The last year has thoroughly proven itself as one hell of a period for movies; in the world of indies as well as big-budget blockbusters, 2015 saw some of the most memorable and debatable film endings in recent memory. These finales have us talking because of their riveting, thought-provoking nature, their willingness to deviate from the norm, or even due to the mere ways in which they disappointed us. The point is that these films ended in a way that made them truly stand out from the rest of the pack.
We have compiled a list of the five movie endings in 2015 that still have us talking. Some for the right reasons, and others for the wrong ones. Check the list out and give us your input. What movie ending from the past year are you still talking about?
Warning: This list contains MAJOR spoilers for all of the movies discussed. Proceed with caution.
It would be an understatement to assert that Alex Garland’s expertly crafted Ex Machina proved polarizing among audiences. While most came to the general consensus that the film’s story, as well as the three lead performances by Oscar Isaac, Domhnall Gleeson, and Alicia Vikander, seemed nearly pitch perfect, the ending incited an incredible dichotomy of opinion. The film ends with AI Ava (Vikander) killing her creator Nathan (Isaac) and trapping Caleb (Gleeson) presumably to die as she escapes her prison – having successfully passed the Turing Test by making Caleb fall in love with her.
The primary reason Ex Machina’s ending proved divisive is that it does not explicitly give the audience a character to root for. Those who empathize with Caleb’s perspective tend to consider Ava a villainous, malicious machine, and that the film should end on the somber note of Caleb seemingly permanently trapped. On the other hand, those who empathize with Ava think the movie is just the right length because they get to see her yearning for freedom realized as she escapes the compound. The film doesn’t offer any definitive answers to the moral questions it poses, giving no real credence to either side of the debate.
SpectreWe have to admit that they tried with this one, but that doesn’t excuse the fact that they missed the mark. Spectre ends with 007 (Daniel Craig) cornering Blofeld (Christoph Waltz) in London, but deciding at the last possible minute that he’s had enough of the death and destruction caused by his line of work. For the first time in a long time – possibly ever – James chooses the path of non-violence and leaves Blofeld to be taken into custody as he rides off into the sunset with Dr. Madeleine Swann (Léa Seydoux).
Where do we even begin with this ending? For starters it falls into the same category as Star Trek: Into Darkness in the sense that anyone who knows even a little bit about the franchise lore knew that Oberhauser would ultimately be revealed as Blofeld. From a narrative point of view, keeping him alive is an obvious setup to use him in a future adventure, but then again the Craig era of 007 films has generally fared far better when the movies don’t concern themselves with franchise continuity. It also makes one wonder if making Blofeld the ultimate mastermind of the Craig era actually cheapens to potency of the previous three villains. Ultimately, the biggest question raised by the ending of Spectre is whether or not a modern James Bond even needs a modern Blofeld to contend with.
The GiftFor his first at bat behind the camera as well as the screenplay of a major motion picture, we have to say that Joel Edgerton completely knocked it out of the park with The Gift. A thriller in every sense of the word, the movie revolves around a bitter loner and his quest for vengeance against the husband of a married couple. By the end of the film, Gordo (Edgerton) produces video evidence suggesting (but never confirming) that he raped Robyn (Rebecca Hall), the wife of his former bully Simon (Jason Bateman); in the same way that Simon once tormented Gordo, he must now live with the horror of not knowing if he is the father of Robyn's child.
The Gift is neither wholly horror film nor wholly revenge thriller, and it thrives on Edgerton's expert use of ambiguity. In the end it leaves audiences pondering not only about the truth behind the child’s parentage, but also questioning which of these two morally abhorrent men seems more despicable in the end – the bully turned victim, or the victim turned aggressor.
Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 2After four years and just as many movies, the Hunger Games franchise has finally brought Katniss Everdeen’s story to a close. The culmination of everything that has come before it, Mockingjay Part 2 saw Panem thrown into full-fledged war as Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) takes down the ruthless President Snow (Donald Sutherland), prevents the deceitful Alma Coin (Julianne Moore) from filling the vacuum left by his absence, and retires back to District 12 to live a quiet life with Peeta (Josh Hutcherson), who effectively helps her contain her rage in a way that Gale (Liam Hemsworth) never could.
Mockingjay Part 2’s ending stood out to audiences because its distinctively depressing tone when compared to the average blockbuster. The film ultimately ends on a happy note, but by the time the credits role all of the death, betrayal, and loss that has occurred can be felt down to the bone. It possessed an unflinching bleakness seldom seen in a major action adventure of this ilk, which polarized opinions. Some praised the film’s wiliness to embrace its darker elements, while others found the tone oppressive and difficult to palate at times, but in the long run the ending we got was the necessary choice. The Hunger Games franchise has generally maintained more fidelity to its source material than the average YA adaptation, so for the film to end any other way than how it did in the books would have never felt right for true fans.
Star Wars: The Force AwakensStar Wars: The Force Awakens may share more than a few plot similarities to A New Hope, but we’ll be damned if it doesn’t carve out its own identity with its powerhouse ending. Under the direction of J.J. Abrams, the film takes many familiar cues from previous movies and turns them on their head at the last minute. Han Solo (Harrison Ford) dies by the hand of his son Kylo Ren (Adam Driver), Finn (John Boyega) is left clinging to life, and Rey (Daisy Ridley) discovers and embraces her connection to the Force – striking out to find Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill).
Most fans will likely agree that watching Luke turn around and reveal himself to Rey was not only one of the greatest moments of fan service in the franchise’s history. Beyond that, it also provided the series’ best cliffhanger since Boba Fett flew off with a frozen Han at the end of The Empire Strikes Back. Aside from that, the film raises (but doesn't answer) the pressing question of whether or not Kylo can even find redemption after murdering one of the franchise's most popular characters. Our only real complaint is that we will have to wait until 2017 to see where the saga ends up going from here.