Complex endings

Selection from Mick La Salle list of movies with complex endings. For the full list, see http://blog.sfgate.com/mlasalle/2013/10/08/complicated-endings/
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1.
City Lights (1931)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.6/10 X  
With the aid of a wealthy erratic tippler, a dewy-eyed tramp who has fallen in love with a sightless flower girl accumulates money to be able to help her medically. (87 mins.)
Director: Charles Chaplin
“ "Another ending as wide and broad as life. The blind girl, now restored to sight, finds out that her rich benefactor is, in fact, the little tramp. A slight disappointment for her. And an education, too." -MLS ” - claudia-arrighi
 
2.
Frost/Nixon (2008)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  
A dramatic retelling of the post-Watergate television interviews between British talk-show host David Frost and former president Richard Nixon. (122 mins.)
Director: Ron Howard
“ "No heroes, no villains" -MLS ” - claudia-arrighi
 
3.
Munich (2005)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  
Based on the true story of the Black September aftermath, about the five men chosen to eliminate the ones responsible for that fateful day. (164 mins.)
“ A movie about hunting terrorists that ends on a note of moral confusion and despair. -MLS ” - claudia-arrighi
 
4.
The Life Before Her Eyes (2007)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  
A woman's survivor's guilt from a Columbine-like event twenty years ago causes her present-day idyllic life to fall apart. (90 mins.)
Director: Vadim Perelman
“ "Very powerful, reverberant ending." -MLS ” - claudia-arrighi
 
5.
À nos amours (1983)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  
Suzanne is sixteen and is having sex with many boys, just for fun, but did not manage to really love one of them... (95 mins.)
Director: Maurice Pialat
“ "Ends in the girl having grown up, but still carrying some of the baggage from her teen years." -MLS ” - claudia-arrighi
 
6.
Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  
A bitter, aging couple, with the help of alcohol, use a young couple to fuel anguish and emotional pain towards each other. (131 mins.)
Director: Mike Nichols
“ "You come away with a complicated sense of who these people are and what they've gone through." -MLS ” - claudia-arrighi
 
7.
A Place in the Sun (1951)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  
A poor boy gets a job working for his rich uncle and ends up falling in love with two women. (122 mins.)
Director: George Stevens
“ "We come away with very mixed feelings, some conflicted, much of it surrounding our sense of the American dream, what it means, and how it works." -MLS ” - claudia-arrighi
 
8.
The Third Man (1949)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  
Pulp novelist Holly Martins travels to shadowy, postwar Vienna, only to find himself investigating the mysterious death of an old friend, Harry Lime. (104 mins.)
Director: Carol Reed
“ "We come away with a complicated feeling about everything and everyone. It's not a simple note at the end." -MLS ” - claudia-arrighi
 
9.
The Player (1992)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  
A Hollywood studio executive is being sent death threats by a writer whose script he rejected - but which one? (124 mins.)
Director: Robert Altman
“ "We rooted for a guy that maybe we shouldn't have. We're happy, but a little queasy, uneasy." -MLS ” - claudia-arrighi
 
10.
The Mother and the Whore (1973)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  
In Paris, the pedantic Alexandre lives with his mate Marie in her apartment, an open relationship. Alexandre... (217 mins.)
Director: Jean Eustache
“ "Relationships as they sometimes happen. Ends on a strange note." -MLS ” - claudia-arrighi
 
11.
Breakfast at Tiffany's (1961)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  
A young New York socialite becomes interested in a young man who has moved into her apartment building. (115 mins.)
Director: Blake Edwards
“ "Happy, but with sadness at the back of it." -MLS ” - claudia-arrighi
 
12.
I've Loved You So Long (2008)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  
A woman struggles to interact with her family and find her place in society after spending fifteen years in prison. (117 mins.)
“ "The emotions are overwhelming." -MLS ” - claudia-arrighi
 
13.
Bicycle Thieves (1948)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  
In post-war Italy, a working-class man's bicycle is stolen. He and his son set out to find it. (89 mins.)
“ "It ends on a note of sadness and exultation." -MLS ” - claudia-arrighi
 
14.
One Day (2011)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.0/10 X  
After spending the night together on the night of their college graduation Dexter and Em are shown each year on the same date to see where they are in their lives. They are sometimes together, sometimes not, on that day. (107 mins.)
Director: Lone Scherfig
“ "Ends sad and happy, in a moment that makes us think about youth and the mystery of time." -MLS ” - claudia-arrighi
 
15.
Down with Love (2003)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.3/10 X  
In 1962 New York City, love blossoms between a playboy journalist and a feminist advice author. (101 mins.)
Director: Peyton Reed
“ "Very smartly satirizes the sexual attitudes of the 1960s but those governing the making of romantic comedy in our era." -MLS ” - claudia-arrighi
 
16.
Sullivan's Travels (1941)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  
A director of escapist films goes on the road as a hobo to learn about life, which gives him a rude awakening. (90 mins.)
Director: Preston Sturges
“ "Funny, but serious, about the function of comedy in the world." -MLS ” - claudia-arrighi
 
17.
The Godfather: Part II (1974)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 9.0/10 X  
The early life and career of Vito Corleone in 1920s New York is portrayed while his son, Michael, expands and tightens his grip on the family crime syndicate. (202 mins.)
“ "Michael Corleone is the world's most disastrous and pathetic success story." -MLS ” - claudia-arrighi
 
18.
The Girlfriend Experience (2009)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.5/10 X  
A drama set in the days leading up to the 2008 Presidential election, and centered on a high-end Manhattan call girl meeting the challenges of her boyfriend, her clients, and her work. (77 mins.)
“ "The career crisis of a call girl becomes a metaphor for how everyone can become expendable in an economic disaster." -MLS ” - claudia-arrighi
 
19.
In a Lonely Place (1950)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.0/10 X  
A potentially violent screenwriter is a murder suspect until his lovely neighbor clears him. But she begins to have doubts... (94 mins.)
Director: Nicholas Ray
“ "The truth arrives, but too late." -MLS ” - claudia-arrighi
 
20.
Gone Baby Gone (2007)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  
Two Boston area detectives investigate a little girl's kidnapping, which ultimately turns into a crisis both professionally and personally. (114 mins.)
Director: Ben Affleck
“ "The hero does the right thing -- and it turns out that maybe it was the wrong thing." -MLS ” - claudia-arrighi
 
21.
Grand Hotel (1932)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  
A group of very different individuals staying at a luxurious hotel in Berlin deal with each of their respective dramas. (112 mins.)
Director: Edmund Goulding
“ "A mix of hope and disaster, the spectacle of life condensed into one setting." -MLS ” - claudia-arrighi
 
22.
The Heartbreak Kid (1972)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  
Three days into his Miami honeymoon, New York Jewish Lenny meets tall, blonde Kelly. This confirms him... (106 mins.)
Director: Elaine May
“ "He gets what he wants . . . then wonders . . ." -MLS ” - claudia-arrighi
 
23.
Into the Wild (2007)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  
After graduating from Emory University, top student and athlete Christopher McCandless abandons his possessions, gives his entire $24,000 savings account to charity and hitchhikes to Alaska to live in the wilderness. Along the way, Christopher encounters a series of characters that shape his life. (148 mins.)
Director: Sean Penn
“ "We are left to ponder for ourselves the meaning of this life." -MLS ” - claudia-arrighi
 
24.
Anatomy of a Murder (1959)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  
In a murder trial, the defendant says he suffered temporary insanity after the victim raped his wife. What is the truth, and will he win his case? (160 mins.)
Director: Otto Preminger
“ "The defense lawyer mounts a magnificent case -- and probably gets a guilty person off." -MLS ” - claudia-arrighi
 
25.
Like Crazy (2011)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  
A British college student falls for an American student, only to be separated from him when she's banned from the U.S. after overstaying her visa. (86 mins.)
Director: Drake Doremus
“ "A great ending, with the couple making important, silent realizations." -MLS ” - claudia-arrighi
 
26.
Little Caesar (1931)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  
A small-time criminal moves to a big city to seek bigger fortune. (79 mins.)
Director: Mervyn LeRoy
“ "The bad guy is defeated -- but he wasn't all that bad -- and the reason he's defeated is because he did something good for once." -MLS ” - claudia-arrighi
 
27.
Waitress (2007)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.0/10 X  
Jenna is a pregnant, unhappily married waitress in the deep south. She meets a newcomer to her town and falls into an unlikely relationship as a last attempt at happiness. (108 mins.)
Director: Adrienne Shelly
“ "An ending that matches the movie's arresting mix of farce and drama." -MLS ” - claudia-arrighi
 
28.
Million Dollar Baby (2004)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  
A determined woman works with a hardened boxing trainer to become a professional. (132 mins.)
Director: Clint Eastwood
“ "Sad, but exalted, and not sure what was right." -MLS ” - claudia-arrighi
 
29.
Much Ado About Nothing (1993)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  
Young lovers Hero and Claudio, soon to wed, conspire to get verbal sparring partners and confirmed singles Benedick and Beatrice to wed as well. (111 mins.)
Director: Kenneth Branagh
“ "Everything's great, but when the party's over, there's another war to contend with." -MLS ” - claudia-arrighi
 
30.
Gloomy Sunday (1999)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  
Follows three men who are in love with a most beautiful waitress: An intellectual restaurant owner, a mysterious musician and an erratic businessman; taking place during the WWII. (112 mins.)
Director: Rolf Schübel
“ "German masterpiece ends on a happy note, but very mixed with sadness and tragedy." -MLS ” - claudia-arrighi
 
31.
Le petit lieutenant (2005)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.0/10 X  
A rookie policeman from provincial Le Havre volunteers for the high pressure Parisian homicide bureau and is assigned to a middle-aged woman detective. (110 mins.)
Director: Xavier Beauvois
“ "A police captain wins her case but loses everything. What does she go from here?" -MLS ” - claudia-arrighi
 
32.
Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  
A naive man is appointed to fill a vacancy in the United States Senate. His plans promptly collide with political corruption, but he doesn't back down. (129 mins.)
Director: Frank Capra
“ "This is what Capra does. He makes you suffer, then gives you the ending you want, but makes you realize that the happy ending is the unlikely ending, practically a miracle, so that a complicated feeling lingers beneath." -MLS ” - claudia-arrighi
 
33.
After Sex (1997)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.0/10 X  
The end of an affair from the woman's point of view. (97 mins.)
Director: Brigitte Roüan
“ "Amazing film, written by, directed by and starring Brigitte Rouan -- starts off as a sex farce, about a fiftyish married woman who has a fling with a young man. But it becomes a rumination on the differences between male and female emotional nature. A remarkable film." -MLS ” - claudia-arrighi
 
34.
War and Peace (1966)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  
A Russian Prince experiences battle against Napoleon and a troubled relationship with his father and wife... (427 mins.)
“ "Life doesn't turn out the way anyone plans it, but the survivors are reasonably happy." -MLS ” - claudia-arrighi
 
35.
Dog Day Afternoon (1975)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.0/10 X  
A man robs a bank to pay for his lover's operation; it turns into a hostage situation and a media circus. (125 mins.)
Director: Sidney Lumet
“ "Lots of ideas, all relating to NY in the seventies, and lots of mixed feelings." ” - claudia-arrighi
 
36.
The Graduate (1967)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.0/10 X  
A disillusioned college graduate finds himself torn between his older lover and her daughter. (106 mins.)
Director: Mike Nichols
“ "Not a happy ending, not a sad ending, but the right ending -- and the right feeling." -MLS ” - claudia-arrighi
 
37.
Three Comrades (1938)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  
A love story centered around the lives of three young German soldiers in the years following World War I... (98 mins.)
Director: Frank Borzage
“ "Like CAMILLE, sad but with an underlying feeling of victory." -MLS ” - claudia-arrighi
 
38.
The Misfits (1961)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  
A divorcee falls for an over-the-hill cowboy who is struggling to maintain his romantically independent lifestyle. (124 mins.)
Director: John Huston
“ "Sad, but happy. Mixed up." -MLS ” - claudia-arrighi
 
39.
Gunga Din (1939)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  
In 19th century India, three British soldiers and a native waterbearer must stop a secret mass revival of the murderous Thuggee cult before it can rampage across the land. (117 mins.)
Director: George Stevens
“ "A comedy with a tragic ending." -MLS ” - claudia-arrighi
 
40.
White Heat (1949)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  
A psychopathic criminal with a mother complex makes a daring break from prison and leads his old gang in a chemical plant payroll heist. Shortly after the plan takes place, events take a crazy turn (114 mins.)
Director: Raoul Walsh
“ "By the end, we actually like the homicidal maniac and dislike the undercover cop who's trying to ruin him." -MLS ” - claudia-arrighi
 
41.
Story of Women (1988)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  
Marie Latour, a woman of limited schooling, raises two children in a ratty flat during World War II in occupied France... (108 mins.)
Director: Claude Chabrol
“ "Fascinating finish. Huppert plays a woman who has little to inspire sympathy -- but by the end you wind up admiring her inability to be anything other than herself." -MLS ” - claudia-arrighi
 
42.
The Apartment (1960)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  
A man tries to rise in his company by letting its executives use his apartment for trysts, but complications and a romance of his own ensue. (125 mins.)
Director: Billy Wilder
“ "Another movie that ends in complicated feelings." -MLS ” - claudia-arrighi
 
43.
Lady of the Night (1925)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.1/10 X  
A world-weary prostitute yearns after respectability and the love of an inventor. (70 mins.)
Director: Monta Bell
“ "With Norma Shearer, playing rich girl Florence and poor girl Molly. The rich girl gets what she wants out of life, and the poor girl has to settle for second best. But the rich girl knows she has missed a big chunk of life's experiences, and the poor girl has the expanded soul." -MLS ” - claudia-arrighi
 
44.
The Last Flight (1931)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  
World War 1 veterans roam Paris drinking and admiring a woman they recently met. (76 mins.)
“ "A movie about WWI fliers. They'll go on and live their lives . . . but will they ever recover from what happened to them?" -MLS ” - claudia-arrighi
 
45.
Home for the Holidays (1995)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  
After losing her job, making out with her soon-to-be former boss and finding out that her daughter plans to spend Thanksgiving with her boyfriend, Claudia Larson faces spending the holiday with her family. (103 mins.)
Director: Jodie Foster
“ "Seemingly a comedy, but also a kind of rumination on the mystery of family." -MLS ” - claudia-arrighi
 
46.
To Be or Not to Be (1942)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  
During the Nazi occupation of Poland, an acting troupe becomes embroiled in a Polish soldier's efforts to track down a German spy. (99 mins.)
Director: Ernst Lubitsch
“ "Funny, but about a serious subject." -MLS ” - claudia-arrighi