The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time Films
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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.

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 very best films from the psychological thriller genre. 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.
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  1. 1
    Up 1404
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    the people's #1 Jodie Foster, Anthony Hopkins, Chris Isaak

  2. 2
    Up 1113
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    Brad Pitt, Gwyneth Paltrow, Morgan Freeman

  3. 3
    Up 851
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    most listed Carrie-Anne Moss, Guy Pearce, Jorja Fox

  4. 4
    Up 855
    Down 232

    Bruce Willis, Haley Joel Osment, Mischa Barton

  5. 5
    Up 621
    Down 142

    Alfred Hitchcock, Anthony Perkins, Janet Leigh

  6. 6
    Up 630
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    Kevin Spacey, Benicio del Toro, Gabriel Byrne

  7. 7
    Up 997
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    Leonardo DiCaprio, Michelle Williams, Mark Ruffalo

  8. 8
    Up 619
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    Jack Nicholson, Shelley Duvall, Scatman Crothers

  9. 9
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    Brad Pitt, Edward Norton, Jared Leto

  10. 10
    Up 500
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    often listed Reese Witherspoon, Christian Bale, Jared Leto

  11. 11
    Up 410
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    Grace Kelly, James Stewart, Alfred Hitchcock

  12. 12
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    often listed & ranked high on reranks James Stewart, Kim Novak, Alfred Hitchcock

  13. 13
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  14. 14
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    Leonardo DiCaprio, Marion Cotillard, Joseph Gordon-Levitt

  15. 15
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    added by wiabux Scarlett Johansson, David Bowie, Hugh Jackman

  16. 16
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    Sean Penn, Michael Douglas, Spike Jonze

  17. 17
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    Natalie Portman, Mila Kunis, Winona Ryder

  18. 18
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    Christian Bale, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Michael Ironside

  19. 19
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    Jodie Foster, Robert De Niro, Martin Scorsese

  20. 20
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    Michael Douglas, Glenn Close, Jane Krakowski

  21. 21
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    Drew Barrymore, Ashley Tisdale, Jake Gyllenhaal

  22. 22
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    Gwyneth Paltrow, Cate Blanchett, Matt Damon

  23. 23
    Up 248
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    added by AndrewW.Curley Emmy Rossum, Sean Penn, Kevin Bacon

  24. 24
    Up 168
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    Grace Kelly, Alfred Hitchcock, Ray Milland

  25. 25
    Up 328
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    Robert Downey Jr., Jake Gyllenhaal, Mark Ruffalo

  26. 26
    Up 298
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    ranked low on reranks & added by KeshanHareshu Jennifer Connelly, Russell Crowe, Ron Howard

  27. 27
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    Michael Douglas, Robert Duvall, Tuesday Weld

  28. 28
    Up 156
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    Frank Sinatra, Angela Lansbury, Janet Leigh

  29. 29
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    Kang Hye-jung, Choi Min-sik, Oh Dal-su

  30. 30
    Up 229
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    Naomi Watts, Billy Ray Cyrus, Melissa George

  31. 31
    Up 119
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    often listed & ranked high on reranks Laurence Olivier, Alfred Hitchcock, Joan Fontaine

  32. 32
    Up 138
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    Edward Norton, Richard Gere, Laura Linney

  33. 33
    Up 184
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    added by AndrewW.Curley Mel Gibson, Joaquin Phoenix, Abigail Breslin

  34. 34
    Up 125
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    added by ChangesDownClub Al Pacino, Robin Williams, Hilary Swank

  35. 35
    Up 236
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    ranked low on reranks & added by ChangesDownClub Ashton Kutcher, Amy Smart, Logan Lerman

  36. 36
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    often listed & ranked high on reranks Clint Eastwood, Donna Mills, Jessica Walter

  37. 37
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    often listed & ranked high on reranks Harrison Ford, Robert Duvall, Gene Hackman

  38. 38
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    ranked low on reranks Robert De Niro, Nick Nolte, Jessica Lange

  39. 39
    Up 127
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    often listed & ranked high on reranks Jennifer Morrison, Kevin Bacon, Illeana Douglas

  40. 40
    Up 198
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    ranked low on reranks & added by ChangesDownClub Amanda Peet, John Cusack, Ray Liotta

  41. 41
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    often listed & ranked high on reranks Mary Tyler Moore, Kevin Spacey, Kaya Scodelario

  42. 42
    Up 86
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    Demi Moore, Kevin Costner, Dane Cook

  43. 43
    Up 203
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    ranked low on reranks & added by KeshanHareshu Edward Norton, Anthony Hopkins, Ralph Fiennes

  44. 44
    Up 174
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    ranked low on reranks & added by ShaundaPetty Malcolm McDowell, Steven Berkoff, Warren Clarke

  45. 45
    Up 130
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    Ajay Naidu, Mark Margolis, Clint Mansell

  46. 46
    Up 92
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    added by ChangesDownClub Nicole Kidman, Kristen Stewart, Jodie Foster

  47. 47
    Up 115
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    Ryan Gosling, Anthony Hopkins, Rosamund Pike

  48. 48
    Up 145
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    Matthew McConaughey, Bill Paxton, Powers Boothe

  49. 49
    Up 109
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    ranked low on reranks & added by ShaundaPetty Stanley Kubrick, Adam Baldwin, Vincent D'Onofrio

  50. 50
    Up 113
    Down 62

    added by Mavsc79 Vera Farmiga, Margo Martindale, Peter Sarsgaard

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