Let’s face it, this decade has not kicked off to a good start. If you’re huge movie junkie, like me, you’re probably be very disappointed with the fact that multiple summer movie blockbusters have been postponed to later in the year or even to 2021. Black Widow, Wonder Woman 1984, Ghostbusters: Afterlife, and Fast and Furious 9 (just to name a few), have all been pushed back. That’s a massive bummer if you’re a movie fan, because it looks like we might not have too many new movies to watch for 2020. Being stuck indoors has encouraged me to revisit some of my favorite movies from the last decade. Since we unfortunately won’t be seeing too many new movies for a while, I think now would be an opportune time to discuss the greatest movie endings of the last decade.
This list was tough. Very tough. I’m a lover of movies, but I’ve narrowed it down to the ten movie endings that hit me the most. If you’re up for taking a stroll down the nostalgic memory lane, then I suggest you brace yourself. Let’s do this.
10. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
Don’t you miss the good old days when everyone loved talking about Star Wars? I sure as heck do. Wind the clock back to 2016, and we got worthy addition to the franchise. I like to think of it as the Suicide Squad movie we should’ve gotten, but what the heck, we’ll stick to calling it Rogue One. Seeing the classic stormtroopers again triggered all kinds of nostalgia, not to mention seeing Donnie Yen go all kung fu on them. The real highlight of the movie, however, was the last scene. Seeing Darth Vader’s red lightsaber ignite in the dark felt basically turned this Star Wars flick into a horror movie, and his subsequent onslaught of rebel troops was both pulse-quickening and terrifying at once.
Rogue One brought back Darth Vader in the most epic fashion, and managed explain how the events of A New Hope began. If that doesn’t make it worthy enough to be in the Star Wars franchise, then what the heck does?
9. Toy Story 3
As someone who was a small child when the first two Toy Story movie came out, I was always eagerly waiting for a third movie. My patience paid off when I turned sixteen in 2010 and my childhood suddenly came crashing down on me. Seeing a grown-up Andy handing over his toys to little Bonnie stirred up all kinds of emotions for me and even the other adults in the audience. The part that got me the most was seeing Andy drive away and hearing Woody say, “so long, partner.” Between the emotional way he said it, and seeing Buzz comfort him… I have to stop. The tears are coming back. Okay, moving on.
Sibling rivalries is a common conflict in movies, but no other film as shown it better than Warrior. Tom Hardy and Joel Edgerton are brilliant as two estranged brothers trying to fix their broken relationship. Not only do they bring a lot of physical weight to this movie, but they amp up the emotional tension between them. During their final fight, Tommy (Hardy) fights out of anger, while Brendan (Edgerton) fights for redemption. Seeing Tommy desperately trying to stay in the fight was enough to hit me in the feels, but it wasn’t until Brendan said, “I love you!” that finally caused Tommy to tap. In that moment, the rivalry ended, and the brothers were reconciled. What can I say? I appreciate a good, brotherly moment. Plus, who would expect that Tom Hardy would make you cry?
Did Hugh Jackman die in this movie? We’re not really sure, but this cliffhanger is one of the best I’ve seen in a movie ever. Prisoners triggered a lot of people in the audience to gasp in shock, but the biggest shocker came when detective Loki may or may not have discovered the source of the faint whistling sound. The nefarious Holly Jones shot Keller Dover (Jackman) and trapped him in a concealed pit in her backyard. Dover discovers his daughters whistle, but we don’t hear him use it until the very end. The amount of tension during the last scene was killing me. Loki kept attempting to walk away, but turning back around, then wondering if he was just hearing things. Did he ever find Dover? We don’t know, but it left us shocked and wondering. Now that’s how you do an ambiguous ending.
6. Green Book
I always liked watching two men coming from totally different environments become friends. There’s a special kind of humanity to it, and Green Book delivers exactly that kind of element. From the beginning of the journey, to the very end, Tony Lip (Mortensen) and Don Shirley (Ali) learn from each other’s differences and become better people because of it. Seeing Shirley being accepted and joining Tony’s family for Christmas dinner was a simple, but satisfying way to show how much they both changed. The most unexpected kind of bromance is the best kind of bromance there is.
5. The Dark Knight Rises
The Dark Knight Rises may not have reached the astronomical expectations set by its predecessor, but it tied up Bruce Wayne’s story almost perfectly. From the very beginning, his mission was to save Gotham City, but he accomplished so much more than that. He saved the city from total destruction, turned Wayne Manor into an orphanage, and managed to find happiness afterwards. If there’s anything Bruce Wayne had trouble accomplishing, it was finding a steady relationship. Alfred always wanted that for him, but he could never get Bruce to move on. By the end of the film, Bruce did the unexpected and found love, finally making Alfred’s fantasy a reality. No words were said when they saw each other, but the nods and smiles they exchanged was all that was needed. I’ll miss Christian Bale.
The most amazing thing about the ending of Whiplash was its sense of realism. Andrew (Miles Teller) was terribly humiliated by his former music instructor, Terence Fletcher (J.K. Simmons) and leaves the stage. However, Andrew shows his true character by returning to the stage and playing one heck of a drum solo. The film then ends with Fletcher giving Andrew a smile of approval and cues the finale. If Fletcher didn’t have that conversation with Andrew in the jazz club about Charlie Parker, it’s likely he wouldn’t of gotten back on that stage.
Despite Fletcher’s brutal methods, he actually instilled the exact kind of determination in Andrew that he needed. The road to success was tougher than Andrew thought, but it’s only when he fell at his lowest that he realized how strong his resolve was. It was the ultimate test to not impress or prove Fletcher wrong, but to prove that he was the type of person to never give up. This is a lesson we all need to take not of, and watching Andrew’s struggle in the movie shows a prime example of it.
I remember seeing Hugh Jackman as Wolverine for the first time when I was little. Continuing to see him play the character as I was growing up made me feel like I knew him forever. When he died at the end of Logan, I felt like I lost a family member. Seeing an old and vulnerable Logan was interesting to see, but watching him go up against a clone of his younger self was bonkers. He was long past his prime, but he chose to die defending his clone/daughter and other mutant children from his feral clone. After spending generations fighting for nothing, his final battle meant the most to him, as he truly died with his heart in his hand and for the first time, felt what it was like to be human.
Logan accepted his fate and found peace in death, knowing that his daughter would be safe. This meant everything to his development and ended a fourteen year run on Hugh Jackman’s run as Wolverine with a extraordinary bang. Although it would kind of take away the impact, I sort of want Jackman to return in the MCU. A man can hope.
2. Avengers: Endgame
And I thought losing Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine was tough. When Tony Stark used the infinity gauntlet to destroy Thanos, it was the ultimate sacrifice. He wasn’t the most well-liked among the heroes, but everyone, and I mean everyone gathered to mourn for him. He started as a selfish playboy in the first Iron Man, then died a hero in last year’s Avengers: Endgame. As much as I wanted him to live, his death meant something. Robert Downey Jr. is basically the godfather of the MCU, and now that he’s gone, it means a new age for the franchise. The MCU will be different without him, but his legacy will continue to show in future films.
And let’s not forget about the final shot of the film. Captain America, the man who lived for war, finally found a life of peace with the woman he thought was lost to him forever. The final shot of him dancing with Peggy was so different from how MCU films usually end. It was nothing comedic and not setting up another film, it just showed Cap finally living the life he never thought he’d have. I was never in a theater where people laughed and cried during a superhero movie so much. It was a monumental theater experience and I really want to see how Marvel tops themselves the next phase.
1. Avengers: Infinity War
Avengers: Endgame had the happy ending, but Avengers: Infinity war was basically The Empire Strikes Back of this generation. After spending so much time building up Thanos, Marvel finally gave him an amazing introduction. What makes him so much better than other villains is that he actually won. He collected all the infinity stones and wiped out half the universe’s population. The final shot was him settling down and smiling at the sunset. Not only was this an unexpected ending to a Marvel film, but the ultimate cliffhanger to get us excited for the next. After seeing our heroes achieve victory over so many bad guys, seeing them fail for the first time was really gut-wrenching. Seeing them react to their failure just added on to it, but the worst came when we saw half of them turn to ashes. The worst was probably Peter fading away in Tony’s arms.
Sometimes the best endings are the ones with unhappy endings. There aren’t too many films that have pulled that off, but Infinity War made it work. If you thought Marvel just liked playing it safe, you are dead wrong.
There you have it, the best movie endings from the last decade. It was a fun time and I’m sad it ended, but when one journey ends, another begins. I can only hope that this next decade will bring us movies that are just as great, maybe even greater. Only time will tell.
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