Today: February 28, 2024

All’s Swell That Ends Swell

Happy or sad we all love a good ending to a film.

Happy or sad we all love a good ending to a film. Forgoing the classics – because we could be here all week – and with a quick nostalgic dip into the 80’s to start us off, let’s take a look at the nine best film endings in recent years, and more importantly why they impress so much. *Warning – Spoilers*

9. Back To The Future

Ends Swell? Recently
back in the cinemas and with a sparkling Blu-Ray to boot the final few seconds
of Robert Zemeckis’ fantastic time-travel adventure are by far the coolest.
Clad in that ridiculous futuristic garb, Doc Brown picks up our hero and his
future wife, lifting them off the ground before uttering the now immortal “Where
we’re going we don’t need roads,”
before slamming the car straight into the screen in all its 88mph flashy

Why? It’s got the
line, the look and the hook
keep us coming back for more and a great way to cap off a decade-defining film.

8. Buried

Ends Swell? Well not
really no, so don’t read on if you’ve missed this minor classic. Paul Conroy
(an excellent Ryan Reynolds) thinks he’s been found after surviving 90 minutes
buried underground only to be told as his coffin fills breath-takingly quickly
with sand that it’s not his coffin they’ve found but someone else’s. The camera
cuts and so do our cut-up, nerve-shredded insides and nails.

Why? Purely because
it doesn’t end happily means Buried is something of a rarity in these recession-beating feel good times on
screen, but it’s the manner of it that really grips, suffocates and lingers long in the memory.

7. This Is England

Ends Swell? After
seeing his once innocent dreams of friendship battered in a brutal racist
beating, young Shaun takes his England flag and hurls it into the sea, standing
motionless on the shore. The disillusionment of millions with the 80’s movingly captured in one scene.

Why? After the
violence comes the hard-hitting reality, something Meadows dallied with again
in the recent TV sequel. It’s a brilliant moment and more importantly the
making of a young star.

6. Once

Ends Swell? Surprisingly,
Steven Spielberg loves this film, despite its downbeat but ultimately uplifting
ending. In Hollywood’s hands we’d know how this would end. Here, the guy
still gets the girl and vice versa
but it’s a different one than we’d been led to expect. As John Carney’s
camera pulls away from the window it’s clear both he, she and us have got huge
smiles on our faces.

Why? Purely because
it’s a perfect anti-rom-com moment that, much like Lost In Translation says more about friendship as love than just
sex. You certainly won’t be watching it once.

5. Sideways

Ends Swell? Unsure
where his future lies after a disastrous stag week away which saw a potential
love match in the sultry Maya slip away, Miles returns to his lonely life as a
depressed teacher. A heartfelt answer phone message shifts the action as the
excited Romeo heads back up to wine country to reclaim his love but after a
quick knock on the door the camera cuts away. Is she still there?

Why? Less a
cliff-hanger and more a clever and private finish to a superb film, Payne opts
to cut a potentially syrupy finish and leave any reunion to our imagination
. Good move.

4. Inception

Ends Swell? If it
does end I suppose. Splitting audience opinion into two – it’s all a dream
or it’s real,
Cobb (DiCaprio) returns
“home” finally to his children, spinning his totem to determine his perception
of reality but foolishly not waiting to see if it topples. Director Christopher
Nolan decides to do the same and despite a tiny wobble a few seconds in, lets
us decide our own ending instead

Why? Either it’s the
clever ending which means you need to re-watch the whole film again to see if you’ve been tricked or it’s
the audible groan of crushing praise you hear amongst the cinema audience.
Either way you know you’re watching something very special.

3. The Shawshank Redemption

Ends Swell? Possibly
the most uplifting end of them all sees Morgan Freeman’s Red take the long trip
to Mexico to find his prison buddy of twenty years. Catching the approaching
figure out of the corner of his eye, Andy leaps down from his boat and the pair
embrace on a sunny Mexican beach as the camera lifts back to allow for a
private moment of reunion so richly deserved.

Why? Purely because
it’s the perfect antidote to the dark and dismal torment of the previous two hours (not the film of
course, but the prison) and simply because it’s rarely been bettered.

2. Donnie Darko

Ends Swell? A
Marmite film gets an appropriately ambiguous ending – you either love it or
hate it. After Donnie’s overdue death his former “girlfriend” pulls up on her
bike outside his house to find out what’s going on and waves to his grieving
mother who waves back. Is there more to it though – do they all remember?

Why? Whether you
enjoy the ending will depend on whether you’ve bought into the film, but for
leaving a clever and poignant twist in the tale Richard Kelly made Donnie an
instant overnight cult classic

with an ending which makes you want to re-watch the whole thing again straight

1. Pieces of April

Ends Swell? You
wouldn’t expect a low budget Katie Homes picture to top the pile, which is probably where it’s
simple power lies. After ditching on young Katie’s attempt to cook her family’s
Thanksgiving dinner in a run down New York flat I defy anyone not to feel that
lump in the throat as the door opens and her estranged family becomes one again
thanks to a clever photo montage and a beautifully simple song.

Why? Much like
Sideways and Shawshank it’s refreshing to see that we don’t need dialogue to
show just how effective an end can be when simple moments or images can
define how fondly we remember a film
– this one is deceptively and heart-warmingly thoroughly memorable.

Marcia Degia - Publisher

Marcia Degia, who has worked in the media industry for more than 20 years, is the Publishing Editor of KOL Social Magazine. See website:

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