The Top 5 - Greatest Movie Openings

The Top 5 - Greatest Movie Openings

The opening to a film is a great art, it can make or break a movie. We are willing to forgive a mediocre movie if we have been wowed at the start. Be it beautifully narrated, a daring action piece from the off or a consufing flashback that piques are interest, here I look at the best in the business. Enjoy and argue away!

1. Strange Days (1995) Kathryn Bigelow

This is a sci-fi great so if you haven't seen it seriously do so immediately. Need convincing? This has the same director as Point Break! Oh now you're interested... This opens with a first-person heist gone wrong throwing us right into the action from the first second. Before we even know what this film is we importantly know two things; it's awesome and we want to see more.

2. Inglorious Basterds (2009) Quentin Tarantino

A slow and suspense laden beginning that not only plays cleverly on the use of language with Tarantino switching from French subtitles to English and back again but also introduced the western world to one, Christoph Waltz. Simply genius.


3. The Matrix (1999) The Wachowskis

Thinking back now it is hard to imagine a film landscape without The Matrix in it. A bunch of cliche cops encircle a lone woman in leather in a film noir detective style setup. Next thing we know it's all kung fu and freeze framed 360 rotating camera work and with it modern cinema is changed forever. 

4. Star Wars: A New Hope (1977) George Lucas

The beautiful expanse of a star filled space line, the instantly famous scrolling opening script and the introduction of the two most famous robots in movie history. This still takes your breath away as if it was the first time you watched it. "Help me Obi-Wan Kenobi you're my only hope". George Lucas, you broke our hearts with everything that followed this triology but you are forgiven for the orginal three, even the odd incest storyline I'll give you a pass on.

5.  Tron Legacy (2010) Joseph Kosinski 

A surprise entry to many I am sure. One of the smartest ways to bring the audience up to speed for this sequel set 28 years later is shown in Jeff Bridges' narration to his young son. A stunning electronic soundtrack provided by Daft Punk and a carefully crafted action night sequence of motorbikes, base jumping, parachuting, and computer espionage. The rest of the film may not have lived up to this start but when you go this perfect it was always going to be an impossible task to match.

Honorable Mentions

The Dark Knight (2008) Christopher Nolan
This brilliant heist scene is very Thomas Crown Affair-esque. The introduction of Heath Ledger's mesmerising Joker and a pass the parcel style choreography to a great bank robbery make this stand out above the rest of the crime film portrayals.

Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) Steven Spielberg
This had it all, a treasure hunt, booby traps and a young Alfred Molina as an unwilling tour guide leading Indiana Jones. Cue the famous whip coming to the rescue and a giant boulder chasing Harrison Ford through an ancient obstacle course. Welcome to the eighties.

Terminator 2 (1991) James Cameron
What an intro, the dark future, Skynet, a sea of terminators and all our worst nightmares from The Terminator shown in reality. The bleak narration from Sarah Connor is pitch perfect.

American History X (1998) Tony Kaye
A stunning orchestral opening in black and white. Slow-motion juxtapositinong the brutal violence depicting the lyncpin for the entire movie that follows. Edward Norton in an unrecognisable role.

Trainspotting (1996) Danny Boyle
This combines my two favourite opening techniques in movies, an instant action sequence with no explanation acompanied by a voice over narration. One of the most quotable monologues growing up in the 90's and the celebration of a 25-year-old fresh faced Scottish actor named Ewan McGregor. Choose life.

The Prestige (2006) Christopher Nolan
One of the most underrated films of our time. This sequence sets up the entire film's premise while combining the joy of Michael Caine's narration as he explains the logistics for a magic trick.

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  1. Lawrence of Arabia......the word iconic was invented for this opening scene.

    1. Alfred thanks for the comment! A classic film for sure. The first person motorbike shot didn't make the list for me!

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