List compiled by Eddie on 13/02/2015
The hook – arguably the most important aspect of a movie especially in today’s attention deficit driven times. Just what is going to grab the audience and demand that they sit with their full attention given? Well there’s no better start than a mind blowing opening scene.
Whether you’re expecting it or not, a movie’s opening can truly make or break the film. There have been countless times in my movie watching experience where a movie’s opening almost single handily ruins my chances of enjoying what’s to come but this below list of movies did the opposite; it made me sit back, strap myself in and prepare for what lay in store for me.
These classic examples of how to open a movie range from excitement, adrenaline, shock or dialogue driven tension and are all foretastes to classic movies that followed on from the ground work at the start.
Happy reading and happy watching.
For Jordan’s list click here
10. Up (2009)
The Setup – love, life and loss all rolled into an opening stanza.
Alright so hands up who cried within the opening 10 minutes? I’d be mightily surprised if there was a dry eye in the room for those experiencing Up for the first time. Pixar’s opening was not only affecting, but brave. A kid’s movie with a real, raw and honest beginning, this is storytelling at its finest.
9. Dawn of the Dead (2004)
The Setup – Not your average morning to wake up to.
Young director Zac Synder announced himself to the world and to horror buffs with his incredible opening onslaught to the zombie apocalypse. After the opening 5 – 10 minutes, fears about this remake of George A. Romero’s classic were quickly put to rest.
8. Children of Men (2006)
The Setup – morning coffee in the child free future.
Something as simple as a morning coffee is here in Alfonso Cauron’s dystopian masterpiece something else entirely. The audience hears reports from the TV about the world’s youngest person dying and then as Clive Owen ventures outside, the world he lives in becomes explosively clear. Bleak and brutal, this sets the standard for one of cinemas best ever Sci-Fi’s.
7. A Clockwork Orange (1971)
The Setup – with the synth raging, we catch our first glimpse of Alex.
A simple yet nerve rattling opening. Master director Stanley Kubrick zooms out slowly from Malcolm McDowell’s incredibly effective facial snarl as we see what he is surrounded by in the future of ultra-violence.
6. Fight Club (1999)
The Setup – after some bone rattling credits, we are introduced to the world of Fight Club.
David Fincher has always been a master at the opening credits sequence and Fight Club sees him on top form as The Dust Brothers score rages and we traverse the barrel of a gun which we find out is placed precociously in the mouth of Ed Norton’s The Narrator.
5. Inglorious Basterds (2009)
The Setup – Nazi officers make a trip to a small rural farm house and ask some questions of the owner.
A king of white knuckle writing, Quintin Tarantino delivers an excruciatingly good opening barrage of tension in this World War 2 tale. With the then fresh face of Christoph Waltz chewing up the spotlight, this is the perfect set up for what’s to come.
4. Saving Private Ryan (1998)
The Setup – as a veteran reflects on his time in the war, we go back to D-Day.
Little needs to be said about the pure visceral intensity that Steven Spielberg and DOP Janusz Kaminski produced with this heart pounding, blood splattered and unforgiving movie opening. War never had felt so real on screen and this opening left many feeling as though they too had entered the fray. Game changing stuff.
3. Jaws (1975)
The Setup – a midnight swim that quickly turns into a midnight snack for a fishy foe.
With the credits and score still lingering in our mind we are placed into a care free party scenario that quickly turns sour when “Bruce” the shark arrives. A masterful opening that sets an ominous tone on proceedings to follow, Jaw’s beginning has rightfully found itself in the echelons of iconic cinematic moments.
2. Indiana Jones: Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)
The Setup – a daring expedition is undertaken to uncover a long lost relic
For all those children and young at heart that one day have dreamed of being a swashbuckling adventurer (with a fedora and whip of course) this opening to the Indiana Jones franchise is about all one needs to be transported to a world of mystery and mishaps. An oft mimicked (by professionals and amateurs alike) opening that is all types of exciting, this is fun time movie making at its most downright enjoyable.
1. The Dark Knight (2008)
The Setup – a bank heist full of double crosses and one particularly crazy clown.
Hype for this Batman adventure was at fever point due to both the untimely demise of star Heath Ledger and press reports suggesting that this was something more than your average superhero film, hype for what was to come only increased after the opening moments of Christopher Nolan’s masterpiece. A thrilling and daring beginning to a classic movie, this has it all. Brilliant acting moments, musical cues and scenarios, this movie opening is about as perfect as it gets and is a benchmark for all filmmakers on how to kick off a movie.
Special mentions (I wish there was more room on this list!) – Magnolia, There Will Be Blood, Lord of War, Watchmen, Incendies, Gravity, Star Trek.
Honourable Mentions – Citizen Kane, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Southland Tales, The Lion King, Scream, Star Wars: A New Hope, 12 Years a Slave, O Brother Where Art Thou, Cool Hand Luke, Casino, The Warriors, The Goonies, Friday Night Lights, The Big Lebowski, No Country for Old Men, 28 Days Later.