135 Responses to “Top Ten Twist Movie Endings”

  1. James Biggins says:

    A friend of mine has just shown me this list as I’m a big Old Boy fan. Great little Top 10! Everyone says The Usual Suspects is the best but not so – Old Boy rules!

  2. Definitely oldboy… Not just for twist but for power and the ultra-raw delivery! Decent shout on Scream too!!!

  3. Andy says:

    Great list, oldboy is my favourite movie of recent years. I’m glad you didn’t mention the most overrated movie in the world, The Sixth Sense, I saw that one coming a mile off, Unbreakable is a better movie and a better twist. I would also recommend Psycho, The Machinist and Inside Man. Inside Man isn’t the most surprising twist but it is well constructed.

    • Heather says:

      The Machinist is one I have to see and while I appreciate the drama of The Sixth Sense I wasn’t “wowed” by the ending and never felt compelled to watch it a second time. Unbreakable was just a damn good movie.

    • Thank you for saying that, Andy… I LOVE UNBREAKABLE! One of my favorite films and it never gets love!

    • rtm says:

      YES on Sixth Sense and Unbreakable!

      Heather, I agree with most on your list of those I have seen. What is it with Ed Norton and twist endings? :) I don’t really get much of the plot of The Prestige so obviously don’t know what the ‘twist’ is. Hmm, maybe I should give it another try. Since Marc already berated you about The Game, I’m not going to, but yeah it’s a darn good movie.

  4. Jeff says:

    The Illusionist is one of the best twist endings ever! I never saw that coming and they pulled it off so well!

    • Heather says:

      Haven’t seen the Illusionist Jeff. I think I have it in my DVR though!

      • Peter says:

        OK, first thing you need to do Heather is SEE THE ILLUSIONIST! jeff is right – it did have a stellar ending. I must also say that I thought it was the very best film to come out that year. Extraordinary art direction, great script and of course with that cast, great performances. Watch it!!! :-)

        • Jeff says:

          Yes, everything about the movie was beautiful.

          • Heather says:

            Okay, you guys have me sold, I’m going to see it!

          • Really??? I’d say skip Illusionist.
            Also, Sorry Heather but I can all ready see where this comment contest is heading so I’m just going to read and comment as usual and if other people beat me by 600 comments, just know I love your site, Homegirl! ;)

    • FRC Ruben says:

      I felt like the Illusionist was a cheap ending — reminded me of the deus ex machina.

  5. says:

    PSYCHO is only on the honorable mentions list?? Scandal!! That’s the grandaddy of ‘em all.

    No respect I tell ya…

    • Heather says:

      Allright Dangerfield. There have been enough lists where I can tell I’ve offended you by not giving Psycho or The Bates Hotel or anything of the like it’s proper attention. On this one it was one of the few I considered and at the last minute tossed aside.

  6. Aiden R. says:

    Man oh man. Oldboy. Awesome movie, that ending was some rough stuff. My vote went to Memento, but great list all the same, thanking my lucky stars I’ve already seen them all. It’s high time I went back and watch The Usual Suspects again though. It’s always high time for The Usual Suspects.

  7. Japancinema says:

    It should be no secret to you that Oldboy is my favorite movie of all time. Great List. Even though it’s fairly new, Shutter Islands ending knocked me on my ass. Great list!

  8. Oh my word, The Sting gets it, and The Others…

    others that come to mind Gosford Park (two twists actually, but the one referring to the murder) and Atonement (but I know all don’t love that one),

    • Heather says:

      I love The Sting. One of my favorite movies in the history of movies!

      I’m no fan of Atonement which is probably why I didn’t even give it an honorable mention, but Gosford Park is one that I need to see again.

      • (I meant to write Oh man, instead of “Oh my” I sound like some repressed British woman.

        I know you hate Atonement…I remember :)

        Oh CRAP: The Upside of Anger! The movie is a bit stodgy, I admit but that was a big WTF ending and Closer a little…

        • Heather says:

          I’m fond of repressed British women, it can’t be all that bad! ha!

          I don’t hate it, I was just very disappointed in the ending and felt it was a disappointment.

  9. Castor says:

    Wow great concept for a top 10. Wish I had thought of it before you lol! Retweeted!

    Oldboy is definitely up there as one of the most shocking twist ending ever put on film so I’m not surprised it tops your list. I haven’t seen Primal Fear yet so this is one I will have to seek out. A few I would have considered:

    - Les Diaboliques
    - American Psycho (surprised it’s not on your list!)
    - Mulholland Dr. (duh!!)

  10. Marc says:

    Fine list but Scream? Really? You put The Game in with the “also rans” and Scream made the list? Ballsy:)

    Aside from that I like your list, I really do. Memento deserves a spot here but only because of the way it was edited.

    I’ll ask you take this list one step further…does this stand up to repeat viewings? That’s the key. Any movie can have a twist but what’s the replay value? I wrote a post about it but whereas most of this list is on it, I’ll refrain from whoring G-S-T on your your site:P

    Here’s three more I enjoy: Timecrimes, Following (another Nolan film) and Confidence.

    • Heather says:

      Scream deserves an acknowledgment. No question in my mind the best use of the “twist” ending in a horror flick, and one of the smartest uses at manipulating the viewer, while still be a damn enjoyable movie. Sure, The Game a far better film, but it is what it is.

      Haven’t seen Following or Timecrimes. WIll have to take a peek.

      BTW, all of these films I own and have watched over and over again. (though i just purchased the prestige I’ve watched it three times already) Great movies and probably why they all made the list.

  11. You put “Primal Fear” in the top three? You are a class act, Ms. Mobster, a class act.

    I thought the twist on Andy’s case — though not at the end of “Shawshank Redemption” — was pretty surprising. Ditto for “Chinatown,” which has an “Oldboy” ring to it now that I think about it.

    If you ever do a “worst twist endings” list, I think “Mystic River” should be on there. I love the film dearly and I know the “twist” was written by Lehane and not Eastwood, but the killers are so implausible it almost ruins the whole film.

    • Heather says:

      Meredith, your brilliance staggers me. I split the list in half when I was creating it……….the good with the bad. The bad you will see shortly enough.

      And I agree on Mystic River. It was such an awful way to end what was a very tense and passionate film. Made me like it far far less, and never want to watch it again.

      • Marc says:

        Some films, although they are depressing, you would eventually want to see again…and I agree with you totally, I’ll never see Mystic River ever again. If fact I’d watch Irreversible before Mystic…but please don’t make me o__0

    • Dan says:

      I loved Primal Fear when I first saw it but didn’t think it worked as well second time around when you know what’s coming.

      • Heather says:

        It’s not as intense, just as Se7en isn’t, but the story is so good and the performances are that I love watching it again.

        • Dan says:

          Yeah…Norton is a very engaging, talented actor. I was thinking about Unbreakable because of this list. Now there is a twist! Films with great twists have to work second time round when you know what’s coming. Many don’t work. I think Unbreakable is an even better film when you actually know what it’s all about. I’d say the same goes for Usual Suspects and The Sixth Sense.

  12. Man, that is an awesome list and it was hard to pick my favorite twist ending but I gave it to Oldboy. That ending genuinely shocked me and I did not see it coming.

    It’s nice to see The Others get some love. All I’ve ever heard about it is bad but I thought it was an awesome movie. Another great twist is Sleepaway Camp. That is classic horror movie territory there and when my friends found out that I hadn’t seen it they made me watch it. It’s probably the one time that the didn’t ruin a twist ending for me.

    • Heather says:

      It’s hard to believe you hadn’t seen such a regarded horror flick. I remember looking at the cover boxes to those when I was a kid hoping desperately that my mom would let me watch it. Never happened and still haven’t.

      The Others kicks ass.

  13. Another nice and interesting list there. Well, can’t really dispute your choices as a number of films in that list are those that I like too. Memento, though, is a bit of a dicey choice cos the twist you’ve mentioned is ambiguous at best in the film. Oldboy’s twist was certainly the most shocking of the lot.

    But if you ask my favourites, I’d have to go with Primal Fear & Fight Club – both came up with absolutely brilliant twists that left me dumbfounded and scratching my head in fun & amazement. The Hours twist was good too though not with as much impact, and the ones in Prestige, Se7en & Usual Suspects were good too. And yes, Scream was one fun ride.

  14. FRC Ruben says:

    Thank you for not putting 6th Sense on this list.

  15. Fitz says:

    I voted for The Prestige, finding out Borden and Fallon were twins was a shock to me. Others saw it but I didn’t.

  16. CMrok93 says:

    The Sixth Sense is actually one of the better one’s and a lot more inspirational, because it started a rejuvenation of the twist ending within film. However, I have to agree with this list especially, Primal Fear. Its an OK movie to say the least, but is mostly watchable because of Norton’s performance and the twist ending.

    • FRC Ruben says:

      I think there were plentya twists in and around the release of 6thS, but I know some peeps dig the flick (I used to be one of them)

      Love Primal Fear — introduced the world to Ed Norddy

  17. For me, the most memorable movie twist ending was Empire Strikes Back. I remember being in awe when i watched it the first time. The Prestige was also pretty good as well. I wonder if we’ll see a twist ending for his next film, Inception.

  18. This list is inherently flawed. I like it overall very much but The 6th Sense is the greatest twist in movie history. Think what you will about M. Night… he fooled everybody. I put it slightly above Usual Suspects because in that film you’re unraveling a mystery so you’re waiting for something but in 6th SWense, you’te just watching and then HOLY SHIT!
    Also, love the inclusion of Empire… I take for granted what a revelation that was because I saw it so young that Vader has just always been Luke’s father!

    • Oh, and I like the twist in Fight Club (my favorite film) but I called it pretty early oin… still works well due to Uhls great screenplay!

      • I actually had to watch Sixth Sense again because I didn’t believe the ending, like the film was lying to me! HAHA! Isn’t Sixth Sense one of the reasons that so many people don’t like The Others?

        • Heather says:

          I have no idea why people don’t like The Others. The Sixth Sense was an original idea, but The Others just blew that whole ghost spectrum out of the water for me. I actually like the entire film way more than The Sixth Sense.

          • Completely agree with you on that. The Others takes pains to make us realise why the twist would actually work but looking back at The Sixth Sense it just seems too contrived.

          • I still prefer The Sixth Sense over The Others but both films surprised me at the end. Although that’s not really that hard anyway! HAHA!

          • FRC Ruben says:

            I loooove The Others — because — as I mention ina few posts — its a ghost story that’s NOT about solving the mystery of the murdered ghost. Like the 6thS, its an existential ghost story. Unlike The 6thS, it’s scary.

            BTW, I don’t wanna seem like an M. Night basher, I just find bits and pieces of his movies enjoyable, but the gestalt of each of his flicks is always lacking.

          • Heather says:

            I won’t bash him either because I respect him, but I understand where your coming from and empathize with the frustration of his work. It’s good, but it could be great. He let’s himself get in the way all too often.

          • I think M. Night only really made 2 good movies and then it was downhill. What was that last one again with the angry wind. Can’t think of it now but that might be the worst movie ever!

          • Heather says:

            I liked Unbreakable and Signs. Aside from both of them I never fully enjoyed a good deal of his work, though I have the utmost respect. Even if he makes movies about angry wind, I appreciate that he tries to do something new and innovative all the time. I’m relieved he’s taking a break from himself and made The Last Airbender. It actually looks like a lot of fun, and Brosnan desperately wants to see it as he LOVES the show.

          • I didn’t really like Unbreakable but I forgot about Signs, I did like that one. I think his angry wind movie would have been better without Wahlberg in it trying to poop all the time and his completely unbelievable relationship with Deschanel.

            The Last Airbender actually looked interesting and was probably the best part of seeing Shrek 4!

          • Heather says:

            Hahahaha…………I forgot about you and your poop face.

          • Heather, forget whatever your next top ten list is and do the Top Ten Poop Face Acting Moments. Wahlberg should be in there at least 3 times.

          • Heather says:

            Consider it done.

          • Throw some Nic Cage in the poop face acting as well. There’s different levels actually. Maybe I should make a list explaining the different stages of poop face acting! HAHA!

          • Heather says:

            I think that would be one of the best lists ever made.

          • My nephew is CRAZY for that Avatar show too, although I’m a little lost as to its appeal – but then I’m not a child anymore (sigh).

          • Heather says:

            I’ve watched a few episodes. I get the appeal. It’s a pretty impressive and smart show.


        • FRC Ruben says:

          So, I didn’t see the one with the poison trees and crazy peeps or whatever, what wuz the twist in that one?

  19. Peter says:

    Some great ones here. Nicely put together. Seven, Fight Club, Oldboy, Primal Fear….great choices. Surprised not to see Sixth Sense. Maybe I need to watch The Prestige again…I never thought the 3rd Act held up very well.

  20. Red says:

    Great list! I would have to go with The Prestige as my favorite. After the first time i watched this, I literally restarted it right away and watched it again.

    I know alot of peple see it as a cop out, but Remember Me’s “twist” was one one of my recent favorites. Although I didn’t read any reviews going in, I was outraged to find out how many critics ruined the films ending in their reviews. Pricks.

  21. says:

    Great list Heather! I went for Fight Club, really didn’t expect that twist. I’m usually the one who can’t figure out the twist, but have to say I wasn’t surprised at The Usual Suspects though.

  22. Dan says:

    How about worst twists endings? I’d nominate the Rob De Niro film Hide and Seek – terrible stuff!

  23. I’ve watched 9 of the movies on the list and most of the honorable mentions. I don’t dare to read most of the comments here…spoiler filled no doubt. Its been argued (on the IFC podcast) that even knowing that a movie has a twist ending is a spoiler in itself…I agree.
    Addicted to Films recently posted..Avatar (2009)

  24. Roisin says:

    Great idea for a list and a great choice of Top 10. Thrilled to see No.8 and No.3 – Took me ages to shake off those haunting films! Nothing better than an unexpected twist :) Shutter Island is the last film I saw which had that very element and made it all the more enjoyable. Hopefully there will be more of the same in terms of cinema releases for 2010.

  25. Sebastian says:

    Interesting that you have two Nolan movies here. Couldn’t agree with you more on these.
    Sebastian recently posted..The New System

  26. Ronan says:

    A really good post, Heather!
    Two of my favourite twist films would be The Sixth Sense and The Others.
    Here are a few related thoughts for you http://filmplicity.com/2010/04/surprise/

  27. Univarn says:

    Classics suffer from having their endings spoiled, and therefore getting way too devalued, but I always give them the edge because they were so groundbreaking.

    Films like Soylent Green where the ending is such a WTF! and a twist, and Psycho which was incredibly edgy, and twisted, for its time. The same thing goes for Planet of the Apes.

    It’s a solid list as always Heather, but with the exception Empire Strikes Back (which is just an awesome twist thrown in) it’s a bit too modern for my taste.
    Univarn recently posted..

    • FRC Ruben says:

      Problem with Soylent Green is that everyone’s seen that SNL with Phil Hartman as Chuckles Heston where he repeats the twist ending over and over again.

      It’s no longer a twist.
      FRC Ruben recently posted..Shutter Island

      • Univarn says:

        I’d agree the twist ending has been spoiled, but the same could be said for just about every movie on this list. It takes an incredible amount of luck to avoid having a twist ending spoiled for you. Especially with today’s modern technology. It’s the execution, and buildup, that makes the twist special. And for my money few films did it better than Psycho. Green I could seen argument against as it is a bit slow, and weak, without the twist.
        Univarn recently posted..

  28. Caz says:

    Brilliant list, got to love films with a twist ending especially if you don’t see it coming at all. Only one or two films on the list which I have not seen (so avoided reading what the twist is haha).

    The Prestige is one of my favorites for the twist as I would never have figured out the twin connection.
    Caz recently posted..Eat- Pray- Love 2010 Posters

  29. James Ewing says:

    There are some great films on that list, but I think they’re great outside of twist. I think twist endings are often used just to wow audiences instead of actually sustaining the film on strong storytelling.

    However, if done correctly, like a lot of these twists, they add extra depth and nuance to the film.
    James Ewing recently posted..The Twilight Saga- Eclipse 2010

    • FRC Ruben says:

      Totally agree, JBE. Just read your post on the Last Airbender — you bring up M. being good director but bad screen writer. I think he went wrong ont e writing by trying to make every movie a twist.

      Unbreakable is totally a movie that doesn’t really need a twist, but I think he was strong armed into it — perhaps some marketing rep of x producer whispering constantly how much everyone loves the ending to 6th Sense.

      I could be wrong though. He could just have that oh so annoying facet to his scripting personality.
      FRC Ruben recently posted..REC

    • Castor says:

      Totally agree James, a great example is Inception where the final shot is really not needed and completely predictable. It’s only there to wow the audience who may not have caught all the innuendo about the whole “This movie may be all a dream” while not adding any depth at all to the film.
      Castor recently posted..

  30. John says:

    great list by Illusionist must definitely be in top 10!! great acting..amazing storyline (fine mixture of drama, love and mystery) and a WOW ending!!!

  31. Old Boy hurt me on the inside. I felt like I needed a shower after it. But this is definitely a great top 10 list.
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  32. Love the honorable mention for The Mist! SPOILER… I said 10 minutes before the end, there;s NO WAY he kills his kid!
    Kai B. Parker recently posted..THE HAPPY 101 AWARD

  33. Alok says:

    Why I am not seeing any of SAW movies.
    All the 6 movies have definitely a terrific twist in the end.
    And also it builds the suspense till the end.
    Has anybody seen saw 4. I definitely didnt see it coming…
    What would you call it ?? A sequal, prequal or what

  34. Mithil says:

    Does ‘Remember me’ qualify for such a list?? I mean the ending is not too great but who expected lead actor to die……..

  35. PD says:

    Rosemary’s baby?

  36. Karl says:

    Did anybody mention Saw? The original. I freaked out pretty good when he got off the floor at the end. Looking back it made sense, considering the story was that the dead body guy had killed himself with the ’1 bullet’ provided, but upon review there were no cartridges in the revolver. By far not the greatest horror movie but I was really shocked by the end.

    Honorable mentions:
    Bring It On
    Big Top Pee-Wee
    Ernest Goes To Jail

    • Heather says:

      I kind of had a feeling, lets just put it that way. I didn’t have all the pieces, but in general I had some of the big parts figured out.

  37. Andrew says:

    Go, Oldboy, go!

    Planet of the Apes is another favorite of mine– maybe not a real game-changer but definitely something of a sucker-punch. Same thing with Fallen, which has the kind of cruel, deceptive twist the hits home and hits home hard.

    I’d also argue that Brazil has something of a twist ending but it’s not a twist on the entire picture we’ve seen leading up to it, just a twist on the climactic little escape sequence we’ve just witnessed.
    Andrew recently posted..Review- The Wrestler- 2008- dir Darren Aronofsky

    • Heather says:

      I love the ending of Fallen, like you said it’s kind of deceptive, but being a good movie overall, it makes it a great movie, and I constantly sing to myself: “Tiiiiiiiiiiime is on my side, yes it is.”

  38. Steve says:

    Oldboy gets both the best and worst twist ending. Best because I never saw it coming, worst, because it was so messed up that it turned me off ever wanting to see such a great movie ever again. Chan Wook Park, right? That guy’s a maniac – the master of the “I’ll only ever watch it once” movie.
    Steve recently posted..Top 5 Fridays Princes of Darkness

  39. must agree with your choice. but i never see the oldboy.
    i will see it myself to prove it.

  40. Psycho Thriller says:

    I love old boy. Maybe is because I have seen some many of these types of movies (especially Twilight Zone). It was easy for me to know that the girl was at the Sushi shop was his daughter and he was going to hook up with her. Did I think it was the dude’s sick Master plan to get revenge…no. Great movie and thriller all the way through, though.

  41. Fenevar says:

    Okay, this is all about serious movies! The Hangover had a great ending! I had no idea!

    • xiphos says:

      The Hangover? Please for the love of all that is holy stop going to movies and commenting about them on the intertubes, you look like a giant douche.

  42. Yoya says:

    Sorry for the late comment seeing that this was posted on 2010,but once again great list….but i have to disagree with Primal fear,coz i could see the ending from a mile away.I would replace it with either 6th sense,Unbreakable or Identity,yes identity!the horror movie starring ,i mean who could have predicted uch a twist ending,no one.

  43. Dillon says:

    I actually guessed the OLDBOY ending after seeing that if you guessed it you should be put in a mental hospital. Still it didn’t shock me but the ending was still amazing especially the acting

  44. jason says:

    Sleepaway Camp had a crazy twist ending.
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