Cinematic Satisfaction: 10 Movies with Endings that Move You

What is it about a movie that “moves you? 

Isn’t it usually the way it ends?

Doesn’t the emotional payoff most often occur shortly before the closing credits?

I love a movie that ends well

… and I really get frustrated by movies that make me waste a couple of hours and come away with an ambiguous message.

Which movies have provided you with the greatest degree of cinematic satisfaction as you stood to leave the theater?

Here are mine: 

By the way: Please excuse any “spoilers”, but it’s hard for me to make my point otherwise.

Casablanca … A love story for the ages.  One where the guy actually loses the girl, but it doesn’t matter.  “We’ll always have Paris.”  “Here’s looking at you kid.”  “Play it Sam … play As time Goes By.”

It’s a Wonderful Life … Okay, so there is just something endearing and irresistable about any movie that has Jimmy Stewart portraying your archetypal “everyman” fighting the “good fight” against society’s evils and WINNING!

12 Angry Men … Once Henry Fonda has torn down the prejudices of 10 other jurors over the course of this absorbing film, the final exorcism of the demons that inhabit Lee J. Cobb’s character allowing him to break through and become a human being is one of the powerful moments in movie history.

Mr. Smith Goes to Washington … What I said earlier about Jimmy Stewart …

The Verdict … When that jury foreman asks the judge if the jury is actually limited in the amount they can award the family represented by down-and-out lawyer Paul Newman … the look on the defense team and judge is priceless.  And while nobody applauds violence toward women, when the frustrated Newman slugs Charlotte Rampling you had to cheer! 

Saving Private Ryan … Some would say with great justification that the most emotional part of this riveting film comes in the first 5 minutes and I would agree that the opening sequence is simply devastating and sets the stage for the real payoff that comes as the flashback fades to the present day and the aging veteran tearfully comes to grips with the tremendous sacrifice made on his behalf 60 years earlier.

Forrest Gump … Forrest’s soliloquy at Jenny’s grave and his subsequent sequence at the school bus stop are so heart wrenching and heart warming at the same time.  I’m tearing up just typing this.

Field of  Dreams … Oh my goodness … “Dad, you want to have a catch?” … the most powerful father/son moment in any movie ever made?  I think so, yes.

Gladiator … Okay … so I’m a sap for movies where the bad guy gets exactly what he has coming to him IN SPADES!


About Judson

Late bloomer ... aspiring writer and musician.
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11 Responses to Cinematic Satisfaction: 10 Movies with Endings that Move You

  1. nrhatch says:

    Some great movies on your list, Judson.

    I like happy endings ~ A Christmas Carol being one of my all time favorites. I also like movies that make me laugh ~ Animal House, Christmas Vacation, Caddyshack. And movies that make me think ~ Why We Fight, Who Stole the Electric Car, Inside Job.

  2. Judson says:

    Nancy —

    “God Bless Us Everyone ..” 🙂

    You just gave me ideas for 3-4 more blogs … “Movies that (fill in the blank)” … I love it!

    — Judson

  3. The legend of 1900 – Great ending.
    Green Mile.
    Angels heart…
    500 Days of summer…
    Btw, nice blog 🙂
    Keep blogging! 🙂

    • Judson says:

      Oh yes … “The Green Mile” … great ending! I’m not familiar with “Legend of 1900” or “500 Days of Summer” or “Angel’s Heart”. Need to check them out. thanks for visiting.

      — Judson

  4. Maggie says:

    I love 12 Angry Men! I like the way Inglourious Basterds ended – very satisfying. That was one of the best movies I’ve ever seen.

    • Judson says:

      I absolutely loved the alternative history regarding Hitler!! And has there ever been a stronger cast in a more claustophobic setting than “12 Angry Men”? Sometimes it’s hard to make a film of a bradway play effectively. Just a fantastic piece of movie-making with a wonderful cast.

      — Judson

  5. territerri says:

    The Sixth Sense, Grand Turino

    • Judson says:

      I agree … the ending for Grand Torino was bitter-sweet, but satisfying. As I was saying to someone earlier, the ending for “The 6th Sense” absolutely blew me away. Some people say they saw it coming. Not me! Wow!

  6. herby says:

    I have to admit I almost burst into audible crying at the end of Conviction (the new movie with Hilary Swank)

  7. ianthecool says:

    Nice list. I just watched Filed of Dreams not too long ago. I almost forgot how good of a movie it is.

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