Top 10: (personal) favorite opening credit sequences
List by Aaron Haughton
Opening credits can be used in a number of ways. They can be some enticing eye candy, dazzling us before our feature, or they can help serve the plot, pushing it forward and setting the tone before the story even begins. There are so many solid opening credit sequences, but these are ten that I personally love most.
- 10. The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly
Ennio Morricone's score rings ominous and native over the bright animations, giving way to paint strokes on old timey images before breaking into the unforgettable and classic western guitar sting that cemented Morricone as legend. The opening credit sequence eases you into the massive epic you're about to embark on. A little gratuitous and nauseating at times, like the film's cemetary climax, featuring overbearing sound effects that resonate and rattle your brain while they obliterate animated cowboys on horseback, blasting them into Leone's name.
- 9. Reservoir Dogs
How do you follow up a cold open conversation about what Madonna is really saying in "Like A Virgin" and the morals of tipping? With "Little Green Bag," of course, over the slow motion walk of central characters, paying credit to each one as they walk, until the title card of the film rises and catches top-center above them, hanging momentarily before giving way to the same old standard credit-type thing. The result is iconic. The opening credit sequence does it's job to maintain the badass vibe and doesn't stick around longer than it ought to, ebbing into Tim Roth's wails of pain.
- 8. Austin Powers: The Spy That Shagged Me
If you caught my article on my personal favorite film trilogies, it should come as no surprise that I've got a soft spot for the man of mystery, Austin Powers. With Myers' second Powers film, The Spy That Shagged Me, he jumps into a continuation of the naked bit from the first film, which occurs moments after finding out his wife implodes. Because when you're Austin Powers you gotta immediately celebrate your liberation with a little nakedness. "It's my happening and it freaks me out!"
- 7. Toy Story
Pixar set the bar insanely high with their first film, Toy Story -- a bar they've hardly lowered. This credit sequence is wonderful in how it sets up the relationship between Andy and his menagerie of toys. It uses this sequence to showcase the close relationship between Woody and Andy before it gets threatened by the introduction of Buzz Lightyear. Set to Randy Newman's song, "You've Got a Friend in Me," which just won't leave your head (even though you'd very much like it to), it's as memorable as opening credits can come.
- 6. Deadpool
I'm a sucker for sarcastic condescension, which this just so happens to be chock full of. The opening credits poke fun at the entire cast and creatives in one sweeping CGI long shot, sending you into the chuckles before the real absurd riot-fest even begins. Personal favorite title cards: "Produced by Asshats," followed by "Written by The Real Heroes Here," and "Directed by An Overpaid Tool." There may be some truth to the first one.
- 5. Watchmen
This opening credit sequence uses a wonderful montage that spans five decades of American history, including the relationships and downfall of the older generation of Watchmen. Including pieces of the graphic novel that don't get other mentions, as well as some nice, subtle foreshadowing, and accompanied by the ironically fitting “The Times They Are A-Changin’," this opening credit sequence is easily the best thing Zach Snyder has ever done.
- 4. Fight Club
I'm not sure why I put this one so close to the front -- I think it's the intrigue factor. You're not really sure what you're looking at until the perspective is pulled all the way out to reveal the barrel of the gun in Ed Norton's mouth. These opening credits serve the story, revealing that the narrative is all in Norton's head well before we're consciously aware. So, it should come as "Jack's complete lack of surprise" that the film begins here, in the firing synapses of Norton's head. The credits drop you into the story fast and the film doesn't ever lose pace after that.
- 3. Enter The Void
It's nauseating, encapsulating, and epilepsy-inducing, knocking you on your ass from moment one. In some ways, it's a rave culture homage, or perhaps even a nuanced response to Goddard's Une Femme Est Une Femme, which begins similarly, albeit in a more subdued fashion. Enter The Void's opening credits do little to advance the plot, but prepare you for what's to come (and if you can't handle the opening credits, you won't have the stomach for the rest).
- 2. Lord Of War
The history of a bullet from factory to kids head. 'Nuff said.
- 1. Taxi Driverd
The Taxi Driver open is so beautiful and romantic. Bernard Herrmann's score is both whimsical and brooding with a menace that we don't yet understand. It intoxicates us with the city of New York, which plays a integral character throughout the course of the film. The opening bit with the sexy city smoke and the taxi cab that cuts through still gives me chills. If I so much as see the opening credits of Taxi Driver, I have to watch the rest of the film, which is what I must do now.
What are you favorite opening credit sequences? We want to know. Share your thoughts and feelings in the comments section below, and, as always, remember to viddy well!