The final thirty seconds of Shutter Island elevates it to brilliance. In case you didn't get it - Leonardo DiCaprio's character is sane in the end. He's pretending to be crazy because he'd prefer to be lobotomized than go on living knowing what he did. I'm sorry if I sound patronizing, but I do think it's missable. I know some folk who missed it. It's genius. It's the ending of Inception without douchebaggery. There's a final knife twist in your gut but it doesn't send people to the message boards screaming, "THE TOP WOBBLED!" It's a fantastic ending related to character and I appreciate that.
For my money, it's the best Scorsese film. If you disagree with that, I won't say you're wrong. I think film school can kill movies and it killed Taxi Driver and Mean Streets for me. And people emotionally connect to Goodfellas in a way that I never have. I find The Aviator overrated. And I flat out do not like Gangs of New York, Casino, or The Departed. But that's a topic for another post. Shutter Island benefits from an extremely tight story. Scorsese is allowed to do what he does best - create a mood, create tension, and direct actors. In other films, his plot is often so sprawling I'm rolling my eyes by the end no matter how impressed I was with the direction. Shutter Island does not have that problem.
I'd also like to address a problem a lot of people seem to have with Shutter Island according to the banal IMDb boards. Lots of people say they saw the ending coming. Here's the thing. From the beginning, there are really only two ways it's all going to go. Leo is crazy. Leo is not. Thinking, "Leo is crazy!" at some point during the movie does not mean you saw the ending coming. It means you're watching Shutter Island. The ending is a reveal no matter how you slice it. There is nothing in there that would allow us to determine Leo killed his wife who killed his kids and Mark Ruffalo is really a doctor and everyone is playing along and his name is an anagram and on and on and on. We're meant to question Leo's sanity. Oh you IMDb posters who think you outthought the movie - you're wrong. You were right where they wanted you.
And...because I can't help myself...those of you who think there is a case to be made for Leo actually being sane all along, i.e. Gandhi convinced a sane man he was crazy at the end, You Are Wrong. It is NOT open to interpretation. You Are Wrong and you're pathetic for thinking you're smarter than the film. You Are Wrong.
My rant is over. I'm sorry if it bored you. But I adore Shutter Island and I think it's painfully underrated - especially in the wake of the other Leo's-having-issues-because-his-wife-was-crazy movie. Shutter Island is the only Martin Scorsese movie I'll intentionally watch again and again and if you haven't seen it, fix that. Please. For your own sake.