7 Modern Movies With Incredible Opening Credit Sequences (Post 2000)

by Paul Deeter

There's been a lot of discussion about the greatest opening credits sequences of all time, with lots of love for films that use soundtracks to effectively build tension or expectation during moments most of us wouldn't consider essential to the rest of the movie. The opening credits are mostly there to set the stage, pre-end credits in introducing our cast and crew, giving preliminary thanks to those who participated in the project, and goosing up the audience with the promise of the big lead names who are coming to grace our screens. However, after years, over 100 in fact, the presence of opening credits sequences has minimized due to lots of facts, most commonly the use of end credits sequences to wrap up the "thank you" and "here's to you" accolades filling in the same purpose. Some movies benefit from avoiding even a title card, because of the narrative's intent to keep us inside the film for the whole run-time. Others use title card's creatively while nixing opening credits, to impact a certain scene or a tense moment/announcement the film wants to portray. With that being said, as it has been so famously with film's like Psycho and Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory opening credits sequences can still knock our socks off when done right. Here's to seven of them, post 2000.

6. The Streets Sing - Baby Driver (2017)

This entire movie exists on tempo with the beat and rhythm of the accompanying soundtrack. There's never a missed beat or cue, and despite following one of the most unforgettable opening chase scenes ever filmed, the film finds its groove while our lead, Baby, walks down the street in one continuous shot, dancing around window-washers, cop cars and dancers in the streets all making noises to the background track Harlem Shuffle (by Bob and Earl). It proves the movie is going to keep its cool, even after showing off its deck of tricks from the get-go. Groovy.

6. Hardcore, indeed. - Hardcore Henry (2016).

What's worse than a bad movie with a killer opening credits sequence? The potential squandered with the premise of a completely first person action-shooter was so cool, I advocated for it myself in advertising the film during my time marketing for the local theater chain. I told everyone to go see it, and then I saw it, and hoo boy. It stinks! Despite (technically) pulling off the feat of the premise, this movie is a bore outside of its opening credits sequence, which features multiple close up kills, with bullets piercing heads, knives to throats and even a brick to the ear (ouch!). It's brutal, and probably sicker than the rest of the movie, but hey, it's pretty much the only moment of note in the whole film.

5. The long walk - The Social Network (2010)

I could make this entire list a replay of every time David Fincher has blown us away with a visually intense and creative opening credits sequence. From Fight Club to Girl with the Dragon Tattoo he has not shied away from absolutely nuts credits sequences that pump the audience up for what's in store. It's in a more laid back effort that he introduces what is perhaps his masterpiece The Social Network. After a brutal break-up scene introducing our antihero Mark, we listen to a track by the now household soundtrack presence Atticus Ross and Trent Reznor and watch Mark quietly walk and jog back to his dorm. What's going on in his mind has yet to come to fruition, but we can sense the quiet seething that is to come.

4. Adrenaline Rush - 127 Hours (2010)

Danny Boyle has never shied away from his intense sequences of action and psychological freneticism. His movies like 28 Days Later and Trainspotting are significant examples of style in the form of grittiness and sweat-soaked storytelling. In the opening credits sequence to 127 Hours we are cannonballed into a criminally underrated track by Free Blood - Never Hear Surf Music Again, while images of fast moving crowds and sports events are interspersed with our protagonist getting ready for his hike and eventual trap in the desert. Whether or not the crowds are supposed to signify adrenaline as the song pumps up repetitive lyrics with stressful melodies or if its humoring the hero's significance of being alone for so long, it's not clear. It is unforgettable though. Check it out below.

3. They made a statue of us. 500 Days of Summer (2009)

Ok, so I just tore this movie apart in a recent article. I will admit this film remains problematic in my mind, but after a more recent viewing I've made of the film (I watched it directly after my article) I grew fond of it's sense of humor and some of the pretty spot-on musical moments. The movie's narrator warns us, that "this is not a love story" after introducing our characters from their young years into adulthood, and directly after that line, we watch them grow up again. Side by side we see montaged old-reels and photographs that look like home videos of the two growing up by themselves, before inevitably and unfortunately, meeting each other. All this is shown while we listen to the incredible Regina Spektor performing Us of course. Check it out below.

2. The Night is dark and full of terrors - Signs (2002)

Whether you loved Glass or hated Lady in the Water or on and on with some of his most divisive directorial efforts, I don't think anybody can deny that M. Night Shymalan is a true talent. He's been called a young Spielberg before, and never has that been more true than in his earliest films including Signs. With this opening title sequence he intentionally chose to scare the audience with the orchestral soundtrack alone, and it goddamn worked. The opening credits, while just showing names and lights are still scary as hell due to that killer soundtrack. It's as if he saw the opening to Psycho and said, hold my beer.

1. Michael Moore opens a bank account- Bowling for Columbine (2002)

The film Bowling for Columbine is Michael Moore's masterpiece, even his only Criterion Collection release. And rightfully so. The movie blends humor with a sharp satire on top of reflecting our American ideals involving guns, watching TV and terror-mongering. Before we get to hear the song Take the Skinheads Bowling by Camper Van Beethoven, and performed by Teenage Fanclub, we see our director going to a bank to open a new account, which earns him a free gun. His last quote says it all: "Well here's my first question, don't you think it's a little dangerous handing out guns at a bank?"

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