A recent online discussion about film endings that are meant to be ambiguous but are pretty straightforward ensued. Several popular movies were mentioned. Here are their top-voted films. Do you agree?
1. No Country for Old Men (2007)
No Country for Old Men. “Anton Shigur checks his feet for blood before leaving the porch, meaning he killed Carla Jean. It’s also meant to show that Chigur doesn’t actually believe what he says. He doesn’t leave things up to chance. He kills anyone who gets in his way.”
2. Prisoners (2013)
Prisoners. “The fate of Keller (Hugh Jackman’s character) is pretty obvious. He’ll obviously be found (Detective Loki will investigate the sound, being a detective, after all). Keller will serve heavy jail time for kidnapping, torturing, and nearly beating an innocent man to death.”
3. Shutter Island (2010)
Shutter Island. “I’ve seen lots of debate over whether he was cured at the end or not. Is it not obvious that he was cured and chose to get lobotomized? He ‘chose to die as a good man!’ Great movie.”
4. Inception (2010)
Inception. “The spinning top literally starts to wobble before it cuts to credits. Cobb doesn’t care if he’s in a dream or real world at this point; he just wants to see his kids, so he’s accepted this as reality. At the same time, the top wobbles, indicating it is indeed the real world.”
“To me, the top has always been irrelevant. Even if it’s a dream, he never let himself see the kids’ faces in his dreams before. He’s now forgiven himself enough to go play with them. The resolution of his guilt is the point.”
5. Blade Runner (1982)
Blade Runner. “I always took the ending to be more about the existential crisis of what he does for a living and realizing the thin line between ‘us’ and ‘them.’ It doesn’t matter if Deckard is or isn’t a replicant.”
“One of the most interesting parts of Blade Runner is the fact that the replicants display more humanity than Deckard — the actual human— does. Deckard is robotic and unfeeling in his pursuit of them — making the contrast between him and Roy at the end so compelling. If Deckard is a replicant, you lose this element of the story, which is a significant loss.”
6. The Wrestler (2008)
The Wrestler. “He absolutely 100% dies in the ring. That’s what the whole tragic story trajectory leads to. The most tragic point is when he looks back and sees her gone. If he had looked back and Marissa Tomei was still standing there, he may have stopped and turned back. But they make a point that he tells her this is where he belongs after she shoots her shot. Then, she is gone when he looks back.”
7. The Thing (1982)
The Thing. The alien doesn’t freeze to death. It can survive frozen indefinitely. So it wouldn’t have to attack. It would just wait for the human to freeze to death and wait to be discovered by other humans, which is what happened with the Norwegians. That’s my take. So, there really isn’t a way to know if they’re human at the end or not.”
8. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. “When I first watched it, I was happy to see they found each other again, but after watching more recently, I realized that wasn’t the point. The point is that they kept going through the cycle of meet and break-up repeatedly. They were doomed to keep repeating their mistakes vs. learning and moving on, together or apart.”
“There’s an unused scene showing a much older Joel and Clem coming back to have their memories wiped again, showing exactly this.”
9. Whiplash (2014)
Whiplash. “We think it’s maybe a happy ending that Andrew won. Or that Fletcher and he are good with each other. But earlier in the movie, Andrew states that his idol became famous and died of a drug overdose in his 30s. At the end, his father’s horrified expression confirms that he believes Andrew is on his way down that path. In fact, the writer and Director even confirm this in post-movie interviews.”
10. The Witch (2015)
The Witch. “I feel like there’s absolutely zero room for interpretation. It wasn’t ‘all in her head’ or delusions brought on by grief. A witch haunted and killed her family, and then she joined the coven.”
11. Lost in Translation (2003)
Lost in Translation. “She’s not going to leave her husband for him. He won’t leave his wife and children for her. Despite their romantic feelings for each other, they are committed to their spouses.
Also, the 30-year age gap. Both are smart and sensible enough to know any real relationship between them would be a disaster. Bob isn’t going to risk dumping his family for a confused, flighty newlywed who just graduated college.
She probably doesn’t want to spend her future with an older man. She knows it’s just a crush. Instead, he gives her some encouraging advice, and they part as mostly friends, the kiss aside.”
12. The Shining (1980)
The Shining. “Jack Nicholson appeared in the picture because he is part of what haunts the overlook now. I’ve talked to people who thought it meant he had been there in the past or was a ghost all along.”
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Elizabeth Ervin is the owner of Sober Healing. She is a freelance writer passionate about opioid recovery and has celebrated breaking free since 09-27-2013. She advocates for mental health awareness and encourages others to embrace healing, recovery, and spirituality.