TOP TEN: Opening Credit Sequences

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Top Ten Opening Credit Sequences

A month or two ago I went to see Peter Berg’s The Kingdom and loved the opening title sequence. It’s almost like a mini-movie unto itself and it’s always a little refreshing (and promising I might add) when the filmmakers put forth some effort to entertain you from the start. This got me thinking about other title sequences that set you up perfectly for the movie you’re about to see. Then I thought, it’d make for a great top ten. So here we are. Below are my picks for the top ten greatest opening credit sequences put to celluloid. Just so you know and before you start sharpening your spears, I’m not including The Kingdom‘s terrific opening title sequence from this list dubbing it as my source of inspiration.

Now I know many of you are going to come at me guns blazing. I didn’t forget about Batman, JFK, The Thomas Crown Affair or, a particularly tough one to leave off, To Kill a Mockingbird. I didn’t forget about Delicatessen, Casino or Kill Bill. The Sting, All The President’s Men and Raging Bull were not far from the mind. But you have to whittle these things down to ten and that’s usually a recipe to piss a whole lot of people off. I say bring it on! Somebody has to make the tough decisions around here. Oh, and yeah I purposely didn’t include any Bond films because that is a list unto itself.

North By Northwest

I could have picked any number of the Hitchcock’s great title sequences like Psycho or Vertigo but I think they are best represented by this. Partly due to the animation and titles, but mostly due to Bernard Herrmann’s fantabulous score … this is one of the greats. You actually get a little pumped watching this opening, you know you’re in for a good movie. It has good movie vibe smudged all over it. Get some on you:

Fight Club

This title sequence has been ripped off a couple of times, most notably by the X-Men and – to a certain degree – Spider-Man franchises as we passed through Tyler Durden’s neurons and brain mass and whatnot to the wicked sounds of the Dust Brothers’ sick soundtrack. I once had a semi-automatic rifle, two shotguns and about five police-issued handguns pointed at me as I was listening to this baby. It’s a long story, but the short version is I Am Tyler’s Keen Ability to be at the Wrong Place at the Wrong Time. You can enter Tyler’s brain below:

Lord of War

The only reason this might not rank higher for me is because the movie is too much of a mixed bag. Things work, others not so much. I know I shouldn’t base it on that; I should look at these sequences as if they were in a vacuum but I just can’t. It’s that flawed human part that says screw logic. It’s a brilliant opening though as we follow the life-span of a bullet from creation to, quite literally, execution to the tunes of Buffalo Springfield.

Panic Room

I may get some crap for this one but I don’t care. I always loved the simplicity of this sequence. David Fincher clearly loves his title sequences. This is the second (of three) of his films to make this list and it’s a beauty. Subtle yet cold with Howard Shore’s danger-brewing score. What makes this sequence stand out is how real and right-there the titles look. They float against skyscrapers and downtown churches as if they belonged. At first glance you’re not even sure whether or not they’re really there. Ooh and ahh by watching the vid:

Dr. Strangelove

I remember the first time I watched this (my favorite Kubrick film) opening credit sequence and how odd I thought it was. From the instrumental version of “Try a Little Tenderness” to Pablo Ferro’s bizarre titles to the stock footage of war planes in flight, Kubrick managed to create one of the most original and bizarre openings to any movie I’ve ever seen. Something about this sequence makes me feel all warm and fuzzy. And something about that disturbs me.

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