We all have our favorite closing shots. The haunting diptych that capped James Gray’s great period drama “The Immigrant” absolutely floored me, and even if Martin Scorsese’s 2006 crime yarn “The Departed” doesn’t exactly stack up with, say, “Mean Streets” or “Raging Bull” as a piece of pure cinema, it still ends with one of the bleakest and most memorable shots from any of the director’s films. A truly great final shot can unconsciously alter how we see or remember a picture: it can send you out of a theatre on a high, and linger in the back of your mind for days.
Chances are, if you look at the films that are widely discussed as the All-Time Greats of this past century, they all conclude with images of great clarity and purpose. It’s hard to say exactly what the greatest closing shot of all time may be, but that’s more or less what the folks at Cinefix have done with this new video list, which manages to whittle the list down to ten.
There’s some no-brainers here, like the apocalyptic climax of David Fincher’s “Fight Club,” which still contains perhaps the most iconic use to date of the Pixie’s “Where is my Mind” (although lord knows HBO’s “The Leftovers” gave that song a workout in its last season). There are also some more unusual picks: the closing coda of Scorsese’s “Gangs of New York,” for instance. That film is uneven and not one of the director’s best, but its final shot is nothing short of a knock-out: it’s an elegiac sort of lapse depicting the ascent of modern-day New York while mourning the loss of the city’s raw, bare-knuckle past.
Also selected is Joel and Ethan Coen’s “A Serious Man,” which gets some love for its famously divisive and open-ended climax. Of course, the spinning-top finish of Christopher Nolan’s “Inception” is praised mightily, though I’m not sure if this much-discussed moment is really worth all the critical ink that’s been spilled over it throughout the years. I won’t tell you what comes in at number one, (though it won’t be a surprise to many of you) but chances are you’ll be familiar with at least a few of the selections on this list.
What’s your favorite closing shot of all time? Let us know in the comments section below.