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The Best Cerebral Crime Movies, Ranked

Updated December 29, 2019 2.3k votes 220 voters 7.8k views57 items

List RulesVote 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 Lambs1
    124
    21

    The Silence of the Lambs

    Jodie Foster, Anthony Hopkins

    Released1991

    Directed byJonathan Demme

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  • Seven2
    107
    20

    Seven

    Brad Pitt, Gwyneth Paltrow

    Released1995

    Directed byDavid Fincher

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  • Fight Club3
    90
    28

    Fight Club

    Brad Pitt, Jared Leto

    Released1999

    Directed byDavid Fincher

    Fight Club is a 1999 film based on the 1996 novel of the same name by Chuck Palahniuk. The...  more

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  • No Country for Old Men4
    76
    21

    No Country for Old Men

    Javier Bardem, Tommy Lee Jones

    Released2007

    Directed byEthan Coen, Joel Coen

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  • The Departed5
    72
    19

    The Departed

    Leonardo DiCaprio, Jack Nicholson

    Released2006

    Directed byMartin Scorsese

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  • American History X6
    70
    19

    American History X

    Edward Norton, Edward Furlong

    Released1998

    Directed byTony Kaye

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  • The Usual Suspects7
    62
    15

    The Usual Suspects

    Kevin Spacey, Benicio del Toro

    Released1994

    Directed byBryan Singer

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  • A Clockwork Orange8
    55
    18

    A Clockwork Orange

    Malcolm McDowell, Warren Clarke

    Released1971

    Directed byStanley Kubrick

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  • Gone Girl9
    60
    22

    Gone Girl

    Ben Affleck, Neil Patrick Harris

    Released2014

    Directed byDavid Fincher

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  • Memento10
    56
    23

    Memento

    Guy Pearce, Carrie-Anne Moss

    Released2000

    Directed byChristopher Nolan

    Memento is a 2000 American neo-noir psychological thriller film directed by Christopher Nolan....  more

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  • Rear Window11
    44
    12

    Rear Window

    Grace Kelly, James Stewart

    Released1954

    Directed byAlfred Hitchcock

    Rear Window is a 1954 American mystery thriller film directed by Alfred Hitchcock and written...  more

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  • Zodiac12
    48
    18

    Zodiac

    Robert Downey Jr., Jake Gyllenhaal

    Released2007

    Directed byDavid Fincher

    Zodiac is a 2007 American mystery thriller film directed by David Fincher, based on the 1986...  more

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  • Mystic River13
    45
    16

    Mystic River

    Emmy Rossum, Sean Penn

    Released2003

    Directed byClint Eastwood

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  • Prisoners14
    39
    12

    Prisoners

    Hugh Jackman, Jake Gyllenhaal

    Released2013

    Directed byDenis Villeneuve

    Prisoners is a 2013 American drama thriller film directed by Denis Villeneuve. Two young girls...  more

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  • Primal Fear15
    40
    14

    Primal Fear

    Edward Norton, Richard Gere

    Released1996

    Directed byGregory Hoblit

    Primal Fear is a 1996 American neo-noir thriller film, based on William Diehl's 1993 novel of...  more

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  • Split16
    45
    22

    Split

    James McAvoy, Anya Taylor-Joy

    Released2016

    Directed byM. Night Shyamalan

    Split is a 2016 American psychological horror thriller film directed and written by M. Night...  more

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  • Gone Baby Gone17
    34
    13

    Gone Baby Gone

    Casey Affleck, Michelle Monaghan

    Released2007

    Directed byBen Affleck

    Gone Baby Gone is a 2007 American neo-noir mystery thriller film directed by Ben Affleck,...  more

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  • Frailty18
    31
    10

    Frailty

    Matthew McConaughey, Bill Paxton

    Released2001

    Directed byBill Paxton

    Frailty is a 2002 psychological thriller film, directed by and starring Bill Paxton, and...  more

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  • American Psycho19
    43
    24

    American Psycho

    Christian Bale, Willem Dafoe

    Released2000

    Directed byMary Harron

    American Psycho is a 2000 American neo-noir satirical psychological horror film directed by...  more

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  • Inside Man20
    29
    11

    Inside Man

    Jodie Foster, Denzel Washington

    Released2006

    Directed bySpike Lee

    Inside Man is a 2006 American thriller film directed by Spike Lee, and written by Russell...  more

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  • Pulp Fiction21
    21
    4

    Pulp Fiction

    John Travolta, Bruce Willis

    Released1994

    Directed byQuentin Tarantino

    Pulp Fiction is a 1994 American crime film directed by Quentin Tarantino. The lives of two mob...  more

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  • Minority Report22
    33
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    Minority Report

    Cameron Diaz, Tom Cruise

    Released2002

    Directed bySteven Spielberg

    Minority Report is a 2002 American neo-noir science fiction mystery-thriller film directed by...  more

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  • The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo23
    33
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    The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

    Noomi Rapace, Marika Lagercrantz

    Released2009

    Directed byNiels Arden Oplev

    The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is a 2009 Swedish drama thriller film based on the novel of...  more
  • The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo24
    29
    15

    The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

    Daniel Craig, Rooney Mara

    Released2011

    Directed byDavid Fincher

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  • Traffic25
    24
    12

    Traffic

    Salma Hayek, Catherine Zeta-Jones

    Released2000

    Directed bySteven Soderbergh

    Traffic is a 2000 American drama film directed by Steven Soderbergh and written by Stephen...  more

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