The 75 Best Final Shots in Movie History

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

Best Final Shots Ever Header

Welcome to a list of The Best Final Shots in Movie History, presented by the team behind One Perfect Shot. It could go without saying, but we’ll say it anyway: this list includes spoilers for at least 75 movies. Please be sure that you’re ready for that before scrolling any further.

Anyone in storytelling will tell you that a good ending is hard-won. That beginning a film, building up a world and getting to know its characters, is one thing, but that figuring out how to leave them is another. When the lights come up, and eyes adjust, how do you want your audience to leave the theatre? Elated? Resolute? Horrified? In tears? Changed?

You’ll need a good ending and, if you’re a real pro, a good final shot. It’s the last thing the audience will see before the credits roll and, done well, the image that will follow them home. You know what they say about last impressions.

Some closing shots provide unexpected answers to big questions. Others let questions dangle endlessly; leaving it to the audience to decide for themselves how the film closed out. Some provide resolve. Others double down on tragedy. 

Below we’ve assembled the seventy-five best, ranked. Enjoy.

75. Sweetheart (2019)

Final Shots Sweetheart

The Shot

Using nothing but sharpened sticks and bones, Jenn (Kiersey Clemons) tears the skull from the monster’s shoulders and carries it toward her raft. No one believes anything without proof. Well, here’s your goddamn proof. The camera pulls away from the island, flying further and further across the sea. Will her raft make it across such unforgiving terrain? Does it matter? Jen has lit the island forest ablaze. Surely, that’s a large enough spotlight for some passing plane to catch. Jenn will return, and her tale of monsters will be told.

The Talent Behind It

  • Directed by J.D. Dillard
  • Cinematography by Stefan Duscio
  • Production Design by Robbie Porter

The Stinger

“All Over Again” by Georgi Kay

74. Beasts of the Southern Wild (2012)

Beasts Of The Southern Wild Final Shot

The Shot

The final shot of Benh Zeitlin’s film is a deeply moving, if problematically romantic, tableau of a community united. It is, like much of Beasts, a slice of visual poetry: in the haze of a storm, a weathered community walks together in procession down a highway, waves lapping at their feet. As the camera zooms away, and the haze dwarfs the crowd, they continue forward, together.

The Talent Behind It

  • Directed by Benh Zeitlin
  • Cinematography by Ben Richardson
  • Location Management by Alana Pryor Ackerman

The Stinger

“Once There Was a Hushpuppy,” by Dan Romer and Benh Zeitlin

73. Shadow (2018)

Final Shots Shadow

The Shot

Xiao Ai (Sun Li) races to the castle door and hesitates. She’s just witnessed an incredible turn of events. The king is dead, killed by a not-so-loyal commander, who is currently fabricating a complex web of lies to the officials on the other side. Only she knows the truth. So, why does she pause? Shadow falls and rests on Sun Li’s micro performance. In the span of seconds, we see glee, terror, and confusion. Having experienced an epic torment, we know what we want her to do, but is she the one to fulfill our needs? Our needs are not her needs. When the film cuts to black, it’s a gasp. We’ll never know. We make up our own lies to eradicate curiosity.

The Talent Behind It

  • Directed by Yimou Zhang
  • Cinematography by Xiaoding Zhao
  • Costume Design by Minzheng Chen

The Stinger

“Bloodstains on Embroidered Silk” by Lao Zai

72. Halloween (1978)

Halloween Final Shot

The Shot

Presumably defeated, the boogeyman lives to slash another day. The lawn which previously housed the crumpled corpse of Michael Myers is now terrifyingly empty. And in a flourish of calculated anticipation, John Carpenter rolls out a montage of suburbia scored by the predatory wheeze of Michael’s breaths. We finally arrive at a dark, abandoned house, and the camera lingers. The suggestion is clear: the rampage isn’t quite over yet.

The Talent Behind It

  • Directed by John Carpenter
  • Cinematography by Dean Cundey
  • Production Design by Tommy Lee Wallace

The Stinger

“Halloween Main Theme” by John Carpenter

71. Gladiator (2000)

Gladiator Final Shot

The Shot

Oddly enough “I will see you again, but not yet” is the same thing I yell at my TV every time after I finish rewatching Gladiator. Look, back in 2000 you only had so many DVDs. With Maximus’ story at a close, a freed Juba (Djimon Hounsou) returns to the Roman Coliseum to bury effigies of Maximus’ wife and son on the spot where he died. Juba promises he’ll see his friend again someday, and the camera pans up. Before us stretches Rome, the early sun, and unworldly rosy clouds; a warmth and beauty denied us for much of the film.

The Talent Behind It

  • Directed by Ridley Scott
  • Cinematography by John Mathieson
  • Visual Effects Supervised by John Nelson

The Stinger

“Now We Are Free” by Lisa Gerrard, Hanz Zimmer, and others

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