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: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JNlnQwHWSYw)

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?

Liebster Award nomination

Wow, I am truly flattered and pleased to announce that I was nominated for a Liebster Award!liebsteraward

Thanks so much to Hammy Reviews for nominating me!

Here are the rules for the award as they have been passed on to me:

  1. Acknowledge the blog that nominated you and display the award.
  2. Answer 11 questions that the blogger gives you.
  3. Give 11 random facts about yourself.
  4. Nominate 5-11 blogs you think are deserving of the award that have less than 200 followers.
  5. Let the blogs know you have nominated them.
  6. Give them 11 questions to answer

Here are my answers to Hammy Reviews’ great questions:

1. Favourite film?

Little Miss Sunshine is definitely one of them. I’m a big family guy, and a sappy one to boot, so the whole rag-tag imperfect family portrait thing so perfectly portrayed here definitely speaks to me. Lots of laughs and tears and cheers, and a lot of all three in that final rebellious, coming-together dance number. All the characters are just so great (with such genuine turns from the cast) and it’s so well-written. So many good scenes here.

O Brother, Where Art Thou? would be the other film I’d mention here. The cozy old-timey soundtrack and dirty thirties setting, the hilarious up and down chain-gang-escapee escapades, the delicious dialogue, a quick-talking George Clooney, the hints of devilish darkness… it’s all just so wonderful. Great film I know I’ll never get sick of.

2. Favourite director?

Although I’ve definitely been a fan of pretty much everything I’ve seen of the Coen Brothers, including O Brother…, I’d hesitate to list them here just because I have yet to check out a good chunk of a few of their earlier films. So I’ll have to say Wes Anderson. He’s got a style, and I am unabashedly a huge fan. It’s just so damn delicious. The detailed sets, the symmetrical cinematography, the tracking shots, the quirkiness, the deadpan humour, the splashes of colour, the vibrant titles, the marvelous music… I could go on and on. I just love it all. He wouldn’t even have to have a story, I’d watch his films just for that gorgeous aesthetic he always manages to pull off.

3. Favourite video game?

I’ve never been a gamer, actually. At least with video games-we never had a game system growing up, I only recently salvaged a PS2 from a thrift store for $10 so I could play ATV Off-road Fury II, a game my brother and I used to play at our cousin’s place back in the day. It was a little underwhelming this time around.

I played a bunch of NHL 2000/2001 on PC back in the day though. Guess I’ll have to go with that.

4. Favourite book?

Huge Harry Potter fan, so I gotta get that out there. If I can’t include the whole series as my answer, I’d have to go with the epic final installment. The whole series just seemed to get better and better with each book.

5. It’s takeaway night: fish and chips or pizza?

Although I don’t mind me some deep-fried batter-covered fish in spite of my general distaste for all things that come from the sea, I’ll definitely have to go with pizza on this one.

6. Do you buy or download (illegally or not!) films/TV shows?

I don’t download at all, although I do occasionally rip library DVDs onto my computer. As for buying, I’m all about dem VHS tapes. Such a cheap way to watch/own all the best movies made before the early 2000s! Sure, it’s not as good quality a picture, but it really isn’t terrible, and it’s not like I’m watching Gravity or anything.

7. Do you consider yourself a geek?

Proudly so! My insane love of categorization and organization is a good example of this. When I was a kid, I used to hole myself up in my bedroom downstairs, listen to the Canucks game on the radio (BC boy here) and take all of my hockey cards (I used to collect a lot) out of my binder and reorganize them according to a different category–brand, player name, year, team, etc. After I had them organized one way for a few weeks, I’d reorganize them a different way again. I had a blast, and I would still totally do that today if I still collected. Just look at my menu page on my blog- “By Title”, “By Year”, “By Rating”… my favourite part of posting a new movie review is adding a link to it on its appropriate page under each category. If you ever want me to organize or compile any sort of data of yours or anything, I’M YOUR MAN.

8. Buy, Rent, Chuck: Toy Story, Toy Story 2, Toy Story 3

Toy Story: Buy! Which I’ve already done. On VHS of course. It’s a great flick. Toy Story 2: Buy again. Haven’t seen it in a little while, but I remember really liking it. Toy Story 3: Haven’t seen it yet! Eep! But I’ve heard nothing but good things, so I’ll be keeping an eye out for it.

9. Where do you see yourself in five years?

Still happily married and the very proud parent of a 5 and a quarter year old daughter (and maybe another one)! Hopefully working a job that I love (still in the process of figuring that one out..)

10. What’s your biggest achievement in life, thus far?

Becoming (and being) a dad. The first two days or so in the hospital I was absolutely terrified and I was having some real anxiety about having to take care of this fragile little thing, but I soon got the hang of it and I’m really proud of myself for how comfortable I feel in this position and how much I really love it. My biggest achievement, for sure!

On a side note, because this is a movie blog, I feel like mentioning that my daughters’ first three movies were, in order, Planet of the Apes (the original), The Searchers, and The Shining, all watched by me on my laptop as I rocked her to sleep in the hospital. I’m excited to tell her when she gets older. 🙂

11. Shower or bath?

Shower.

And here are 11 random facts about me:

  1. I’ve been a happy husband for almost 3 and a half years now, and a delighted dad for a little over three months
  2. The first movie I can remember seeing in the theater was How The Grinch Stole Christmas with Jim Carrey
  3. Our family car is a 2003 Ford Focus station wagon (and yes, we’ve slept in the back at an interstate rest stop, but that was pre-baby)
  4. I’ve always enjoyed playing and watching most sports
  5. I can’t cook (I do the dishes instead)
  6. I enjoy dabbling in music and film making
  7. I haven’t been clean-shaven since Halloween 2010 when I shaved for the purposes of my costume (I had found out that my roommate was dressing up as me, so I had to return the favour)
  8. My favourite musical artist/band is Bruce Cockburn
  9. My brother and I as kids used to have “handstand” battles in our shared bedroom, where we’d take turns doing a handstand and rating each other on our form and longevity
  10. I’ve only broken one bone, the pinky-side one in the palm of my hand, from a mountain-bike crash
  11. I’m a Bible college BA graduate

And here are my nominations for the Liebster Award:

  1. Let’s Talk Movies!
  2. thrift shopper for peace
  3. gareth brandt
  4. The Blazing Reel
  5. media meum

And my 11 questions:

  1. Top 3 films:
  2. Top 3 books:
  3. Top 3 singers/artists/bands:
  4. Top 3 (your choice):
  5. What is your favourite beverage?
  6. What was your most memorable travel experience?
  7. What is your favourite board game?
  8. You are feeling rested, well-nourished, and at peace. You have one hour of free time, but it must be spent by yourself. What do you do with it?
  9. Who is your favourite actor or actress?
  10. Big city or open country?
  11. What is your favourite part of nature?

Little Miss Sunshine (2006)

A family determined to get their young daughter into the finals of a beauty pageant take a cross-country trip in their VW bus. (IMDb)
The excellent opening sequence here gives us an immediate feel for each character, setting the stage for an achingly beautiful and genuine film family portrait with a powerful message of authenticity over perfection. The film epitomizes the dramedy genre; each aspect blends naturally with the other in favour of story and character development instead of cheap laughs and sentimentality, but I’ll never not cry happy tears during the climactic scene of this wonderfully-written and well-acted movie.
8.5/10 (Amazing)