10. Gone With the Wind
Saying "Damn" back in the late 30s on the Big Screen was a big deal at the time. It's basically the equivalent of someone calling Scarlett Johansson a cunt at the end of a movie now.
9. Do the Right Thing
As far as tragic endings go, this one is one of the best. Nothing good comes out of it at all. The pizza shop is ruined, a lovable character is dead, there's an awful riot, it's just horrible on every level, so by "Great" ending here, I don't mean happy, but very very real. After all, when I grew up in neighborhoods like this, it was like this almost every Sunday night. I didn't even take baths on Sundays, I'd just wait for the poh-poh to come and knock me down with the fire hoses like I was Rosa Parks.
Clint Eastwood avenges Morgan Freeman's death and knocks it out of the park.
7. The Godfather
Michael wacks the heads of the other families, Moe Green, avenges his brother's death, has to kill Tessio, and assumes power of the Corleone family. Beautiful.
6. The Usual Suspects
Without this surprise ending, this film probably wouldn't be half as beloved as it is now. This is one of those films where you wished you walked out of the theatre, and while passing everyone in line for the next showing said, "Wow, I can't believe Kevin Spacey was Kaiser Soze all along!"
5. It's a Wonderful Life
It only loses points because it's almost too much. The swing from near suicide to realizing how precious everything in life is sounds kind of gay for an ending, but when you watch this film, you can't help but be moved.
The guy doesn't end up with the girl! If you've ever seen the outtakes of this film with the alternate ending, it's just as wonderful.
3. The Godfather Part II
I always use this film as reference to when someone asks me if I've ever cried during a movie. It may not be the moment when Fredo is killed on the boat, but it probably starts then and becomes uncontrollable with the flashback scene at the end when everyone is still alive, as if that was the families last wonderful moment together. I hate that scene, as beautiful as it is.
2. The Empire Strikes Back
Perhaps what makes Empire one of the greatest films ever is the darkness of the ending. Not only does Han Solo get frozen, C3P0 get blown up, evil basically win, but we have the Heart of Darkness like moment when we find out Darth is Luke's father, after Vader whoops his ass in a light saber fight. I'd have this be #1 except for the fact that …
1. The Shawshank Redemption