The 75 Best Final Shots in Movie History

Here’s lookin’ at you, beautiful final shots.

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70. Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans (2009)

Bad Lieutenant Port Of Call New Orleans Final Scene

The Shot

Everyone seems to have sobered up except McDonagh. Even the prisoner he bumps into, the one he saved at the beginning of the film, has kicked the habit. He offers to help McDonagh find sobriety. It’s all Cage can do to lean in earnestly and ask if “fish have dreams.” Our final shot sees McDonagh and the prisoner bathed in the blue light of an aquarium. Whether the scene is real or a dream, uplifting or an overdose, is unclear. But Werner Herzog leaves us with this: the last laugh, at dreams, and at madness.

The Talent Behind It

  • Directed by Werner Herzog
  • Cinematography by Peter Zeitlinger
  • Production Design by Toby Corbett

The Stinger

“Mother Died” by Washboard Chaz


69. Russian Ark (2002)

Russian Ark Final Scene

The Shot

Russian Ark is, famously, a film composed of a single unbroken shot. How do you end something that ambitious? The Void. Always the Void. The grand ball is over, and guests from different time periods file slowly out of the Hermitage. As color begins to leech from the frame, we (via our steadfast steady-cam operator) quietly slip away from the procession and out a back door. Outside is a vision of the afterlife as a vast grey sea topped with white mist. We have wondered across time in one breath, and we are ready to leave.

The Talent Behind It

  • Directed by Aleksandr Sokurov
  • Cinematography and Steadicam Operation by Tilman Büttner
  • Cinematography Supervised by Bernd Fischer and Anatoliy Rodionov

The Stinger

 “Nocturne in F minor” by Mikhail Glinka


68. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969)

Butch Cassidy And The Sundance Kid Final Shot

The Shot

Oh good. For a moment there, I thought we were in trouble. Wild West outlaws Butch Cassidy and his bromantic partner Harry “Sundance Kid” Longabaugh find themselves surrounded. In a pinch, musing about a trip to Australia they’ll never take, they charge out, and the shot freezes on our duo, guns blazing, surrounded by the lingering pops of gunfire. And, as the shot leeches into sepia, the plucky pair return to their place in history.

The Talent Behind It

  • Directed by George Roy Hill
  • Cinematography by Conrad L. Hall
  • Edited by John C. Howard and Richard C. Meyer

The Stinger

“Not Goin’ Home Anymore” (Reprise)” by Burt Bacharach


67. Rushmore (1998)

Rushmore Final Scene

The Shot

Let’s see if the D.J. can play something with a little more…narrative resolution. Having come to a place of mutual understanding, our heroic high school ingenue and Rosemary share a dance and time gets funny. Stylish as ever, Wes Anderson grinds things to a halt, extending the moment as the curtain closes. It’s the perfect punctuation mark on this coming-of-age chapter of Max’s life, a bittersweet coda to the quirks and charms of growing up.

The Talent Behind It

  • Directed by Wes Anderson
  • Cinematography by Robert Yeoman
  • Production Design by David Wasco

The Stinger

“Ooh La La” by Faces


66. The Breakfast Club (1985)

The Breakfast Club Final Shot

The Shot

Of all the coming of age flicks in its weight class, The Breakfast Club is a consistent knockout. A pitch-perfect slice of the anxiously sweet silliness of being not quite an adult or a kid. Naturally, the film’s closing shot is the most teen thing ever: a triumphant fist pump at the prospect of having finally connected with someone. It’s overdramatic, a little awkward, which is to say: completely perfect.

The Talent Behind It

  • Directed by John Hughes
  • Cinematography by Thomas Del Ruth
  • Casting by Jackie Burch

The Stinger

“Don’t You (Forget About Me)” by Simple Minds


65. Fight Club (1999)

Fight Club Final Shot

The Shot

Nothing like watching an act of domestic terrorism with your manic pixie dream girl while trying to keep your brains from leaking out of the hole in your cheek. Free from his way-cool alternative personality Tyler Durden, the Narrator pauses after the third act mayhem to watch capitalist America crumble. Though with a bonus gift from Tyler before the credits roll, perhaps things are less peaceful than the symmetry and soft blue hues would let on.

The Talent Behind It

  • Directed by David Fincher
  • Cinematography by Jeff Cronenweth
  • Production Design by Alex McDowell

The Stinger

“Where is My Mind?” by the Pixies


64. Inception (2010)

Inception Final Shot

The Shot

Fearing his long-awaited reunion with his kids is too good to be true, Cobb spins his totem on the kitchen table. But, overwhelmed at seeing his children he rushes off, leaving the top spinning. Whether the top falls or continues to spin is left ambiguous. And that’s the point: whether Cobb is dreaming or not, reality is subjective. And Cobb has found a reality that he decides to trust, and that feels real to him, whether it is or not.

The Talent Behind It

  • Directed by Christopher Nolan
  • Cinematography by Wally Pfister
  • Production Design by Guy Hendrix Dyas

The Stinger

“Time” by Hans Zimmer


63. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018)

Final Shots Into The Spiderverse

The Shot

With Kingpin’s reality-annihilating plan thwarted, all of the respective Spider-folk are back in their own dimensions. Which is a little sad, because Miles (Shameik Moore) and Gwen (Hailee Steinfeld) had a real spark, you know? And then, just as Miles flops on his bed, at peace with his new responsibilities and distant sense of connection, Gwen’s pastels fill the screen, and her voice calls his name. A smile spreads across Miles’ face: she found a way to reach him after all.

The Talent Behind It

  • Directed by Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey, and Rodney Rothman
  • Art direction by Dean Gordon and Patrick O’Keefe
  • Music Supervision by Kier Lehman

The Stinger

“Sunflower – Spider-Man: Into the Spider-verse” by Post Malone and Swae Lee


62. The Piano (1993)

The Piano Final Scene

The Shot

Jane Campion ends her haunting period piece with the image of a piano, sunk on the bottom of the sea, with our heroine suspended above it, quite literally tied to the object that has brought her the greatest joy and the greatest pain. Ada’s suicide attempt is short-lived, and one we’re told she looks back on fondly, “a weird lullaby” that brings her peace.

The Talent Behind It

  • Directed by Jane Campion
  • Cinematography by Stuart Dryburgh
  • Sound Design by Lee Smith

The Stinger

The drone of the ocean floor.


61. The Rider (2017)

Final Shots The Rider

The Shot

We’re in Brady’s (Brady Jandreau) head, his fantasy. The camera rides alongside him and his horse. Time slows. Every breath of air is felt, every motion from the animal worshiped. We don’t see it now, but outside his head, Brady helps his brain-damaged pal Lane (Lane Scott) imagine a similar experience; one he’ll never have again and an experience Brady is walking away from so he may not end up in that room next to Lane. The final shot is Brady’s goodbye. When his eyes close and the image fades to black, his life as a rider is over. An unknowable future awaits him, but at least it’s a future.

The Talent Behind It

  • Directed by Chloé Zhao
  • Cinematography by Joshua James Richards
  • Edited by Alex O’Flinn

The Stinger

“The Rider: Ending Suite” by Nathan Halpern


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