The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time Films
Ultimate List
31,326 votes 789,103 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!
  • 25 ReRanks
    • Women
    • Men
    • Age
    • Region
  • See list ranked by
The List
rerank list
  1. 1
    Up 1510
    Down 222

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

  2. 2
    Up 1203
    Down 208

    Brad Pitt, Gwyneth Paltrow, Morgan Freeman

  3. 3
    Up 915
    Down 250

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

  4. 4
    Up 921
    Down 248

    Bruce Willis, Haley Joel Osment, Mischa Barton

  5. 5
    Up 658
    Down 155

    Alfred Hitchcock, Anthony Perkins, Janet Leigh

  6. 6
    Up 673
    Down 169

    Kevin Spacey, Benicio del Toro, Gabriel Byrne

  7. 7
    Up 1077
    Down 261

    Leonardo DiCaprio, Michelle Williams, Mark Ruffalo

  8. 8
    Up 960
    Down 234

    Brad Pitt, Edward Norton, Jared Leto

  9. 9
    Up 669
    Down 113

    Jack Nicholson, Shelley Duvall, Scatman Crothers

  10. 10
    Up 528
    Down 227

    often listed Reese Witherspoon, Christian Bale, Jared Leto

  11. 11
    Up 429
    Down 146

    Grace Kelly, James Stewart, Alfred Hitchcock

  12. 12
    Up 389
    Down 137

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

  13. 13
    Up 475
    Down 100


  14. 14
    Up 620
    Down 118

    Leonardo DiCaprio, Marion Cotillard, Joseph Gordon-Levitt

  15. 15
    Up 479
    Down 98

    added by wiabux Scarlett Johansson, David Bowie, Hugh Jackman

  16. 16
    Up 515
    Down 168

    Sean Penn, Michael Douglas, Spike Jonze

  17. 17
    Up 504
    Down 225

    Natalie Portman, Mila Kunis, Winona Ryder

  18. 18
    Up 434
    Down 144

    Christian Bale, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Michael Ironside

  19. 19
    Up 348
    Down 144

    Jodie Foster, Robert De Niro, Martin Scorsese

  20. 20
    Up 275
    Down 136

    Michael Douglas, Glenn Close, Jane Krakowski

  21. 21
    Up 514
    Down 190

    Drew Barrymore, Ashley Tisdale, Jake Gyllenhaal

  22. 22
    Up 265
    Down 120

    Gwyneth Paltrow, Cate Blanchett, Matt Damon

  23. 23
    Up 264
    Down 103

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

  24. 24
    Up 176
    Down 80

    Grace Kelly, Alfred Hitchcock, Ray Milland

  25. 25
    Up 326
    Down 80

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

  26. 26
    Up 349
    Down 156

    Robert Downey Jr., Jake Gyllenhaal, Mark Ruffalo

  27. 27
    Up 200
    Down 100

    Michael Douglas, Robert Duvall, Tuesday Weld

  28. 28
    Up 160
    Down 118

    Frank Sinatra, Angela Lansbury, Janet Leigh

  29. 29
    Up 264
    Down 135

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

  30. 30
    Up 238
    Down 155

    Naomi Watts, Billy Ray Cyrus, Melissa George

  31. 31
    Up 154
    Down 55

    Edward Norton, Richard Gere, Laura Linney

  32. 32
    Up 124
    Down 116

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

  33. 33
    Up 142
    Down 63

    added by ChangesDownClub Al Pacino, Robin Williams, Hilary Swank

  34. 34
    Up 265
    Down 66

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

  35. 35
    Up 195
    Down 152

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

  36. 36
    Up 120
    Down 96

    Clint Eastwood, Donna Mills, Jessica Walter

  37. 37
    Up 101
    Down 110

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

  38. 38
    Up 192
    Down 66

    ranked low on reranks Robert De Niro, Nick Nolte, Jessica Lange

  39. 39
    Up 219
    Down 70

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

  40. 40
    Up 136
    Down 74

    often listed & ranked high on reranks Jennifer Morrison, Kevin Bacon, Illeana Douglas

  41. 41
    Up 106
    Down 101

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

  42. 42
    Up 95
    Down 49

    Demi Moore, Kevin Costner, Dane Cook

  43. 43
    Up 215
    Down 48

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

  44. 44
    Up 192
    Down 43

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

  45. 45
    Up 136
    Down 113

    Ajay Naidu, Mark Margolis, Clint Mansell

  46. 46
    Up 104
    Down 54

    added by ChangesDownClub Nicole Kidman, Kristen Stewart, Jodie Foster

  47. 47
    Up 122
    Down 86

    Ryan Gosling, Anthony Hopkins, Rosamund Pike

  48. 48
    Up 150
    Down 105

    Matthew McConaughey, Bill Paxton, Powers Boothe

  49. 49
    Up 118
    Down 30

    added by ShaundaPetty Stanley Kubrick, Adam Baldwin, Vincent D'Onofrio

  50. 50
    Up 122
    Down 66

    added by Mavsc79 Vera Farmiga, Margo Martindale, Peter Sarsgaard

112 +

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