Features Film

20 Best Opening Film Scenes Of The Decade

Close-up Culture’s James Prestridge names his 20 favourite opening film scenes of the decade.

Let us know your favourites in the comment section below!


20. I Like Guarding Things – Nightcrawler (2014)

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A title sequence featuring James Newton Howard’s inspirational score and the nocturnal Los Angeles skyline is followed up by an intense introduction to Lou Bloom (played by Jake Gyllenhaal). The scene lays out the lengths this unhinged man is willing to go to for financial success.

19. Combover – American Hustle (2013)

Who knew combovers could be so intricate? Maybe Donald Trump. This scene to open David O. Russell’s American Hustle is a fun reminder that all is not always as it appears.

18. Poor Jerry – The Love Witch (2016)

The Love Witch (Samantha Robinson) drives down the highway and talks about her past in this gloriously creepy opening to Anna Biller’s film. The scene is a teasing flavour of the aesthetic delights and eccentricity to come.

17. Morning Dance – Booksmart (2019)

Following a fun wink to Birdman (2014), Olivia Wilde’s comedy jumps into the endearing bestie fun as Mollie (Beanie Feldstein) and Amy (Kaitlyn Dever) greet each other with a cheesy dance.

16. Wakey Wakey – What We Do In The Shadows (2014)

Viago (Taika Waititi) gives us a house tour and introduces us to his vampire roommates in this hilarious mockumentary opening.

15. On The Run – It Follows (2015)

It Follows opens with a terrified young woman on the run from an unknown force. A tone of inescapable dread is implanted through long takes and rooted camerawork, before we reach a brutal punctuating image.

14. Why Did You Stop Playing – Whiplash (2014)

Andrew (Miles Teller) and Fletcher (J.K. Simmons) come face to face for the first time in a brief interaction that teases the intense student-teacher relationship that will drive the film.

13. What Have We Done To Each Other – Gone Girl (2014)

Nick’s (Ben Affleck) foreboding voiceover and that look from Amy (Rosamund Pike) plant a mysterious seed at the beginning of David Fincher’s thriller.

12. Another Day Of Sun – La La Land (2016)

The slow-moving, concrete mundanity of Los Angeles traffic is transformed into a vibrant, colourful and kinetic scene as Damien Chazelle’s musical kicks off on a upbeat note.

11. Bon Voyage – Dunkirk (2017)

Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk doesn’t give audiences a moment to settle as it kicks off with a desperate race to escape enemy fire. The scene ends with Tommy (Fionn Whitehead) making it to the beach where another perilous escape awaits. Tick tock.

10. Look At The Stars – Boyhood (2014)

A universal image of youth and hope opens Richard Linklater’s ambitious 12-year project. Simple yet iconic.

9. Death Pose – The Neon Demon (2016)

A violent, ambiguous and darkly intriguing image sets the tone for the paranoia of The Neon Demon. What are we looking at? Is this a sinister photoshoot? Or is this a twisted serial killer’s ritual?

8. Collision In Space – Gravity (2013)

Playful radio chatter, country music and wonderment at the sight of Earth soon descends into disorienting chaos as the crew come under fire from space debris. A continuous shot and Steven Price’s engulfing score make this a riveting watch.

7. Wash Out – Roma (2018)

The simple image of water washing over a patio reveals much more in the opening credits of Roma. Alfonso CuarĂ³n’s aerial shot, the violent motion of the water and the reflection of a plane flying overhead act as a prelude to the film’s themes.

6. Nightclub Euphoria – Victoria (2015)

Best experienced in the cinema, this euphoric nightclub scene is a gateway into a disorderly and exhilarating action to come.

5. Getaway Song – Baby Driver (2017)

Edgar Wright’s opening for Baby Driver is poetry in motion as the music syncs amusingly to Baby’s (Ansel Elgort) dancing and then the high speed car chase. The scene is also followed up by a highly entertaining opening credits sequence.

4. Deal Or No Deal – Animal Kingdom (2010)

What appears to be a mundane image of mother and son sitting on the sofa and watching TV turns into something far more upsetting when paramedics walk through the door. A morbid opening note that speaks to J’s (James Frecheville) rough reality.

3. Under Attack – The Revenant (2016)

This remarkable one-shot scene opens The Revenant on an overwhelmingly chaotic and violent note. Masterful cinema.

2. Night Time Getaway – Drive (2011)

Movie car chases are usually a high speed affair, but Nicolas Winding Refn’s film opens with a simmering and tense scene in which Driver (Ryan Gosling) attempts to evade the police. We then transition into a credit sequence with the synth pulsations of Kavisky’s Nightcall. Simply electric.

1. And This Was The End – Arrival (2016)

A poetic story of life and death opens Denis Villeneuve’s Arrival. Max Ritcher’s soul stirring music and Bradford Young’s gentle cinematography help make this an unforgettably touching scene.


2 comments

  1. Thanks Joel! That’s a wonderful way of describing it. Remarkable how such a mundane image can be so much more memorable than a flashy opening. (Also, sorry for my slow response. Your comment went to spam for some reason! Hope you are well!)

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