What makes a great movie ending? Perhaps its the same thing that the late critic Harold Bloom argued made great poetry: a feeling of inevitability. By this, Bloom didn’t mean predictability so much as a sense of cosmic fulfillment on the part of the reader — a deeply-felt recognition that things could not have possibly been said any better, or any other way. I would humbly argue that the five films below meet that criteria, and I hope to explain why.

A note that what follows is definitely not a list of the “top five greatest movie endings ever,” but…


No Country for Old Men, the Coen Brothers’ near beat-for-beat film adaption of Cormac McCarthy’s 2005 novel of the same name, wears a lot of hats. On the surface, it’s a blood-and-dust Western Noir, a pulp drama about drugs, guns, and money. But it’s also clearly a meditation on old age, on death and fate, and, ultimately, on finding meaning in an absurd, violent world. While it may not be McCarthy’s best novel, it just might be the Coen Brothers’ best movie, and that’s saying something.

While No Country for Old Men would seem to possess the winking “not-about-what-its-about” qualities…


Images: Pixabay

It was a theory so on-its-face absurd that it read like the midnight ramblings of a bored teenager (which it probably was): In the halls of American power, the story went, an internecine struggle was raging against opposing forces, good and evil. On one side were those who secretly ruled the world: a dark cabal of devil-worshipping pederasts responsible for all manner of notorious diablerie — from covering up the truth about UFOs to assassinating JFK. They ran human trafficking rings out of pizza parlors. They kidnapped, raped, and murdered children. …


(Image: Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

If Elon Musk didn’t exist, America would have had to invent him. A South African immigrant who parlayed a fortune made during the dot-com boom into an array of visionary enterprises, from electric sports cars to space travel, Musk has emerged as something of a corporate rock star in recent years, acquiring the kind of fanatic devotion and press attention usually reserved for celebrities. Part of that appeal, certainly, is Musk’s sexy portfolio of companies — no one sits in starry-eyed awe of immured software developers, after all — but most of it must stem from the man himself: relatively…


Ready Player One (2018)

Ready Player One, Ernest Cline’s tepid love letter to the toys of yesteryear masquerading as a novel, is, like many of the archaic video games it canonizes, a book full of sound and fury, signifying nothing. Its characters are vapor, its plot transparent, its relentless mining of pop-culture pandering to the point of nausea, its invention derivative, its writing soporific, its ending a merciful relief.

Apologists (and there must be many, judging by the book’s almost universal acclaim upon release) might argue that Ready Player One, in spite of its weaknesses, is still a lot of fun, and even prescient…


“Many have tried in vain to speak joyously of greatest joy: Here at last it speaks to me, here out of sorrow itself.” — Friedrich Holderlin

Detour (1945)

It may seem odd to argue that Film Noir has anything at all to say about hope. Although the genre has proven notoriously difficult to define, most observers agree on a few key themes, one of which is a distinct lack of hope. Jean-Pierre Chartier, one of the French critics who helped define the term Film Noir in the 1940’s, described the wave of American crime films then flooding postwar France as horrific chronicles…


It’s hard to believe, but it’s been thirteen years since Mass Effect, Bioware’s sprawling Space Opera, first appeared on PC and consoles. A critical darling almost from the moment it dropped, it dazzled gamers with its combination of solid action, brilliant visuals, and epic plot, and went on to spawn two equally acclaimed sequels (a spinoff, Mass Effect: Andromeda, was released to considerably less fanfare in 2017).

And while the Mass Effect franchise has gone dark after Andromeda (and largely, it must be said, because of it) its rabid fanbase has blithely forged on, producing reams of commentary, art, cosplay…


Andy Weir’s The Martian might be the most exhaustively researched work of science fiction I’ve ever read. It’s certainly the most exhausting.

The book, set in a near future where manned missions to Mars have become more or less routine, centers around Mark Watney, a NASA astronaut who becomes stranded on the red planet after an accident on the surface leads his crew to believe him dead. …


Many writers have written eloquently of the love between a man and a woman. But few (as far as I know) have written eloquently of the obsessive, unreciprocated lust of a man for a microscopic woman who lives inside a water droplet. The Irish-American writer Fitz-James O’Brien attempted just this in 1858, with his short story, The Diamond Lens :

The agony of my sensations, as I arrived at this conclusion, startled me. I tried to reject the conviction that my reason forced upon me. I battled against the fatal conclusion — but in vain. It was so. I had…


A common feature that all “great” works of art share is their resilience to interpretation, an ability to shoulder innumerable readings without collapsing under the weight of any one analysis, no matter how compelling. Criticism, servile an art as it is, is an art nonetheless, and it is a paradoxical truth that the best criticism can, often by virtue of its own rhetorical power, sometimes destroy the very thing it set out to illuminate. …

Walter Jones

Deep dives into film, TV, and culture.

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