The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time Films
Ultimate List
35,852 votes 903,940 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!
  • 27 ReRanks
    • Women
    • Men
    • Age
    • Region
  • See list ranked by
The List
rerank list
  1. 1
    Up 1729
    Down 253

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

  2. 2
    Up 1413
    Down 234

    Brad Pitt, Gwyneth Paltrow, Morgan Freeman

  3. 3
    Up 1062
    Down 279

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

  4. 4
    Up 1072
    Down 270

    Bruce Willis, Haley Joel Osment, Mischa Barton

  5. 5
    Up 786
    Down 189

    Kevin Spacey, Benicio del Toro, Gabriel Byrne

  6. 6
    Up 746
    Down 183

    Alfred Hitchcock, Anthony Perkins, Janet Leigh

  7. 7
    Up 1104
    Down 252

    Brad Pitt, Edward Norton, Jared Leto

  8. 8
    Up 1250
    Down 289

    Leonardo DiCaprio, Michelle Williams, Mark Ruffalo

  9. 9
    Up 785
    Down 130

    Jack Nicholson, Shelley Duvall, Scatman Crothers

  10. 10
    Up 480
    Down 157

    often listed & ranked high on reranks Grace Kelly, James Stewart, Alfred Hitchcock

  11. 11
    Up 752
    Down 149

    Leonardo DiCaprio, Marion Cotillard, Joseph Gordon-Levitt

  12. 12
    Up 600
    Down 248

    often listed Reese Witherspoon, Christian Bale, Jared Leto

  13. 13
    Up 571
    Down 118

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

  14. 14
    Up 431
    Down 151

    James Stewart, Kim Novak, Alfred Hitchcock

  15. 15
    Up 557
    Down 112

    ranked low on reranks Misery

  16. 16
    Up 579
    Down 184

    Sean Penn, Michael Douglas, Spike Jonze

  17. 17
    Up 577
    Down 258

    Natalie Portman, Mila Kunis, Winona Ryder

  18. 18
    Up 393
    Down 164

    often listed Jodie Foster, Robert De Niro, Martin Scorsese

  19. 19
    Up 486
    Down 161

    Christian Bale, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Michael Ironside

  20. 20
    Up 590
    Down 205

    Drew Barrymore, Ashley Tisdale, Jake Gyllenhaal

  21. 21
    Up 389
    Down 95

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

  22. 22
    Up 308
    Down 147

    Michael Douglas, Glenn Close, Jane Krakowski

  23. 23
    Up 298
    Down 132

    Gwyneth Paltrow, Cate Blanchett, Matt Damon

  24. 24
    Up 303
    Down 117

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

  25. 25
    Up 197
    Down 87

    Grace Kelly, Alfred Hitchcock, Ray Milland

  26. 26
    Up 396
    Down 171

    Robert Downey Jr., Jake Gyllenhaal, Mark Ruffalo

  27. 27
    Up 178
    Down 125

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

  28. 28
    Up 194
    Down 60

    Edward Norton, Richard Gere, Laura Linney

  29. 29
    Up 218
    Down 113

    Michael Douglas, Robert Duvall, Tuesday Weld

  30. 30
    Up 134
    Down 127

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

  31. 31
    Up 296
    Down 146

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

  32. 32
    Up 264
    Down 166

    Naomi Watts, Billy Ray Cyrus, Melissa George

  33. 33
    Up 342
    Down 87

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

  34. 34
    Up 175
    Down 73

    added by ChangesDownClub Al Pacino, Robin Williams, Hilary Swank

  35. 35
    Up 222
    Down 72

    Robert De Niro, Nick Nolte, Jessica Lange

  36. 36
    Up 226
    Down 169

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

  37. 37
    Up 235
    Down 52

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

  38. 38
    Up 108
    Down 115

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

  39. 39
    Up 251
    Down 49

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

  40. 40
    Up 132
    Down 101

    Clint Eastwood, Donna Mills, Jessica Walter

  41. 41
    Up 255
    Down 74

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

  42. 42
    Up 148
    Down 78

    Jennifer Morrison, Kevin Bacon, Illeana Douglas

  43. 43
    Up 131
    Down 65

    added by ChangesDownClub Nicole Kidman, Kristen Stewart, Jodie Foster

  44. 44
    Up 114
    Down 104

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

  45. 45
    Up 106
    Down 56

    Demi Moore, Kevin Costner, Dane Cook

  46. 46
    Up 147
    Down 122

    Ajay Naidu, Mark Margolis, Clint Mansell

  47. 47
    Up 144
    Down 38

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

  48. 48
    Up 164
    Down 109

    Matthew McConaughey, Bill Paxton, Powers Boothe

  49. 49
    Up 147
    Down 71

    added by Mavsc79 Vera Farmiga, Margo Martindale, Peter Sarsgaard

  50. 50
    Up 144
    Down 90

    Ryan Gosling, Anthony Hopkins, Rosamund Pike

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