One down and two to go, right? How about we make it two down and with only one more top 10 list left in 2007 for Out of Past? As I previously mentioned in my Top 10 Entrances column, for the month of November Out of the Past is airing three top 10 lists, Entrances, Twists and Endings. The Top 10 Entrances is already out of the way, so it's time for the greatest twists in movie history -
10. Primal Fear (1995)
You have a murdered catholic priest who was corrupt and perverted that had many enemies, but which one killed him? He owed money to very powerful people and forced a truly innocent looking boy named Aaron (Edward Norton, in his first film role) to perform in his own personal pornographic tapes. Richard Gere plays the high powered attorney that takes on Aaron's case for free for the surefire mega headlines. What becomes more interesting is the poor boy seems to have an alter-ego who calls himself Roy. Aaron is mild mannered, but Roy is aggressive and violent. When Aaron is pressured it appears he blacks out and Roy takes him over. When Aaron comes to he always remembers nothing. Knowing that unless he can show the jury Aaron's dark side he'll surely be convicted, Gere stages a confrontation while Aaron's on the stand. Roy emerges and attacks the prosecuting attorney. The judge rules that Aaron has severe mental problems and issues that he is to receive mental care for thirty days. All is well, right?
When Richard Gere tells Aaron that he'll be free in thirty days Aaron asks Gere to tell the prosecutor that he was sorry and that he hoped her neck was okay. Richard Gere tells him "sure thing" and starts to leave only to realize that Aaron wasn't supposed to remember anything from when he blacked out. He walks back to Aaron's cell and asks him how he can remember when Aaron erupts in applause. He was faking it the entire time. Primal Fear throws you several storylines as to a possible ending, but in the end it was simple. The boy on trial committed the crime. Richard Gere laments "there never was a Roy, was there?" Norton so masterfully replies "There never was an Aaron!". Edward Norton made himself a star with his amazing performance. So amazing it took two paragraphs to describe.
9. No Way Out (1987)
No Way Out tells the story of a young Kevin Costner as a US officer working at the Pentagon. Costner starts up an affair with the mistress(Sean Young) of a powerful politician(Gene Hackman). One night as Hackman arrives at his mistress' apartment he catches a glimpse of Costner leaving, but not enough to identify him. Hackman falls into an emotional rage over his jealousy and accidentally kills his lover. Hackman knows that the only man who can identify him is Young's other lover, but he only saw a shadow. He does know one thing about the man, Young's lover worked at the Pentagon. Along with help from his assistant, Hackman has the Pentagon locked down in search of the mystery man under the cover story that they're looking for a Russian spy. After a million close calls, Costner's able to allude the trap and make his way to his Russian contacts. WHAT? At the end of the story we find out that the cover story concocted by Hackman was in the end actually true. Costner all the time was a Russian spy and was supposed to start up a relationship with Young. The twist doesn't work as strongly with repeated viewings, but initially it's a total shock.
8. Memento (2000)
How do you catch the man who murdered your wife when you can't remember anything? Guy Pierce plays a man suffering from short-term memory loss who will stop at nothing to find the man who killed his wife. Pierce either writes messages for himself to remember on his skin or for the really important stuff, he has it tattooed in his skin. The most important message is of "Remember Sammy Jenkins". Sammy was a man who also add short-term memory loss who killed his wife after to shake her husband out of his fog, the wife repeatedly had Sammy give her insulin shots thinking that he will remember for the shake of not wanting to hurt his wife. Her plan fails and the man unknowingly kills his wife. In the end we find out that Pierce is actually Sammy Jenkins and that his wife survived the attack in which he thought she was murdered. In fact, he's already hunted down her attacker, but he can't remember, or is it that he doesn't want to?
7. Presumed Innocent (1990)
The amazing thing about the twist at the end of Presumed Innocent is that it's the most obvious answer. Harrison Ford plays a district attorney that had an affair with a another lawyer who is now been murdered. When it comes out that he was sleeping with the victim he's charged with the murder. The body of Presumed Innocent throws us in many different directions for who the killer is. Ford's mistress had a lot of affairs herself. Finally, we are lead to believe that Ford himself may very well have been the killer when he destroys a glass with his fingerprints that puts him at the crime scene. Without their biggest piece of evidence the prosecution's case crumbles. Ford, apparently guilty, is now free.
One day when working on a broken fence at his home he notices the back of the hammer he's using has traces of blood and hair. He takes his hammer down to the basement and cleans it off. We, the audience, assume that he's cleaning off his murder weapon until his wife(Bonnie Bedelia, in the role of her career) walks in on him cleaning the murder weapon. Harrison silently walks into the dining room where his wife coldly describes how she murdered the woman she felt was threatening her existence. So obvious, right? Why wouldn't you expect the wife to have killed the woman sleeping with her husband? The amazing thing is that you never see it coming because the movie throws you in every direction, but the most simple.
6. Fight Club (1999)
Edward Norton stars in two movies to make the list. In Fight Club he plays a man who lives a dull life until he meets Tyler Durdan(Brad Pitt). Tyler's everything he's not. Tyler's confident, rebellious and a leader. Together the two men start up what they call "fight club". Men gather together to simply fight for the fun of it. The club becomes so popular that soon it appears that Tyler has his own army. Norton starts to feel that Tyler is planning something horrible and starts on a quest to find out exactly what Tyler's up to. What he finds is that what Tyler is up to is what Norton is up to. Tyler is Norton and Norton is Tyler. Tyler Durdan was his creation and exists in his own mind. When this is revealed it forces you to examine everything the movie shown you previously.
5. Planet of the Apes (1968)
Charlton Heston stars in the one and only great Planet of the Apes film from 1968. Heston plays an astronaut that crash lands on a foreign planet that is the reverse of his own. Planet of the Apes is just that, a planet run by apes. The apes walk upright, ride horses and most of all, speak. They hunt mute humans for sport. Heston shakes the foundation of their culture when he himself shows that humans can talk with his classic line "Get your paws off me you damn dirty ape!". Heston escapes the captivity of the apes to wander in the wilderness until he's stopped by a bizarre sight. Heston sees the statue of liberty banked upon the beach. He wasn't on a foreign planet. Heston was home on his own planet. His race, the humans, had destroyed their civilization and the apes had inherited it.
4. The Usual Suspects (1995)
The title of this film which refers to the infamous Casablanca line describes criminals that are always suspected of any crime. Five suspects are put together by an attorney of the never-seen crime underworld boss of Keyser Soze. Each one has wronged Soze in some way and for them to repay him they must attack a ship of Hungarian mobsters in an apparent suicide mission. During the mission everyman is killed except a cripple, Verbal Kent(Kevin Spacey). He's left to tell the story to the police investigator(Chazz Palminteri). After he finishes his story, Verbal having worked his way into immunity leaves the police station. As Palminteri sits reflecting on the case that has alluded him he notices names and places that Kent included in his story all appear somewhere in his office. Kent is limping out of the station with the camera focused on his limp until he's no longer limping, he's walking. Kent limps out of the station, but walks into a car driven by Keyser Soze's attorney as we learn Kent was Soze himself. The little cripple that everyone took for granted was pulling the strings of it all!
3. The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
From what I've heard the ending filmed for The Empire Strikes Back was that of Vader telling Luke that Obi-Wan was his father. Apparently Lucas concocted this ending to shield his true ending. We've all heard the line a million times, "Luke, I am your father!". For Luke Skywalker his immortal enemy is the darkest evil, Darth Vader. Vader reveals that he was originally Anakin Skywalker and Luke's father. This single twist gave us one of the most famous lines in movie history and set up four other Star Wars films to follow. It goes behind the normal geekery(made up word) and offers a pretty amazing cinematic moment. Your ultimate fear and hate turns out to be the man you've been searching for your entire life. Man, if that's not some Shakespearian drama, I don't know what is.
2. Citizen Kane (1941)
Is there anyone who likes this movie that's not a filmmaker or movie critic? Oh yes, I do(not a critic, don't get paid)! Citizen Kane has defiantly earned it's right to be mentioned as one of the top 10 films of all time. The classic film tells the story of a reporter that searches through the life of a media mogul to find out what his last word meant. Citizen Kane opens with Charles Foster Kane(Orson Welles) dying after uttering "Rosebud". The reporter interviews just about everyone who was involved in Kane's life, but never finds the answer to what "Rosebud" meant. At the end of the film as workers are piling Kane's belongs into a massive bonfire they throw a sleigh on the fire with name of Rosebud. The movie ends as flames engulf the sleigh. It was the sleigh that we saw Kane playing on as a child. The answer to the question that the reporter never finds is that who Kane really was all along was a man who longed for his childhood.
1. Vertigo (1958)
I've written about this movie a few times before. The story is of a former policeman who suffers from vertigo after he witnesses a fellow officer fall to his death. Stewart is living the life of a disabled man when an old college buddy asks him to follow his wife because he believes she might be suicidal. Stewart falls in love with college buddy's wife and follows her to an old spanish monastery, but she falls into her delusion and runs up a bell tower. Stewart with his affliction of vertigo can't follow her. She jumps to her death and all Stewart can do is tell of her suicidal tendencies at the inquest. With his love dead Stewart falls into a depression until one day he catches a glimpse of a girl working in a shop that looks remarkably like his deathly love. He charms her and takes out to buy clothing. Only he only dresses her up exactly like the dead woman.
Once dressed in her outfit the shop girl looks exactly like his dead love. Stewart then takes her on drive, to the monastery where his love committed suicide. He forces the shop girl up the bell tower, over coming his vertigo in the process. The shopgirl admits that she was apart of a plan in which Stewart's old college buddy murdered his wife. The shop girl dressed as the man's wife, enticed Stewart to the bell tower and when she ran to the top the husband had his real wife drugged and threw her off the bell tower. Stewart, unable to reach the top then becomes the perfect witness. Once Stewart drags the shop girl to the top of the bell tower, apparently overcoming his affliction, a monk startles them both as the shop girl falls from the bell tower. Stewart walks to the edge looking down as the movie ends. His courage to fight his affliction and want for the truth triggers his affliction right back. It's the greatest and most haunting twist I've ever seen.
Honorable Mentions - The Stepford Wives (1975), The Sting, Frailty, Murder on the Orient Express and Blade Runner
You may notice that some of my twists are also endings. Which might be a little confusing considering I've already mentioned that in two weeks you'll see my Top 10 Endings column appear here on Matchflick. Well, it's really simple. If the ending to a movie I picked was a twist it made this list. Not to worry, I will have one more list for you readers out there. In two weeks I will pick my Top 10 Endings in movie history. Thus completing the trilogy. Until then....
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Dec 19, 2011 6:53 PM
|Fight Club's twist was lame. Great movie and then the lame ending. |
Empire Strikes Back should be number one. Here's why: http://www.matchflick.com/column/1640
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Discussing classic films from City Lights to Apocalypse
Now and everything in between and beyond.
Andy is a life long movie fanatic. The first movie he saw in the theater was Back to the Future, Part 2 at the age of 3 and he has loved movies ever since.|
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