I'm a bit late weighing in on the London Times's befuddlingly weak list of best movie endings, which Isaac cited last week. (Carrie at number one? You have to be kidding me.) But, in addition to putting in another plug for the intolerably sweet closing sequence of Monster's Inc., I wanted to second the estimable Alex Massie in noting the incomprehensible omission of The Third Man, which has, to my mind, the most perfect final scene in all of cinema:
Ironically, in his initial treatment/novella for the film, Graham Greene had the ending reversed, with Anna taking the arm of Holly Martins (originally named "Rollo," another mistake happily corrected) and the two of them walking off together:
I watched him striding off on his overgrown legs after the girl. He caught her up and they walked side by side. I don't think he said a word to her: it was like the end of a story except that before they turned out of my sight her hand was through his arm - which how a story usually begins. He was a very bad shot and a very bad judge of character, but he had a way with Westerns (a trick of tension) and with girls (I wouldn't know what).
Thank goodness director Carol Reed recognized that there was only one way this story could possibly end, as Anton Karas's zither quivered and the regimented trees wept their leaves in solidarity.