Best Opening Credits
If you notice when you’re streaming a series on Netflix and the opening credits for a show starts, there is a “skip intro” option that allows you to skip the entirety of the intro just to get to the episode. Often times, opening credits in both movies and TV are overlooked and dismissed as nothing more than names that the simple audience member wouldn’t care for. However, the opening credits of a movie or TV series, with its decisive choice in text, color, motion, animation, etc., can reveal more about the story about to unfold as it sets the tone and mood for the rest of the movie or series.
There should be a category recognizing and awarding the best opening credits for its visuals, graphics, and creativity, but for now, here are my selected favorite opening credits:
Best Opening Credits in Movies
Watchmen (2009) – Directed by Zack Snyder
The opening credits in Zack Snyder’s Watchmen is one that is both visually stylistic and also informative. Set to Bob Dylan’s “The Times They Are A-Changin’,” the opening scenes prefaces the history of the superheroes, while also touching on their involvement during America’s key tensions in history (WW2, Vietnam War, Assassination of JFK, etc.). The opening credits help give the audience a backstory in just five to six minutes, and set up the rest of the movie. In just these few minutes, we can see the artistic direction and style of the movie—the typical style seen in any of Snyder’s movie really—and are gradually immersed into the world.
Se7en (1995) – Directed by David Fincher
David Fincher, with title designer Kyle Cooper, influenced the opening sequences for horror and thriller genres after the release of Se7en. With the extreme close-ups, eerie chicken scratched font, and the creepy remix of Nine Inch Nails “Closer,” Kyle Cooper creates an atmosphere of fear and horror of what is to come in the next hour or so. As the opening sequence continues on, the viewers begin to realize they are peering into the mind of a serial killer—the John Doe of the movie. An example of Kyle Cooper’s influence is seen through the opening credits of the TV series Dexter through the uncomfortable extreme close-ups of the serial killer Dexter Morgan’s morning routine—a simple everyday routine that feels as if Dexter is preparing for a kill rather than a day in the office. Se7en is one of the most notable and influential styles that can be seen in opening credits for noteworthy movies and shows today.
Enter the Void (2009) – Directed by Gasper Noe
Gasper Noe’s psychedelic movie, Enter the Void, is infamously known for its opening sequence when it was first released—Tarantino placed the movie as number 10 in his “Favorite Movies of 2010,” and even singled it out as: “Hands down best credit scene of the year…Maybe best credit scene of the decade.” The opening credits for Enter the Void is an onslaught of imagery with its changing typography, its flashing colors, and its strobing effects. With the psychedelic, trippy, and drug-inducing opening sequence, the audience is already able to pick up on the overdosing effect that Gaspar Noe will be taking them on in Enter the Void. Gasper Noe’s style has always been in-your-face, and the title credits to Enter the Void emphasizes this style, as well as sets the tone and mood of the movie.
James Bond (franchise)
Are you surprised? The James Bond franchise is most notable for its opening sequences—acclaimed title designer Maurice Binder who worked on 14 of the James Bond films before he passed in 1991, and Daniel Kleinman stepped in for GoldenEye in 1995. Binder creates the iconic opener of James Bond with Dr. No (1962), the beginning of the Jame Bond saga. The stapled opener of the inside of the barrel of a gun where James Bond is within it as he walks across the screen, and then points his gun towards the camera is a work of art designed by Maurice Binder. The opening sequence has become a signature style of the franchise and without it, it almost feels like something is missing.
Best Opening Credits in TV
Now, while it is easier to skip intros for TV series rather than movies, opening credits for television should also be praised for its style and influence.
As mentioned before, Dexter has one of the best opening credits in television with its clear influence of Kyle Cooper’s opening credits in Se7en. The extreme close-ups, on an extreme macro level, provides the gritty details that emanate a sense of discomfort despite the sequence being an everyday routine. Disregarding the ups and downs of the series itself, Dexter will go down for its iconic opening credit.
Along with its catchy theme song, RJD2’s “A Beautiful Mine,” as well as the animation, the opening credits to Mad Men is unique and distinguishable in modern television. The simple sequence of a silhouette man falling off a building, and then falling through images (images and advertisements reflecting the 1960s) further adds to the style and world of the series. The clean and simple opening credits, however, contrasts the addictive and adrenaline inducing show of this Emmy award series.
Game of Thrones
With its detailed adaptation of George R.R. Martin’s best-selling series, A Song of Ice and Fire, HBO series Game of Thrones has been dominant in pop culture. The opening credits alone, just even a few seconds, can be instantly recognized. The CGI map in the opening credits provides an insight to the kingdoms in Game of Thrones, and allows fans to appreciate the art of world building and animation. What makes the opening credits even more iconic is its expansion of the map as the show ventures to new territories. The epic opening of Game of Thrones continues to complement the grandeur world and iconic series.