Vertigo Title Card

A good beginning credit sequence is really all it takes for me to like a movie. That seems like a really stupid thing to say – but when you think about it, while not all good movies have creative credits, almost all creative credits belong to good movies. It shows that the filmmakers actually cared enough to do something meaningful with their title sequence as opposed to just throwing out some stock effect… After all, the beginning credits are the opening number to a film – the handshake – and if it doesn’t make you excited about what you’re about to watch then there really isn’t a point is there?

Here are a collection that got be friggin’ pumped right from the start.

14. Inside Man (2006)

There’s nothing particularly flashy or exciting about this credit sequence – it’s just really, really solid. Clive Owen’s beginning monologue instantly hooks you into the film, as does Spike Lee’s choice in music – Chaiyya Chaiyya by A. R. Rahman. But I think what really got my attention more than anything was Matthew Libatique’s amazing cinematography throughout the sequence. You would know LIbatique’s work from such films as Pi and Requiem For A Dream – pretty much every Darren Aronofsky film – also he did Cowboys and Aliens for some reason. Anyway, if there was every a perfect example of his talent, these credits are certainly it.

13. Watchmen (2009)

Well anything to Bob Dylan’s “Times They Are A-Changin’” is going to be rather effective from the start – especially when the sequence’s timeline expands two generations. There’s something fascinating about the alternate reality portrayed in these credits – the idea of taking US history and sticking in superheroes is great, but it’s the result of that addition that really sticks. They start with the expected glory days of crime fighting and bring it all the way to the inevitable downfall that such a system would meet – something that most superhero films fail to recognize. After all, the thought of Superman is neat until you realize that his presence would limit your freedom.

12. Halloween (1978)

So simple, so effective.

You really get a clear idea of the kind of menace you’ll be facing throughout the film just from this one shot – slowly pushing in on a delightfully generic-looking jack-o-lantern with the same repetitive piano tune we’ve all grown to fear over the years. The Halloween theme has that same quality that the Jaws theme has; it’s simple and it escalates. Much like the shark from Jaws, Michael Myers is inevitable – he plows toward you at a slow but steady rate, much like his theme music does as well. It’s only a matter of time before you have to stop running.

11. The Shining (1980)

Speaking of simplicity – while the cinematography and music is quite impressive, this sequence really takes the prize for most basic titles ever. Why is it all scrolling up? What is that, sky blue? Kubrick, you are weird. I could have banged these titles out in less than a minute at my local public access station – and yet, why are they so damn awesome? I think the answer is that because of how awkward and basic they are, it almost gives off the impression that he is getting them out of the way, that the real star here are the visuals of the car driving through the mountains along with Wendy Carlos & Rachel Elkind’s incredibly sinister opening title music. It should be noted that Carlos is also responsible for the theme to A Clockwork Orange – which makes all sorts of sense when you compare the two styles.

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