Top 10 Movie Screenshots of the Past 40 Years

Remember the scene in that movie with that guy … and the thing … and oh my God yeah! Remember they did stuff at the end…?

Have you done that? Have you ever watched a movie and been left with that one single lingering image that stands out above all others and just won’t leave your thoughts … ever? We all do I guess, even if the movie isn’t that memorable to begin with. How about this…. Have you ever noticed that sometimes, for whatever reason, droves of people will do the same thing for the same image from the same shot in the same movie? I know! Weird, right? Anyway, here’s the list: Top 10 movie screenshots of the past 40 years.

10: The red doorknob in the “The Sixth Sense”

With subtle clues to its OMG ending seeded throughout, and its major reveal in the final scenes, “The Sixth Sense” could easily be considered one of Shyamalan’s best films. It’s not the movie, itself, though, or the amazing plot-twist-ending that keeps this unforgettable flick fresh and alive in the minds of its former viewers; it’s A: The phrase: “I see dead people”, and B: That damn red reoccurring doorknob that just won’t leave our memories.

09: Josh Baskin wishing to be big in the movie “Big”

The desire to be big (as in adult big) is no doubt one of the most wished for things on the minds of children from any era—during the last 40 years, or before—and because, ironically, the most wished for thing from adults (aside from vast quantities of wealth and perhaps a dapple of fame, of course) is to be young again, “Big” sets itself up right out of the gate to be a close-hearted flick for all its viewers. What makes the Zoltare machine stand out in the movie, I think, is the sheer level of creepiness it casts over the backdrop of an otherwise warm watch.

08: Gandalf proclaiming “YOU SHALL NOT PASS!” to the balrog in “Lord Of The Rings”

“Lord Of The Rings” is absolutely peppered with memorable scenes, from the mundane (Frodo doing his Frodo things in the Shire during the beginning of the first movie), to the monumental (that big frackin’ red mountaintop eye at the end of the third movie) to the epic (Gollum … well, just Gollum; any scene with that little dude was awesome). Havin’ to settle on only one, though: Gandalf’s stance against the barlog—popularized by his ultra defiant phrase: “YOU SHALL NOT PASS”—is as good a frame as any to stand in representation for this collection of movies.

07: Doc and Marty moments after Einstein travels into the future in “Back To The Future”

By its very nature the “Back To The Future” trilogy demands to be considered a timeless classic, and fortunately for its viewers … it is. As with the “Lord Of The Rings”, this series has numerous memorable screenshots to choose from, and again, as with the “Lord Of The Rings”, only one can be chosen to appear here on our list. Narrowing it down to only two (the shot you see above, and the shot where the DeLorean’s license plate—OUTOFTIME—is left spinning on the pavement in the very next shot), this one was chosen mainly because it highlights the best known time traveler duo of the 80s. Sorry to say that, Bill & Ted, but come on … you unveiled a time traveling phone booth to the world during the same decade Marty and Doc Brown, here, were rewriting history in a flying sports car…. Who’d ya think we were gonna remember?

06: Downward streaming green characters throughout the “Matrix” movies

This is a scene most people will recognize straight off the bat—mostly because it’s so overused by every body and every thing that’s ever represented anything to do with anything electronic or computer related since the release of the first installment of this damn stupid-ass trilogy back in 99. Too harsh? No doubt. The Matrix was actually an excellent series of movies that completely captivated its audiences right up until they got lost in the last five minutes, or so. It seems a shame to me that history has remembered this awesome flick mostly because of this overused cascade of meaningless green symbols.

05: Car jump over the edge of a cliff in “Thelma & Louise”

A few years locked up in the clink, or an express trip all the way down to the other end of sleepy canyon…? Can’t say I’d choose to do the same as duo, “Thelma & Louise”, on this call, but whatev’ right? This was an awesome flick, and even after all these years I can still remember that Mustang soaring through the air like a wingless … well … like a wingless Mustang, I guess.

04: Andy Dufresne after his escape from prison in “The Shawshank Redemption”

After spending decades locked up for a crime he didn’t commit, silently tunneling his way through a several foot solid concrete wall with a tiny hammer, being repeatedly knobbed up the butt-hole by an unsavory crew of his fellow inmates, becoming a human calculator for his corrupt keepers, and crawling through a crap-filled sewage pipe the length of a football field, Andy Dufrense, with outstretched arms and a heavy Mane rain falling on his face, enjoys his freedom for the first time in 20 years. …or maybe he’s simply having a shower; he did just finish crawling through a river of shit, after all.

03: The twins in the hallway in “The Shining”

Older audiences will recognize this screenshot right away as being the unforgettable twins scene from the movie, “The Shining”; younger: perhaps being spoofed on shows like “Family Guy” or “The Simpsons”, but from which ever, where ever, there’s no denying this one’s a classic that’s practically become iconic in the horror-film industry. Boo!

02: Jack & Rose flying on the bow of the Titanic in “Titanic”

Probably one of the most unforgettable movie images of its decade, Jack Dawson and Rose DeWitt Bukater stand spread-armed and falling in love on the bow of the Titanic. Wish these two luck, cause I got a feelin’ they’re gonna need it.

01: Elliot and E.T. flying with the moon in the background in “E.T. The Extra Terrestrial”

Filling out the number one position on our list—with no question what so ever—is this image from the movie, “E.T. The Extra Terrestrial”. How popular is this image? Well, outside of the fact that Empire Magazine referred to it as the most magical moment in cinema, and beyond the fact that it’s one of the images used as part of Wiki’s description for the movie, it’s also part of the logo for Spielberg’s own film and television company (Amblin Entertainment).