The Best Ending Songs in Movies

By Ross Durrence

The perfect song can make a good movie great, a great ending extraordinary. Here’s our eight (admittedly recent-loaded) picks of the best ending songs in movies.

8. “Miss Misery” by Elliott Smith – Good Will Hunting (1997)

Good Will Hunting took just about everybody by surprise and officially planted Affleck and Damon on the Hollywood map. Smith received an Oscar nomination for Best Original Song and performed at the 70th Academy Awards. He would be dead just five years later. 


7. “Ooh La La” by Faces – Rushmore (1998)

Whether you love Wes Anderson or hate him (often it’s one or the other) you can’t argue with his music choices across his seven feature films. “Ooh La La” is a dash of nostalgia in the most appropriate place.


6. “The Sound of Silence” by Simon & Garfunkel – The Graduate (1967)

One of the most famous ending scenes of the last century features Dustin Hoffman and Katharine Ross in the back of a bus, their initial happiness seemingly fading before their eyes as they realize what they’ve done. Simon & Garfunkel’s hit forces the audience to confront the unsettling silence between the pair and lands it squarely on the list of best ending songs in movies.


5. “Hurdy Gurdy Man” by Donovan – Zodiac (2007)

David Fincher consistently delivers hits and Zodiac was no exception. Music plays a pivotal role as the story unfolds and this 1968 song certainly adds to the incredibly bittersweet conclusion.


4. “Street Hassle” by Lou Reed – The Squid and the Whale (2005)

Before his unfortunate encounter with Bill Murray or his portrayal of Mark Zuckerberg, Jesse Eisenberg starred in Noah Baumbach’s Academy Award nominated flick about a family tearing apart at the seams. As Eisenberg sprints towards the Museum of Natural History, he’s paced by the Velvet Underground’s frontman until the credits roll.


3. “Mad World” by Gary Jules – Donnie Darko (2001)

Jules’ cover of the Tears for Fears original is forever linked to the 2001 cult classic and has become the more famous version of the two. Most people remember three things aside from the titular character: Patrick Swayze as the slimy motivational speaker, the rabbit, and “Mad World.”


2. “Where is My Mind?” by The Pixies – Fight Club (1999)

This 1999 film established Brad Pitt and Edward Norton as A-listers and would be atop any list of the biggest cult films of the 90s. The ending scene is unforgettable with The Pixies’ hit serving as the perfect backdrop.


1. “Just Like Honey” by The Jesus and Mary Chain – Lost in Translation (2003)

Sofia Coppola’s masterpiece was nominated for four Academy Awards in 2003 and brought her an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay. This 1985 single off The Jesus and Mary Chain’s first full-length album frames Bill Murray’s infamous whisper in the ear of Scarlett Johansson. By far the greatest movie ending song in one of the greatest films of recent memory.

 

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