Nerdlocker Presents: Chase’s Top 25 Movie Endings of the Last 25 Years – PART II


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These are by no means the “definitive” best movie endings. These are the opinions of just one man. So please allow me to have them. If you disagree, excellent! There is a place to discuss it below! Thanks, and I hope you enjoy.

Here’s the second installment of my analysis!

To read Part 1, click HERE

Just a warning, there is some strong language below.



15. Zodiac (2007)

The genius of David Fincher brought this very real story to life once again on the big screen. After the murders of several people scattered throughout different police jurisdictions by the notorious Zodiac, police are in a scramble to find this lunatic. As we all know, the identity of the Zodiac was never officially discovered. But one man, Robert Graysmith, was adamant about whom he “knew” to be the killer. In a moment of simply needing to know for certain, he enters the hardware store where Arthur Leigh Allen works, the man Graysmith to this day believes was the killer known as Zodiac. In a scene where no words are even spoken, it is their exchange of looks that speaks volumes and sends shivers down the spines of anyone watching. It is powerful and simple and genius. In a final moment of (maybe) trying to convince the audience, a man shot by the Zodiac over two decades prior, identifies Allen as the Zodiac. It’s eerie and, unfortunately, too late. No trying to tie up loose ends, just the facts here, just the facts.

“The last time I saw this face was July 4th, 1969. I am very sure that’s the man who shot me.”


14. The Iron Giant (1999)

In what just may be the first cartoon to make grown men cry, The Iron Giant is a brilliant piece of cinema. As the impending nuclear warheads nears a small town, innocent patrons stand and watch in dismay as their lives are about to cease to exist. Inspired by his own personal hero, Superman, Iron Giant makes the ultimate sacrifice and stops the warhead before it reenters the atmosphere. As he flies in true Superman form, he remembers what his friend Hogarth once told him, “You are who you choose to be”. And so with a smile on his face, eyes closed, he lets out one word, “Superman.” And in that instant the bomb detonates far up into the sky and the town is saved. The Iron Giant had something worth protecting even if that meant sacrificing his own life, and he couldn’t have been happier to do it. Watch this and try not to shed a tear or two.

“No Atomo… I Superman!”


13. American Psycho (2000)

After the fun of murdering those who bother him, Patrick Bateman realizes time is running out. The game is up and the cops are on his trail. In a last moment of psychotic behavior, Bateman goes ballistic killing anything and anyone who finds themselves unlucky enough to cross paths with him. He kills a little old woman, several police officers, security guards, and even a custodian. As he cowers in his office he makes a phone call to his lawyer confessing all of his crimes. When nothing ends up happening, no cops, no consequences, it becomes likely that either all the murder we have been witnessing were nothing more than sick fantasies thought up by one twisted individual. Or, as a commentary on the typical 80’s American yuppie, he is simply ignored when he confesses. In a world where everyone only cares about themselves, no one even notices Bateman’s horrible hobby taking place. In a nutshell, no one cares about Bateman’s crimes. This is a highly debated ending.

“I like to dissect girls. Did you know I’m utterly insane?”

The Game

12. The Game (1997)

Fincher is here again with The Game, a cat and mouse thriller. The basis of reality in this movie is never clear until the very end. As Nicholas suspects that his brother is dead because of him, he stands atop of a high rise looking aimlessly in front of him. He then looks down and accepts his fate as he takes one last step off of the ledge. What started as a nightmare turned into something far worse as Nicholas’ life seemingly comes unraveled in every way resulting in his brother’s death. As Nicholas plummets to the ground, he smashes through a glass ceiling and lands safely on an inflatable landing surface. As he stands up he sees dozens of people dressed up and clapping for him. He is naturally confused, a common state of mind for him as of late. If this wasn’t bizarre enough, he turns to see his “dead” brother standing before him with a big smile on his face. He then says Happy Birthday Nicky and hugs him. What he thought was his life ending was in fact an elaborate scheme paid for by his brother as a sort of birthday gift for the man who has everything. What’s even greater is that through this horrifying experience, Nicholas is a changed man, for the better. He started out as a miserable bastard and became a loving human being. It was dark and twisted and his brother couldn’t have been more pleased. What is real is the main theme here, and with Fincher at the helm, it came out wonderfully.

“I’m being toyed with by a bunch of depraved children.”


11. Unbreakable (2000)

What list about the best endings would be complete without an appearance from M. Night Shyamalan? And to clarify, I mean the old M. Night. In one of his most underrated films, Unbreakable tells the story of a man who discovers a very astonishing thing about himself. He thought he was nothing more than an ordinary man, but discovers that he is in fact a man with super human abilities, a superhero if you will. Unfortunately, the way he found out was that a man named Elijah Price forced David into a terrifying scenario. For every hero there must be the villain, and in the case of David that villain is Elijah himself. After leaving the scene of a train crash as the sole survivor, it starts to become clear that something is very unique about David and something is very off about Elijah. In a final meeting, David discovers schematics for explosives and newspaper clippings of accidents that have occurred all over the world. It is in this moment that David realizes what Elijah truly is, a mass murderer whose only explanation was that he wanted to find that one special person who was the opposite of him, a hero among men. Mr. Glass finally found his nemesis in David.

“Now that we know who you are, I know who I am. I’m not a mistake! It all makes sense. In a comic, you know how you can tell who the arch-villain’s going to be? He’s the exact opposite of the hero, and most times they’re friends, like you and me. I should’ve known way back when. You know why, David? Because of the kids, they called me Mr. Glass!”


10. The Truman Show (1998)

What could have very well ended up as a nonsensical and forgettable movie, The Truman Show instead became a classic. It isn’t long into the film that we find Truman questioning his reality. He suspects that everything and everyone around him is part of a large conspiracy of watching him at every moment. As he starts to notice things that shouldn’t be, he makes a last effort to discover the truth. Having a fear of the ocean, he knows the only answers he will get will come from the other side of the vast, open water. He gathers all the courage he can muster and begins his trek across the water to a hopeful new beginning. After surviving an obscurely random storm Truman comes to a sudden halt; he has struck something. It’s a wall… in the middle of ocean. In this last moment the charade is very clearly over and so the head of the show known worldwide as The Truman Show makes contact with Truman for the first time ever. In a pathetic attempt to keep Truman where he is, Truman kindly refuses and bids a final farewell to his millions of viewers by saying his trademark line, “Good morning, and in case I don’t see ya, good afternoon, good evening, and good night!” He bows out and walks into the darkness and off the air and for the first time in his life, he is truly free. A comedy with a mind and a heart, what’s not to love?

“If his was more than just a vague ambition, if he was absolutely determined to discover the truth, there’s no way we could prevent him.”


9. The Sixth Sense (1999)

And he’s back! I think this one is a no brainer for this list. It is widely considered one of the greatest twist endings in cinema history and I am inclined to agree. When a child psychologist meets a disturbed little boy, he instantly identifies with the boy and a rapport begins to take form. When trust is built, the boy admits his most highly held and terrifying secret… he sees dead people. Thinking it is merely a disorder of the mind the doctor soon finds a way of helping this boy with his morbid sightings. All of this boy’s life he has run from these scary figures, but with the doctor’s help the boy finds that actually communicating with them and finding out what they want might make things better. After trying this out and seeing that it works, he helps one last ghost find their way to the other side, the doctor himself. When viewed a second time, it is evident that Bruce Willis’ character was dead the entire movie and only the little boy could see him. The boy helped those who couldn’t accept their own death to move on. Willis’ character was killed painfully and fast and so he never realized he passed on. It was violent and not the way anyone wants to go out and so he never fully acknowledged what happened. The little boy helped him to find acceptance and peace.

“I see dead people.”


8. The Cabin in the Woods (2012)

The slasher film genre was turned on its own head with this one and shaken until all of the change fell out of its pockets. As the film played on it made fun of all the typical horror movie clichés, but what came out of it was originality and pure genius entertainment. The jock, the virgin, the whore, the stoner, the geek; they are all present and must die accordingly. In the cabin this group of friends soon faces unimaginable horrors as they find murderous dead people bent on their demise. It is behind the scenes that we see it is all orchestrated by a company that has done this for centuries. What looks like a sick group of people torturing the innocent, however, turns out to be an organization making sacrifices to the gods hibernating below in order to save humanity. If they are kept happy, they stay dormant, if not the world is over. They demand blood, the blood of the innocent. When their plans of sacrifice are spoiled by the last two survivors, it appears that hell is at their doorstep, and it is knocking very loudly. The final two explore this newly uncovered underground facility and find that, here, literal nightmares are kept. Any horrible thing you have dreamed, it is kept here. One slip and all evil things are unleashed. In their final moments, the virgin and the stoner decide to end it all and awaken the gods below. As they see it, man is too messed up to continue on and could use a good cleansing. The final images show an impossibly large hand bursting from the earth and smashing down as the apocalypse begins.

“Hey, shh, no. I totally get it. I’m sorry I let you get attacked by a werewolf and then ended the world.”


7. Se7en (1995)

Originally this was intended to be a run of the mill cop drama designed to make some money for the studio. Through a mix up, the original script with the ending we all know was sent to director David Fincher. The studio had intended for Fincher to read the rewritten script that ended with the cops capturing the bad guy and nothing more. Fincher, however, loved the original version and demanded that version get made or he wouldn’t do the film. The studio eventually agreed and went from a forgettable cop drama to a legendary crime thriller with one of the most exciting and surprising endings of all time.

After the first 5 of the 7 deadly sins are carried out by John Doe, he sets in motion the final two that involve the very two detectives who have been after him. In the middle of nowhere a mysterious package arrives and when it’s opened a human head is found inside, the head of the wife of Detective Mills, who at this same moment has a gun pointed at Doe’s head. Detective Somerset tries to convince Mills to drop the gun and not to give in to what Doe truly wants. He wants Mills to become the last sin left, Wrath, as Doe embodies the sin of Envy. If vengeance weren’t such a prominent part of human life maybe Mills would have put the gun down, but not here, not this time.

“Ernest Hemingway once wrote, ‘The world is a fine place and worth fighting for’. I agree with the second part.”


6. Inception (2010)

This is yet another ending that is so highly debated no single theory is fully accepted. The one I personally believe is that whenever Cobb is seen with his ring it is a dream and when he’s seen without it he is awake. Cobb’s entire motivation is to get back home to his children. With warrants out for his arrest for a murder he did not commit it’s easier said than done. With his latest job offer, his reward will be a free pass back into America and back to his children. All jobs consist of Cobb and his team infiltrating a person’s dreams and stealing their secrets. But with this job, Inception is the goal; i.e. to plant an idea that the target believes they came up with on their own. The person that hired Cobb wants the target to dissolve his father’s company, which is a competitor to the man hiring Cobb. To implant an idea without detection requires absolute precision, and when things begin to fall apart it is up to Cobb and his team to correct course.

After a successful mission Cobb, as promised, goes home. As he walks into his home he takes his totem, an item that will tell him if he’s dreaming or not, and in his case it is a spinning top. If the top never stops spinning, it’s a dream. Cobb grabs the top, spins it and then is almost immediately distracted when he sees his children for the first time and so he runs to them. The camera slowly turns to focus on the top still spinning; a slight wobble happens but the screen cuts to black before it is ever determined if he is dreaming or awake.

“Downwards is the only way forwards.”


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Chase Gifford

"Cinema is the most beautiful fraud in the world"-Jean-Luc Godard