In psychology, there’s something called the serial position effect. It means people tend to remember what comes first and last, not what occurs in the middle. Filmmakers know this phenomenon all too well. Combine that with today’s stream-ability and countless options… and the opening to a film is as important as ever. Today, we study the best opening scenes in movies to see how the best in the business grab the audience and never let go.  

Art of the Opening Scene — 6 Ways to Begin a Movie

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Best Opening Scenes in Movies

Note on criteria

Before we begin, let's lay out some ground rules. 

I’m judging films based on opening scenes or sequences. It has to be the first scene of the movie. If the movie opens with titles, it’s the first scene after the opening titles.

I’ll use scene and sequence a bit interchangeably, as some of these openings are actually a few scenes compiled together into a heist, meeting, or something of that nature.  

My selected metrics are:

  • Grab Factor: How bad do I wanna keep watching? Did the scene grab my attention? 
  • Memorability: Do I have to remind you of it, for does the scene instantly come to mind when I say the film's title.
  • Sets the Stage: How well does it work for the movie? Is it part of a bigger picture? This is related to “Grab Factor” but by no means the same.  

That’s it. It’s simple. Does your favorite flick have what it takes to make the list? And now, without further ado, the best opening scenes in movies list.

Best Movie Intros of All Time

25. Trainspotting (1996)

Choose Life  •  Famous Opening Scenes

“Who needs reasons when you’ve got heroin?” A simple question, and one I cannot fully relate to, but Trainspotting and specifically the Trainspotting opening helps me try to understand. 

We get an intro to the group of friends, the rough-and-tumble world we’re about to enter, and are injected with a shot of energy much like the heroin that will consume our protagonists for the duration of the film.  

Listening to the “Choose life. Choose a job. Choose a career. Choose a family. Choose a fucking big television,” it’s a clear predecessor to many other anti-corporation, anarchist-type films like Fight Club

85%
grab factor
90%
memorability
90%
sets the stage
87%
OVERALL SCORE
  • Tone Setter
  • Character Intros
  • Quotable
  • No Intimacy
  • Highly Stylized
  • N/A

Best Opening Scenes in Movies

Conclusion

Danny Boyle catapults us into the Edinburgh drug scene effortlessly, perfectly setting up the allure and excitement our protagonist will try to escape from. 

Opening Movie Sequence

24. Steve Jobs (2015)

Steve Jobs  •  Best Movie Beginnings

The clip above gives you the first 3 minutes, but this opening scene is a 35-minute build-up to the launch of The Macintosh. It’s breakneck, non-relenting, and before you know it, you’re one-third through the movie. 

Opening scenes can be long, but this one is forever. It’s the longest scene on this list and it’s one only a writer like Aaron Sorkin could pull off. Director Danny Boyle opens the list with two straight! 

85%
grab factor
70%
memorability
90%
sets the stage
87%
OVERALL SCORE
  • Juggling Variables
  • Ping Pong Dialogue
  • Build-up
  • Lower Profile
  • No Shock/Awe
  • N/A

Top Movie Intros

Conclusion

A 30-minute long opening scene. Wow. You need great acting, writing, and direction to pull that off. Steve Jobs has all three. 

Best Film Openings - Comedy 

23. Office Space (1999)

Office Space  •  Famous Opening Scenes

The glimpse into the traffic-filled commute is the perfect tone-setter for this mundane, relatable office comedy. 

Losing a race to a guy in a walker, feeling self-conscious about your rapping, and having mental breakdowns… we’ve all been there. 

Unless it’s a list about best comedies, the comedy genre tends to get snubbed by lists, awards, really everything. Despite the “comedy” label, I had to get Office Space on the list.  

80%
grab factor
90%
memorability
95%
sets the stage
87%
OVERALL SCORE
  • Relatable
  • Character Intros
  • Extremely Fitting
  • N/A
  • N/A
  • N/A

Opening Scene Examples

Conclusion

Sometimes simple is best. For a movie about the office, it makes sense to spend some time on the commute before that. 

Best Action Movie Title Intro 

22. Lord of War (2005)

Life of a Bullet  •  Cool Movie Intros

Not featured in the video, the true opening of this film is a monologue by Nicholas Cage, standing in a street full of bullets. He tells us “there are over 550 million firearms in worldwide circulation. That’s one firearm for every 12 people on the planet. The only question is, how do we arm the other 11?”

A fine monologue, but what’s more interesting is the opening titles. Lord of War is a film about an arms dealer, opening with the “life of a bullet” ending in an African child's head makes a clear statement. 

More of a montage than a scene, it’s not as gripping and visceral as some of the other items on the list, but it’s as creative as any. The shot from within the barrel of a rifle is awesome. 

80%
grab factor
95%
memorability
95%
sets the stage
87%
OVERALL SCORE
  • Creativity
  • Ending
  • Musical Connection
  • Not a Scene
  • Could’ve Done More
  • N/A

Lord of War - Action Movie Title Sequence

Conclusion

I’m cheating a bit by counting the openings titles. It’s not gripping, it’s not particularly well-acted or directed, it’s just a really good idea for an opening scene.  

Great Movie Intros 

21. The Hurt Locker (2008)

The Hurt Locker  •  Opening Scene

Starting with a bang works, but The Hurt Locker shows the bang doesn’t have to come right away. 

Director Kathryn Bigelow and writer Mark Boal give us 8 minutes of build-up and chit chat before things escalate, and they escalate fast. It’s a perfect representation of this job. Nothing happens for hours, most instances are false alarms, but you slip up once, you cut the wrong wire, and BOOM! 

Everything after this scene is now viewed with a different lens. We understand the stakes, but we also understand the thrill described in the movie's tagline “War is a drug.”

90%
grab factor
90%
memorability
95%
sets the stage
92%
OVERALL SCORE
  • Build-Up
  • Unique Profession
  • Intensity
  • N/A
  • N/A
  • N/A

Best Opening Scenes in Movies

Conclusion

A great intro to the Bigelow-Boal combo, this scene not only represents the intensity of not only The Hurt Locker but also Zero Dark Thirty (2012) and Detroit (2017). These two know how to build tension. 

Best Movie Intros of All Time

20. Drive (2007)

Drive  •  Best Movie Opening Sequences

This 9-minute chase scene (12 if you count credits) is the first of a few heist scenes on the list. It remains exhilarating and gripping every time I watch it. 

I love long openings, but they are dangerous, especially when considering the sparse dialogue of Drive

However, it’s the lack of dialogue that allows the sound design to shine. The rev of the engines, the swirling helicopters, the soundtrack, and score. Drive isn’t a movie for everyone, but you should know after these 12-minutes if it’s the film for you. I hope it is. 

95%
grab factor
90%
memorability
95%
sets the stage
92%
OVERALL SCORE
  • Intensity
  • Creative Escape
  • Sound Design
  • N/A
  • N/A
  • N/A

Best Opening Scenes in Movies

Conclusion

There’s nothing like a heist/getaway to start a movie, and Drive delivers, but we don’t focus on the robbery, we drive.  

Best Movie Openings 

19. The Prestige (2006)

The Prestige  •  Best Movie Introductions

“Are you watching closely?” After this scene, you better be. The opening scene of The Prestige is genius for so many reasons (not just Michael Caine’s voice) and it’s even better after you’ve seen the entire film. 

Nolan perfectly sets the tone for this rivalry-fueled thriller. You learn about magic, but more importantly, you learn about our characters. 

When Christian Bale’s character sees Hugh Jackman drowning, he’s shocked, speechless, it’s clear he didn’t do it… yet he watches him drown. These two men know each other and we want to know why. 

95%
grab factor
90%
memorability
95%
sets the stage
92%
OVERALL SCORE
  • Mystery
  • Sound Design
  • Tone
  • N/A
  • N/A
  • N/A

The Prestige - Movie Opening Scene

Conclusion

One of Nolan’s best movies, if you don’t wanna finish The Prestige after watching this open, I don’t know what to tell you.   

Best Action Movie Title Intro 

18. Mad Max: Fury Road (2010)

Fury Road  •  Best Movie Beginnings

Voice over has proven very popular thus far, appearing in 5 of the first 7 openings on the list. Is the Mad Max: Fury Road opening scene better with or without the voice-over? Hard to say, but this introduction to Max's world looks and sounds amazing. 

The cinematography and production design of Mad Max: Fury Road is truly incredible, and the opening is no exception. The first wide shot from behind, the car rolling into the dust, Tom Hardy scrambling away from a mob of strange, pale assailants. It’s all so strange, so different, and so enticing.

95%
grab factor
90%
memorability
95%
sets the stage
93%
OVERALL SCORE
  • Visuals
  • World Building
  • Chaos
  • Flashbacks
  • Too much VO
  • N/A

Action Movie Title Sequence

Conclusion

The world of fire and blood. This movie is balls-to-the-wall from start to finish. Strap in. 

Best Movie Intros of All Time

17. Narc (2002)

Narc  •  Movie Opening Scene 

Narc is the most unknown movie on the list and has one of the lowest IMDb ratings (7.1). What does that tell you? The opening scene has to be amazing. 

It’s a handheld foot chase through low-income housing. The lighting is subdued and subtle. There is no score, just breathing, footsteps, screaming, and gunshots. 

Narc is a low-budget portrayal of the gritty reality of a narcotics officer. The opening is a flashback (a common opening device) to an event 18 months prior that got our protagonist fired. 

95%
grab factor
90%
memorability
95%
sets the stage
93%
OVERALL SCORE
  • Visceral
  • Authentic
  • Brutal
  • Flashback
  • Unknown Film
  • N/A

Best Movie Openings of All Time

Conclusion

I’m not a fan of opening with flashback, but when you supply this much energy and intensity, you get a pass.  

Vertigo - Famous Openings Scenes 

16. Vertigo (1958)

Vertigo Chase  •  Best Movie Openings 

One of the greatest thrillers of all time starts in a rather straightforward manner, with a rooftop chase. A chase that ends in death, a death that leaves the protagonist with a condition called vertigo and forces him to quit his job.

The opening chase and retired cop may feel cliched, this one particularly springs thoughts of Skyfall and The Other Guys, but remember folks, Vertigo came out in 1958. It’s the oldest film on the list. 

It doesn’t hurt that Vertigo has one of the best scores of all time to fuel this opening scene. Bernard Herrmann's dizzying soundtrack is the perfect complement to the scene's dramatic visuals.

95%
grab factor
90%
memorability
95%
sets the stage
93%
OVERALL SCORE
  • Music
  • Trend Setter
  • Opening Shot
  • A Bit Dated
  • Not Enough Chase
  • N/A

Best Film Openings

Conclusion

Pay homage to the classics. Vertigo paved the way for films in a lot of ways, having a great opening is just one example. 

Best Openings Scenes in Movies

15. Boogie Nights (1997)

Boogie Nights Club  •  Openings Movie Sequence

Paul Thomas Anderson loves a tracking shot, and directors love opening films with a long shot. The opening shot of Boogie Nights hits both those birds with one incredible well-thrown stone. 

In a Scorsese, Goodfellas-like manner, we enter the club with big-shot Jack Horner and his girl Amber. As the shot continues, we’re introduced to Reed, Buck, Rollergirl, and eventually... Dirk. 

But Dirk gets special treatment. He gets slow motion and a close-up. Then a cut back to Jack. The two lock eyes. Stage set. 

Fueled by a great movie soundtrack, we are introduced to the strange world of this film, get a taste of the ensemble cast, and understand Dirk brings something different to the table. 

85%
grab factor
95%
memorability
95%
sets the stage
93%
OVERALL SCORE
  • Music
  • Choreography
  • Wardrobe
  • N/A
  • N/A
  • N/A

Boogie Nights - Best Film Openings

Conclusion

This scene and opening shot is PTA announcing he’s a force to be reckoned with. It pops off the screen. 

Famous Openings Scenes

14. A Clockwork Orange (1971)

The Korova Milkbar

What a tone-setter this one is. Starting with that strange eyelash, the scene continues to get weirder and weirder. From the voice-over, to the sexualized mannequins, to men in matching white outfits drinking milk, you quickly realize this film is gonna be disturbing.  

Thankfully, the Korova Milkbar is not a real place, it was the only set built for the film. Lead actor Malcolm McDowell thought the film was going to be shot as a dark comedy and he feels there is a fair amount of humor in the film. Yet, despite satirical notes, the “ultra-violence” throughout A Clockwork Orange is no joke. It’s American Psycho on steroids. 

95%
grab factor
90%
memorability
95%
sets the stage
93%
OVERALL SCORE
  • Eyebrow
  • Set Design
  • Score
  • N/A
  • N/A
  • N/A

Eerie Openings Scenes

Conclusion

A Clockwork Orange can be a difficult movie to define. Perhaps the simplest way would be to watch this scene, it perfectly established the tone and strangeness of this world. 

Best Intro to a Movie Ever

13. No Country For Old Men (2007)

Coen Brothers’ Best Intro to a Movie Ever

The Coen Brothers love voice-over to start a film. They open Blood Simple, Raising Arizona, The Hudsucker Proxy, The Big Lebowski, and No Country For Old Men with VO, just to name a few. It’s a Coen Brothers trademark

“I don’t wanna push my chips forward, and go out and meet something I don’t understand.” It’s a powerful message, it tells you a lot about where the movie is headed and parallels nicely with this opening scene.

As you walk away from this sequence, what sticks with you is Javier Bardem. His ruthlessness, his pale face, that weird air gun thingy he’s using. Five minutes in and he’s already got two kills.

This certainly is No Country For Old Men

95%
grab factor
90%
memorability
95%
sets the stage
93%
OVERALL SCORE
  • Air Gun
  • Javier Bardem
  • Quiet and Powerful
  • N/A
  • N/A
  • N/A

Best Openings Scenes in Movies

Conclusion

Villains can be the most important part of a movie. There’s no better way to set the stage than by establishing an antagonist

Action Movie Title Sequence

12. Watchmen (2009)

The Comedian Dies  •  Best Movie Openings

Opening with Nixon and talk of the Cold War might be a bit over the top, but what comes after is truly incredible. 

From the moment The Comedian changes the channel, I’m in love with this opening. The contrast of Nat King Cole singing smoothly while doors smash, glass shatters, and bones break is symphonic to watch despite the brutality. 

This fighting is extremely well-choreographed and the bloody smiley-face is the perfect stamp to end the scene. After seeing this, it’s no wonder DC chose Zack Snyder to follow Nolan for Man Of Steel and Batman v Superman

100%
grab factor
95%
memorability
95%
sets the stage
94%
OVERALL SCORE
  • Choreography
  • Dark Visuals
  • Smiley Face
  • TV Exposition
  • N/A
  • N/A

Best Movie Intros of All Time

Conclusion

Could this scene be higher? Absolutely. It shows how grounded and real superhero movies can feel. Boy does that Zach Snyder color palette look good. 

Best Openings Scenes in Movies - Blade Runner 

11. Blade Runner (1982)

Best Movie Intros of All Time  •  The Voight-Kampff Test

To be fair, I’m a sucker for any sort of interview or baseline test, but this scene is awesome. From that strange eye-reading device and breathing monitor to the performances from the interviewer and the interviewee. You can tell something is off the whole scene, and we aren’t quite sure what's happening.

Eerie sounds of machinery and background throbbing build tension without a score. For a movie released in 1982, the look and feel of Blade Runner’s opening scene is astounding. 

Just so I can get two for the price of one, I’ll also link to Blade Runner 2049’s opening, perhaps equally great. 

Blade Runner 2049  •  Opening Movie Sequence

This clip marks the end of a longer, suspenseful sequence. Instead of going out with a quick bang, the fight is rough and destructive. Both are incredible. 

95%
grab factor
95%
memorability
100%
sets the stage
94%
OVERALL SCORE
  • Visuals
  • Uncertainty
  • Sudden Action
  • Gun Effects
  • Which Cut to Watch?
  • N/A

Action Movie Title Sequence

Conclusion

My favorite scene in both Blade Runner’s comes at the beginning. A dystopian sci-fi relies on the opening like few other genres. 

Best Movie Openings of All Time - Skyfall

10. Skyfall (2012)

Skyfall Opening Chase part 1

The Skyfall opening is great, but this serves as a placeholder for all Bond films. It’s truly impressive to stay entertaining and enticing after 24+ sequels, one of the classic bond-isms we’ve come to love is their wild opens, and this one is so long we had to break it into two parts! 

Skyfall Opening Chase part 2

Sam Mendes shows total control over the bond franchise with a rooftop motorcycle chase in Istanbul, part of a pursuit that’s a mixture of foot, car, motorcycle, train, and for a moment, construction digger. 

Perhaps most notable is how this opening scene ends, with Bond shot, plummeting down into a ravine, falling from the sky. 

Bond openings are sometimes all about theatrics, this gives us that, and much more. Is it the best Bond movie

95%
grab factor
95%
memorability
100%
sets the stage
94%
OVERALL SCORE
  • Setting
  • Spectacle
  • Ending
  • Too Much Control Room
  • Helpless Sidekick
  • N/A

Beat Opening Scenes in Movies

Conclusion

Bond films and their opening sequences can lack emotion. Skyfall delivers strong emotional beats from the start without sacrificing any of the action we love. 

MI III - Movie Opening Scene

9. Mission: Impossible III (2006)

Count to 10  •  Mission Impossible III

Action scenes have started to take over the list, but this one is more interrogation than action. It’s a genius way to entice the audience, the opening shot right up on Tom Cruise, handcuffed to a chair. 

The ticking clock works perfectly as the action escalates. Held together by Cruise and Hoffman, you leave this scene fully invested in the Rabbits Foot, and wondering how the hell they ended up in this situation.

It’s hard to imagine anyone watching this scene and not immediately adding Mission: Impossible III to their watchlist. Unfortunately, the film has the lowest IMDb rating of any on the list (6.9). 

100%
grab factor
95%
memorability
95%
sets the stage
94%
OVERALL SCORE
  • Clock
  • Intensity
  • Rabbits Foot
  • Bond’s Little Brother
  • N/A
  • N/A

Best Movie Intros of All Time

Conclusion

This list is about one thing, the opening scene. With JJ Abrams, Tom Cruise, and Philip Seymour Hoffman, it shouldn’t be a surprise this one makes the list. 

Best Opening Scenes in Movies 

8. Children of Men (2006)

Cafe Explosion  •  Long Take

We talked before about long takes, and few movies define long take quite like Children of Men. This opening scene is over 100 seconds long.

In one shot, it tells us:

  • Our lead character is detached and despondent
  • This movie takes place in a dirty and pessimistic future in which the youngest person in the world was 18
  • Things are chaotic, but still held together in some sense

Much like Blade Runner, a great dystopian sci-fi especially benefits from a strong opening, and this one delivers. 

Full disclosure… I might have a special inkling to Children of Men. The main character’s name is Thelonious, but he goes by Theo. Just like me. 

95%
grab factor
95%
memorability
95%
sets the stage
94%
OVERALL SCORE
  • World Building
  • Surprise
  • Cinematography
  • N/A
  • N/A
  • N/A

Great Sci-Fi Openings Scenes

Conclusion

Maybe the best opening shot on the list, Alfonso Cuarón and cinematographer Emmanuel Lubeski manage to establish a world and grab our interest in 100 seconds.  

Best Opening Scenes in Movies 

7. Reservoir Dogs (1992)

Res Dogs  •  Diner Opening part 1

It seems crazy it took Quentin Tarantino this long to crack the list, but he might not be done yet. What’s even crazier is this is the first scene of Tarantino’s debut feature. His first-ever scene is number 8 on the list! 

Res Dogs  •  Diner Opening part 2

The gang chit-chats in the diner for 7-minute about Like A Virgin and tipping, it has nothing to with the heist. It does have to do with character, as traits and actions here prove very telling of what occurs later in the film. 

That’s all I’ll say in case some of you still haven’t seen Reservoir Dogs, but I hope it’s an unnecessary precaution.  

90%
grab factor
100%
memorability
95%
sets the stage
94%
OVERALL SCORE
  • Dialogue
  • Originality
  • Tipping Debate
  • Tarantino’s Acting
  • Overly Vulgar
  • N/A

Ambitious Opening Scenes to Movies

Conclusion

Tarantino knows his way around a diner, and Reservoir Dogs is no exception. It’s the best opening scene to a director's career, and it perfectly represents Tarantino’s directing style

The Godfather - Best Opening Scenes in Movies

6. The Godfather (1972)

The Godfather  •  Movie Openings Scene

Is it possible to make any top 10 list without including The Godfather? Not today. We don’t even hear The Godfather talk for over 2 minutes. We don’t see his face for nearly 3 minutes! The amount of power shown through camera movement and blocking, lighting techniques, and subtle acting moments by Marlon Brando is truly unmatched.

Instead of getting angry and showing his power, The Godfather proves his worth by schooling Bonasera in respect and decency. Yet, in the end, he holds a favor over the man's head. 

We understand Don Corleone is a man of great power and principle, one who has mercy but also the potential to be merciless. 

90%
grab factor
100%
memorability
95%
sets the stage
94%
OVERALL SCORE
  • Peak Brando
  • Power Dynamics
  • Opening Shot
  • N/A
  • N/A
  • N/A

Best Intro to a Movie Ever

Conclusion

It’s The Godfather, it’s the day his daughter is to be married, what more needs to be said? 

Action/Heist Openings Scenes

5. The Dark Knight (2008)

Dark Knight Opening Bank Robbery

I told you Nolan wasn’t done. The Dark Knight is another film that makes its way onto list after list after list. 

For my money, Heath Ledger played the best Joker ever, and it starts in the first scene of the film. We get a heist directed by Nolan, paired with a Hans Zimmer score, an Oscar-winning performance, and a classic Joker line: “I believe whatever doesn’t kill you simply makes you… stranger.” 

That’s a recipe for success. When you talk about opening scenes (especially in recent history) this film always enters the conversation. 

100%
grab factor
100%
memorability
95%
sets the stage
96%
OVERALL SCORE
  • Costumes
  • Joker Gossip
  • Bus Crash
  • Cheesy Dialogue
  • Dialogue Exposition
  • N/A

Cool Movie Intros - The Dark Knight

Conclusion

We had to have an opening bank robbery on the list, the surprise is that it came from a Superhero movie. But like Batman is no ordinary superhero, this scene shows The Joker is no ordinary villain.  

Best Opening Scenes in Movies 

4. 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)

Dawn of Man Opening Sequence

The only downside to making a best opening scenes list — when you get to the end, the choices start to become obvious. You can’t argue with greatness. 

The Dawn of Man sequence, filmed on a set in an MGM studio in England, looks amazing now, but imagine how mind-blown people were in 1968. A lot went into this elaborate sequence, including 2nd unit photography from Africa, gorilla suits, and an innovative reflective projector. 

Filming the Dawn of Man Sequence

It’s an extremely bold choice to open one of the best sci-fi films ever with a 15-minute prehistoric sequence, not to mention starting any movie with 25 dialogue-free minutes! This sequence sets the stage and frames the rest of the film like few opening scenes ever have. 

Note: Paul Thomas Anderson’s There Will Be Blood (A great opening in its own right) starts with 15 dialogue-free minutes.

95%
grab factor
100%
memorability
100%
sets the stage
97%
OVERALL SCORE
  • Cinematography
  • Extremely Unique
  • Match Cut
  • It’s Long
  • N/A
  • N/A

Iconic Opening Scenes

Conclusion

We’re in the top 5 now, Kubrick solidifies his spot with a masterpiece like only he can. It’s the Dawn of Man sequence. 

Suspenseful Movie Openings 

3. Once Upon a Time in the West (1968)

Best Movie Openings  •  Waiting for the Train

It’s no secret Tarantino’s was influenced by the best Spaghetti Westerns, but I really feel it in this opening. The build-up, pacing, use of music. Tarantino has stated Sergio Leone’s Once Upon a Time in the West is the movie that made him consider filmmaking. 

But enough about Tarantino, this should be about Sergio Leone. Not pictured in the above clip is about 7 minutes of build-up with three men waiting for battle. There’s an awesome moment where a fly gets trapped in the barrel of a gun. The buzzing of the fly provides an audio transition to the train (and the lone gunman's) arrival. 

This slow, deliberate pacing sets the stage, then we get the harmonica and Ennio Morricone’s incredible score, before BANG! What an opening. 

100%
grab factor
100%
memorability
100%
sets the stage
99%
OVERALL SCORE
  • Audio Transitions
  • Build-Up
  • Tone
  • N/A
  • N/A
  • N/A

Best Opening Scenes in Movies

Conclusion

That’s 2 straight from 1968. This comes from Once Upon a Time when cinema was truly great. 

Best Opening Scenes in Movies

2. Raiders of The Lost Ark (1981)

Raiders  •  The Boulder Chase

Definitely classifiable as a heist scene, this is the way you open a franchise. 

Directed by Steven Spielberg, you can feel George Lucas’s hands all over this bad boy. From the Star Wars-esque John Williams score, to the swashbuckling Harrison Ford, to the lowering wall.

The scene has booby traps, backstabbing, and death at every turn. Despite all that, it manages to keep a lighthearted, adventurous tone on only the way Harrison Ford can. It’s the gold standard opening action scene, and one of the best action movies of all time

100%
grab factor
100%
memorability
100%
sets the stage
99%
OVERALL SCORE
  • Escalating Action
  • Booby Traps
  • Boulder
  • How He Escapes
  • Star Wars Feel
  • N/A

Iconic Moments in Film

Conclusion

It might be the best scene of the Indiana Jones franchise, and it’s the perfect way to enter the crazy world of archaeological artifacts. 

Best Film Openings of All Time

1. Inglourious Basterds (2009)

Inglorious Bastards  •  The Jew Hunter 

This scene is amazing for many reasons. It takes a lot of mastery to create a 20-minute single-location scene. What stands out first is Tarantino’s dialogue, and by the same token, Christoph Waltz’s performance of said dialogue. 

It’s one thing to make a 20-minute scene, it’s another to make one so monologue heavy. It’s even one more thing to have these monologues delivered by Christoph Waltz (an unknown to American audiences at the time).

His calm delivery, confident rationalizations, and the fact that he knows exactly where the Jewish family is the whole time... Waltz would’ve gotten the Oscar from this scene alone. 

Perhaps the success and execution of this scene encouraged Tarantino to write The Hateful Eight (2015), in which the majority of the film takes place in a similar cabin with a massive amount of dialogue. 

100%
grab factor
100%
memorability
100%
sets the stage
100%
OVERALL SCORE
  • Switching Languages
  • Rat Monologue
  • Tension
  • N/A
  • N/A
  • N/A

Suspenseful Opening Scenes

Conclusion

Tarantino gets two in the top ten, as well as the crowning award. What a scene, it’s amazing as a stand-alone but works even better towards building one of Tarantino's best movies

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The Irishman Opening Scene

Wondering where’s Goodfellas? Thinking Scorsese got snubbed? Well, we have an entire article breaking down the opening to The Irishman. We talk about props, framing, music, voice-over choices, and more.

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