The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time Films

The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time

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List Criteria: Vote up and add any movies that send chills down your spine leave you on the edge of your seat until the very end.

A list of the best psychological thrillers of all time, ranked by fans who may or may not be trying to mess with your head! Though a variety of definitions for the "psychological thriller" genre have been offered, there is no universally accepted set of guidelines. In general, psychological thrillers integrate personal character elements into mystery and suspense films, essentially toeing the line between a dramatic character study and the sort of plot structure you'd expect from a detective movie.

Many psychological thrillers resemble traditional thrillers or suspense films, only with a personal, internal antagonist rather than a traditional movie villain. (For example, Repulsion or The Conversation, in which the plot is moved forward by the main character's growing paranoia and madness.) In many films of this type, the solution to the main character's conflict comes in the form of altering their perspective or discovering some buried truth about themselves and their past, rather than winning a fight or battling an opponent.

Many psychological thrillers play around with the main character's back story, or make use of an unreliable narrator. Films like Christopher Nolan's Memento present the audience with one perspective on the story, and then generate suspense by showing the ways in which "reality" contrasts to this perspective. (This sometimes, but not always, results in a "twist" or surprise ending based on the difference between the main character's perception and that of outside observers.) Several Alfred Hitchcock movies utilize this technique, particularly movies like Spellbound and Marnie, in which the story concerns a character becoming mentally well after years of madness and confusion.

This list contains the top thriller movies of all time. It is open and voteranked, so be sure to vote for your favorites and add any other movies we missed at the bottom of the page. Got an opinion on great thriller movies? We want to hear it! Leave comments below or make your voice heard by voting for your favorite psychological suspense movies ever!
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  • 47 ReRanks
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  1. 1
    + 3,948
    - 585

    the people's #1
    Jodie Foster, Anthony Hopkins, Chris Isaak

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  2. 2
    + 3,402
    - 499
    Seven is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time


    Brad Pitt, Gwyneth Paltrow, Morgan Freeman

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  3. 3
    + 2,341
    - 658

    most listed
    Guy Pearce, Carrie-Anne Moss, Joe Pantoliano

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  4. 4
    + 2,485
    - 620
    The Sixth Sense is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time


    Bruce Willis, Mischa Barton, Haley Joel Osment

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  5. 5
    + 2,602
    - 569
    Fight Club is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time


    Brad Pitt, Jared Leto, Helena Bonham Carter

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  6. 6
    + 1,693
    - 392


    Alfred Hitchcock, Janet Leigh, Anthony Perkins

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  7. 7
    + 1,770
    - 411


    Kevin Spacey, Benicio del Toro, Gabriel Byrne

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  8. 8
    + 2,907
    - 574
    Shutter Island is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time


    Leonardo DiCaprio, Michelle Williams, Mark Ruffalo

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  9. 9
    + 1,889
    - 364


    Jack Nicholson, Shelley Duvall, Scatman Crothers

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  10. 10
    + 1,980
    - 431


    Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hardy, Marion Cotillard

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  11. 11
    + 1,014
    - 347
    Rear Window is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time

    often listed
    Grace Kelly, James Stewart, Alfred Hitchcock

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  12. 12
    + 1,408
    - 332

    added by wiabux
    Scarlett Johansson, David Bowie, Hugh Jackman

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  13. 13
    + 1,326
    - 510
    American Psycho is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time


    Reese Witherspoon, Christian Bale, Willem Dafoe

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  14. 14
    + 1,354
    - 275

    ranked low on reranks
    Lauren Bacall, Kathy Bates, James Caan

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  15. 15
    + 842
    - 324
    Vertigo is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time


    James Stewart, Kim Novak, Alfred Hitchcock

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  16. 16
    + 1,201
    - 371


    Sean Penn, Michael Douglas, Spike Jonze

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  17. 17
    + 1,316
    - 431
    Donnie Darko is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time


    Drew Barrymore, Ashley Tisdale, Jake Gyllenhaal

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  18. 18
    + 859
    - 346


    Robert De Niro, Jodie Foster, Martin Scorsese

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  19. 19
    + 1,331
    - 575


    Natalie Portman, Mila Kunis, Winona Ryder

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  20. 20
    + 1,025
    - 343
    The Machinist is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time


    Christian Bale, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Michael Ironside

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  21. 21
    + 930
    - 288

    added by KeshanHareshu
    Jennifer Connelly, Russell Crowe, Ron Howard

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  22. 22
    + 911
    - 346
    Zodiac is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time


    Robert Downey Jr., Jake Gyllenhaal, Mark Ruffalo

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  23. 23
    + 654
    - 298


    Glenn Close, Michael Douglas, Jane Krakowski

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  24. 24
    + 724
    - 267

    added by AndrewW.Curley
    Emmy Rossum, Sean Penn, Kevin Bacon

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  25. 25
    + 595
    - 178


    Edward Norton, Richard Gere, Laura Linney

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  26. 26
    + 630
    - 271
    Oldboy is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time


    Choi Min-sik, Yoo Ji-tae, Oh Dal-su

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  27. 27
    + 752
    - 146

    ranked low on reranks & added by ryanmcw
    Ben Affleck, Neil Patrick Harris, Tyler Perry

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  28. 28
    + 939
    - 275

    added by ChangesDownClub
    Ashton Kutcher, Amy Smart, Logan Lerman

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  29. 29
    + 630
    - 296


    Gwyneth Paltrow, Cate Blanchett, Matt Damon

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  30. 30
    + 420
    - 183


    Grace Kelly, Alfred Hitchcock, Ray Milland

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  31. 31
    + 386
    - 225
    The Manchurian Candidate is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time


    Frank Sinatra, Angela Lansbury, Janet Leigh

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  32. 32
    + 698
    - 211

    ranked low on reranks & added by ShaundaPetty
    Malcolm McDowell, Warren Clarke, Steven Berkoff

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  33. 33
    + 449
    - 199

    added by ChangesDownClub
    Al Pacino, Robin Williams, Hilary Swank

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  34. 34
    + 472
    - 223


    Robert Duvall, Michael Douglas, Tuesday Weld

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  35. 35
    + 545
    - 181

    ranked low on reranks
    Robert De Niro, Nick Nolte, Jessica Lange

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  36. 36
    + 553
    - 321
    Mulholland Drive is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time

    often listed & ranked high on reranks
    Naomi Watts, Billy Ray Cyrus, Melissa George

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  37. 37
    + 650
    - 190

    ranked low on reranks & added by ChangesDownClub
    Amanda Peet, John Cusack, Alfred Molina

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  38. 38
    + 284
    - 225
    Rebecca is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time

    often listed & ranked high on reranks
    Laurence Olivier, Alfred Hitchcock, Joan Fontaine

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  39. 39
    + 470
    - 142

    added by ShaundaPetty
    Stanley Kubrick, Vincent D'Onofrio, R. Lee Ermey

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  40. 40
    + 594
    - 160

    added by KeshanHareshu
    Anthony Hopkins, Ralph Fiennes, Edward Norton

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  41. 41
    + 509
    - 145

    added by april.macaulay
    Javier Bardem, Tommy Lee Jones, Woody Harrelson

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  42. 42
    + 390
    - 105


    Hugh Jackman, Jake Gyllenhaal, Maria Bello

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  43. 43
    + 296
    - 60

    added by drkaramaniac
    Nicole Kidman, Christopher Eccleston, Michelle Fairley

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  44. 44
    + 505
    - 388

    often listed & added by AndrewW.Curley
    Mel Gibson, Joaquin Phoenix, Abigail Breslin

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  45. 45
    + 255
    - 181

    often listed & ranked high on reranks
    Clint Eastwood, Donna Mills, Jessica Walter

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  46. 46
    + 388
    - 143


    Jim Carrey, Paul Giamatti, Ed Harris

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  47. 47
    + 356
    - 154


    Jennifer Morrison, Kevin Bacon, Illeana Douglas

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  48. 48
    + 455
    - 125

    ranked low on reranks & added by april.macaulay
    Jennifer Connelly, Jared Leto, Ellen Burstyn

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  49. 49
    + 196
    - 194
    The Conversation is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time

    often listed & ranked high on reranks
    Harrison Ford, Robert Duvall, Gene Hackman

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  50. 50
    + 279
    - 149


    Demi Moore, Kevin Costner, Danielle Panabaker

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248 +

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