The Courier: 30 days of film - day 30

On the final day of the film countdown, our writers take a look back at the movies with their favourite final scenes.

multiple writers
14th May 2020
Kurt Russell, The Thing (1982).
All good things must come to an end. And so, our countdown will be brought home with a selection of films with fantastic endings. The entire impression of a film often rests on its final scene. It is that which we hold in our minds when leaving the cinema, sometimes in awed silence, sometimes laughing, or on occasion trembling with fear and trying not to cry whilst looking over our shoulder (I don't watch horror films at the cinema).

The Shape of Water (2017)

If you’ve never seen The Shape of Water then I urge you to do so! If you are a fan of Guillermo del Toro’s work such as Pan’s Labyrinth (2006) then you will love this movie. It’s a film I can’t describe, it’s that good! It’s a film people have to watch without having any idea what it is about – because then you have a true surprise. And the ending is what truly surprised me – which is why it has to be my favourite.

The Shape of Water actually melts my heart and I was literally glued to the screen when watching it (I wish I’d had the chance to see it at the cinema because it would have been amazing to see on a huge screen!). A little hint to this film – it is very off-the-wall, crazy, and outrageous with the storyline – however, if you’ve seen Pan’s Labyrinth before and the type of work Guillermo del Toro does then you won’t be surprised by the somewhat different tale that is this film.

The Shape of Water is an American romantic supernatural film starring Sally Hawkins, Michael Shannon, Richard Jenkins, Doug Jones, Michael Stuhlbarg, and Octavia Spencer (a brilliant cast!). The film is set in 1962 in Baltimore and follows mute cleaner, Elisa Esposito, who works at a high-security government laboratory at the height of the cold war. She then meets and falls in love with a captured humanoid amphibian creature. 

The ending was a surprise for me, as I didn’t expect a somewhat happy ending. But it was truly touching and throughout the film, I developed a soft spot for Elisa and the amphibian creature and their special bond, so I’m glad the ending didn’t tear my heart into pieces and send me into a downward spiral of sadness!

It’s a must-see and should be on everyone’s list! It’s a film that once you’ve seen it you can’t get it out of your head.

Doug Jones and Sally Hawkins in the final scene of The Shape of Water

Amy Harris

Son of Rambow (2007)

It seems apt that my favourite film ending ends with a film screening in a cinema. The screening in question being that of ‘The Son of Rambow’, the film that our 10-year-old protagonists have been crafting together using one of their older brother’s video cameras. Our characters are Will (who has never been allowed to watch TV before) and Lee (who main carer may well be the TV); while being very different these two find friendship through the making of their film.

This is ultimately a touching story of friendship that knows no boundaries as the two boys learn a lot about themselves and their families. The reason it has my favourite ending is because it sums up their efforts on the film and keeps their friendship alive, showing what is truly important between them no matter their differences.

Eve Ducker

Juno (2007)

It started with a chair, and it ended up being a brilliant film. Juno has to have one of my favourite endings, but I’m not sure how to do this spoiler-free, so I guess I won’t. You have been warned.

Juno, if you haven’t already seen it, follows the journey of Juno (Ellen Paige) and Paulie (Michael Cera) during teen pregnancy.Juno decides to keep their baby after finding out that it would have already grown fingernails (something I would probably do) and tries to find a couple to adopt it. Her friend finds a nice couple in the Pennysaver, and then this is where the film really becomes a rollercoaster of emotions.

We meet Mark and Vanessa, and they appear to be a perfect couple. However, Vanessa is dreaming of parenthood and Mark isn’t ready for such responsibility. Their relationship falls apart because they have too many differences in where they want their lives to go, and it’s heartbreaking to watch because Vanessa really wanted to start a family with Mark. Suddenly, they aren’t the perfect family that Juno envisioned for her baby.

However, the ending takes a turn for the best. Despite Juno wanting a perfect couple to adopt her baby, she realises that Vanessa will be a wonderful mother, even if she is a single-parent, which Juno did not originally want for her child. Vanessa’s happiness is absolutely infectious, and you know that she’s going to love this child so much. When Juno’s mum tells Vanessa that she looks like a new mum, it makes me cry just a little bit. Then they show the note that Juno left Vanessa after her relationship with Mark fell apart- “Vanessa if you’re in I’m still in” and then the full floodgates erupt.

The film ends on the other high note that Juno and Paulie are officially together after Juno’s realisation that she actually loves him, and they sing a cover of ‘Anyone Else but You’ by The Mouldy Peaches as the film slowly finishes. It’s so wholesome, and has to be one of the best endings out there.

Sophie Hicks

The Thing (1982)

Ah, so here we are at the end of our merry tale. Why not end on a not to merry film. Especially seen as though it’s got one of the best endings ever. If you disagree, I will fight you.

Directed by legend John Carpenter, The Thing (1982) is certainly up there for one of my favourite films and is definitely my favourite horror film. Set in the freezing Antarctica (which is scary enough) an alien assumes the likeness of members of an American research team, killing them off one by one usually extremely violently. The practical effects are iconic and among the best ever. The fact that the monster can imitate them makes the film all the scarier and makes the characters, and us, extremely paranoid. This is done to perfection throughout, but especially in the final scene.

The final scene is between Kurt Russel’s MacReady and Keith David’s Childs exchanging a bottle among the flaming wreckage of the camp, waiting to succumb to the cold. But because Childs disappeared for a while earlier in the film there is still that paranoia that it isn’t actually Childs but the Thing. But then it cuts to black and you have no idea if your thoughts are true. There are tons of theories as if either of them was the monster at the end or even if both and I recommend you go check some of them out. In short, no one knows how the film ends exactly but that’s part of why I love it so much. It perfectly represents the key ideas throughout the film. Uncertainty and dread.

George Bell

The Italian Job (1969)

Has there ever been a better ending, than that of The Italian Job? Actually, scratch that. There isn’t an ending. There was meant to be a sequel, where the mafia stole the gold, and the lads had to get it back. But the sequel was never made, and the ending just hangs there. On a cliff. Full of gold.

For a start, it’s a great ending, and really funny. But there’s something else ending here. With films like The Italian Job, something in our world died, and we shall never see it’s like again.

The Italian Job is just good fun, a great comedy caper, the like of which isn’t being made today. The British comedy films of the 1940s, 50s and 60s are amazing, the Ealing Comedies like Passport to Pimlico and Whisky Galore, both released in 1947, are hilarious, but the Ealing Comedies stopped being made in 1957. While the British Crime Capers of the 1960s continued the tradition, they didn’t last forever.

In many ways, the end of The Italian Job is the end of the Golden era of British comedy cinema. I don’t know what to say. It’s sad.

"I've got a great Idea", Michael Cain, The Italian Job.

Alex Walker

Casablanca (1942)

So this is it. We’ve been hiding out in Rick’s bar, on the run from the authorities to get a plane out of Casablanca. And in the most iconic ending in movie history – he chooses not to leave. Ilsa and Victor board the plane, leaving Casablanca, Rick and Louis on the ground below them. It’s beautiful, heartbreaking and if you don’t recognise it – you might at least recognise that “We’ll always have Paris“.

Casablanca is one of my favourite films, not only for the music (“Knock on Wood” is a bop) or the brilliant performances of Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman, but the sheer creativity of how it was made. Throughout the whole film they would use a gauze over the camera lens, making Ilsa look like she’s about to cry 90% of the time. The aeroplane in the majority of the shots in the final scene was actually a cardboard cut out, whilst they filmed the whole thing in a film studio hanger. Even the shadows created (for Rick and Louis to walk off into at the end) mirror the darkness, the unknown territory they’re going into – the film nerd in me screams watching this film.

Casablanca walked so La La Land could run. This is the OG of unexpected endings, and has a better line than Damien Chazelle himself might come up with. “Louis, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship“… take that, Gosling.

Harriet Metcalfe

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)

In this original take on a psychological drama and love story, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004) has an ending which will leave you thinking long after the film is over. Told in a nonlinear narrative, we see estranged couple Joel (Jim Carrey) and Clementine (Kate Winslet) recount their relationship after they each undergo a procedure erasing the memories they have of each other.

By the end of the film, we realise we have been tricked into believing Joel and Clementine’s meeting on the train at the beginning was their first. After watching the ups and downs of Joel and Clementine’s relationship and Joel’s regret for undergoing the procedure halfway through its completion, it’s obvious they’re meant to be as they have found their way back to each other despite the circumstances. Realising they have a past, it’s implied that they are going to try again, despite the chances that it will end badly. All we can do at this point is have hope for Joel and Clementine.

Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet realise that they have a past and may have a future.

Kate Dunkerton

Dr. Strangelove: Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964)

There’s no better way to end this challenge than talking about a classic: Stanley Kubrick’s Dr. Strangelove or How I learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb.

With nuclear weapons certain to destroy the world, politicians and generals delve into how mankind can live. Dr. Strangelove, the star of the film, begins to explain how a super-race can be created and begins to stand from his wheelchair, shouting “Mein Fuhrer, I can walk!”. That’s when the doomsday device goes off. The film ends with a montage of many nuclear explosions, accompanied by Vera Lynn’s version of the popular World War II song “We’ll Meet Again”.

This film is another masterwork of precision craftsmanship from a legendary director and I’ve nothing but admiration for its incredibly detailed and well-lit set, the irony in the script and its depiction of the complete absurdity of war. And for me, it has the perfect ending to its satirical depiction. Originally, the climax of the film was to be a mad custard-pie melee. While quite hilarious, it didn’t fit in with the rest of the film and rather, we have the ending we have today. Despite this, I enjoy the ending as it fits in with the grand theme of global apocalypse.

I’m also a sucker for a film ending where there’s multiple interpretations that you can discuss with film buffs for hours and there are many theories surrounding Dr. Strangelove’s ending. For some, it reminds them of some scene from a tent revival, where people are healed by an evangelising faith healer. Some believe his “resurrection” means that fascism wasn’t dead – it was just temporarily disabled. Or, maybe, it’s just one big joke. Either way, the different theories, the irony of the situation, is a perfect ending to a completely, absurdly, brilliant film.

The ending befits one of the darkest comedies ever to be made.

Lucy Lillystone

Matilda (1996)

Miss Honey, if you’re reading this, I’m free right now if you want to adopt me and live together in your flower-filled cottage in matching dungarees having picnics and roller skating around your garden?

The perfect ending to the perfect movie that still deeply warms my heart even after a billion rewatches and even more re-readings of the book. Director Danny DeVito (I know!) perfectly adapts the magic of this story that left so many children (and some 20 year-old very tall children…) desperately staring at objects in their room in the hope that they will suddenly float up in the air. The shots and costumes are beautiful, the use of the absolute banger ‘Send Me On My Way’ amazing, and each character hilarious, mean, honest and lovable in equal measure.

If such a deep love as between Miss Honey and Matilda exists in the world; maybe everything will somehow be okay.

Leonie Bellini

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