The 75 Best Final Shots in Movie History

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

Best Final Shots Ever Header

40. Raging Bull (1980)

Raging Bull Final Scene

The Shot

Jake stumbles through the famous, repentant monologue from On the Waterfront, and it is deeply uncomfortable. But De Niro’s performance is such that we almost empathize with the brutish boxer. Almost. His true nature isn’t far off; it rears its head in the hasty shadow boxing and manic affirmations of greatness. Even now, the rage is still there under the paranoia and bloat.

The Talent Behind It

  • Directed by Martin Scorsese
  • Cinematography by Michael Chapman
  • Make-up Effects Created by Michael Westmore

The Stinger

Pitiable silence.


39. Up (2009)

Pixar Up Final Shot

The Shot

Never underestimate the power of bookending. UP ends with a vision of a childhood dream realized: Carl’s house, on the cliff beside Paradise Falls, just like Ellie wanted. The moment is sweetened by the realization that having found Russell, Carl has moved on. The chapter of his life that dedicated to her has closed, and another has opened. The house on the cliff stands, then, as closure; a monument to mourning, and of an adventure well-spent.

The Talent Behind It

  • Directed by Pete Docter and Bob Peterson
  • Cinematography by Jean-Claude Kalache (Camera) & Patrick Lin (Lighting)
  • Art Direction by Daniel Lopez Muñoz

The Stinger

“It’s Just a House” by Michael Giacchino


38. 12 Years a Slave (2013)

Final Shots Years A Slave

The Shot

Solomon Northup (Chiwetel Ejiofor) stands quivering, raining tears upon the grandson cradled in his arms. His family surrounds him, and they release years of sorrow into the air. Steve McQueen and his DP Sean Bobbitt plant the camera and don’t budge. They let the actors do the work for them. The fantasy of such a moment kept Northup alive, and now here it is. McQueen knows we gotta hang her for a bit. This embrace is everything.

The Talent Behind It

  • Directed by Steve McQueen
  • Cinematography by Sean Bobbitt
  • Costumes Designed by Patricia Norris

The Stinger

“Nothing to Forgive” by Hans Zimmer


37. The Thing (1982)

The Thing Final Shot

The Shot

After nearly two hours of psychologically and/or physically tearing one another apart, few survivors remain at U.S. Outpost 31. Only two men emerge from the smoldering wreckage of the Antarctic research station — that is, if they are both men. The possibility remains: one of them could very well be the eponymous, shapeshifting Thing. Too tired to fight, Mac and Childs resign themselves to the cold, share swigs of whiskey, and watch the outpost burn.

The Talent Behind It

  • Directed by John Carpenter
  • Cinematography by Dean Cundey
  • Production Design by John J. Lloyd

The Stinger 

Ennio Morricone’s “Main Theme”


36. Werckmeister Harmonies (2000)

Werckmeister Harmonies Final Shot

The Shot

Werckmeister Harmonies is a film about the post-war Soviet occupation a.k.a it is kind of a huge bummer. Composed of only forty shots, the last of these offers a moment for us to reflect on the haunting, tone poem we’ve just witnessed. A whale lies in the middle of a foggy town square, rotting on corrugated metal sheets, destroyed by the previous nights’ riots. Our protagonist approaches the carcass and stares into its milky, half-open eye. Visibly shaken, he walks away, turning back for one last glance a the mangled behemoth fading into the fog behind him. Whichever way you interpret the whale (a once-great nation? human cruelty?) the shot is powerful, beautiful, and profoundly bleak.

The Talent Behind It

  • Directed by Béla Tarr and Ágnes Hranitzky
  • Cinematography by Patrick de Ranter, Miklós Gurbán, Erwin Lanzensberger, Gábor Medvigy, Emil Novák, and Rob Tregenza
  • Set Decoration by Sándor Katona, Zsuzsa Mihalek, and Béla Zsolt Tóth

The Stinger

“Old” by Mihály Vig


35. The Lobster (2015)

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 Talent Behind It

  • Directed by Yorgos Lanthimos
  • Cinematography by Thimios Bakatakis
  • Production Design by Jacqueline Abrahams

The Stinger

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


34. The Godfather (1972)

The Godfather Final Shot

The Shot

The conclusion of The Godfather sees a new don (a new day, and a new life, etc.) in the American crime world: Michael has ascended to the throne. In the final shot, Vito’s youngest and noblest son is addressed as Don Corleone, and Kay watches, and a door closes between her and her husband; the happy couple we knew from Connie’s wedding but a distant memory.

The Talent Behind It

  • Directed by Francis Ford Coppola
  • Cinematography by Gordon Willis
  • Production Design by Dean Tavoularis

The Stinger

“The Godfather Finale” by Nino Rota


33. Heat (1995)

Heat Final Shot

The Shot

They’re two sides of the same coin, and one of them had to go. The final showdown between Hanna and McCauley is something the audience always knew was coming; the town just wasn’t big enough for both the two of them. In the end, Hanna guns down the only man he truly understands and respects. He didn’t want it to end like this; he wanted justice, but McCauley would sooner die than go back to prison. And so we end on two equals, holding hands, center-framed against the glittering pitch of the L.A. skyline.

The Talent Behind It

  • Directed by Michael Mann
  • Cinematography by Dante Spinotti
  • Production Design by Neil Spisak

The Stinger

“God Moving Over the Face of the Waters,” by Moby


32. The Devils (1971)

Final Shots The Devils

The Shot

With Urbain Grandier (Oliver Reed) out of the way, a smoldering pile of burnt bone and charred flesh, the walls of Loudun can finally come down. The French state has won. And the moment the priest’s screams fell silent the canons began to fire, stripping the city not only of its fortifications but of its independence. Grandier’s wife Madeleine (Gemma Jones) takes one last look at her home before turning her martyr’s eyes towards the rubble. Coated in her lover’s ashes and the dust of her city, Madeleine climbs over the towering bricks; a long road, lined with the Protestant corpses, stretched ahead.

The Talent Behind It

  • Directed by Ken Russell
  • Cinematography by David Watkin
  • Art Direction by Robert Cartwright

The Stinger

“Execution and Exit Music” by Peter Maxwell Davies


31. Ikiru (1952)

Final Shots Ikiru

The Shot

Kanji Watanabe started living after he was diagnosed with stomach cancer. And now that he’s passed, those affected by his extraordinary passion and goodness can’t help but lead their lives with newfound purpose. The film closes on a coworker looking down upon the playground Watanabe lobbied to construct. It was his last gift to the Earth and a staunch reminder of what one can accomplish when they commit themselves to a mission. The man on the bridge witness the children’s joy and takes comfort in their laughter as he strolls back into his bureaucratic doldrums.

The Talent Behind It

  • Directed by Akira Kurosawa
  • Cinematography by Asakazu Nakai
  • Production Design by Takashi Matsuyama

The Stinger

“Gondola No Uta” as sung by Takashi Shimura


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