Great Films With Great Plot Twists

“Nothing ‘Satisfies’ us more than seeing — a Movie Plot— a story — shifting upside down in a blink of an eye to an unexpected or astonishing event — and that— Wake–up Call” — Agree?

Movies — want to entertain us, but some just plain-right want to mess with our heads. When it’s done right, a surprise twist can make a movie the subject of party conversation for ever more. Just a few notable Movie Directors who traffic exclusively in third-act shockers — Yeah, here’s looking at you— M. Night ShyamalanChristopher Nolan — it’s not a coincidence that some of the movies on this list are also some of the best movies of all time.

(But there’ll always be one of those — “Einsteins” and the “Sherlocks” — insisting they saw it coming a mile away…). 

“Great Films With Great Plot Twists” ~ Courtesy of @asifahsankhanThe Usual Suspects (1995 movie) Or The Prestige (2006 movie) — These two are the winners in this “Plot Twisting” genre…at least to most modern moviegoers…

“Spoiler alert”

A good plot twist can turn a good movie into an excellent one, but an awesome plot twist turns a movie into part of cinema history. This list contains some of the greatest plot twists ever created for a film, while others are just awesome and audiences can’t avoid loving them.

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Witness For The Prosecution (1957 movie)

Unmatched …in a half century of motion picture suspense!” —I’m starting off with this one because it always goes out unnoticed, it’s an old classic!

Witness For The Prosecution (1957 movie) is a Billy Wilder movie that often gets overlooked when looking back over his body of work. Overshadowed by the likes of Sunset Boulevard, Some Like it Hot, The Apartment etc., it rarely receives the praise it is due, which is, perhaps, a testament to the quality of Wilder’s work in general. Having said that, Witness For The Prosecution does contain weaknesses that perhaps prevent it from being a bona fide classic, and it possesses a staginess that belies its source material and has resulted in it dating far less well than much of Wilder’s other work. When they say movies aren’t made like this anymore, this is what they mean — it’s a slower pace than much of Hollywood’s output today, has an overweight, ageing hero and a slightly pathetic leading man. Filmed today, it would be completely different. But in mid-50s stark black and white, it’s compelling, astonishing and vital. Wilder keeps the plot twisting, the humour on, and the cinematography artful.

  • Director: Billy Wilder.

  • Cast: Tyrone Power, Marlene Dietrich, Charles Laughton.

Synopsis: Leonard Vole is arrested on suspicion of murdering an elderly acquaintance. He employs an experienced but aging barrister as his defense attorney. Despite ill-health, top barrister Sir Wilfrid Robarts takes on the case of Leonard Vole, accused of killing a rich older widow who made him the main beneficiary of her will. Evidence points to his guilt, but Sir Wilfrid believes he’s innocent. Vole’s wife Christine — played by Dietrich — becomes a witness for the prosecution instead of trying to save her husband from the noose, confusing Sir Wilfrid.

More info: Witness for the Prosecution (1957) — Here’s the trailer — “Witness for the Prosecution,”

The Plot Twist: As a Surprise —Witness For the Prosecution— Christine Helm/Vole Lied During Her Testimony On the Stand— A Deliberate Ploy to Discredit Herself and to Find Her Guilty Husband Leonard Not-Guilty; Then, She Shockingly Killed Him in the Courtroom When He Actually Admitted His Infidelity and Guilt.

Trivia: The studio’s publicity campaign requested that viewers not reveal the stunning plot twist in this film, although it was one of Agatha Christie’s most famous, well-known short stories/plays (first published as a four-character short story in 1933). A voice-over narrator at the end of the film stated: “The management of this theatre suggests that for the greater entertainment of your friends who have not yet seen the picture, you will not divulge to anyone the secret of the ending of Witness For the Prosecution.”


Sleepaway Camp (1983 movie)

This is a case in which a great plot twist turns an awful movie into one that should be seen just because of the ending. Angela is a shy child sent to a summer camp. After she arrives, a number of sliced and diced bodies start appearing, courtesy of a mysterious killer.

The plot twist: Angela’s name is actually Peter and he/she is the real killer.


Orphan (2009 movie)

In this underrated movie, a young couple (played by Vera Farmiga and Peter Sarsgaard) who recently lost a child adopts a little nine-year-old from Russia named Esther, who reveals a certain inability to fit into her new family.

The plot twist: Esther is a 33-year-old named Leena Klammer with a growth disorder and mental disability who is trying to kill her new family.

The big reveal in Orphan is so crazy that it’s hard to believe it’s real until you see the actual movie. It starts as a “killer kid” movie, with a couple adopting a young girl who wreaks havoc on their lives and starts to rack up a body count. And then they learn the truth: their new child is not a child at all, but a full grown woman with a genetic condition posing as a little girl. Uh, yikes.

At least this twist allows you to not feel too bad when Mom has to take down her adopted daughter in the final scene.


Gone Baby Gone (2007 movie)

“Gone Baby Gone” – Directed by Ben Affleck — stars his brother Casey Affleck.

Patrick Kenzie (Casey Affleck) and Angela Gennaro (Michelle Monaghan) are detectives looking for a missing girl named Amanda. The search leads the pair through a circle of Boston’s drug dealers, including members of the police force. They end up thinking Amanda has fallen off a mountain and died.

The plot twist: Amanda is alive, safe and has been hiding in Captain Jack Doyle’s (Morgan Freeman) house the entire time.


Gone Girl (2014 movie)

The Plot: Based on the best-selling book by Gillian Flynn (whose novel Dark Places had its film debut in october last year), Gone Girl follows the story of Nick Dunne (Ben Affleck), a man whose wife (Rosamund Pike) suddenly goes missing on the day of their fifth year anniversary. Over the course of the film, Nick becomes less and less sympathetic, and suspicions arise that perhaps he may have something to do with Amy’s disappearance after all.

Story and Plot Theme: “Marriage” — “We resent each other, control each other, cause each other pain.” This is the nasty, white-hot core of a toxic relationship. Gone Girl is about many things: revenge, infidelity, the wounds inflicted by bad parenting, the media, an angry wife, her douchebag husband. It is also about a marriage taken to its most terrible extreme.

The Twist: Amy is actually alive, and left Nick of her own accord, having planned to frame him for her murder after years of unhappy marriage. The twist happens early in the film and is followed by a series of events that lead Amy back to her husband, the two of them agreeing to remain together when Amy convinces Nick that he has no way out of their marriage. Despite receiving positive reviews, the film earned an Academy Award nomination for Pike but not for director David Fincher or for Flynn, who wrote the screenplay.


The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962)

The Plot: In this classic Western film, Senator Ransom “Ranse” Stoddard (James Stewart) attends the funeral of a man named Tom Doniphon (John Wayne). A reporter (Joseph Hoover) ask Stoddard why he would want to pay respects to a man like Doniphon, and Stoddard tells the story of how they met. When Stoddard was only a young lawyer and new to the town, an outlaw named Liberty Valance (Lee Marvin) controlled the people through violence and fear, with Doniphon being one of the only men who would stand up to him. While Stoddard attempted to do so with lawful actions, a series of events led to Valance challenging Stoddard to a gunfight. Despite being a terrible shot, Stoddard shot and killed Valance, becoming a hero to the town.

The Twist: As Stoddard believed that he did indeed kill Valance, he struggled with feelings of guilt until Doniphon revealed that he actually shot Valance from an alleyway, firing at the exact moment when Stoddard fired. The reporter in present time decides not to reveal these facts and tells Stoddard, “When the legend becomes fact, print the legend.” The film did well commercially and is still considered to be one of director John Ford’s best Westerns.


Friday the 13th (1980 movie)

This film features one of the most unforgettable endings in a horror movie. “Friday the 13th” and the story behind Jason Voorhees is a true classic of the genre and a franchise-starter.

Camp Crystal Lake closed 22 years ago when a young boy (Jason Voorhees) drowned thanks to careless counselors (two of whom were murdered). Now a group of counselors reopened the camp and they’re being murdered one by one. Given the fact that Jason’s body was never found, they start to suspect he came to take his revenge.

The plot twist: Mrs. Voorhees (Betsy Palmer), Jason’s mom, is responsible for all of the deaths.


Soylent Green

This 70’s sci-fi classic has one of the most iconic twists in cinema history.

Soylent Green is a processed food ration used to feed an overpopulated and polluted world in 2022. Detective Tom (Charles Heston) from the NYPD leads the investigation of the CEO of world main food supplier Soylent Green, but in his search he ends up discovering a much more disturbing result.

The plot twist:Soylent Green is made out of people” is the iconic line from Charles Heston that reveals this shocking ending.

But the moment is actually more powerful and shocking in context. After all, Heston’s near-future detective has spent the entire movie trying to uncover the conspiracy behind the supplier of food for the masses. When he finds out what everyone is really eating (people!), it’s about as shocking as plot twists get. It’s the only answer that makes sense, but it’s too horrible to even comprehend!


Frailty (2001 movie)

The Plot: Frailty, directed by and starring Bill Paxton, is a psychological thriller about a man (Paxton) living with his two sons, Fenton and Adam, who claims that he has been summoned by God to kill people who are actually demons. The story is told mostly through flashbacks when, years later, an adult Fenton (Matthew McConaughey) relates it to an FBI agent (Powers Boothe). Fenton says his brother carried on this series of murders before committing suicide and that he will show Agent Doyle where the bodies are buried in a rose garden of his hometown.

The Twist: Once they reach the rose garden, Fenton confesses to actually being Adam. He tells Doyle that he lured him there because his name was last on the list. But then, in a double-twist, it is revealed that Adam truly does have the power to see into a person’s soul and that Agent Doyle actually murdered his mother and must be killed. Afterwards no one remembers seeing Adam in the FBI office, as his actions truly were the result of some divine intervention. 
Though Frailty was a relatively small film, it received considerable critical acclaim, especially for Paxton’s dual work as actor/director.


The Mist (2007 movie)

The Plot: After a violent storm rocks a small suburban community, an eerie mist begins to roll in. David (Thomas Jane) takes his young son Billy (Nathan Gamble) to a store to get supplies, causing them to become trapped in the store with a group of other people. Over time, the characters realize there are creatures in the mist, waiting to kill and devour all of them, but things inside the store become even more frightening as the creatures break in and the survivors turn on each other. David, his son, and several other survivors escape and drive away, armed only with a gun as the monsters in the mist continue to attack their vehicle.

The Twist: When the car finally runs out of gas, they agree to a suicide pact. Because there are four bullets and five people, David kills everyone else, including his son, and steps out of the car to meet his fate. In one of the grimmest twists in movie history, the mist then dissipates and David is rescued by the army, whose tanks roll right past him. Once he realizes what he has done, David screams. The film is based on a Stephen King short story, the ending of which King fully supports and feels that “anybody who reveals the last five minutes… should be hung from their neck until dead.” Oops. Sorry, Mr. King.


The Others (2001 movie)

This is a stylish horror movie. Grace (Nicole Kidman) lives in a lonely house in Jersey with her two photosensitive children, as they wait for her husband to return from World War I. Grace is extremely religious and protective of her children. When a group of servants arrives, the family starts to hear voices and are tormented by unseen beings.

The plot twist: Grace and her children were dead the entire time and were the real ghosts.


Primal Fear (1996 movie)

Edward Norton (actor) was introduced to film audiences with his strong Oscar-nominated performance for Best Supporting Actor in his debut picture.

This movie, based on William Diehl’s novel, is not a conventional courtroom thriller. Martin Vail (Richard Gere) is a defense attorney who takes the case of Aaron Stampler (Edward), an altar boy who is found covered in the blood of a Chicago archbishop.

Martin takes the case as a way of getting publicity, but during his jail visits with Aaron he starts to believe the young man might be really innocent, as he discovers Aaron suffers from multiple personality disorder and it was his alter ego who killed the archbishop.

The plot twist: Aaron doesn’t have multiple personalities. The entire time he was pretending to have the disorder.


Oldboy (2003 movie)

After being imprisoned 15 years for unknown reasons, Oh Dae Su (Min-sik Choi) goes on a rampage trying to find who set him up so he can get revenge. Along his search he ends up sleeping with a cute and young chef named Mi-do (Kang Hye-jeong).

The plot twist: Mi-do is Oh Dae Su’s daughter, and Oh Dae Su’s kidnapper engineered the meeting as part of his revenge plan.


Angel Heart (1987 movie)

One of Robert De Niro’s best performances comes from this beautifully acted and scary movie. Louis Cyphre (Robert De Niro) hires a private investigator named Harry Angel (Mickey Rourke) to find a singer called Johnny Favourite. Quite simple, right?

The plot twist: Say “Louis Cyphre” slowly. It sounded like Lucifer? You’re right. Louis Cyphre is no other than Lucifer, Mr. Devil himself. Johnny Favourite? Johnny is Harry Angel.


Chinatown (1974 movie)

This Polanski classic noir film, awarded with an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay and other 10 nominations by the Academy, is required on this list.

JJ Gittes (Jack Nicholson) is a private investigator hired by Evelyn Mulwray (Faye Dunaway) to follow her husband whom she suspects is having an affair, but JJ stumbles onto much more: corruption, a murder and… a plot twist.

The plot twist:She’s my sister and my daughter!” Evelyn was in an incestuous relationship with her father.


Secret Window (2004 movie)

Based on a Stephen King novel, this film concerns a depressed writer, Mort Rainey (Johnny Depp), who has isolated himself for six months after he caught his wife cheating on him.

Now in the process of a divorce and struggling to come up with an idea for a new book, he is surprised by the sudden appearance of a stranger from Mississippi named John Shooter (John Turturro). The man claims that one of Rainey’s most successful novels (“Secret Window”) is in fact a plagiarism of something Shooter wrote several years ago.

As Mort digs around searching for proof that he wrote his story before John Shooter wrote his version, this mysterious man becomes more threatening and aggressive. First he kills Mort’s dog, a couple of people die, and Mort’s old house where his soon-to-be-ex-wife lives is burned down.

Along the way it is also revealed that Rainey is not only an insomniac but also suffers from schizophrenia as he talks several times with voices in his head.

The plot twist: John Shooter is actually a hallucination of Rainey’s psychosis, and the things John Shooter did were actually Mort Rainey’s actions. Also, “Shooter” actually means “shoot her” as an expression of Mort’s inner desire to kill his wife.


The Game (1997 movie)

Nicholas Van Orton (Michael Douglas) is a wealthy banker and a workaholic alienated from everyone, including his wife and brother. Suddenly, his brother Conrad (Sean Penn) appears offering him a present for his 48th birthday, which was their father’s age when he committed suicide.

The present is a ticket to a game, which Conrad promises will change Nicholas’s life. Due to a series of scary events during the course of this game, Nicholas starts to fear for his life and ends up cornered on a roof where he kills his brother.

The plot twist: The game itself is really just a game and nobody really died. It was all a big prank orchestrated by Conrad and a company named CRS to prevent Nicholas from repeating his father’s fate.


The Machinist (2004 movie)

This bleak thriller showcases Christian Bale in one of his best performances. Trevor Reznik (Christian Bale) is a factory worker who has not been sleeping for more than a year. Now, his body and mind suffer the consequences of his lack of rest (Bale lost more than 60 pounds for this role).

Trevor finds himself stalked by a guy named Ivan who sends several malicious messages to his apartment. Reznik starts to believe Ivan wants to kill him.

The plot twist: Ivan is a product of Trevor’s troubled mind and represents a feeling of guilt from a previous episode in Trevor’s life (a hit and run involving a small boy).


Donnie Darko (2001 movie)

After an airplane crashes into the bedroom of a schizophrenic high school student named Donnie Darko (Jake Gyllenhaal), a messenger of the apocalypse visits him, a life-sized rabbit named Frank who has some bad ideas.

The plot twist: The entire movie is left open to the viewer, and what’s fascinating in “Donnie Darko” is that it’s all revealed that what is experienced by the main character throughout the movie was an hallucination he had right before the airplane’s jet engine crashed into his bedroom.


The Village (2004 movie)

A community situated near Pennsylvania in the 19th century is surrounded by a forest with red-hooded monsters who prevent people from leaving the village.

The plot twist: The village exists in modern times and not the 19th century. Along the way it is also discovered that the people of the community created the monsters in order to discourage anyone from leaving the village.


Se7en (1995 movie)

Released the same year as “The Usual Suspects”, in “Se7en” we follow an investigation by two detectives, the almost reformed William Somerset (Morgan Freeman) and the young and recently transferred David Mills (Brad Pitt). They investigate a series of crimes representing the seven deadly sins. The investigation leads them to John Doe who ends up surrendering and claiming his guilt.

The plot twist: John Doe leads the detectives into the middle of the desert where – he says – there’ll be the final two bodies representing the missing sins. When they arrive Somerset receives a box from a deliveryman.

Like in “The Usual Suspects”, this is another breathtaking twist brought by Mr. Kevin Spacey.

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 What’s In The F%cking Box” — Inside the box is Mills’ wife’s head. Doe murdered Tracy (Gwyneth Paltrow) because he was jealous of Mills’ life, making him Envy as Doe admits he murdered her for envy (the sixth sin). He asks if Mills will become his final victim, Wrath, by killing him and spending life in prison. When he reveals that Tracy was pregnant, Mills complies and, out of wrath (the seventh sin), murders John Doe. The film was a commercial success, partially because of the shocking twist that had everyone talking.

The Crying Game

This psychological thriller directed by Neil Jordan won an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay and five other Oscar nominations, thanks to an excellent plot and fantastic performances by Stephen Rea (Fergus), Jaye Davidson (Dil) and Forest Whitaker (Jody), among others.

Fergus, an IRA member, goes to London seeking out the lover of Jody, a British soldier who became friend of Fergus, but he ends up falling in love with her and they started seeing each other.

The plot twist: As the attraction between Dil and Fergus rises, Dil reveals to him that she is really still a “he”… with a masculine sexual member.


Shutter Island (2010 movie)

Teddy Daniels (Leonardo DiCaprio) is a US Marshall trying to track down a criminally insane patient named Rachel Solando (who murdered her three children) after she escaped from Ashecliffe Hospital.

The plot twist: Daniels is Andrew Laeddis, a patient at this mental hospital, and the search for Rachel (his dead wife who he had murdered) was just an elaborate “game” to shake Laeddis from his insanity.

Clip Courtesy Fandango.com


Memento (2000 movie)

Leonard Shelby (Guy Pearce) is a man medically incapable of creating new memories, and is also the hunter of his wife’s killers. His amnesiac state makes this task more difficult each time as he loses his memory continuously. His “partner in crime” is a shady cop named Teddy (Joe Pantoliano).

The plot twist: His wife survived the attack. It was Shelby who killed his diabetic partner after she manipulated him in order to know if he was lying about his mental disability. Teddy knew the truth about this case all along, and still helped Leonard as a way of exploiting his condition, and also as a method of restoring some meaning to his life rather than facing his guilt. Confused? Try seeing it in backwards.


Saw (2004 movie)

Two random guys are kidnapped and locked in a dirty room by a guy named “Jigsaw”, who leaves them cryptic messages in order to play with the characters’ despair as he challenges them to complete a task or die.

The plot twist: Jigsaw was the “lifeless” corpse lying in the middle of the room between the two guys from the beginning.


This one is — “Debatable”


Scream (1996 movie)

Many slasher movies keep the identity of their killer secret until a grand climactic reveal and Scream seemingly plays by very familiar rules. But just when you think the movie is going to zig, it decides to zag. The one killer you were looking for turns out to be two killers, working in tandem. And one of those killers is a guy who faked his death earlier, seemingly ruling him out as a suspect. This is the kind of horror movie that knows you’ve seen a lot of horror movies and it acts accordingly!

Clip Courtesy Fandango.com


***The Big One***


The Prestige (2006 movie)

The Prestige (2006) | Image courtesy @asifahsankhan

The Plot: In this Christopher Nolan film, rival magicians Angier (Hugh Jackman) and Borden (Christian Bale) have a long history of bad blood, beginning when Angier blamed Borden for the accidental death of his wife during a show. They part ways and Borden, with his illusion designer Fallon, creates a magic trick called “The Transported Man,” in which he enters one cabinet and exits another immediately after. With the help of Nikola Tesla (David Bowie), Angier creates his own version of the trick with a mysterious machine.

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“Are you watching closely?” — You must watch this film — Closely!
 The story culminates with Borden finding a tank where Angier is drowning and being accused of Angier’s murder.
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“Secrets are my life” — and you’ll know exactly why — if you watch this movie!

The Secret: Borden was a twin, which is how he pulled off the majority of his tricks, while Angier cloned himself and killed every one of his clones after each trick.

The Twist: The story actually has two twists, one mundane and one extraordinary, both based on the reveal of how the two men performed their separate tricks.

  • On stage left, you have Christian Bale’s ambitious magician, who reveals that he has pulled off all of his tricks over the years by actually being a pair of twins who have spent their lives acting as a single person.
  • On stage right you have Hugh Jackman’s self-destructive showman, who actually helps create a science fiction cloning device that allows him to pull off his illusions.

It’s two insane plot twists for the price of one, and you didn’t see either coming.

Angier’s machine was actually a cloning device, and his clones were killed after each performance, drowned in a water tank. Borden’s twist is simpler but more surprising: Like — he was actually identical twins, the two men each living half as Borden and half as the mysterious Fallon.

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Abracadabra!!

Though it isn’t Nolan’s best known film, The Prestige did well at the box office and received critical acclaim.


Here’s a thing you should know:

Image: Hugh Jackman (left) and Edward Norton (right) — Screenshots taken from The Prestige (2006 movie) and The Illusionist (2006 movie) — respectively.

It’s unfortunate that these movies were released around the same time, because The Illusionist (a good movie in its own right) often gets overshadowed by The Prestige(Christopher Nolan’s best movie not called Memento).

The Prestige (2006 movie) (which starred Christian Bale, Hugh Jackman, and Scarlett Johannson) and The Illusionist (2006 movie) (which starred Edward Norton and Paul Giamatti) were actually just two of the three movies released in 2006 about magicians. The third movie, Scoop (2006 movie), also starred Jackman and Johannson because apparently those two just love the shit out of magic.


Fight Club (1999 movie)

The overused trick of split personality (spoiler alert) has resulted in some great twists throughout cinema history. This David Fincher masterpiece is one of those cases, and among the most recognized.

The plot twist: Brad Pitt and Edward Norton are two sides of the same character. Pitt plays the cool and manly side of the narrator’s (Edward Norton) personality. Woah!

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That’s why — even the second rule sounds the same— “You Do Not Talk About Fight Club!” 

The narrator finally discovers that he is Tyler Durden and has – you guessed it – dissociative identity disorder. Evidently, there’s a lot of that going around. In a final struggle where Tyler is holding a gun to the narrator, the narrator realizes that he in fact is holding the gun and shoots himself through the cheek, destroying Tyler. Insane?

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This conversation is —Over!

Jacob’s Ladder (1990 movie)

This dark and disturbing Adrian Lyne psychological horror movie features Tim Robbins in the leading role as a Vietnam vet haunted by terrible flashbacks of his first marriage and his son, who recently died in an accident for which Jacob feels responsible.

What’s real and what are hallucinations created by Jacob’s mind? That’s the main question for Tim Robbin’s paranoid character in this nightmarish horror movie.

The plot twist: Jacob was dying the entire time and he was on his deathbed. The flashbacks had him recalling key moments of his life in a dying hallucination.


Citizen Kane (1941 movie)

This film doesn’t quite have an “awesome plot twist”, but is still one of the most unexpected twists in cinema history. The story of newspaper magnate Charles Foster Kane starts with him lying on his deathbed where his last word is “Rosebud”.

The Plot: Orson Welles directed, co-wrote, and starred in this film about a newspaper tycoon Charles Foster Kane, whose last word (“Rosebud!”) confuses and interests others immensely upon his death. A reporter named Jerry Thompson (William Alland) is given the job of discovering the meaning of the word, and he interviews Kane’s estranged friends, ex-wife, and others to attempt to get to the bottom of the tale. Over the course of the story, the audience learns that Kane, once part of a poor family, was taken from his home to receive a proper education at the hands of a wealthy man, before eventually rising to power.

Charlie Kane’s last moments of childhood innocence and happiness. Photograph: Collection/REX Shutterstock. Citizen Kane and the meaning of RosebudThe Guardian (newspaper)

The Twist: “Rosebud”— is the name of Kane’s childhood sled, a symbol from his lost youth when he was truly happy.

Watch: Citizen Kane “RoseBud” Scene

Thompson is unable to find out the meaning of Rosebud. In the recesses of Kane’s large home, it is revealed that Kane’s childhood sled, from a time in which he was truly happy, had “Rosebud” written across it. When discovered by Kane’s former staff, it is confused for junk and burned along with many of his other possessions. Citizen Kane is still considered one of the greatest movies of all time.


Psycho (1960 movie)

This famous film tells the story of Marion Crane’s murder and became part of cinema history, as well as the most recognized Hitchcockian masterpiece.

The plot twist: It’s the mother of all plot twists, a scene so famous that everyone knows about it (even if they haven’t seen the movie). Halfway through Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho, the main character is murdered in the shower. And then things get weird. The infamous shower scene is rightfully regarded as one of the most shocking scenes ever shot and it does what any great plot twist does: it pulls the rug out from underneath us, forcing us to find balance as the movie enters its freaky back half.

The 2nd Twist: It was not Norman Bates’ mother who killed Marion Crane. In fact, it was Bates disguised as his mother, who he killed years ago, causing him to develop a split personality thinking he’s his mother.


The Visit (2015 movie)

In ‘The Visit’ grandma and grandpa seem like the nicest people, at first…

M. Night Shyamalan’s 2015 thriller was generally regarded as a return to form for Shyamalan, who followed up his ‘who is really dead and who isn’t’ twist in “The Sixth Sense” (1999) with several movies that received tepid reviews (and arguably more obvious twists).

“Goodnight Mommy,” a creepy Austrian movie that was also released in the U.S. around that time, has an enormous twist in its final moments. The movie is about twin boys who don’t believe their bandaged mother is who she says she is.

The Visit (2015 movie) is a modern day riff on Hansel and Gretel (with a twist, of course). The following paragraph is from Village Voice — Read the full article here: The Twist? ‘The Visit’ Is the Third First-Rate M. Night Shyamalan Film

Who saw this coming? Shyamalan’s witty, crowd-jolting spook-house of an eleventh feature, is its writer-director’s best movie since the tail-end of the last Clinton era. And it’s the best studio horror flick in recent years, combining the but-what’s-in-those-shadows? immersion of The Conjuring, James Wan’s basement-wandering simulator, with the crack scripting and meta-cinematic surprises of Shyamalan’s best early films. Plus jokes, a rapping white pre-teen boy, and a gross-out gag so potent that the crowd I saw this with straight-up screamed. One woman yelled that just watching it, she needed to wash her face.


Vertigo (1958 movie)

Alfred Hitchcock’s 1958 classic has got so many twists and turns it will make you dizzy. But the most mind-bending of all is the discovery that Judy (Kim Novak) was actually the ‘Madeleine’ (also Kim Novak) that Jimmy Stewart was forcing her to imitate. — A suicidal and depressed woman who runs up a bell tower of a church and appears to throw herself off the top. Scottie doesn’t reach the top because he suffers from acrophobia and vertigo. He later meets a woman, Judy, who looks like Madeline and asks her to impersonate her. Scottie suspects his Madeline and Judy are the same woman. He takes her back to the bell tower. The twist: Judy was paid by Madeline’s husband, who threw his wife (who is never seen onscreen) off the bell tower. Moments after Judy confesses that she was unwittingly roped into the crime at the top of the bell tower, she loses her footing and also falls to her death.


‘Honorary Mentions’


Malice (1993)

Nicole Kidman‘s con artist *almost* pulls off a spectacular scheme, but underestimates her husband (Bill Pullman), who grows a pair at the just the right time and pulls the rug out from underneath her with the help of a blind neighbor.


Another Earth (2011 movie)

Brit Marling is trying to adjust to post-prison life after a drunken mistake took multiple lives and changed hers forever; but remains fixated on the mirror planet hanging in the sky. When she’s given the opportunity of a lifetime, she is faced with a difficult choice that reveals a breathtaking surprise we should have seen coming, but didn’t.


“Exception”

This following one does not have that—plot twist— but it’s got a twisted plot— because the viewer already knows what’s going on, so the twist doesn’t come then in that same usual way, plus it’s a Martin Scorsese (director) film — so you’d have to expect something beyond ordinary! And yes, there’s a shocking twist at the end!


The Departed (2006 movie)

Jack Nicholson, left, and Matt Damon in “The Departed,” directed by Martin Scorsese. Credit Andrew Cooper/Warner Brothers Pictures | The Departed – Movies.

Rats!” — Rats are everywhere, especially in mob-run cities, but we didn’t see Matt Damon’s payback coming any more than he did.

But the biggest twist was this: I’d made this gif regarding the line, “When you’re facing a loaded gun, what’s the difference?”

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That’s the difference!

American Psycho (2000 movie)

American Psycho, a 2000 American-Canadian psychological thriller black comedy film, received positive reviews in crucial publications which includes The New York Times —that went on to say “mean and lean horror comedy classic“.

Plot – The movie revolves around Patrick Bateman—the worst “Scumbag” of the worst kind— who is also a very wealthy and entitled businessman in the 1980s in New York City. But — That’s not all there is to Patrick Bateman, he also leads a double life as a serial killer.

Clearly, he’s got these weird Signs of a Sex Addict but — He’s definitely not a Sex Addict!

Twist – During the final scenes of the movies, Bateman learns that many of his victims who are supposed to be dead, are still very much alive. How? He may have imagined the entire scenario.

Watch this:

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Who’s the guy Bale’s bashing out with that axe? Why that’s Jared Leto! Courtesy of @asifahsankhan

The Sixth Sense (1999 movie)

M. Night Shyamalan (director) — is one of the big names in the world of cinematic twist endings. Cole Sear (Haley Joel Osment) goes to a friendly psychologist named Malcolm Crowe (Bruce Willis), telling him that he can see “dead people” so the doctor can help him.

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The plot twist: Very simple — Malcolm Crowe (Bruce Willis) is actually dead, and that’s why Cole can see him.


Les Diaboliques (Henri-George Clouzot, 1955)

This French classic from director Henri-George Clouzot holds one of the most surprising plot twists in film history. Christina Delassalle (Véra Clouzot) teams up with her husband’s mistress, Nicole Horner (Simone Signoret), in order to kill him, but things don’t go as planned as Michel’s missing body reappears in the family bathtub causing Christine to have a heart attack.

The plot twist: Michel isn’t dead. He and his mistress planned all of this!


Planet of the Apes (1968 movie)

Image Credit: 20th Century FoxPlanet of the Apes.

It can be said that this science fiction masterpiece is a case of an ending becoming bigger than the movie itself.

This is a story about three astronauts who, after traveling to a distant future, crash onto an unknown planet. In this land, homo sapiens are considered second-class citizens while apes rule the world.

The plot twist: The planet was actually Earth whole the time. The final shot is of the Statue of Liberty half-sunken on the shore in the film’s final scene. This is one of the biggest twist endings ever made.

Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back (1980 movie)

The film contains one of the greatest plot twists of all time. How many viewers already knew the twist before they got to see the movie? The often-misquoted “No. I’m your father” is possibly the most iconic line in cinema history.

The plot twist: Luke Skywalker’s mortal enemy, Darth Vader, is actually his father who he never knew.


The “Biggest” One


The Usual Suspects (1995 movie)

This is one of the most original cinematic stories ever told. “The Usual Suspects” won two Academy Awards, for Best Original Screenplay and Best Supporting Actor, due to a fantastic cast and an awesome story with an even bigger plot twist.

The Plot: Dave Kujan (Chazz Palminteri), a Customs agent, brings Verbal Kint (Kevin Spacey), a small-time con artist with a limp, into a local Californian police station for questioning in hopes of discovering the identity of the mysterious criminal Kaiser Söze. Kint tells the story of how he, three other criminals, and formerly corrupt police officer Dean Keaton (Gabriel Byrne) agreed to do a job for Söze who had vendettas against all of them. Kint explains that the job went wrong, and a man killed the others, including Keaton, before setting the ship they were all on board aflame. Kujan doesn’t believe his story and instead forces him to admit that Keaton was really Kaiser Söze.

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The Twist:
Who is Keyser Soze?” This is what everybody wants to know, as the viewer sees a crippled man named “Verbal” Kint (who was part of a major crime alongside his partners) to the detectives assigned to the case.

Crime lord Keyzer Soze is “Verbal” Kint, who has just told detective Kujan (Chazz Palminteri) a pack of lies he’s made up. As he’s being released from custody, he steps out to the street and reveals himself as non-crippled. One of the greatest cinematic stories ever told and the greatest ending twist in film history. In what is arguably the greatest cinematic twist of all time, Kujan realizes that everything Verbal told him during the interview can be found in pictures, clippings, and items around the office, revealing that Kint lied about everything. As Kint walks to his car, long gone from the police station, he drops his limp.

The film ends with Kint reciting a quote by French poet Baudelaire: “The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist.” —Before the screen goes black, he adds, “And like that… he’s gone.

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This is the kind of twist that makes repeat viewings so rewarding. Once you know what’s up, you can start to differentiate between the lies and the truths.

Admit it: You never saw that coming!!


Thank you,

Asif Ahsan Khan


I originally wrote most of this article back in late 2014 for a project and for another site — but updated a little before posting here. (Posted on Quora as well)

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© 2014 – 2017 Asif Ahsan Khan. ® All Rights Reserved.

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One thought on “Great Films With Great Plot Twists

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