The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time Films

The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time

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85,925 votes 10,216 voters 1,392,923 views 241 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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Collection Photo: user uploaded image
  • 45 ReRanks
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  1. 1
    + 3663
    - 537

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

    ;
  2. 2
    + 3135
    - 463
    Seven


    Brad Pitt, Gwyneth Paltrow, Morgan Freeman

    ;
  3. 3
    + 2179
    - 608


    Guy Pearce, Carrie-Anne Moss, Joe Pantoliano

    ;
  4. 4
    + 2305
    - 570
    The Sixth Sense


    Bruce Willis, Mischa Barton, Haley Joel Osment

    ;
  5. 5
    + 2411
    - 513
    Fight Club


    Brad Pitt, Jared Leto, Helena Bonham Carter

    ;
  6. 6
    + 1546
    - 372


    Alfred Hitchcock, Janet Leigh, Anthony Perkins

    ;
  7. 7
    + 1742
    - 317


    Jack Nicholson, Shelley Duvall, Scatman Crothers

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  8. 8
    + 1632
    - 380


    Kevin Spacey, Benicio del Toro, Gabriel Byrne

    ;
  9. 9
    + 2680
    - 526
    Shutter Island


    Leonardo DiCaprio, Michelle Williams, Mark Ruffalo

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  10. 10
    + 1820
    - 388


    Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hardy, Marion Cotillard

    ;
  11. 11
    + 938
    - 325
    Rear Window

    often listed
    Grace Kelly, James Stewart, Alfred Hitchcock

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  12. 12
    + 1293
    - 299

    added by wiabux
    Scarlett Johansson, David Bowie, Hugh Jackman

    ;
  13. 13
    + 1259
    - 249


    Lauren Bacall, Kathy Bates, James Caan

    ;
  14. 14
    + 1227
    - 474
    American Psycho


    Reese Witherspoon, Christian Bale, Willem Dafoe

    ;
  15. 15
    + 787
    - 301
    Vertigo


    James Stewart, Kim Novak, Alfred Hitchcock

    ;
  16. 16
    + 1206
    - 396
    Donnie Darko


    Drew Barrymore, Ashley Tisdale, Jake Gyllenhaal

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  17. 17
    + 1117
    - 345


    Sean Penn, Michael Douglas, Spike Jonze

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  18. 18
    + 783
    - 314


    Robert De Niro, Jodie Foster, Martin Scorsese

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  19. 19
    + 1238
    - 526


    Natalie Portman, Mila Kunis, Winona Ryder

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  20. 20
    + 956
    - 316
    The Machinist


    Christian Bale, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Michael Ironside

    ;
  21. 21
    + 863
    - 261

    added by KeshanHareshu
    Jennifer Connelly, Russell Crowe, Ron Howard

    ;
  22. 22
    + 830
    - 317
    Zodiac


    Robert Downey Jr., Jake Gyllenhaal, Mark Ruffalo

    ;
  23. 23
    + 604
    - 276


    Glenn Close, Michael Douglas, Jane Krakowski

    ;
  24. 24
    + 665
    - 241

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

    ;
  25. 25
    + 533
    - 162


    Edward Norton, Richard Gere, Laura Linney

    ;
  26. 26
    + 592
    - 267


    Gwyneth Paltrow, Cate Blanchett, Matt Damon

    ;
  27. 27
    + 573
    - 254
    Oldboy


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

    ;
  28. 28
    + 645
    - 184

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

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  29. 29
    + 387
    - 175

    often listed & ranked high on reranks
    Grace Kelly, Alfred Hitchcock, Ray Milland

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  30. 30
    + 637
    - 131

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

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  31. 31
    + 355
    - 215
    The Manchurian Candidate

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

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  32. 32
    + 408
    - 184

    added by ChangesDownClub
    Al Pacino, Robin Williams, Hilary Swank

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  33. 33
    + 855
    - 253

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

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  34. 34
    + 505
    - 166


    Robert De Niro, Nick Nolte, Jessica Lange

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  35. 35
    + 514
    - 299
    Mulholland Drive

    often listed & ranked high on reranks
    Naomi Watts, Billy Ray Cyrus, Melissa George

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  36. 36
    + 439
    - 213

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

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  37. 37
    + 590
    - 178

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

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  38. 38
    + 255
    - 212
    Rebecca

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

    ;
  39. 39
    + 422
    - 129

    ranked low on reranks & added by ShaundaPetty
    Stanley Kubrick, Vincent D'Onofrio, R. Lee Ermey

    ;
  40. 40
    + 550
    - 149

    added by KeshanHareshu
    Anthony Hopkins, Ralph Fiennes, Edward Norton

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  41. 41
    + 447
    - 134

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

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  42. 42
    + 465
    - 368

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

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  43. 43
    + 334
    - 96


    Hugh Jackman, Jake Gyllenhaal, Maria Bello

    ;
  44. 44
    + 233
    - 47

    added by drkaramaniac
    Nicole Kidman, Christopher Eccleston, Michelle Fairley

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  45. 45
    + 238
    - 171

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

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  46. 46
    + 341
    - 126


    Jim Carrey, Paul Giamatti, Ed Harris

    ;
  47. 47
    + 329
    - 147


    Jennifer Morrison, Kevin Bacon, Illeana Douglas

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  48. 48
    + 420
    - 112

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

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  49. 49
    + 190
    - 185
    The Conversation

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

    ;
  50. 50
    + 389
    - 164

    added by Mavsc79
    Vera Farmiga, Peter Sarsgaard, Margo Martindale

    ;
242 +

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