All movies come complete with a beginning and an ending, and for most audiences these two components can either ruin the film in question or turn a good piece of cinema into a great one.
Since movie endings are the most debated and talked-about of the two, though, this list is going to focus on how movies start, and how great opening scenes are able to set up the tone, character, plot and setting of the upcoming story, whilst hooking audiences with their unique style and imagery.
Whether it's a quiet character introduction, a shocking burst of violence, a beautifully atmospheric establishing shot that captures an entire place in time, or a simple chat about life between two strangers, these scenes definitely deserve to be seen as some of the greatest, most affecting movie openers of all time.
In order to make this list as engaging as possible, we're going to steer clear of the really obvious picks, and instead focus on some more underappreciated, sidelined gems that deserve a proper shout-out, so the likes of 2001: A Space Odyssey, Raiders of the Lost Ark, The Lion King and Up won't be included here.
With that in mind, here are 20 opening movie scenes that are totally, 100% flawless.
20. He Called Himself The Dude - The Big Lebowski (1998)
The Coen Brothers' surreal cult comedy The Big Lebowski opens to a desert landscape just outside of Los Angeles, as the mysterious Stranger (Sam Elliot) gives a monologue to introduce The Dude (Jeff Bridges), the City of Angels, and the political upheaval of the time.
Thanks to Elliot's unmistakable deep voice and the almost dream-like way in which L.A is presented, the monologue sets The Dude up as an almost mythical figure - lazy, endearing, and completely at peace with the world and his place in it.
Since the film has always been described as a mix between crime-thriller, neo-Western and comedy, the introduction ends up watching like an hilariously melodramatic set-up to the ridiculous, inexplicable things to follow, whilst letting audiences know - without any dialogue from the man himself - just how peculiar and unique The Dude is.
It's definitely one of the great character introductions of modern cinema, and sets the tone of the movie without flaw.