Lists: Best movie sex and best endings (not the same list)

163952__wild_lThanks to the insatiably list-loving Whitney Matheson at USA Today’s Pop Candy, here’s our second visit of the day to List-eria Lane. First, there’s Movies.com’s timeline of the 35 Greatest Moments in Movie Sex (don’t worry, this is a Disney-owned site, so there’s nothing here that’s unsafe for work). The usual milestones are here — Last Tango in Paris, Basic Instinct, Wild Things (pictured), There’s Something About Mary, Brokeback Mountain — and I can’t think of anything important that’s missing. (Okay, there’s nothing here about Harvey Keitel’s many contributions to the mainstreaming of full-frontal male nudity, for which we should probably be grateful.)

Then there’s FilmCritic.com’s list of the Top 50 Movie Endings of All Time, which gives Matheson an excuse to link to her own list of the top 25 movie endings. Alas, neither list contains my favorite all-time ending, the no-good-deed-goes-unpunished conclusion to The Third Man, in which Alida Valli makes good on her promise not to forgive Joseph Cotten if any harm comes to Orson Welles. (She walks up to Cotten and keeps walking, right past him and out of the frame, without slowing down or making eye contact. Ice cold and satisfying.)

Also given short shrift: Jaws, The Sixth Sense, King Kong, Gone With the Wind, Bananas, Blazing Saddles, Bringing Up Baby, Carrie, Rosemary’s Baby, Raiders of the Lost Ark, It’s a Wonderful Life, Vertigo, and the Iranian masterpiece A Taste of Cherry, which has the movie ending to end all movie endings.

What are on your lists?

addCredit(“Wild Things: The Kobal Collection”)


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  • cw

    Lone Star (for the former) and heck, maybe even the latter.

  • Paul U.

    Dangerous Liasons…that shattered look on Glenn Close’s face, that slow fadeout. Almost makes you feel sorry for her. ALMOST.
    I also have to nominate the worst…it would have to be Valley of the Dolls. After telling off Lyon, Barbara Parkins’ character walks out the door and leaves him…IN HER OWN HOUSE! Why is SHE leaving? Get his a#@ to leave…

  • mike

    The Usual Suspects should be higher on the list. How can they rate Fight Club so high and leave off the Sixth Sense?

  • dave

    Wicker Man.

  • Camelot

    Thanks for remembering Bringing Up Baby! You can never have too many crumbling dinosaur skeletons… or Cary Grants, for that matter.

  • Jen

    okay, my best movie sex I’ve seen…….probably “Bound” with Gina Gershon. Amazing and sensual.

  • miv

    So happy Boogie Nights made the list for one of the best endings, mostly because i’m happy when that movie makes any best of list. So great. One of my personal faves is Primal Fear’s ending. It was a movie that was unhyped, so I was pleasantly surprised by the turn of events. I have to second Gary by saying- No Sixth Sense for best endings?

  • Tauwan

    Just checked out the list over at USAToday.com and I completely forgot about Dancer in the Dark’s ending. The only movie that has made myself, my b-boy cousin, and my mother cry at the end. Powerful.

  • Douglas

    I can’t believe that neither list included “City Lights” and “Modern Times”. Those two Chaplin masterpieces between them have the two best endings of any movie ever. Ironically, having perfected movie endings twice, Chaplin then forgot how to do it. Great as “The Great Dictator” is, and much as I love “Monsieur Verdoux”, they both end with lectures at the audience, one a moral upbraiding from a serial killer. Awful, and the sentimental rubbish ending of “Limelight” is beneath contempt.
    But no one has ever topped the final frames of “City Lights” & “Modern Times”.

  • Tony

    As I am a cartoon fan, here are my favorite animated film endings:
    -Toy Story: the camera pulls back on Woody telling Buzz, “What could Andy get that is worse than you?” Then just when you think the film is over, you get the answer, and a zoom in on Woody’s and Buzz’s priceless expressions.
    -Monsters Inc.: That last close-up on Sulley’s face is just wonderful.
    -What’s Opera Doc: What? Bugs Bunny dead? Or is he? That last line (I won’t give it away, for the three or so who haven’t seen it) puts the finishing touch on a cartoon masterpiece.
    -Aladdin: It looks like a typical Disney ending, as Al and Jasmine fly off together. But then the “moon” starts laughing, and the Genie pops out and tells the audience, “Made you look.” After all, who else to close the film but its biggest scene stealer?
    -The Thief and the Cobbler: And speaking of stealing, the titular robber plucks THE END off the end title, and then makes off with the film itself, taking it off the projector as you watch!

  • Jake

    Let’s not forget the groundbreaking sex between Michael Ontkean and Harry Hamlin in 1982’s Making Love.

  • Jake

    Oh, and as for a favorite film ending, I still think 1997’s Titanic’s rocked. Old Rose not only had the diamond the whole time, but then actually dumps it in the ocean! And then she dies, and is reunited with Jack at last. I frickin’ cry every time I watch it.

  • sowhatnow

    I know that this is one that everyone will argue but I like the ending for Greencard. Hollywood could have gone the easy route but decided to take the unpredictable road and have gerard Depardu deported. The End. Otherwise an average movie but the ending makes it worthwhile.

  • miles

    i love the Dangerous Liason’s Ending.
    My endings are:
    Titanic: finding the jewel in your pocket.
    The Others: Nicole Kidman’s amazing monologue that brought everything together to that creepy end.
    and the ending of THE HOURS: as Virginia Woolf says… (paraphrased: “To look life in the face, to know it for what it is, to love it for what it is, and then to gently put it away” Then the lights from a corner lamp are gently turned off, and life after the movie begins.

  • Jakeem

    I’ve always had a certain fondness for the finale of “Jagged Edge,” in which we find out that attorney Glenn Close’s wealthy client/love interest (played by Jeff Bridges) was really a killer after all.
    Ya gotta love it when her investigator (played by the great Robert Loggia) tries to comfort her by saying, “Bleep him! He was trash, anyway!”

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