The 75 Best Final Shots in Movie History

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

Best Final Shots Ever Header

30. Amadeus (1984)

Amadeus Final Scene

The Shot

I’ve said it once, and I’ll repeat it: bookend shots are rad as hell! Famously framed through the madness of Mozart’s bitter rival Salieri, the film closes out on a tracking shot of our anti-hero being wheeled down the riotous hallway of a mental facility. Where the composer’s opening suicide came as a shock, by the film’s end, his current state radiates with context. We’ve seen what broke and twisted him, and we can’t help but sympathize with the patron saint of mediocrities.

The Talent Behind It

  • Directed by Milos Forman
  • Cinematography by Miroslav Ondrícek
  • Production Design by Patrizia von Brandenstein

The Stinger

“Piano Concerto No.20 in D Minor” by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart


29. Casablanca (1942)

Casablanca

The Shot

Redeeming his soul, Rick makes a sacrifice and watches his beloved Ilsa walk off into the fog with her revolutionary husband, Victor. Riding the personal growth kick, Rick and Renault affirm their burgeoning beautiful friendship and trudge off together, in search of a better future. And probably some coffee.

The Talent Behind It

  • Directed by Michael Curtiz
  • Cinematography by Arthur Edeson
  • Art Direction by Carl Jules Weyl

The Stinger

 La Marseilles, duh


28. Kwaidan (1964)

Final Shots Kwaidan

The Shot

Masaki Kobayashi’s staggering anthology concludes with a deliberately unfinished coda. An author, tasked with attending to ancient ghost stories, is missing. When his publisher arrives to collect the manuscript, it turns out his employee is not missing at all. Echoing the incomplete story, the author’s ghostly visage appears in a jar of water, vainly clawing at the surface. The print shop falls still, and our attention is drawn towards an empty cup, cast aside in what we must assume were our author’s last moments before disappearing into his own story. Fittingly, rather than tying things up neatly with any final explanation, Kwaidan leaves us with this ponderous farewell: an empty cup, toppled over, the terrifying vessel of transportive stories.

The Talent Behind It

  • Directed by Masaki Kobayashi
  • Cinematography by Yoshio Miyajima
  • Art Direction by Shigemasa Toda

The Stinger

Untitled Score by Tôru Takemitsu


27. Thelma & Louise (1991)

Thelma And Louise Ending

The Shot

Our two freedom-seeking heroines have come to the end of the road. The law has them cornered, with Thelma and Louise between a Grand Canyon and a hard place. Desperate and refusing to go quietly, the pair decide to double down on their convention-eschewing joy ride. They hold hands, kiss, and shoot off the cliff into a freeze-frame where they, eternally, can never be caught.

The Talent Behind It

  • Directed by Ridley Scott
  • Cinematography by Adrian Biddle
  • Edited by Thom Noble

The Stinger

“The Decision/End Credits” by Hans Zimmer


26. I Saw The Devil (2010)

Final Shots I Saw The Devil

The Shot

NIS agent Kim Soo-hyun (Lee Byung-hun) walks in silence down the center of a road. Through an earpiece, he listens as the violent machinery of his vengeance takes its course. His fiancé’s murderer is dead; and he suffered, like her. Finally, Soo-hyun’s chilled exterior cracks. His mouth splits into a grimace and he doubles over in a horrid overlap of pain, grief, and bittersweet fulfillment. The shot continues to track away, leaving Soo-hyun behind as he laughs and sobs in equal measure, covering his face and stumbling down the street, manic in the aftermath of stooping to his enemy’s level.

The Talent Behind It

  • Directed by Kim Jee-woon
  • Cinematography by Lee Mo-gae
  • Edited by Nam Na-young

The Stinger

“Soohyn’s Theme 1 – Version 22” by Mowg


25. An Autumn Afternoon (1962)

An Autumn Afternoon Final Scene

The Shot

The above shot isn’t just the final shot of An Autumn Afternoon; its the final shot of Yasujirô Ozu’s career. The farewell was, of course, unintentional. But it is, in its way, the perfect goodbye: a dreamy, iconic Ozu pillow POV of a seasoned Ozu actor (Chishū Ryū). Ryū’s character, a widower, has finally married off his only daughter. The house is empty, and he is alone, in the quintessentially Ozu territory between the deeply sad and the bittersweet.

The Talent Behind It

  • Directed by Yasujirô Ozu
  • Cinematography by Yûharu Atsuta
  • Production Design by Minoru Kanekatsu

The Stinger

“Theme – Polka – Finale” by Kojun Saitô


24. Mother (2009)

Final Shots Mother

The Shot

Do-joon’s mother (Kim Hye-ja) is full of pain. She has killed an innocent to protect a guilty man: her son, a murderer after all. She is wracked with guilt at the things she’s done to shield her son from the world. Him knowing that there’s blood on her hands is nothing short of a knife twist. Parting tearfully on a bus, the mother sits in shock, her head hung in shame, fear, and remorse. Finally, using the acupuncture kit her son recovered from her crime scene, she relieves her pain and joins the reveling passengers; comfortably numb in the sublime shadow of the setting sun.

The Talent Behind It

  • Directed by Bong Joon-ho
  • Cinematography by Hong Kyung-pyo
  • Edited by Moon Sae-kyoung

The Stinger

“Festival” by Byung-Woo Lee


23. A Serious Man (2009)

A Serious Man Final Shot

The Shot

Of all their work, A Serious Man is the Coens’ most flagrant engagement with “The Book of Job.” An Old Testament banger, “Job” offers a meditation on the conflict between the human need for meaning and the indifference of the Universe. With Job’s Coen surrogate Larry in mind, the final shot of A Serious Man acts as the perfect punchline: a massive, uncaring storm. It wafts of futility and wonder, resentment and awe. Of a thunderous, baffling “shit happens.”

The Talent Behind It

  • Directed by Ethan Coen and Joel Coen
  • Cinematography by Roger Deakins
  • Production Design by Jess Gonchor

The Stinger

Jefferson Airplane’s “Somebody to Love”


22. Oldboy (2003)

Oldboy Final Scene

The Shot

After all the unmentionable things he’s been through (including the film’s ultimate, stomach-churning revelation), one understands why our hero elected to have his memory erased by a hypnotist. But did it stick? As Min-sik Choi’s elated smile shifts into a grimace, it’s difficult to tell whether or not he remembers the awful truth. To boot, it’s unclear which alternative is worse.

The Talent Behind It

  • Directed by Park Chan-wook
  • Cinematography by Chung Chung-hoon
  • Hair and Make-up by Song Jong-hee

The Stinger

“The Last Waltz” by Cho Young-Wuk


21. Big Night (1996)

Big Night Final Scene

The Shot

What do you do after a big night? You have a big breakfast. In one continuous five-minute shot, our groggy culinary characters stumble around the kitchen in various degrees of stupor until eggs happen. The scene is quietly sweet, sensory, and relatable; scored simply by the taps of a spatula, the clinks of plates, and the crackle of butter. The brothers have awoken to an uncertain future. But they have each other. And omelets.

The Talent Behind It

  • Directed by Campbell Scott and Stanley Tucci
  • Cinematography by Ken Kelsch
  • Production Design by Andrew Jackness

The Stinger

“Canta se la vuoi cantar” by Claudio Villa


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