An open ending is a film technique that leaves the audience in a state of ambiguity about the story’s ending. Open endings have no obvious meaning, but the ending can be interpreted in a way that is pleasing to you. In other words, watching an open ending is a matter of taste, and the ending can be whichever you like. However, only the director knows the underlying subtext and final conclusion. We always think and create our own conclusions after watching films with open endings, as this was the director’s intention.
Many movies have open endings that are so puzzling that cinephiles discuss them online and develop theories about them. I recently read about an interesting theory regarding the ending of Denis’ Prisoners which made so much sense to me that I actually started believing it. Similarly, we have a number of movies with very open endings that you can’t help but think about.
Here, we’ve compiled a list of the 10 best open ending movies that will leave you stunned.
10. American Psycho
American Psycho, as you can see in the title, it’s about a psychopath. Not necessarily, a cruel and savage psychopath you’ve seen in No Country for Old man. But, more of a film on satirical psycho that frightens as you watch the cinema. Ofcourse, The best thing is Christian bale’s performance accompanied by riveting narration. It would put you on the edge of your seat and holds your spellbound through the open ending. A wealthy investment banker hides his psychopath face from his friends and colleagues but, things go in an unexpected direction. Basically, you’ll see a rampage.
Maybe, it’s wise to say American Psycho is kind of a horror film.
IMDb Rating: 7.6/10
Cast: Christian Bale, Justin Theroux, Josh Lucas, and more.
9. Black Swan
Black Swan is a psychological film that deals with obsession and addiction, and how they could affect the mental side of human. When I talk about Black Swan, It would be disrespectful If I don’t acknowledge the mind-blowing performance of Natalie Portman. Throughout the film, she was a major asset and an eye-catcher. Nina, a ballerina gets the opportunity to play the White Swan, Princess Odette. However, her paranoia and insecureness take hold of her mind, when Thomas, the artistic director, decides that Lily might fit the role better. The whole movie is grim and gloomy from Nina’s viewpoint and takes us to an entire melancholy atmosphere.
The pinnacle of Black Swan is its climax and outstanding cliffhanger, which makes it one of the best open ending movies. The audience still talk about its ending and conceive theories on the last shot. The film won oscar honors for Best Picture, Best Cinematography, Best Film Editing, and Best Director, with Natalie Portman winning her first academy award.
IMDb Rating: 8.0/10
Cast: Natalie Portman, Mila Kunis, Vincent Cassel, and more.
Memento is the most unconventional and distinctive movie ever made in the history of cinema. Wondering why? The film is narrated backwards and forwards simultaneously. To be honest, I can’t describe it, so let me leave a video, Nolan explaining it:
The film has non-linear narration that challenges you to grasp the details, making it one of the challenging thrillers ever made. It’s so genius of Christopher Nolan to put the audience in the main character’s viewpoint to see the world through him. Basically, he has short-term memory loss, what his purpose now is to hunt his wife’s murderer and get revenge. However, the film isn’t as plain as the plot sounds. I’m telling you, It’s mind-twisting, & elusive. Every time I watch this film, I always feel like ” God I want to edit this movie.”
It takes an ingenious mind to come up with such an incredible idea and make it into a film that nobody could have imagined before it was released, so I gotta give big props to Nolan for a new approach to filmmaking.
can say with certainty that the climax will take you by astonishment. Even at the climax of the film, you’re not really sure if it’s a climax, but I
( Are you looking closely ) ⬆️ Perfect loop, couldn’t exist.
IMDb Rating: 8.4/10
Cast: Guy Pearce, Carrie-Anne Moss, Joe Pantoliano, and more.
7. Shutter Island
Subjectively, I would call Shutter Island a staggering thriller for its climax. I still remember how I was completely speechless at the climax when I first time watched the film. I guess that’s what makes shutter island what it is, particularly the mystery that lurks underneath the characters is something you could never see coming; U.S Marshal and his partner who are tasked to track down a criminal who recently absconded from the psychiatric asylum. Probably, that’s all I can reveal about the film to give you a crazy experience.
It is directed by legendary director, Martin Scorsese, one of the top directors of all time. Just as always, he knocked the socks off with Shutter Island, alongside Leonardo Dicaprio and Mark Ruffalo excellent performances throughout the drama.
Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Emily Mortimer, Mark Ruffalo, and more..
Read more: 15 Best Sci-Fi Movies of All Time
6. Gone Girl
Gone Girl is undoubtedly one of the best forbidding movies, directed by one of the most embraced directors, David Fincher. If you have seen his filmography, Fight Club and Seven, you must guess how gone girl is going to be and how it enthralls you with its slow burn drama. Just like the other Fincher film, ofcourse you will watch the ambiguous scenes. Nick Dunne, after his wife disappeared, he realizes that the entire media attention has shifted on him that he may not be Innocent. However, that’s not the end.
Especially, the last shot will be the ones that stun you, makes you curious to know more about it, going through every theory on the Internet. Now, don’t go to the internet and search for it, because it contains serious spoilers concerning the movie. Besides, If I’m not wrong, it’s one of the best shocking cinema shots of all time. It’s proof that how a one-shot is sufficient to interpret and how it draws diverse conclusions.
IMDb Rating: 8.1/10
Cast: Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike, Neil Patrick Harris, and more.
5. Old Boy
Oldboy is kind of a movie, that puts you on the edge of your seat through the end. But, what comes at the end is probably one of the deeply shocking and darkest endings in cinema history. As you can see in the poster, you must have guessed it, it’s going to be raw and gory. The entire movie is defined by revenge, raw, gritty, rustic, and savage. It begins with a man who has been incarcerated for years for no particular reason gets vengeance on his captor. However, there is a deeper, darker message waiting behind for him.
The major assets of the old boy are narration and performances by actors. Chan-wook Park, the director, deserves accolades for incredible work and Choi Min-Sik for amazing performance.
Here’s the suggestion: Don’t watch the film, waiting for the twist to reveal. Just engage in it and I’m sure you’ll be shocked by its enigmatic climax. It’s definitely one of the best open ending movies you must watch.
IMDb Rating: 8.4/10
Cast: Min-Sik Choi, Ji-Tae Yoo, Hye-Jeong Kang and more.
Prisoners movie is symbolism on Christianity aMythology. There are a ton of symbols and figurative allegories in prisoners, which you may not grasp in the first watch, but the metaphors would surprise you sooner or later when you rewatch the film again. Denis Villeneuve, my other favorite director, crafted the film perfectly, exploring enigmatic aspects with a subtext for every scene. On the other side, Prisoners is one of the best thriller movies, with an open-ended climax that may frustrate you, while in one sense, a perfect ending to the narrative.
Regarding the plot, I decided not to reveal it to you. As a guy who has seen the film already, I highly recommend that you watch it without watching the trailer or plotline. Just go ahead thinking you’re going to witness one hell of a dark thriller. As for me, I assume prisoners as an enigma, You have to decipher while watching it and comprehend the narrative while enjoying the performances of two amazing actors Hugh and Jake.
IMDb Rating: 8.1/10
Cast: Hugh Jackman, Jake Gyllenhaal, Viola Davis , and more..
Parasite is the oscar winner of the best picture in 2019. It is not just a noir thriller but also a movie with social commentary on class through a bunch of metaphors. Specifically, Parasite depicts the underlying aspects of class, labor, and anti-capitalism from the viewpoint of a rich class family and a working-class family. The title of the film “Parasite” itself is a metaphor for the whole plot. This shows how scrupulously the film uses metaphors.
It all starts when the working-class family Kim’s son starts working for the wealthy Park family. But it doesn’t end there, working-class Kim’s family plots something cunning to take leverage of the situation which is bold, crafty, and parasitic. I’m sure right from the beginning, you will be glued to the screen till the film ends. The director, Boon Joon-ho, also the oscar winner of the best director, outlines the narrative with meticulous details, leaving no frame to no avail. The film ” Parasite” also won oscars for Best Original Screenplay, Best International Feature Film, and Best Picture.
The ambiguous ending may baffle you, but it accomplishes what it wants to tell. To put it in a nutshell about the complete cinema, Parasite is full of metaphors and tropes.
IMDb Rating: 8.6/10
Cast: Kang-ho Song, Sun-Kyun Lee, Yeo-Jeong Jo and more.
Talk about an open ending movie, People say Inception. Inception is personally one of my favorite open ending movies which is directed by my personal favorite director- Christopher Nolan. As the director of such acclaimed films as Memento, Prestige, and Dark Knight trilogy, he created another masterpiece with a complex concept that perplexes your mind in every way. It has a separate fan base and people still talk over its open-ended climax which led to millions of theories. It tells the story of a thief who steals secrets through dream-sharing technology is tasked to plant an idea in the mind of the CEO. Seems surreal right? So does the film.
You don’t know what you’re looking at. You have no idea.
Besides, Leonardo DiCaprio, along with a stellar ensemble cast, gave an amazing performance.
IMDb Rating: 8.8/10
Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Ellen Page, and more..
Read more: 15 Best Sci-Fi Movies of All Time
1. 2001: A Space Odyssey
When we are talking about ambiguous endings, 2001 A Space Odyssey has to be the first film that comes right into our mind. It is indeed the most bizarre and surreal movie of all time. In spite of being released in 1968, It’s a timeless drama you can’t afford to miss if you’re in fact looking for a pure open ending movie. 2001 A Space Odyssey is many things. To say the least, it sowed the seeds for space sci-fi-genre. If you’re wondering about the plot, no it’s not that simple. But let me dumb it down for you, Artificial Intelligence vs Human, that’s all I can disclose. Regardless, the film never fails to impress you unless you’re not a fan of slow dramas.
To me, It’s one of the films that put me in deep thoughts and made me ponder about living. It is so thought-provoking, exploring the universe, God, origins, and other surreal facets, which allow us to interpret the subtext and allegorical concept according to our own interpretation. The director, Stanley Kubrick received a lot of honorable accolades for his top-notch direction. He has easily become one of my favorite filmmakers and made me explore his filmography.
Nonetheless, Here’s a short suggestion, ” BE PATIENT “
IMDb Rating: 8.3/10
Cast: Keir Dullea, Gary Lockwood, William Sylvester, and more..
Honorable Mentions :
- A Serious man
- Take Shelter
- The Wrestler
- The Graduate
There are some great classics in here! I didn’t think I’d love parasite, but I am so happy I watched it! And shutter island is one of my favourites of all time.
A very thought-provoking post! I’m not usually a fan of these types of movies/TV programs and find that more and more movies are using this. My favourite open-ended series was The Sopranos.
There are a couple here I didn’t know about but I really enjoyed Inception and Memento and the book Gone Girl is fantastic.
There are some great movies on that list, and some I haven’t seen yet like Parasite and Old Boy. Momento was one of those trippy movies you had to watch a second time to truly enjoy and understand. Another outstanding movie somewhat in this mind-bending genre is The Machinist, a 2004 film directed by Brad Anderson and starring an emaciated Christian Bale. That one is still one of my favorites, but you have to watch it a second time to get it all. I’ll have to bump up those two Korean movies to the top of my movie queue. I’ve heard nothing but good buzz about both of them. Thanks! PAUL
I’m sure you’ll love PARASITE ! A masterpiece with tons of metaphors everywhere.
I have watched Inception, Black Swan, Shutter Island and Gone Girl from this list and they are all soo awesome! Some of my favourites. I love open ended films and books. Definitely adding the rest to my watch list
I’ve watched only a few of these but I’m a huge fan of open-endings! It can keep me up nights thinking about it, which is the best. Thanks for sharing!