Drama

The Best Cerebral Crime Movies, Ranked 

Ranker Film
Updated December 29, 2019 1.2k votes 171 voters 6.2k views 57 items

List Rules Vote up your favorite crime movies that take a little brainpower to fully enjoy.

This list contains information on the best cerebral crime movies, ranked from best to worst by user votes. The best cerebral crime films come in many forms. Some smart crime movies are about solving a mystery while other good cerebral crime films feature deadly surprises at every turn. A few of the best cerebral crime films even took home Academy Awards.

What films will you find on this top smart crime movies list? Zodiac has to be at the top. This 2007 David Fincher film examines the real-life story of the Zodiac Killer from the perspective of the journalists and police officers who were trying to catch him. Haunting and menacing in its production, Zodiac patiently details the madness induced by tracking a serial killer. Fight Club – also by Fincher – is another great cerebral crime movie.

Irreversible is completely unique in its story-telling as it reveals the moments before and after a brutal crime occurs in reverse order. Other top films featured on this best cerebral crime movies list include Seven, The Usual Suspects, and Minority Report.

Which cerebral crime movie do you think deserves the top spot on this list? Give your favorites a thumbs up and please add any good features we may have missed.

list ordered by
1
The Silence of the Lambs... is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Cerebral Crime Movies, Ranked
Jodie Foster, Anthony Hopkins, Chris Isaak
The Silence of the Lambs is a 1991 American thriller film that blends elements of the crime and horror genres. Directed by Jonathan Demme and starring Jodie Foster, Anthony Hopkins, and Scott ...more

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2
Seven is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Cerebral Crime Movies, Ranked
Brad Pitt, Gwyneth Paltrow, Morgan Freeman
Seven is a 1995 American psychological thriller film directed by David Fincher. The film stars Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman, with Gwyneth Paltrow, R. Lee Ermey, John C. McGinley, and Kevin ...more

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3
Fight Club is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Cerebral Crime Movies, Ranked
Brad Pitt, Jared Leto, Helena Bonham Carter
Fight Club is a 1999 film based on the 1996 novel of the same name by Chuck Palahniuk. The film was directed by David Fincher, and stars Brad Pitt, Edward Norton and Helena Bonham Carter. Norton ...more

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4
No Country for Old Men ... is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Cerebral Crime Movies, Ranked
Javier Bardem, Tommy Lee Jones, Woody Harrelson
No Country for Old Men is a 2007 American neo-western neo-noir thriller film directed by Joel and Ethan Coen, based on the novel by Cormac McCarthy. Mayhem ensue after a hunter (Josh Brolin) ...more

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5
American History X is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Cerebral Crime Movies, Ranked
Edward Norton, Edward Furlong, Beverly DAngelo
American History X is a 1998 American drama film directed by Tony Kaye and written by David McKenna. It stars Edward Norton and Edward Furlong, and co-stars Fairuza Balk, Stacy Keach, Elliott ...more

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6
The Departed is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Cerebral Crime Movies, Ranked
Leonardo DiCaprio, Jack Nicholson, Alec Baldwin
The Departed is a 2006 American crime drama film directed by Martin Scorsese, and a remake of the 2002 Hong Kong film Infernal Affairs. Irish Mob boss Francis "Frank" Costello (Jack ...more

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7
The Usual Suspects is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Cerebral Crime Movies, Ranked
Kevin Spacey, Benicio del Toro, Gabriel Byrne
The Usual Suspects is a 1995 German-American neo-noir crime thriller film directed by Bryan Singer and written by Christopher McQuarrie. It stars Stephen Baldwin, Gabriel Byrne, Benicio del ...more

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8
Mystic River is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Cerebral Crime Movies, Ranked
Emmy Rossum, Sean Penn, Kevin Bacon
Mystic River is a 2003 American mystery drama film directed and scored by Clint Eastwood. It stars Sean Penn, Tim Robbins, Kevin Bacon, Laurence Fishburne, Marcia Gay Harden, and Laura Linney. ...more

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9
Memento is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Cerebral Crime Movies, Ranked
Guy Pearce, Carrie-Anne Moss, Joe Pantoliano
Memento is a 2000 American neo-noir psychological thriller film directed by Christopher Nolan. The screenplay was written by Nolan based on his younger brother Jonathan Nolan's short story ...more

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10
Gone Girl is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Cerebral Crime Movies, Ranked
Ben Affleck, Neil Patrick Harris, Tyler Perry
Gone Girl is a 2014 American psychological thriller film directed by David Fincher and adapted by Gillian Flynn from her 2012 novel of the same name. It stars Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike. Set ...more

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11
Rear Window is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Cerebral Crime Movies, Ranked
Grace Kelly, James Stewart, Alfred Hitchcock
Rear Window is a 1954 American mystery thriller film directed by Alfred Hitchcock and written by John Michael Hayes based on Cornell Woolrich's 1942 short story. Originally released by Paramount ...more

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12
A Clockwork Orange is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Cerebral Crime Movies, Ranked
Malcolm McDowell, Warren Clarke, Steven Berkoff
A Clockwork Orange is a 1971 dystopian crime film adapted, produced, and directed by Stanley Kubrick, based on Anthony Burgess's 1962 novella A Clockwork Orange. It employs disturbing, violent ...more

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13
L.A. Confidential is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Cerebral Crime Movies, Ranked
Siersha 2 added
Kevin Spacey, Russell Crowe, Kim Basinger
L.A. Confidential is a 1997 neo-noir film based on James Ellroy's 1990 novel of the same title, the third book in his L.A. Quartet series. Like the book, the film tells the story of a group of ...more

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14
Touch of Evil is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Cerebral Crime Movies, Ranked
Siersha 2 added
Charlton Heston, Orson Welles, Marlene Dietrich
Touch of Evil is a 1958 American thriller film, written, directed by, and co-starring Orson Welles. The screenplay was loosely based on the novel Badge of Evil by Whit Masterson. Along with ...more

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15
City of God is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Cerebral Crime Movies, Ranked
Siersha 2 added
Alice Braga, Seu Jorge, Matheus Nachtergaele
City of God is a 2002 Brazilian crime drama film directed by Fernando Meirelles and co-directed by Kátia Lund, released in its home country in 2002 and worldwide in 2003. The story was ...more

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16
Zodiac is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Cerebral Crime Movies, Ranked
Robert Downey Jr., Jake Gyllenhaal, Mark Ruffalo
Zodiac is a 2007 American mystery-thriller film directed by David Fincher and based on Robert Graysmith's non-fiction book of the same name. Zodiac tells the story of the manhunt for a person ...more

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17
American Psycho is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Cerebral Crime Movies, Ranked
Christian Bale, Willem Dafoe, Jared Leto
American Psycho is a 2000 American neo-noir satirical psychological horror film directed by Mary Harron, based on the 1991 novel by Bret Easton Ellis. Wealthy New York City investment banking ...more

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18
Frailty is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Cerebral Crime Movies, Ranked
Matthew McConaughey, Bill Paxton, Powers Boothe
Frailty is a 2002 psychological thriller film, directed by and starring Bill Paxton, and co-starring Matthew McConaughey. It marks Paxton's directorial debut. The plot focuses on the strange ...more

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19
BlacKkKlansman is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Cerebral Crime Movies, Ranked
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John David Washington, Adam Driver, Laura Harrier
BlacKkKlansman is a 2018 American crime drama film directed by Spike Lee, based on the book by Ron Stallworth. An African American detective (John David Washington) in Colorado Springs, Colorado ...more

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20
Eastern Promises is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Cerebral Crime Movies, Ranked
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Naomi Watts, Viggo Mortensen, Tatiana Maslany
Eastern Promises is a 2007 British-Canadian-American thriller film directed by David Cronenberg, from a screenplay written by Steven Knight. The film stars Viggo Mortensen, Naomi Watts, Vincent ...more

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21
Widows is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Cerebral Crime Movies, Ranked
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Viola Davis, Cynthia Erivo, André Holland
Widows is a 2018 heist thriller film directed by Steve McQueen, based on the 1983 TV series. Four armed robbers are killed in a failed heist attempt, only to have their widows step up to finish ...more
22
One Hour Photo is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Cerebral Crime Movies, Ranked
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Robin Williams, Connie Nielsen, Clark Gregg
One Hour Photo is a 2002 American psychological thriller film written and directed by Mark Romanek and starring Robin Williams, Connie Nielsen, Michael Vartan, Gary Cole, and Eriq La Salle. ...more

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23
Perfume: The Story of a ... is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Cerebral Crime Movies, Ranked
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Dustin Hoffman, John Hurt, Alan Rickman
Perfume: The Story of a Murderer is a German 2006 thriller film directed by Tom Tykwer, written by Andrew Birkin, Bernd Eichinger and Tykwer and starring Ben Whishaw, Alan Rickman, Rachel ...more
24
Reservoir Dogs is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Cerebral Crime Movies, Ranked
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Quentin Tarantino, Steve Buscemi, Tim Roth
Reservoir Dogs is a 1992 American ensemble crime film that depicts the events before and after a botched diamond heist. The film was the debut of director and writer Quentin Tarantino, and stars ...more

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25
Spotlight is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Cerebral Crime Movies, Ranked
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Mark Ruffalo, Michael Keaton, Rachel McAdams
Spotlight is a 2015 American biographical drama film directed by Tom McCarthy. The true story of how the Boston Globe uncovered the massive scandal of child molestation and cover-up within the ...more

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