, 2009

    How bout

    1. The Usual suspects

    2. The Shawshank Redemption

    migh b u could squeeze them in tooo.. :)

  34. Anon, well.. The Usual Suspects is there in the list..
    As for Shawshank, well... was planning on placing it in a different category but there seems to be a lot of demand for it in this list itself, eh ? My only grouse is that the twist comes well before the ending...

  35. well just a passing remark.. your cluster map looks like it has been doted with numerous red bindis..And around India the bindis get bigger.. :D

  36. hey!..Big list...I have not seen even a single film in this list :P
    Will try to watch few of them at least :-)

  37. Get bigger ? Indu, Icant even see India in this map !!

    Sumana, definitely do so...

  38. Is it safe? Shotgun day over?
    *The list was awesome*

    Now, how about Stigmata? You like Gupt? I, unfortunately was told the story, so will never be able to say.

    Have to watch The Ring.The others, I agree...great .

  39. Gupt was one of the few Hindi movies that comes in this genre really.. that and 100 days comes to mind.

    Stigmata, not really sure.. was there that big a twist in the end ?

  40. @Doc...I would also like to suggest "fracture". And all the movies starring the esteemed "Doctor Hannibal Lecter". Especially the newest "Hannibal Rising"

  41. hmmm... Havent seen fracture.. As for the Hannibal movies, would you really say there was a twist at the end. I recall Silence of the Lambs had an awesome ending line , but there wasn't a real twist in the tale, was there ?

  42. Yeah but the villain wins, in all these movies. Thats rare, innit?

  43. I guess my issue was because I always read the books first so knew Hannibal was gonna kick ass :) Anyway, you have a point on the villain's win bit... added to the list in the "post blogpost recommendation"

  44. Great list - totally agree. I would add "Field of Dreams."

  45. Great list, and sixth sense deserves to be on top. i was one of those lucky ones. I just sat there with out moving even when the credits were rolling. :)

    I loved the twist in 'Identity' and the way they used rain effectively to give us the drenched feeling.

  46. true.. Identity maintained the suspense well till the end.

  47. This is a fantastic list, I would like to add in one more name to this list. A movie which blew me off and that too an Indian movie "KAHANI" loved the story, direction and Vidya


Let me know what you think.