TOP 10: Best Opening Credits/Sequences

A great opening scene and/or credits sequence gets you engaged in a film right off the bat. Here are 10 that really stood out for me (click on the title if you’d like to read my mini-review of the film as a whole):

Honourable Mention: Runaway Bride (1999)

10. Sausage Party (2016)

A hilarious, unique beginning that encapsulates the humour of the film before most of it gets done to death by the film’s end: The groan-worthy links between different foods and cultural stereotypes, the course language (made funnier here thanks to its context–the uppity melodies and orchestral music), the blatant irony (“we’re sure there’s nothing… ). A fantastic comedic opening.

9. Deadpool (2015)

I laughed out loud when I first saw the words “God’s Perfect Idiot” come up on screen, shortly followed by a People magazine cover with Ryan Reynolds on the front… it was a hilarious surprise to kick off the self-deprecating credits to follow. And while the humour wore off a bit by the end (thanks in part to it no longer being unexpected), it shouldn’t take away from what was actually a very cool aesthetic for the sequence: The slow-motion swirling camerawork making its way out of a ridiculous action freeze-frame. There’s people in mid-air, a car upside-down, blood, wedgies, bullets, and a sappy folk ballad called “Angel of the Morning”. Give it a watch, it’s a memorable combination.

8. Wristcutters: A Love Story (2006)

A mundane montage of a young man cleaning his apartment, all from the exact same camera angle and distance. Then the man is gone, and the camera suddenly starts creeping towards the bathroom, sending chills up your spine, and what you find suddenly justifies to a horrifying extent the slow creep of Tom Waits’ “Dead and Lovely” that had been playing this whole time… A surprising voice-over narration that follows completes the set-up for this unique dark comedy.

7. The Truman Show (1998)

First off, I love when movies start with someone talking right away. Just demands your attention from the very first second! In this case, a unique documentary-style series of interview clips kicks things off, with the actors of the film playing actors of a “reality” TV show that is someone else’s life. Interspersed with these clips are mock credits keeping in line with the actual Truman Show and a captivating clip of Truman himself–played by Jim Carrey–unknowingly talking directly to the camera, giving himself a pep talk in the bathroom. The beautiful piano-led score on top of it all adds a grand feel to it all.

6. Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)

(Above isn’t the full credits sequence, I wasn’t able to embed that video, but here’s a link:

Starts off as a typical sci-fi would–a shady looking character, exploring some wasteland of a planet somewhere in the galaxy. Dramatic stringed music adds to the serious-y tone as the credits appear in an orderly fashion. And then the music stops, and our character takes off his mask and presses play on a Walkman, and with the opening bars of a groovy retro jam and a couple hip gyrations from our lead, the mood changes drastically and fantastically! Chris Pratt using a gross looking little monster thing as a mic to lip-sync into was one particular highlight from then on.

5. A Clockwork Orange (1971)

A sinister synth and a brief set of credits over top of in-your-face primary-coloured backgrounds opens this one. Then a face, looking equally sinister as he stares straight through your television into your soul. Then the camera slowly pans out, the face never looking away and-what the fuck is this place? People drinking milk. Female mannequins all over, placed in sexual positions. Then someone starts narrating, in a sly, mellow British voice, and you know he’s speaking English but you can’t understand half the terms he’s using but he says something about ultra-violence and you’re feeling kind of uncomfortable but you can’t help but keep watching…

4. Magnolia (1999)

A slightly chilling repeated chorus by Aimee Mann gives this series of character introductions a perpetually building and important feel through the course of its 7 minutes, making it almost seem like a mini short film in itself. Startling camera zooms and uniquely fluid scene transitions add further artistic flair. And course, we are treated at the end to one of John C. Rielly’s character’s oh-so-endearing monologues, left hanging when the music stops and the screen goes to black.

3. Little Miss Sunshine (2006)

The above video skips the great opening shot of Olive staring at the camera, a TV reflected in her glasses, so you’ll just have to imagine it if you haven’t already seen it. 🙂

Anyways, one of my favourite intros, for sure. I love how it subtly introduces each character of the family, each in a different setting, with each clip showing one important aspect of their personality. And that mellow music from Devotchka that you can’t really pin down as happy or sad is a perfect backing track for an opening sequence to this indie classic equal parts comedy and drama.

2. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 (2011)

Just the perfect opening for this final Harry Potter film. After a brief reminder of what happened last in the previous installment, the classic Warner Bros. logo in the clouds pops up, but this time accompanied by a haunting, mournful choral voice. Then we’re back at Hogwarts, looking gloomier than ever, with the sinister Dementors floating around it. Then three stunning shots of none other than Severus Snape, played to greatness by the late Alan Rickman. The close-up of his face–cold, yet almost mournful, and most certainly tortured–gives me chills every time, especially knowing from the final book the complex emotional background to the character that was only starting to come through in the movies at this point. With a gorgeous swelling of strings, the scene cuts and the title appears, completing a beautifully melancholy opening for the final Harry Potter film.

1.The Shining (1980)

Breathtaking panoramic camerawork swoops in and out, following a car driving through the mountains; add in an ominous minimal score and you’re left with an overwhelming sense of dread and foreboding… and rightly so, given the story to follow! Even the simple credits with their quick upward scroll, basic font and unique mint colour seem to add a weird chill to the whole thing. Similar to much of the film to follow, nothing out of the ordinary happens, but an incredible and creepy atmosphere is created nonetheless thanks to some marvelous music and cinematography.

Let me know what you thought of my list in the comments! Disagree with any of my choices? What are some of your most memorable film openings?