Crime Dramas The Best Cerebral Crime Movies, Ranked  

Ranker Film
480 votes 82 voters 2.5k views 34 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.

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The Silence of the Lambs is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Cerebral Crime Movies, Ranked
The Silence of the Lambs 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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Seven is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Cerebral Crime Movies, Ranked
Seven 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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Fight Club is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Cerebral Crime Movies, Ranked
Fight Club 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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No Country for Old Men is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Cerebral Crime Movies, Ranked
No Country for Old Men 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. Violence and mayhem ensue after a hunter ...more

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American History X is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Cerebral Crime Movies, Ranked
American History X Edward Norton, Edward Furlong, Beverly DAngelo American History X is a 1998 American crime 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, ...more

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The Departed is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Cerebral Crime Movies, Ranked
The Departed Leonardo DiCaprio, Jack Nicholson, Alec Baldwin The Departed is a 2006 American crime drama film directed by Martin Scorsese and written by William Monahan. It is a remake of the 2002 Hong Kong film Infernal Affairs. The film stars Leonardo ...more

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The Usual Suspects is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Cerebral Crime Movies, Ranked
The Usual Suspects 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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The Girl with the Dragon Tatto... is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Cerebral Crime Movies, Ranked
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo Noomi Rapace, Marika Lagercrantz, Lena Endre The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is a 2009 Swedish drama thriller film based on the novel of the same name by Swedish author/journalist Stieg Larsson. It is the first book in the trilogy known as ...more

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A Clockwork Orange is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Cerebral Crime Movies, Ranked
A Clockwork Orange 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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Frailty is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Cerebral Crime Movies, Ranked
Frailty 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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Gone Girl is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Cerebral Crime Movies, Ranked
Gone Girl 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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Minority Report is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Cerebral Crime Movies, Ranked
Minority Report Cameron Diaz, Tom Cruise, Colin Farrell Minority Report is a 2002 American neo-noir science fiction mystery-thriller film directed by Steven Spielberg and loosely based on the short story of the same name by Philip K. Dick. It is set ...more

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Memento is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Cerebral Crime Movies, Ranked
Memento 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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Rear Window is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Cerebral Crime Movies, Ranked
Rear Window 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 "It Had to Be Murder". ...more

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Gone Baby Gone is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Cerebral Crime Movies, Ranked
Gone Baby Gone Morgan Freeman, Michelle Monaghan, Ed Harris Gone Baby Gone is a 2007 American neo-noir mystery film directed by Ben Affleck and starring his brother Casey Affleck. The screenplay by Ben Affleck and Aaron Stockard is based on the novel of ...more

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American Psycho is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Cerebral Crime Movies, Ranked
American Psycho Reese Witherspoon, Christian Bale, Willem Dafoe American Psycho is a 2000 American psychological thriller comedy film co-written and directed by Mary Harron, based on Bret Easton Ellis's 1991 novel of the same name. It stars Christian Bale, ...more

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Mystic River is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Cerebral Crime Movies, Ranked
Mystic River 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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Split is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Cerebral Crime Movies, Ranked
Split James McAvoy, Anya Taylor-Joy, Betty Buckley Split is a 2016 American psychological horror thriller film directed and written by M. Night Shyamalan. After a wholesome teen birthday party, three girls are kidnapped in broad daylight: ...more

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The Girl with the Dragon Tatto... is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Cerebral Crime Movies, Ranked
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo Daniel Craig, Rooney Mara, Robin Wright The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is a 2011 Swedish-American mystery thriller film based on the novel of the same name by Stieg Larsson. This film adaptation was directed by David Fincher and ...more

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Primal Fear is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Cerebral Crime Movies, Ranked
Primal Fear Edward Norton, Richard Gere, Laura Linney Primal Fear is a 1996 American neo-noir crime-thriller film, based on William Diehl's 1993 novel of the same name and directed by Gregory Hoblit. The film tells the story of Chicago defense ...more

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Zodiac is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Cerebral Crime Movies, Ranked
Zodiac 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. The Paramount Pictures and Warner Bros. joint ...more

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Prisoners is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Cerebral Crime Movies, Ranked
Prisoners Hugh Jackman, Jake Gyllenhaal, Maria Bello Prisoners is a 2013 crime drama thriller film written by Aaron Guzikowski and directed by Denis Villeneuve.

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Traffic is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Cerebral Crime Movies, Ranked
Traffic Salma Hayek, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Michael Douglas Traffic is a 2000 American crime drama film directed by Steven Soderbergh and written by Stephen Gaghan. It explores the illegal drug trade from a number of perspectives: a user, an enforcer, a ...more

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Inside Man is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Cerebral Crime Movies, Ranked
Inside Man Jodie Foster, Denzel Washington, Willem Dafoe Inside Man is a 2006 American crime thriller film directed by Spike Lee, and written by Russell Gewirtz. The film centers on an elaborate bank heist on Wall Street over a 24-hour period. It ...more

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Seven Psychopaths is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Cerebral Crime Movies, Ranked
Seven Psychopaths Colin Farrell, Olga Kurylenko, Christopher Walken Seven Psychopaths is a 2012 comedy and crime film written and directed by Martin McDonagh.

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Run Lola Run is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Best Cerebral Crime Movies, Ranked
Run Lola Run Franka Potente, Armin Rohde, Moritz Bleibtreu Run Lola Run is a 1998 German thriller film written and directed by Tom Tykwer and starring Franka Potente as Lola and Moritz Bleibtreu as Manni. The story follows a woman who needs to obtain ...more

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Oldboy is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Best Cerebral Crime Movies, Ranked
Oldboy Choi Min-sik, Yoo Ji-tae, Oh Dal-su Oldboy is a 2003 South Korean mystery thriller neo-noir film directed by Park Chan-wook. It is based on the Japanese manga of the same name written by Nobuaki Minegishi and Garon Tsuchiya. ...more

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25th Hour is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Best Cerebral Crime Movies, Ranked
25th Hour Anna Paquin, Rosario Dawson, Edward Norton 25th Hour is a 2002 American drama film directed by Spike Lee and starring Edward Norton. Based on the novel The 25th Hour by David Benioff, who also wrote the screenplay, it tells the story of ...more

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All the President's Men is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Best Cerebral Crime Movies, Ranked
All the President's Men Richard Nixon, Dustin Hoffman, Robert Redford All the President's Men is a 1976 American political thriller film directed by Alan J. Pakula. The screenplay by William Goldman is based on the 1974 non-fiction book of the same name by Carl ...more

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Lucky Number Slevin is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Best Cerebral Crime Movies, Ranked
Lucky Number Slevin Bruce Willis, Lucy Liu, Morgan Freeman Lucky Number Slevin, is a 2006 crime mafia thriller film written by Jason Smilovic, directed by Paul McGuigan and starring Josh Hartnett, Bruce Willis, Morgan Freeman, Ben Kingsley, Lucy Liu and ...more

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Kiss Kiss Bang Bang is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Best Cerebral Crime Movies, Ranked
Kiss Kiss Bang Bang Robert Downey Jr., Val Kilmer, Michelle Monaghan Kiss Kiss Bang Bang is a 2005 American neo-noir dark comedy crime film written and directed by Shane Black, and starring Robert Downey, Jr., Val Kilmer, Michelle Monaghan and Corbin Bernsen. The ...more

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Winter’s Bone is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Best Cerebral Crime Movies, Ranked
Winter’s Bone Jennifer Lawrence, John Hawkes, Garret Dillahunt "Deep in the Ozark Mountains, clans live by a code of conduct that no one dares defy—until an intrepid teenage girl has no other choice. When Ree Dolly's crystal-meth-making father skips ...more

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Only God Forgives is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Best Cerebral Crime Movies, Ranked
Only God Forgives Ryan Gosling, Kristin Scott Thomas, Tom Burke Only God Forgives is a 2013 Danish-French thriller film written and directed by Nicolas Winding Refn, starring Ryan Gosling, Kristin Scott Thomas, and Vithaya Pansringarm. The film was shot on ...more

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Irréversible is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Best Cerebral Crime Movies, Ranked
Irréversible Monica Bellucci, Vincent Cassel, Gaspar Noé Irréversible is a 2002 French mystery thriller film written and directed by Gaspar Noé, starring Monica Bellucci, Vincent Cassel and Albert Dupontel. The film employs a non-linear ...more