19 February 2010
Top 7 Best End Credits in Film
For some reason this has been on my mind lately. Today I want to highlight some of the greatest end credit sequences of all time (read: of movies I've seen recently). To get in this list, I was looking for movies that generally had either some genuine aesthetic value or advanced the themes or plot in an organic way (read: seven movies I've seen recently). So, let's get right to it:
#7: The Bourne Series (2002-07)
I'm not sure why this appeals to me, I think it has to do with the crappy song that somehow fits as well as the overall simplicity of the design, when contrasted to the explosions and excess of other spy films of the time (see here). I think I'm also just amazed that the same design and song work in all three films with some basic alterations in song and design. I mean, the mood still fits in three very different endings thematically. Somehow, brilliant. Here are the credits for Ultimatum.
#6: Tropic Thunder (2008)
One of the best-timed credits, aligned with "Get Back" by Luda, Tropic Thunder's end replays the film's sweetest scenes, then freezes them with a stylistic painted image. It's great in that it highlights almost every character, no matter how obscure and gives them a personalized colourful freeze frame (Downey's is the best). It's also interspliced with scenes of Tom Cruise doing his greatest Golden Globe-nominated performance, set perfectly to Luda. Cruise's love of pseudo-pop rap was an already established character trait, it actually fits well that he would celebrate his cinematic triumph with a personal boogie in his office. Finally, after the LudaCruse, the "Name of the Game" by Crystal Method remix at the end is also very listenable, leaving viewers wanting to stay in the theaters and jam even while just words are playing. Quite an achievement.
#5: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Asskaban (2004) and Harry Potter and the Ass-Blood Prince (2009)
In terms of big-budget Blockbuster credits, the common contemporary technique is highly stylized, big explosions or in the case of most Super Hero (Marvel) films, either a travel through DNA or Cells or even Armour designs. This fits almost in the vein of a boring action scene. These two Harry Potters' credits, though, have always captured my attention. Asskaban follows a small but integral part of the film, the Marauder's Map, while Ass-Blood Prince has credits stylized similar to the pensieve scenes, some of the most unique and best in the movie. They're both examples of well-done CGI credits, not overblown, but creative enough to be interesting. Furthermore, these are the two best Harry Potter films to date, my all-time favourite being Asskaban.
#4: Wall-E (2008)
This should be a no-brainer. The hand-drawn ending animation is a great contrast to the stunning CGI Animation that comprises the rest of the film, but it also furthers the story and themes. The entire credits are basically the film's epilogue, providing the hope for humankind. What's subtle as well is the final crossover from a robot to human focus of the narrative. While the first human we see is live-action (over the centuries, apparently humanity gets more pudgy, fleshy and then fully animated), brash, impatient and driven by endless consumption (this is us), the last we see are barely more than simple cave-drawings, demonstrating our full hubris and humility we might need in order to survive for the next Millennium. It's also practically a perfect 8-minute lesson on the history of Western Art. Powerful indeed. Add to this the beautiful simplicity of the Peter Gabriel song "Down to Earth" and you start getting the feeling that Wall-E is the most technically advanced way of telling a space story that really about the simplest things on earth. This is also why I ranked Wall-E so high here.
#3: The Hangover (2009)
This is by far the funniest major film of 2009, and the end credits do not disappoint at all. In fact, they're probably the funniest part of the damn film. They're perfectly timed for humour, some of my favourites are quick shots of Alan in the same post, one without sunglasses, then with big Aviators. It's the raunchiest part of the film, revealing many of the unanswered mysteries of the night before. It's also the only time we actually see any of the bachelor party, which The Hangover was very notable for not showing at all. Would a film made only twenty years ago be instead only focused on the fun night? Oh, it already did. We're a hangover culture now, but it's a great nod to some of the time-traveled insanity that occurred prior.
#2: A Series of Unfortunate Events (2004)
These credits were better than the movie itself. You should be able to tell by now where my greatest taste in end credits lie, I love the art on display here, repeating much of the subtle iconography of the film (eyes mostly), as well as resembling some of the original literary base. It also sums up much of the basic idea of the plot in a much more forward way, Count Olaf (Jim Carrey) repeatedly trying to kill his little nephew and nieces (brats). It's very dark as well, especially for a children's film. Most of the creativity, but none of the coolness is in the actual film. We can analyze a lot here. The kids generally travel in a downwards direction, towards doom, Olaf is always huge, a domineering presence in their lives with eyes and knowledge everywhere, often in hidden places. It's sweet.
#1: Kung Fu Panda (2008)
Yes, this is the third Summer 2008 film on this list, I don't care. Good credits that summer, good credits. Kung Fu Panda's opener and closer are so awesome, also much better than the actual film. In fact, I contend they're better animated than the actual film. Check both out right here in super-High Def at ArtoftheTitle.com, which is also full of excellent opening credits from other films. I don't want you to watch a shitty embedded version, go to that site, watch both and come back.
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Okay, welcome back. There's two major things I want to point out: 1) The hand-drawn animation is so good it makes the CGI afterwards look shitty and much less fun. 2) In these simple titles the characters are so well established that it becomes unnecessary to ever watch this movie in full. It's a delight for the eyes to behold. Best end credits ever.
Feel free to defend Cannonball Run (1981) below: