The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time Films
Ultimate List
35,404 votes 897,826 views more info

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.

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 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 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!
  • 26 ReRanks
    • Women
    • Men
    • Age
    • Region
  • See list ranked by
The List
Comment
Embed
Options
rerank list
  1. 1
    Up 1713
    Down 248

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

    open
  2. 2
    Up 1396
    Down 231

    Brad Pitt, Gwyneth Paltrow, Morgan Freeman

    open
  3. 3
    Up 1052
    Down 275

    most listed Carrie-Anne Moss, Guy Pearce, Jorja Fox

    open
  4. 4
    Up 1059
    Down 268

    Bruce Willis, Haley Joel Osment, Mischa Barton

    open
  5. 5
    Up 738
    Down 181

    Alfred Hitchcock, Anthony Perkins, Janet Leigh

    open
  6. 6
    Up 775
    Down 185

    Kevin Spacey, Benicio del Toro, Gabriel Byrne

    open
  7. 7
    Up 1238
    Down 281

    Leonardo DiCaprio, Michelle Williams, Mark Ruffalo

    open
  8. 8
    Up 1091
    Down 249

    Brad Pitt, Edward Norton, Jared Leto

    open
  9. 9
    Up 776
    Down 126

    Jack Nicholson, Shelley Duvall, Scatman Crothers

    open
  10. 10
    Up 478
    Down 152

    often listed Grace Kelly, James Stewart, Alfred Hitchcock

    open
  11. 11
    Up 745
    Down 141

    Leonardo DiCaprio, Marion Cotillard, Joseph Gordon-Levitt

    open
  12. 12
    Up 593
    Down 243

    often listed Reese Witherspoon, Christian Bale, Jared Leto

    open
  13. 13
    Up 428
    Down 148

    James Stewart, Kim Novak, Alfred Hitchcock

    open
  14. 14
    Up 565
    Down 114

    ranked low on reranks & added by wiabux Scarlett Johansson, David Bowie, Hugh Jackman

    open
  15. 15
    Up 550
    Down 110

    ranked low on reranks Misery

    open
  16. 16
    Up 573
    Down 254

    Natalie Portman, Mila Kunis, Winona Ryder

    open
  17. 17
    Up 573
    Down 183

    Sean Penn, Michael Douglas, Spike Jonze

    open
  18. 18
    Up 392
    Down 160

    Jodie Foster, Robert De Niro, Martin Scorsese

    open
  19. 19
    Up 482
    Down 159

    Christian Bale, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Michael Ironside

    open
  20. 20
    Up 584
    Down 204

    Drew Barrymore, Ashley Tisdale, Jake Gyllenhaal

    open
  21. 21
    Up 304
    Down 147

    Michael Douglas, Glenn Close, Jane Krakowski

    open
  22. 22
    Up 384
    Down 95

    added by KeshanHareshu Jennifer Connelly, Russell Crowe, Ron Howard

    open
  23. 23
    Up 297
    Down 128

    Gwyneth Paltrow, Cate Blanchett, Matt Damon

    open
  24. 24
    Up 299
    Down 116

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

    open
  25. 25
    Up 393
    Down 170

    Robert Downey Jr., Jake Gyllenhaal, Mark Ruffalo

    open
  26. 26
    Up 194
    Down 87

    Grace Kelly, Alfred Hitchcock, Ray Milland

    open
  27. 27
    Up 215
    Down 111

    Michael Douglas, Robert Duvall, Tuesday Weld

    open
  28. 28
    Up 176
    Down 125

    Frank Sinatra, Angela Lansbury, Janet Leigh

    open
  29. 29
    Up 173
    Down 71

    added by ChangesDownClub Al Pacino, Robin Williams, Hilary Swank

    open
  30. 30
    Up 340
    Down 85

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

    open
  31. 31
    Up 133
    Down 125

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

    open
  32. 32
    Up 294
    Down 145

    Kang Hye-jung, Choi Min-sik, Oh Dal-su

    open
  33. 33
    Up 187
    Down 60

    Edward Norton, Richard Gere, Laura Linney

    open
  34. 34
    Up 263
    Down 163

    Naomi Watts, Billy Ray Cyrus, Melissa George

    open
  35. 35
    Up 217
    Down 71

    Robert De Niro, Nick Nolte, Jessica Lange

    open
  36. 36
    Up 221
    Down 168

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

    open
  37. 37
    Up 248
    Down 49

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

    open
  38. 38
    Up 131
    Down 100

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

    open
  39. 39
    Up 106
    Down 114

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

    open
  40. 40
    Up 231
    Down 52

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

    open
  41. 41
    Up 254
    Down 74

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

    open
  42. 42
    Up 148
    Down 77

    Jennifer Morrison, Kevin Bacon, Illeana Douglas

    open
  43. 43
    Up 130
    Down 62

    added by ChangesDownClub Nicole Kidman, Kristen Stewart, Jodie Foster

    open
  44. 44
    Up 111
    Down 103

    often listed & ranked high on reranks Mary Tyler Moore, Kevin Spacey, Kaya Scodelario

    open
  45. 45
    Up 106
    Down 56

    Demi Moore, Kevin Costner, Dane Cook

    open
  46. 46
    Up 21
    Down 0

    ranked low on reranks & added by CharlesManteghi Matt Damon, Clive Owen, Julia Stiles

    open
  47. 47
    Up 145
    Down 70

    added by Mavsc79 Vera Farmiga, Margo Martindale, Peter Sarsgaard

    open
  48. 48
    Up 144
    Down 90

    Ryan Gosling, Anthony Hopkins, Rosamund Pike

    open
  49. 49
    Up 146
    Down 121

    Ajay Naidu, Mark Margolis, Clint Mansell

    open
  50. 50
    Up 162
    Down 109

    Matthew McConaughey, Bill Paxton, Powers Boothe

    open
131 +

Something missing? Add it!

think you can do better?

Rerank This List

got a blog or website?

embed this list

viewers of this list also saw...

more popular lists