2. Inception (2010)
Christopher Nolan’s Inception is perhaps one of the most mind-bending movies ever made. It follows a thief plagued by memories of his late wife who specializes in extracting information from people’s minds by entering their dreams. However, dreams don’t follow the laws of reality, making them far more dangerous than they seem. Because of this, it’s important for those entering dreams to have a totem: a certain item that acts as an anchor to the waking world. If it feels, looks, or behaves in a certain way, a person can know whether they’re trapped in a dream or whether they’re awake.
After engaging in his most daring job yet, Dom Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio) reunites with his children. His totem is a spinning top; in dreams, it spins endlessly, but if it falls, Cobb knows he’s awake. However, upon finally seeing his children again, he spins his totem, then embraces them and walks away. The final shot of the film shows the totem still spinning, and cuts to black before the audience can work out if Cobb is dreaming or awake.
By leaving Inception on an ambiguous note, Nolan has ensured that its final stinger makes for one of the best movie endings of all time. Though many have tried to decipher whether Cobb was dreaming, it ultimately doesn’t seem to matter. Cobb has finally got his children, and he chooses to accept that reality for what it is. He leaves the totem behind because he’s finally at peace, one way or another.