best movies The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time  

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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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The Silence of the Lambs is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time
The Silence of the Lambs Jodie Foster, Anthony Hopkins, Chris Isaak

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Seven Brad Pitt, Gwyneth Paltrow, Morgan Freeman

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The Sixth Sense Bruce Willis, Mischa Barton, Haley Joel Osment

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Memento is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time
Memento Guy Pearce, Carrie-Anne Moss, Joe Pantoliano

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Fight Club Brad Pitt, Jared Leto, Helena Bonham Carter

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Psycho is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time
Psycho Alfred Hitchcock, Janet Leigh, Anthony Perkins

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Shutter Island Leonardo DiCaprio, Michelle Williams, Mark Ruffalo

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The Shining is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time
The Shining Jack Nicholson, Shelley Duvall, Scatman Crothers

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The Usual Suspects is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time
The Usual Suspects Kevin Spacey, Benicio del Toro, Gabriel Byrne

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Inception is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time
Inception Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hardy, Marion Cotillard

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Rear Window Grace Kelly, James Stewart, Alfred Hitchcock

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Misery is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time
Misery Lauren Bacall, Kathy Bates, James Caan

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American Psycho Reese Witherspoon, Christian Bale, Willem Dafoe

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Vertigo James Stewart, Kim Novak, Alfred Hitchcock

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The Game is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time
The Game Sean Penn, Michael Douglas, Spike Jonze

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Taxi Driver is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time
Taxi Driver Robert De Niro, Jodie Foster, Martin Scorsese

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Black Swan is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time
Black Swan Natalie Portman, Mila Kunis, Winona Ryder

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The Machinist Christian Bale, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Michael Ironside

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Gone Girl is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time
Gone Girl Ben Affleck, Neil Patrick Harris, Tyler Perry

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Zodiac Robert Downey Jr., Jake Gyllenhaal, Mark Ruffalo

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Mystic River is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time
Mystic River Emmy Rossum, Sean Penn, Kevin Bacon

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Primal Fear is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time
Primal Fear Edward Norton, Richard Gere, Laura Linney

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Fatal Attraction is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time
Fatal Attraction Glenn Close, Michael Douglas, Jane Krakowski

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The Butterfly Effect is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time
The Butterfly Effect Ashton Kutcher, Amy Smart, Logan Lerman

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

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Dial M for Murder is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time
Dial M for Murder Grace Kelly, Alfred Hitchcock, Ray Milland

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Cape Fear is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time
Cape Fear Robert De Niro, Nick Nolte, Jessica Lange

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No Country for Old Men is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time
No Country for Old Men Javier Bardem, Tommy Lee Jones, Woody Harrelson

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The Talented Mr. Ripley is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time
The Talented Mr. Ripley Gwyneth Paltrow, Cate Blanchett, Matt Damon

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Mulholland Drive Naomi Watts, Billy Ray Cyrus, Melissa George

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The Others is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time
The Others Nicole Kidman, Christopher Eccleston, Michelle Fairley

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Identity is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time
Identity Amanda Peet, John Cusack, Alfred Molina

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Insomnia is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time
Insomnia Al Pacino, Robin Williams, Hilary Swank

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The Manchurian Candidate Frank Sinatra, Angela Lansbury, Janet Leigh

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Falling Down is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time
Falling Down Robert Duvall, Michael Douglas, Tuesday Weld

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Prisoners is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time
Prisoners Hugh Jackman, Jake Gyllenhaal, Maria Bello

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Red Dragon is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time
Red Dragon Anthony Hopkins, Ralph Fiennes, Edward Norton

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Rebecca Laurence Olivier, Alfred Hitchcock, Joan Fontaine

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The Exorcist is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time
The Exorcist Max von Sydow, Ellen Burstyn, Linda Blair

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12 Monkeys is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time
12 Monkeys Brad Pitt, Bruce Willis, Christopher Plummer

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Requiem for a Dream is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time
Requiem for a Dream Jennifer Connelly, Jared Leto, Ellen Burstyn

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Signs is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time
Signs Mel Gibson, Joaquin Phoenix, Abigail Breslin

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Stir of Echoes is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time
Stir of Echoes Jennifer Morrison, Kevin Bacon, Illeana Douglas

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Secret Window is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time
Secret Window Johnny Depp, Maria Bello, John Turturro

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Hannibal is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time
Hannibal Julianne Moore, Gary Oldman, Anthony Hopkins

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Moon is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time
Moon Kevin Spacey, Mary Tyler Moore, Kaya Scodelario

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Play Misty for Me is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time
Play Misty for Me Clint Eastwood, Donna Mills, Jessica Walter

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Orphan is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time
Orphan Vera Farmiga, Peter Sarsgaard, Margo Martindale

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Eternal Sunshine of the Spotle... is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind Kate Winslet, Kirsten Dunst, Jim Carrey

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The Conversation Harrison Ford, Robert Duvall, Gene Hackman