The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time Films
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The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time

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.

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 films 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 very best films from the psychological thriller genre. 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.
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  1. 1
    Up 1416
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    the people's #1 Jodie Foster, Anthony Hopkins, Chris Isaak

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  2. 2
    Up 1124
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    Brad Pitt, Gwyneth Paltrow, Morgan Freeman

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  3. 3
    Up 859
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    most listed Carrie-Anne Moss, Guy Pearce, Jorja Fox

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  4. 4
    Up 866
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    Bruce Willis, Haley Joel Osment, Mischa Barton

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  5. 5
    Up 625
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    Alfred Hitchcock, Anthony Perkins, Janet Leigh

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  6. 6
    Up 637
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    Kevin Spacey, Benicio del Toro, Gabriel Byrne

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  7. 7
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    Leonardo DiCaprio, Michelle Williams, Mark Ruffalo

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  8. 8
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    Jack Nicholson, Shelley Duvall, Scatman Crothers

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  9. 9
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    Brad Pitt, Edward Norton, Jared Leto

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  10. 10
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    often listed Reese Witherspoon, Christian Bale, Jared Leto

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  11. 11
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    Grace Kelly, James Stewart, Alfred Hitchcock

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  12. 12
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    often listed & ranked high on reranks James Stewart, Kim Novak, Alfred Hitchcock

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  13. 13
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    Misery

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  14. 14
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    Leonardo DiCaprio, Marion Cotillard, Joseph Gordon-Levitt

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  15. 15
    Up 441
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    added by wiabux Scarlett Johansson, David Bowie, Hugh Jackman

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  16. 16
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    Sean Penn, Michael Douglas, Spike Jonze

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  17. 17
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    Natalie Portman, Mila Kunis, Winona Ryder

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  18. 18
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    Christian Bale, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Michael Ironside

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  19. 19
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    Jodie Foster, Robert De Niro, Martin Scorsese

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  20. 20
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    Michael Douglas, Glenn Close, Jane Krakowski

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  21. 21
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    Drew Barrymore, Ashley Tisdale, Jake Gyllenhaal

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  22. 22
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    Gwyneth Paltrow, Cate Blanchett, Matt Damon

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  23. 23
    Up 251
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    added by AndrewW.Curley Emmy Rossum, Sean Penn, Kevin Bacon

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  24. 24
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    Grace Kelly, Alfred Hitchcock, Ray Milland

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  25. 25
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    Robert Downey Jr., Jake Gyllenhaal, Mark Ruffalo

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  26. 26
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    ranked low on reranks & added by KeshanHareshu Jennifer Connelly, Russell Crowe, Ron Howard

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  27. 27
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    Michael Douglas, Robert Duvall, Tuesday Weld

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  28. 28
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    Frank Sinatra, Angela Lansbury, Janet Leigh

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  29. 29
    Up 254
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    Kang Hye-jung, Choi Min-sik, Oh Dal-su

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  30. 30
    Up 231
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    Naomi Watts, Billy Ray Cyrus, Melissa George

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  31. 31
    Up 119
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    often listed & ranked high on reranks Laurence Olivier, Alfred Hitchcock, Joan Fontaine

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  32. 32
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    Edward Norton, Richard Gere, Laura Linney

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  33. 33
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    added by ChangesDownClub Al Pacino, Robin Williams, Hilary Swank

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  34. 34
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    added by AndrewW.Curley Mel Gibson, Joaquin Phoenix, Abigail Breslin

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  35. 35
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    ranked low on reranks & added by ChangesDownClub Ashton Kutcher, Amy Smart, Logan Lerman

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  36. 36
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    often listed & ranked high on reranks Clint Eastwood, Donna Mills, Jessica Walter

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  37. 37
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    often listed & ranked high on reranks Harrison Ford, Robert Duvall, Gene Hackman

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  38. 38
    Up 183
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    ranked low on reranks Robert De Niro, Nick Nolte, Jessica Lange

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  39. 39
    Up 128
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    often listed & ranked high on reranks Jennifer Morrison, Kevin Bacon, Illeana Douglas

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  40. 40
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    ranked low on reranks & added by ChangesDownClub Amanda Peet, John Cusack, Ray Liotta

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  41. 41
    Up 102
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    often listed & ranked high on reranks Mary Tyler Moore, Kevin Spacey, Kaya Scodelario

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  42. 42
    Up 88
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    Demi Moore, Kevin Costner, Dane Cook

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  43. 43
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    ranked low on reranks & added by KeshanHareshu Edward Norton, Anthony Hopkins, Ralph Fiennes

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  44. 44
    Up 174
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    ranked low on reranks & added by ShaundaPetty Malcolm McDowell, Steven Berkoff, Warren Clarke

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  45. 45
    Up 131
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    Ajay Naidu, Mark Margolis, Clint Mansell

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  46. 46
    Up 94
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    added by ChangesDownClub Nicole Kidman, Kristen Stewart, Jodie Foster

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  47. 47
    Up 116
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    Ryan Gosling, Anthony Hopkins, Rosamund Pike

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  48. 48
    Up 145
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    Matthew McConaughey, Bill Paxton, Powers Boothe

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  49. 49
    Up 110
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    ranked low on reranks & added by ShaundaPetty Stanley Kubrick, Adam Baldwin, Vincent D'Onofrio

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  50. 50
    Up 114
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    added by Mavsc79 Vera Farmiga, Margo Martindale, Peter Sarsgaard

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