Fade to Black: The Final Shots of 45 Best Picture Winners

A compilation of films’ last moments reveal the power of impression.

Every day this week I’m going to be introducing you to (or reminding you of) a video pertaining to the Academy Awards, which will air this year’s ceremony Sunday evening on ABC. First up, this captivating piece from Albert Gómez of Room 237 in which the final shots from 45 Best Picture Winners since 1970 have been compiled.

If opening shots are meant to appeal to your imagination, if they’re meant to catch it and engage it and use it to convince your mind to accompany the film along its narrative, then final shots are meant to appeal to your memory, they’re trying to imprint themselves – and by virtue their film’s message, meaning, and impact – upon you indelibly so they are never forgotten. And arguably, no films in the medium’s history have done this better than those Gómez has collected here.

Whether hopeful, triumphant, transcendent, whimsical, worrisome, bittersweet, or even tragic, each ending on display is beautiful and poignant in its own way, as well as being representative of the power visual media in particular has when it comes to making a lasting impression upon our emotional memories.

A complete list of the films included is below the embed.

1970s

Patton
The French Connection
The Godfather
The Sting
The Godfather Part II
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
Rocky
Annie Hall
The Deer Hunter
Kramer vs. Kramer

1980s

Ordinary People
Chariots of Fire
Gandhi
Terms of Endearment
Amadeus
Out of Africa
Platoon
The Last Emperor
Rain Man
Driving Miss Daisy

1990s

Dances with Wolves
The Silence of the Lambs
Unforgiven
Schindler’s List
Forrest Gump
Braveheart
The English Patient
Titanic
American Beauty

2000s

Gladiator
A Beautiful Mind
Chicago
The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
Million Dollar Baby
Crash
The Departed
No Country for Old Men
Slumdog Millionaire
The Hurt Locker

2010s

The King’s Speech
The Artist
Argo
12 Years a Slave
Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
Spotlight