The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time Films

The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time

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90,850 votes 10,698 voters 1,439,519 views 247 items tags f p @

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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  • 46 ReRanks
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  1. 1
    + 3,817
    - 562

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

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  2. 2
    + 3,284
    - 485
    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
    + 2,278
    - 635

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

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  4. 4
    + 2,406
    - 596
    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
    + 2,515
    - 545
    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
    + 1,622
    - 383


    Alfred Hitchcock, Janet Leigh, Anthony Perkins

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  7. 7
    + 1,709
    - 394


    Kevin Spacey, Benicio del Toro, Gabriel Byrne

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  8. 8
    + 2,803
    - 553
    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
    + 1,819
    - 345


    Jack Nicholson, Shelley Duvall, Scatman Crothers

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  10. 10
    + 1,903
    - 413


    Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hardy, Marion Cotillard

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  11. 11
    + 980
    - 342
    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
    + 1,351
    - 319

    added by wiabux
    Scarlett Johansson, David Bowie, Hugh Jackman

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  13. 13
    + 1,277
    - 497
    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
    + 1,307
    - 264

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

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  15. 15
    + 814
    - 318
    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
    + 1,166
    - 363


    Sean Penn, Michael Douglas, Spike Jonze

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  17. 17
    + 1,275
    - 413
    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
    + 830
    - 331


    Robert De Niro, Jodie Foster, Martin Scorsese

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  19. 19
    + 1,289
    - 548


    Natalie Portman, Mila Kunis, Winona Ryder

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  20. 20
    + 998
    - 333
    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
    + 912
    - 276

    added by KeshanHareshu
    Jennifer Connelly, Russell Crowe, Ron Howard

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  22. 22
    + 882
    - 331
    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
    + 633
    - 292


    Glenn Close, Michael Douglas, Jane Krakowski

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  24. 24
    + 701
    - 258

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

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  25. 25
    + 570
    - 173


    Edward Norton, Richard Gere, Laura Linney

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  26. 26
    + 614
    - 283


    Gwyneth Paltrow, Cate Blanchett, Matt Damon

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  27. 27
    + 605
    - 262
    Oldboy is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time


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

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  28. 28
    + 407
    - 178


    Grace Kelly, Alfred Hitchcock, Ray Milland

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  29. 29
    + 699
    - 143

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

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  30. 30
    + 679
    - 199

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

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  31. 31
    + 376
    - 219
    The Manchurian Candidate is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time

    often listed & ranked high on reranks
    Frank Sinatra, Angela Lansbury, Janet Leigh

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  32. 32
    + 434
    - 191

    added by ChangesDownClub
    Al Pacino, Robin Williams, Hilary Swank

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  33. 33
    + 897
    - 264

    ranked low on reranks & added by ChangesDownClub
    Ashton Kutcher, Amy Smart, Logan Lerman

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  34. 34
    + 538
    - 312
    Mulholland Drive is listed (or ranked) 34 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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  35. 35
    + 525
    - 177


    Robert De Niro, Nick Nolte, Jessica Lange

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  36. 36
    + 460
    - 217


    Robert Duvall, Michael Douglas, Tuesday Weld

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  37. 37
    + 626
    - 185

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

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  38. 38
    + 273
    - 217
    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
    + 452
    - 134

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

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  40. 40
    + 576
    - 155

    added by KeshanHareshu
    Anthony Hopkins, Ralph Fiennes, Edward Norton

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  41. 41
    + 484
    - 141

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

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  42. 42
    + 372
    - 102


    Hugh Jackman, Jake Gyllenhaal, Maria Bello

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  43. 43
    + 268
    - 56

    added by drkaramaniac
    Nicole Kidman, Christopher Eccleston, Michelle Fairley

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  44. 44
    + 488
    - 380

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

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  45. 45
    + 252
    - 176

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

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  46. 46
    + 372
    - 136


    Jim Carrey, Paul Giamatti, Ed Harris

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  47. 47
    + 345
    - 149


    Jennifer Morrison, Kevin Bacon, Illeana Douglas

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  48. 48
    + 443
    - 120

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

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  49. 49
    + 195
    - 192
    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
    + 408
    - 172

    added by Mavsc79
    Vera Farmiga, Peter Sarsgaard, Margo Martindale

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248 +

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