15 Movies That Delivered an Unforgettable Ending

Truman Show
Image Credit: Paramount Pictures.

Every once in a while, a movie comes along and shares a story so raw and in your face that it emanates with our souls and leaves us reeling with a truly unforgettable ending. This list is for all those times a movie touched your soul.

1. Prisoners (2013)

Prisoners (2013)
Image Credit: Warner Bros.

When children die, it can wreak havoc in ways no one sees coming. Prisoners is one of those movies that reaches into your soul and never lets go. One movie specialist says, “Hugh Jackman was fantastic; watching him crumble and become a prisoner of his actions and fiction was gripping. It was uncomfortable in places, and I was always second-guessing who the bad guy was.”

2. End of Watch (2012)

End of Watch (2012)
Image Credit: Universal Pictures.

Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Peña sealed the deal for most moviegoers who saw this film. For one, it brought home the reason most police officers seem hopeless. “Great movie. It doesn’t embellish much, yet it still conveys so much emotion and connection. If more people watched that movie, they’d understand why police officers are usually permanently pessimistic/unhappy.”

3. Perfume: Story of a Murderer (2007)

Perfume: Story of a Murderer (2007)
Image Credit: DreamWorks Pictures.

Based on the 1985 novel by Patrick Süskind, the author wouldn’t sell the rights to his book until Bernd Eichenger convinced him to in 2000 after his initial refusal in 1985. The wait was worth it. “There are so many great parts in that movie that left me speechless, let alone the complete trainwreck of an ending that no one in the history of movies could have ever predicted. So amazing!”

4. Life Is Beautiful (1997)

Life Is Beautiful (1997)
Image Credit: Miramax Films.

Using the events of the Holocaust, Life is Beautiful follows the story of Guido and his son, Giosuè, as Guido helps him survive a Nazi concentration camp while shielding him from the atrocities committed there. For one movie lover, the film was full of surprises. “This movie was crazy; in the beginning (not having seen a trailer or knowing anything about it), I thought it would just be another odd foreign flick. I was so wrong.”

5. 12 Angry Men (1997)

12 Angry Men (1997)
Image Credit: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.

Fear not if you’re worried a film about jurors might be boring. Several commenters had great things to say about this movie, including, “I think it was beautiful how, throughout the play, the jurors would drop little hints about their background lives, and you could see a correlation between their background and how they act. For example, Juror 4 was a stockbroker only concerned with facts. Juror 11 was an immigrant, yet he displayed an excellent use of language and grammar. Loved this play and all the subtleties in there.”

6. The Truman Show (1998)

The Truman Show (1998)
Image Credit: Paramount Pictures.

The Truman Show is one of the most extreme examples of “putting your life out there” to be put into film. Jim Carey plays Truman, whose whole life is a scripted plot, every interaction filmed in precise detail. As one person said, “I just sat there wallowing in my newfound existential crisis.” Imagine the magnitude of revelations for a man like Truman. His whole life would indeed be ahead of him.

7. Buried (2010)

Buried (2010)
Image Credit: Lionsgate.

Due to the extreme conditions the production team used for the film, actor Ryan Reynolds admitted that it caused him to suffer from claustrophobia. One fan of the film, who completely understood where Ryan was coming from, was so moved they said this: “I felt sick for an hour, and my own mortality became a highly salient issue in my head.”

8. Children of Men (2007)

Children of Men (2007)
Image Credit: Universal Pictures.

With the human race bordering on extinction from an allegedly incurable form of infertility, Theo escorts Kee, the only known pregnant woman in the world, to safety aboard a ship known as Tomorrow. For one film buff, the movie evoked immense emotional investment, to which they stated, “The feeling was like nothing I’ve ever experienced in my life. My chest gets heavy just thinking about it. The way people are staring, transfixed, at the baby. I don’t know. It’s overpowering. With the moment shattered, it’s always so sad when everyone goes back to killing each other. Every time I watch it, I hope it lasts just a second longer.”

9. Atonement (2007)

Atonement (2007)
Image Credit: Universal Pictures.

This war drama delivered such a twisted ending that one participant was left bereaved by the conclusion. “A WWII love story/war drama in which young lovers torn apart by a jealous little sister’s lies fight for a happy life together. It appears that they will never be together, but during the war, circumstances find the lovers back together, and they resume their relationship, finally marrying and enjoying life together. So yeah, not only do we get that downer ending, but the movie ends, and the credits roll over the two lovebirds playfully enjoying time together on the beach. For, like, five agonizing minutes.”

10. Arlington Road (1999)

Arlington Road (1999)
Image Credit: Screen Gems.

Twists and turns keep you guessing in this thriller that features Joan Cusack, Jeff Bridges, and Tim Robbins. And while one individual couldn’t remember the details of the ending, they did remember precisely how they felt, saying, “All I remember is how I felt at the end. I don’t even remember what the details of the ending were. It’s just the feeling of…”WAIT WHAT?!?!? That’s not how movies are supposed to end!!!”

11. American History X (1998)

American History X (1998)
Image Credit: New Line Cinema.

Featuring Edward Norton and Edward Furlong, this film about the perpetuation of racism was a game changer for several respondents, one in particular posting, “When I originally watched it when I was innocent-minded and 17, the curb scene and shower scene traumatized me, and I never finished the movie. Fast forward ten years, after all of Sons of Anarchy and Breaking Bad, I finally finished it. I am so glad I did.”

12. Schindler’s List (1994)

Schindler's List (1994)
Image Credit: Universal Pictures.

This person’s viewpoint of the film sums up the best parts of Schindler’s List. “I think Schindler’s List has the best protagonist character arc of any movie I’ve seen. Starting as a shrewd businessman whose only interest is getting money on the backs of others to being a broken shell of a man who can’t give enough away to save those he has taken upon his shoulders. I broke when I first saw that final scene. I have not watched the movie again since, and even just typing this out now has me teary-eyed. An immense film. A heartbreaking story. Everyone should see it.” For a film about the Holocaust, this film is likely as close as we’ll ever get to knowing what it must have been like in Nazi Germany.

13. Lorenzo’s Oil (1993)

Lorenzo's Oil (1993)
Image Credit: Universal Pictures.

Lorenzo Odone suffered from adrenoleukodystrophy, a nervous system disorder that affected the myelin coating around the nerves. The brain and spinal cord are the most affected areas, and the disease is more prevalent in male children than their female counterparts. One interested movie viewer said this about the film. “Watching the father as he helplessly tried to save his son was the peak of despair. Such a poignant film and great for the whole family!”

14. Forrest Gump

Forrest Gump
Image Credit: Paramount Pictures.

Rightfully touted as one of Tom Hanks’ best performances, Forrest Gump is the movie for many film connoisseurs. One said this about the movie. “Throughout the movie, he doesn’t call himself dumb, but at that moment when he was asking if his son was dumb like him… heartbreaking.”

15. Spotlight (2015)

Spotlight (2015)
Image Credit: Open Road Films.

“This is not just Boston. It’s the whole country. It’s the whole world.” For a non-documentary, this film opened the eyes of those who watched it and showed them the sickness that embedded itself in the Catholic Church. For one commenter in particular, the movie was incredibly moving. They had this to say: “Watched it with my wife this weekend. She kept saying, ‘A thousand priests!? A thousand!?!’ And that’s when the list of cities came up. She called it an appropriate movie to watch on 9/11.”

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Written by Rebecca Holcomb

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