Friday, 28 January 2011

Encore Awards: Endings

I can't help but think of Countess de Mertieul when I think of great endings because Frears decision in Dangerous Liaisons is impeccable. What makes this anecdote more interesting is that my favourite ending from last year was ALSO in a Frears flick, and had to do with a face in the mirror too. Yup, Pfeiffer's chilling look into the mirror in Chéri sticks with me until the end. This year the endings have nothing to do with Frears, period pieces or aging women - but they're still brilliant. And even though films don't demand a great ending, sometimes they can turn a middling film into an excellent one with just a few minutes. Let's take a look at 2010.
Umm, spoilers ahead....obviously.

(Click on the pictures for reviews.)

Agora directed by Alejandro Amenábar with Rachel Weisz, Max Minghella, Oscar Isaac, Rupert Evans, Michael Lonsdale
I’ll admit, Agora is on the nose and Amenbar exploits the (alleged) brilliance of Hypatia – but all that’s important so that her death has that effect on you it must. Max Minghella’s talent is still in development through Agora but he’s best opposite Wiesz and the two manage to sell that moment where he strangles her to save her from being stoned alive. True, in reality her death was more harsh and less romanticised, but it’s a nice moment of humanity and sure that final cut to the earth from a far is a little extraneous, Amenbar has made his point.
Animal Kingdom directed by David Michôd with James Frecheville, Sullivan Stapelton, Ben Mendehlson, Jacki Weaver, Joel Edgerton
I’m hoping, against hope, that James Frecheville has a long career ahead of him. He plays J with just the right amount of detachment and that moment where he turns his gun on Pope is both surprising but logical. And that final shot of him hugging Weaver is beautiful. I still can’t agree that her Grandma Smurf is a relentless villain – she’s just especially devoted to her children, and it’s important that our final shot of her is one of her at her weakest.
The Ghost Writer directed by Roman Polanski with Ewan McGregor, Pierce Brosnan, Kim Cattrall, Olivia Williams, Tom Wilkinson
That entire final sequence of The Ghost Writer as we finally realise that Williams’ suave wife was behind everything is brilliantly played out, but that final moment as our ghost gets knocked down (off-screen) still takes the cake as the most surprising, riveting, exasperating and brilliant closing of the year. You can just imagine Polanski grinning at the audience there, and as vexing as it is its excellence is indisputable.
Rabbit Hole directed by James Cameron Mitchell with Nicole Kidman, Aaron Eckhart, Dianne Wiest, Miles Teller, Tammy Blanchard
You keep wondering, how Lindsay-Abaire is going to close this piece with turning it into something overwrought and the decision he makes is perfect. Having Becca and Howie look to the future – scarred, but hopeful, sounds a bit too trite but together with Mitchell’s direction (and the beautiful chemistry between Eckhart and Kidman) it works. The peaceable scene of them sitting down there, ready for the future is just one of the most profound moments of 2010.
The Social Network directed by David Fincher with Jesse Eisenberg, Andrew Garfield, Justin Timberlake, Armie Hammer, Rashida Jones
There is something obvious and glib even about having Mark spending his life hung up on a one girl, but I like this closing nonetheless. A) because it begins with Rashida Jones being all amazing as is her wont and because Eisenberg sells the confusion of Mark, and the irony – as obvious as it is – that he’s there waiting for a friend request to be accepted is just too good to ignore.

FINALISTS: Black Swan doesn’t plays any games about where it’s heading – even if we’re not willing to actually believe it until we see it. That latter portion is Natalie’s strongest sequence and it should be because it’s essential that sells those final moments – and she does, but more importantly so does Nina; it’s at the end of The Runaways where Fanning impresses me most and it’s a beautiful moment for the entire film, we’ve already got the feeling of a career cut-short but not unfortunately so and the serenity with which Cherry accepts her fate is impressive but not as impressive as the poise with which Fanning delivers that final bit;
SEMI-FINALISTS: Blue Valentine is harrowing, especially in the latter half but Derek Cianfrance pulls back for a few moments to give us a closing scene that’s just as profound in its depressing nature but very serene – and of course Gosling NAILS it; Hooper’s direction comes out best in the bookends of the The King’s Speech and it’s nice that he ends it on a note that you wouldn’t think of. He doesn’t go where you’d expect with the story but ends it at a moment that’s perfect in its sedateness; you sort of get where Veronika Decides to Die is going but can you blame me for being manipulated by its decisions. Sarah Michelle Gellar and Jonathan Tucker are perfect together and that emotional closing ends up being the perfect release to all that tension. 
Which ending left you thinking long after the credits rolled in 2010?


Husam said...

Well picked endings. Mine would be:
-I Am Love
-Black Swan
-127 Hours
-Love and Other Drugs (Thanking my lucky stars, that the movie had finally ended.)

Simon said...

I Am Love, pre-credits. That very last shot ruined it for me, though.

Robert said...

I'm going to third the "I Am Love" thing. Amazing, amazing ending.

Anyway, great choices of course - I forgot how great Animal Kingdom's ending was, and Blue Valentine's last five minutes totally changed my opinion of that movie (in a good way).

I have to add Scott Pilgrim though, that countdown is amazing - I wish I could insert a coin so it would continue!!! Awww.

Walter L. Hollmann said...

Nice. That Rabbit Hole ending was unexpected, soothing, hopeful, and just a little sad. The Ghost Writer? Even people I know who hated the movie love the ending.

My list: Black Swan, For Colored Girls, I Am Love, The King's Speech, Scott Pilgrim

Alex in Movieland said...

from the 5 mentioned by you, Animal K and Ghost Writer really stand out for me :)
even though I find Ghost's very hard to believe :P and how cool is the connection between the ending of the film and the poster

Brandon (Twister) said...

Though this kind of OT: Whenever I think about The Graduate, I always first think of the haunting ending. But what really sells it for me are the nuances of emotion that play over Katharine Ross' face.

Candice Frederick said...

hmmm i didn't think about the ending to social network that way until you pointed it out. loved the way black swan ended, as well as Buried.

Andrew: Encore Entertainment said...

good lord, people. stop teasing me with i am love. hate that i probably won't see it till the middle of this year, ugh.

and robert i completely get you about blue valentine.

walter that ending for rabbit hole wrecked me, i'm a bit embarrassed to say.

brandon the ghost writer and its ending is just, well it's just crazy brilliant.

candice i should see buried but i have like zero interest in it. should i see it?