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The Best Cerebral Crime Movies, Ranked 

Ranker Film
Updated December 29, 2019 1.3k votes 176 voters 6.4k 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.

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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

Released: 1991

Directed by: Jonathan Demme

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

Released: 1995

Directed by: David Fincher

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

Released: 1999

Directed by: David Fincher

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

Released: 2007

Directed by: Ethan Coen, Joel Coen

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

Released: 1998

Directed by: Tony Kaye

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

Released: 2006

Directed by: Martin Scorsese

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

Released: 1994

Directed by: Bryan Singer

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
Gone Girl is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Cerebral Crime Movies, Ranked
Ben Affleck, Neil Patrick Harris, Tyler Perry

Released: 2014

Directed by: David Fincher

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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9
Mystic River is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Cerebral Crime Movies, Ranked
Emmy Rossum, Sean Penn, Kevin Bacon

Released: 2003

Directed by: Clint Eastwood

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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10
Memento is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Cerebral Crime Movies, Ranked
Guy Pearce, Carrie-Anne Moss, Joe Pantoliano

Released: 2000

Directed by: Christopher Nolan

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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11
A Clockwork Orange is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Cerebral Crime Movies, Ranked
Malcolm McDowell, Warren Clarke, Steven Berkoff

Released: 1971

Directed by: Stanley Kubrick

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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12
American Psycho is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Cerebral Crime Movies, Ranked
Christian Bale, Willem Dafoe, Jared Leto

Released: 2000

Directed by: Mary Harron

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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13
Zodiac is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Cerebral Crime Movies, Ranked
Robert Downey Jr., Jake Gyllenhaal, Mark Ruffalo

Released: 2007

Directed by: David Fincher

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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14
Rear Window is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Cerebral Crime Movies, Ranked
Grace Kelly, James Stewart, Alfred Hitchcock

Released: 1954

Directed by: 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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15
Split is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Cerebral Crime Movies, Ranked
James McAvoy, Anya Taylor-Joy, Betty Buckley

Directed by: M. Night Shyamalan

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 taken in broad daylight: friends ...more

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16
Primal Fear is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Cerebral Crime Movies, Ranked
Edward Norton, Richard Gere, Laura Linney

Released: 1996

Directed by: Gregory Hoblit

Primal Fear is a 1996 American neo-noir 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 attorney ...more

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17
Prisoners is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Cerebral Crime Movies, Ranked
Hugh Jackman, Jake Gyllenhaal, Maria Bello

Released: 2013

Directed by: Denis Villeneuve

Prisoners is a 2013 American drama thriller film directed by Denis Villeneuve. Two young girls in Pennsylvania are kidnapped and the father of one of the girls, Keller Dover (Hugh Jackman), must ...more

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18
Gone Baby Gone is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Cerebral Crime Movies, Ranked
Morgan Freeman, Michelle Monaghan, Ed Harris

Released: 2007

Directed by: Ben Affleck

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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19
The Girl with the Dragon... is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Cerebral Crime Movies, Ranked
Noomi Rapace, Marika Lagercrantz, Lena Endre

Released: 2009

Directed by: Niels Arden Oplev

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
20
Minority Report is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Cerebral Crime Movies, Ranked
Cameron Diaz, Tom Cruise, Colin Farrell

Released: 2002

Directed by: Steven Spielberg

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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21
Frailty is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Cerebral Crime Movies, Ranked
Matthew McConaughey, Bill Paxton, Powers Boothe

Released: 2001

Directed by: Bill Paxton

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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22
Inside Man is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Cerebral Crime Movies, Ranked
Jodie Foster, Denzel Washington, Willem Dafoe

Released: 2006

Directed by: Spike Lee

Inside Man is a 2006 American thriller film directed by Spike Lee, and written by Russell Gewirtz. The film centers on an elaborate bank on Wall Street over a 24-hour period. It stars Denzel ...more

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23
The Girl with the Dragon... is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Cerebral Crime Movies, Ranked
Daniel Craig, Rooney Mara, Robin Wright

Released: 2011

Directed by: David Fincher

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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24
Run Lola Run is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Cerebral Crime Movies, Ranked
Franka Potente, Armin Rohde, Moritz Bleibtreu

Released: 1998

Directed by: Tom Tykwer

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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25
Traffic is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Cerebral Crime Movies, Ranked
Salma Hayek, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Michael Douglas

Released: 2000

Directed by: Steven Soderbergh

Traffic is a 2000 American drama film directed by Steven Soderbergh and written by Stephen Gaghan. It explores the trade from a number of perspectives: a user, an enforcer, a politician and a ...more

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