The 50 Best Final Shots in Movie History

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

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10. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre

Texas Chainsaw Massacre Final Shot

The Shot

After flailing down the highway to the freedom of a fortuitous pickup, Sally bursts into laughter at the miracle of her survival. Leatherface’s reaction is, naturally, to take out his frustration the only way he knows how: dance. Silhouetted against the sunrise, he twirls in madness, letting the weight of his weapon lead his unhinged pirouettes. What better way to end the massacre. No rhyme or reason: only a chainsaw. 

The Stinger

A final, hungry chainsaw rip.


9. The Lobster

The Lobster Final Shot

The Shot

A hilarious and horrific parody of modern love, The Lobster ends with David and the Short-Sighted Woman in a diner. David is in the bathroom with a steak knife and a hard choice: Is love real or a social construct? Will he blind himself to re-establish a shared trait with his partner, or lie with her none the Rachel Weisz-er (sorry). To his credit, Yorgos Lanthimos leaves these final moments unresolved, with the Short-Sighted Woman awaiting David’s return, the highway humming softly in the background.

The Stinger

Ti Ein Afto Pou To Lene Agapi (Boy On a Dolphin) by Tonis Maroudas and Sophia Loren


8. 2001: A Space Odyssey

A Space Odyssey Final Shot Child

The Shot

The end of 2001: A Space Odyssey is one of the most infamous “what the fuck did I just watch” moments of cinema. Good news (maybe), Kubrick himself has explained what the last scene means. After being taken in by formless, energy-based “god-like entities” our hero Dave spends the rest of his life in a human zoo. Finally, he is “transformed into some kind of super-being” (see: big baby) and sent back to earth. We can only imagine what comes next, but the cogs of myth crank on.

The Stinger

“Also sprach Zarathustra” by Richard Strauss


7. Call Me By Your Name

Call Me By Your Name Final Shot

The Shot

After receiving a surprise phone call from a now-engaged Oliver, Elio sits by the fire and lets his sadness sit. And we sit with him, longer than we’re used to sitting with broken-hearted characters. There is no sense of rush, nothing waiting impatiently in the wings: just a sad, fragile, private moment.

The Stinger

“Visions of Gideon” by Sufjan Stevens 


6. Psycho

Psycho Final Shot

The Shot

While the expositional ramblings were probably best left on the cutting room floor, Psycho’s concluding police station scene had one boon: a final moment with Norman…and his mom. The camera gingerly approaches our killer, engulfed like a child in an oversized blanket, and the extent of his madness is revealed slowly through narration. His mother has crawled inside his mind; the two, collided into something dangerous and perverse. Convinced of his mother’s innocence, Norman’s face twists into a grin — which Hitchcock hellishly overlays with Norma’s mummified skull.

The Stinger

“Finale,” by Bernard Herrmann


5. Seven Samurai

Seven Samurai Final Scene

The Shot

Seven Samurai’s happy ending comes at a price. Kambei, Katsushiro, and Shichioroji stand over the graves of their fallen friends, without a word of thanks from the village they have saved. They are loved when they are needed. But the danger has passed, and there is no reward, no ride into the sunset; the villagers move on in ways the samurai cannot. They will trudge down the road to the next village, the image of their friend’s burial ground fresh in their minds.

The Stinger

“Part 16,” by Fumio Hayasaka


4. The Graduate

The Graduate Final Scene

The Shot

After a big spontaneous “leave your fiancé at the altar for me” hurrah, Benjamin and Elaine hop on a bus and ride off to the sunset. Only, it doesn’t take long for their impulsive romantic gesture to run out of steam; for their grins to fade, and eyes to glaze over. As the pair sobers up to the consequences of their desperate bid at feeling something we come to the same horrible realization: that the cure for numbness doesn’t have a quick fix.

The Stinger

“The Sound of Silence” by Simon & Garfunkel


3. The Shining

The Shining Final Shot

The Shot

After an ominously intentional dolly zoom, we land right where Kubrick wants us: face to face with a photograph. In it, Jack Torrence impossibly stands front and center of a gaggle of guests at the 1921 July 4th Ball, sixty odd years before the story we have just witnessed. What is Jack doing in 1921? Kubrick has said that it “suggests the reincarnation of Jack,” in other words, as Delbert Grady put it, Jack has “always been the caretaker.” In any case, the final result of Jack becoming part of the hotel forever is unnerving as hell.

The Stinger

“Midnight, The Stars and You” by Al Bowlly and Ray Noble and His Orchestra


2. There Will Be Blood

There Will Be Blood Final Shot

The Shot

As Eli drains out onto the bowling alley, Daniel sits twisted and panting, surrounded by the detritus of his anger and the hollowness of his spoils. And yet, for all its grit, There Will Be Blood has its darkly comedic moments. The finale is no different: from the vantage of the butler, we take in the wreckage. And, out of breath, Daniel responds: “I’m finished!”

The Stinger

“Violin Concerto in D Major (Movement III)” by Johannes Brahms


1. The Searchers

The Searchers Final Shot

The Shot

John Ford’s classic begins and ends with virtually the same scene. The opening starts in darkness; a door opens, a silhouetted woman steps into frame and Monument Valley (and the rider in the distance ) is revealed. Finally, Ethan Edwards returns, cradling his niece, who enters into the dark house to join her family, leaving Ethan alone in the doorway. Forgotten by his friends and family, Ethan does as the score instructs, and turns to ride away once more, the door closing behind him. And so we leave Ethan as we met him: wandering.

The Stinger 

“The Searchers (The Sons of the Pioneers)” by Max Steiner

Articles from the One Perfect Shot archives, written by committee or guests.

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