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Top 10 Movie Opening Scenes

VO: Rebecca Brayton
Script written by Craig Butler. That’s one way to get our attention. And that’s exactly what you want an opening scene to do. For this list, we’re choosing scenes that are actually the first scenes in a movie – which is why, good as it is, “Saving Private Ryan”’s famous D-Day invasion didn’t make the list. We’re also excluding opening credits because we have another list where we count down our picks for the Top 10 Best Opening Movie Credits. Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we’re counting down our picks for the top 10 best opening scenes in movies. Special thanks to our users Glenn Morrison-Garci, Theterribletuber Liv, Andreadaki Vicky, Salman Khan, Darkelfx OXo, Ronak HD, Jessica Lopez, roxy, Harvey Doran, TEAMbravo935, Andrew A. Dennison, Andreadaki Vicky, Theterribletuber Liv, jackhammer, Ethan Cooper, scanman45, PrestonFarword, 00mboren, DoctorXander and Dinimama for submitting the idea on our Suggestions Page at WatchMojo.comsuggest
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Transcript
Script written by Craig Butler.

That’s one way to get our attention. And that’s exactly what you want an opening scene to do. Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we’re counting down our picks for the top 10 best opening scenes in movies.

For this list, we’re choosing scenes that are actually the first scenes in a movie – which is why, good as it is, “Saving Private Ryan”’s famous D-Day invasion didn’t make the list. We’re also excluding opening credits because we have another list where we count down our picks for the Top 10 Best Opening Movie Credits.

#10: Just One Little Girl
“The Matrix” (1999)

Who doesn’t like having his, or her, head played with – at the movies, at least? “The Matrix” is one big mind-blower of a film and the opening lets the audience know that right off the bat – from the “bullet time” fight sequence to the apparent destruction of Trinity. It sets up lots of questions and makes us hunger for the answers.

#9: Trunk Fulla Trouble
“GoodFellas” (1990)

“GoodFellas” has a classic opening. We meet three guys on some sort of road trip in the middle of the night. Then they run into that common problem – there’s some sort of noise coming from the car. Just what you need, right? Only with these guys, the problem’s not a flat tire or a noise under the hood. But they know just how to take care of it.

#8: Me and My Droogs
“A Clockwork Orange” (1971)

Stanley Kubrick’s exquisitely menacing opening of “A Clockwork Orange” is one long pullback. First, there’s Malcolm McDowell’s sneering condescendence. Then the incongruous glasses of milk. And finally, the nightclub furniture shaped like very nude women – upon which our anti-hero nonchalantly rests his booted feet. It’s a perfect introduction to the cruelty, callousness and black comedy that follows.

#7: Chrissie’s Last Dip
“Jaws” (1975)

Who knew that a sexy little midnight swim could lead to disaster – and make cinematic history? We don’t know much more about Chrissie than her name here, but this gripping introduction to “Jaws” perfectly sets up the film. It’s a tale of ordinary people confronted with an unimaginable terror. Thanks to Steven Spielberg, a day at the beach is suddenly not just a day at the beach.

#6: Shoot Her!
“Jurassic Park” (1993)

The opening of “Jurassic Park” looks like some sort of wild cross between “King Kong,” “Area 51” and the backstage tour at Disney World. And Spielberg wisely uses a “hint, don’t show” approach. All we see of any dinosaur – for now at least – is a sickly yellow eye. Whatever is in that cage is bad news – and we’re primed to learn more.

#5: Bungee Jump of Death
“GoldenEye” (1995)

You could practically fill a whole Best Opening Scenes list with James Bond films. Who can forget the openings of “Goldfinger” and “Casino Royale”? But “GoldenEye” takes the Bond trophy. We’re set up to expect a stunt plane sequence, but then get a heart-stopping bungee jump of death instead. Which then eventually takes us into that promised plane stunt. Outrageous – and unforgettable.

#4: Fatal Conversation
“Inglourious Basterds” (2009)

Even as far back as “Reservoir Dogs,” Quentin Tarantino knew a thing or two about opening scenes – but nothing beats the opening of “Inglourious Basterds.” Using his incredible ear for just the right phrase, Tarantino constructs a web of treachery and violence that ensnares the viewer as much as the characters. You want power? You got it.

#3: The Circle of Life
“The Lion King” (1994)

Lots of animated films have impressive opening sequences: after all, when you’re working with animation, there’s no limit to what you can try. But what makes “The Lion King”’s opening so special isn’t just the brilliant animation: it’s the mixture of a great song with staging and camerawork. They all combine to create one of the greatest expressions of sheer joy in film history.

#2: Never Trust a Joker
“The Dark Knight” (2008)

Batman is the ultimate creature of the night, so why does “The Dark Knight” start in broad daylight? Immediately, we’re hooked. And the intricate bank robbery heist, with crooks offing each other at every turn, keeps us hooked. It’s also a perfect introduction to Heath Ledger’s immortal take on “The Joker.” And all done without our titular hero anywhere in sight.

Before we reveal our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions:
- “Scream” (1996)
- “Children of Men” (2006)
- “Trainspotting” (1996)
- “Star Trek” (2009)
- “Citizen Kane” (1941)
- “American Psycho” (2000)
- “2001: A Space Odyssey” (1968)

#1: One of Those Days
“Raiders of the Lost Ark” (1981)

Who knew who Indiana Jones was in 1981? Thanks to Spielberg’s brilliant opening, we knew within the first few minutes: he’s an adventurer with guts, skill, luck and a wry sense of humor. “Raiders of the Lost Ark” has more thrills in its opening sequence than most action movies do in their entirety. When an opening is this good, you know you’re in for a treat.

Do you agree with our choices? What other memorable opening scenes should we have added to this list? For more enthralling top 10s published daily, be sure to subscribe to WatchMojo.com.
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