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VOICE OVER: Tom Aglio WRITTEN BY: Andy Hammersmith
We love cinematic closure! Welcome to WatchMojo, and today we're counting down our picks for the best film finales that bring the story to a clear finish. Our countdown includes “Casablanca”, “It's a Wonderful Life”, “Pulp Fiction”, “The Shawshank Redemption”, “Field of Dreams”, and more!

#10: The Diner Robbery (Again)

“Pulp Fiction” (1994)

Before the final scene of “Pulp Fiction,” audiences have already been subject to several time jumps. Quentin Tarantino provides the missing link between the disparate stories by sending Jules and Vincent to a diner. It just so happens to be the one from the beginning, pitting the hitmen against the robbers Pumpkin and Honey Bunny. The last sequence wraps up the fates of the remaining characters with a healthy dose of philosophy. Samuel L. Jackson’s protagonist calms down the criminals, delivers an incredible monologue, and reveals his new path in life. Everyone leaves the scene with a little more knowledge than before, finishing out this movie on a high note.

#9: Settling the Case

“12 Angry Men” (1957)

Over the course of this film, a group of 12 jurors decide the fate of a teenager accused of murder. Juror 8 slowly changes the minds of the others until there’s only one left. Lee J. Cobb’s stubborn number 3 finally cracks under pressure, realizing the errors of his thinking. This profound moment is made especially powerful due to a stunning display of acting. The final vote for “not guilty” saves the life of the defendant, but not without changing the lives of the jury itself. Their climactic walk out of the courthouse underscores their transformations. Sidney Lumet’s amazing direction provides viewers with a conclusion which resonates with them long after the film is over.

#8: Going Home

“E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial” (1982)

With the help of his siblings, Elliott Taylor takes his extra-terrestrial friend to the little alien’s spaceship. Getting there is made more impressive thanks to a thrilling chase that takes them into the sky and over to a forest for an emotional farewell. Elliott and E.T. share a touching moment, with the creature reminding the boy that they’ll never be too far apart. Everyone walks away having learned something about themselves. It’s the perfect way to send off a sci-fi fairytale about family and friendship.

#7: 19 Years Later

“Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 2” (2011)

This magical series builds up to the final showdown between Harry Potter and Voldemort, which would seem to be the perfect ending. But after the villain’s defeat, the film jumps years into the future. The characters are now older, with children of their own. Taking their kids to the famous train platform, the now-adult heroes reunite in a brilliant full circle moment. You’re hit with a wave of nostalgia as the ensemble prepares their own families for a new era at Hogwarts. It’s a fitting end for Potter and his friends, showing that there’s always hope for the next generation. The film series might be over, but this satisfying and emotional finish lets us know the magic never really ends.

#6: A Long Awaited Catch

“Field of Dreams” (1989)

While Ray Kinsella might not get everything he wants, the hero does get what he needs. The film seems headed for a bittersweet ending until the main character sees his father. With these final moments, “Field of Dreams” gives Kinsella a healing reunion with his dad. This also includes one of the more heartwarming baseball catches ever. Not only do the family members come back together, a long line of cars appears to visit the field. We then realize that the farm doesn’t have to be sold in a stunning shot. Putting viewers at ease, this tearjerker conclusion gives audiences a warm hug and tells them everything will be ok.

#5: Rick’s New Friend

“Casablanca” (1942)

At the end of this Hollywood classic, viewers come to realize that Rick Blaine and Ilsa Lund aren’t really meant to be together. The truth finally comes out as the hero puts his old flame on a plane without him. In an emotional goodbye, the duo share a final exchange as they do what has to be done. Blaine then ties up the loose ends by eliminating the villain Major Strasser. With the aircraft safely away, the expatriate strolls away with his new friend and his conscience clean. “Casablanca’s” captivating plot never ceases to amaze, and its elegant conclusion is just what is required.

#4: Finishing the Competition

“There Will Be Blood” (2007)

Oil magnate Daniel Plainview isn’t finished until he gets his revenge on rival Eli Sunday. The preacher comes to make a deal, but soon realizes that his host isn’t going to play things the way Sunday wants. Plainview embarrasses Sunday, thwarts the scheme, and then dishes out a legendary rant. This includes the best use of the word “milkshake” in any movie speech. The anti-hero finishes off his opponent with a bowling pin, finally bringing the rivalry to an end. His last line of dialogue reveals that a weight has been lifted from him. While he’s still morally reprehensible, the businessman brings the film home with an irreversible and entertaining end.

#3: Escaping the Show

“The Truman Show” (1998)

Fleeing by sailboat, Truman Burbank journeys through rough waters until he hits a wall. The hero comes to realize he’s living on a television show. Through the beauty of Andrew Niccol’s dialogue, Burbank speaks to Christof and discovers his life is all a ruse. The ultimate question is whether or not the man will choose to leave. After using his iconic sign-off, the protagonist decides to see what’s beyond the barrier. He finally fulfills his destiny and gives the program a dramatic ending for the ages. The genius plot comes together with some extraordinary acting, warming your heart and touching your soul.

#2: The Ultimate Lesson

“It’s a Wonderful Life” (1946)

Following his dramatic lesson about the value of his own existence, George Bailey returns to Bedford Falls a changed man. He chooses to celebrate his new lease on life by running through the streets. This all leads him home, prompting a moving reunion with his family. Bailey also comes to realize that the entire town has rallied around him in a time of need. Revealing the power of a strong support group, the movie ends on a stirringly hopeful note, accentuated by the toast delivered by George’s brother. This ending wraps everything up in a fittingly sentimental bow, creating an iconic holiday classic.

Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions.

End Solo, “Whiplash” (2014)
Impressing His Abusive Teacher, Andrew Unleashes a Crazy Performance

A New Day, “Groundhog Day” (1993)
Phil Finally Discovers the Secret to Break the Time Loop & Falls in Love

The Kiss, “The Princess Bride” (1987)
Westley & Buttercup Prove That True Love Exists, Living Happily Ever After

#1: Reunion

“The Shawshank Redemption” (1994)

When Andy Dufresne goes missing, this movie reveals his incredible escape and the elaborate scheme that goes along with it. His friend Red continues his sentence until his parole gives him a chance to find Dufresne. Once Morgan Freeman’s character finds the escapee’s letter, you can’t help but feel goosebumps about what comes next. He journeys to Mexico and finally reunites with his buddy in an amazing ending. With all of the suffering they endure in this film, this duo both find themselves on top of the world. The filmmakers present viewers with a long setup before giving the heroes a happy conclusion.

Did we forget another perfect wrap-up? Let us know in the comments below.

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