The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time

116k votes 13k voters 1.6M views 231 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!
Collection Photo: user uploaded image
  • 49 ReRanks
    • Women
    • Men
    • Age
    • Region
  • 2 See list ranked by
Z
G Options B Comments & Embed 2rerank list
  1. 1
    + 4,642
    - 682

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

    ;
  2. 2
    + 4,081
    - 568
    Seven is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time


    Brad Pitt, Gwyneth Paltrow, Morgan Freeman

    ;
  3. 3
    + 2,646
    - 802

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

    ;
  4. 4
    + 2,934
    - 756
    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

    ;
  5. 5
    + 3,061
    - 716
    Fight Club is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time


    Brad Pitt, Jared Leto, Helena Bonham Carter

    ;
  6. 6
    + 2,027
    - 478


    Alfred Hitchcock, Janet Leigh, Anthony Perkins

    ;
  7. 7
    + 2,040
    - 508


    Kevin Spacey, Benicio del Toro, Gabriel Byrne

    ;
  8. 8
    + 3,422
    - 692
    Shutter Island is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time


    Leonardo DiCaprio, Michelle Williams, Mark Ruffalo

    ;
  9. 9
    + 2,325
    - 444


    Jack Nicholson, Shelley Duvall, Scatman Crothers

    ;
  10. 10
    + 2,367
    - 563


    Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hardy, Marion Cotillard

    ;
  11. 11
    + 1,179
    - 436
    Rear Window is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time


    Grace Kelly, James Stewart, Alfred Hitchcock

    ;
  12. 12
    + 1,585
    - 606
    American Psycho is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time


    Reese Witherspoon, Christian Bale, Willem Dafoe

    ;
  13. 13
    + 1,680
    - 338

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

    ;
  14. 14
    + 975
    - 403
    Vertigo is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time


    James Stewart, Kim Novak, Alfred Hitchcock

    ;
  15. 15
    + 1,380
    - 458


    Sean Penn, Michael Douglas, Spike Jonze

    ;
  16. 16
    + 1,008
    - 422


    Robert De Niro, Jodie Foster, Martin Scorsese

    ;
  17. 17
    + 1,566
    - 669


    Natalie Portman, Mila Kunis, Winona Ryder

    ;
  18. 18
    + 1,171
    - 413
    The Machinist is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time


    Christian Bale, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Michael Ironside

    ;
  19. 19
    + 1,101
    - 411
    Zodiac is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time


    Robert Downey Jr., Jake Gyllenhaal, Mark Ruffalo

    ;
  20. 20
    + 885
    - 333

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

    ;
  21. 21
    + 784
    - 370


    Glenn Close, Michael Douglas, Jane Krakowski

    ;
  22. 22
    + 741
    - 231


    Edward Norton, Richard Gere, Laura Linney

    ;
  23. 23
    + 1,003
    - 229

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

    ;
  24. 24
    + 731
    - 342
    Oldboy is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time


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

    ;
  25. 25
    + 497
    - 237


    Grace Kelly, Alfred Hitchcock, Ray Milland

    ;
  26. 26
    + 1,152
    - 359

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

    ;
  27. 27
    + 733
    - 364


    Gwyneth Paltrow, Cate Blanchett, Matt Damon

    ;
  28. 28
    + 633
    - 380
    Mulholland Drive is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time


    Naomi Watts, Billy Ray Cyrus, Melissa George

    ;
  29. 29
    + 684
    - 226


    Robert De Niro, Nick Nolte, Jessica Lange

    ;
  30. 30
    + 445
    - 287
    The Manchurian Candidate is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time

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

    ;
  31. 31
    + 529
    - 260

    often listed & added by ChangesDownClub
    Al Pacino, Robin Williams, Hilary Swank

    ;
  32. 32
    + 549
    - 283

    often listed & ranked high on reranks
    Robert Duvall, Michael Douglas, Tuesday Weld

    ;
  33. 33
    + 481
    - 105

    ranked low on reranks & added by drkaramaniac
    Nicole Kidman, Christopher Eccleston, Michelle Fairley

    ;
  34. 34
    + 785
    - 238

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

    ;
  35. 35
    + 653
    - 206

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

    ;
  36. 36
    + 725
    - 202

    added by KeshanHareshu
    Anthony Hopkins, Ralph Fiennes, Edward Norton

    ;
  37. 37
    + 322
    - 279
    Rebecca is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time

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

    ;
  38. 38
    + 509
    - 148


    Hugh Jackman, Jake Gyllenhaal, Maria Bello

    ;
  39. 39
    + 619
    - 449

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

    ;
  40. 40
    + 572
    - 172

    added by april.macaulay
    Jennifer Connelly, Jared Leto, Ellen Burstyn

    ;
  41. 41
    + 443
    - 196


    Jennifer Morrison, Kevin Bacon, Illeana Douglas

    ;
  42. 42
    + 373
    - 84


    Max von Sydow, Ellen Burstyn, Linda Blair

    ;
  43. 43
    + 290
    - 227

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

    ;
  44. 44
    + 530
    - 229

    added by Mavsc79
    Vera Farmiga, Peter Sarsgaard, Margo Martindale

    ;
  45. 45
    + 229
    - 238
    The Conversation is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time

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

    ;
  46. 46
    + 289
    - 225


    Kevin Spacey, Mary Tyler Moore, Kaya Scodelario

    ;
  47. 47
    + 461
    - 217

    ranked low on reranks
    Johnny Depp, Maria Bello, John Turturro

    ;
  48. 48
    + 344
    - 154


    Kate Winslet, Kirsten Dunst, Jim Carrey

    ;
  49. 49
    + 328
    - 201


    Demi Moore, Kevin Costner, Danielle Panabaker

    ;
  50. 50
    + 383
    - 202


    Ryan Gosling, Anthony Hopkins, Rosamund Pike

    ;
232 +

Something missing? Add it!

L List Options 2 Rerank List B Comments & Embed z Share Next List >