Popular Opinion The Most Confusing Movies Ever Made  

Ranker Film
Originally by
61.2k votes 6.8k voters 236.2k views 153 items

List Rules Vote up any movie that required a rewatch or someone else to explain it to you

The most confusing movies ever made are those films which either intentionally or accidentally are hard to follow, complicated and so far out there that they are disorienting to even the most seasoned viewer. That's not to say these movies are bad because of their complicated nature but certainly not for the easily confused.

For those who crave the mental challenge of confusing movies, there are several directors whose style is highlighted by their complicated plot lines, tendency to present films out of chronological order and seemingly devotion to chaos in their movies. The likes of David Lynch (Mulholland DriveEraserheadInland Empire, and Lost Highway), Stanley Kubrick (2001: A Space OdysseyThe Shining, and Eyes Wide Shut) and Christopher Nolan (Inception and Memento) are perhaps the best at making stellar yet highly confusing movies and among the greatest directors in movie history.

Lynch, Kubrick and Nolan undoubtably influenced other great filmmakers who also have a tendency to create movies that make viewers ask what the heck is happening. Charlie Kaufman, who did Synecdoche, New YorkAdaptationEternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, and Being John Malkovich, and Steven Soderbergh, responsible for great films like Sex, Lies, and Videotape, among many others, gave their interpretation of how to create confusing and simply WTF movies.

So whether you love the twists and turns in The Matrix or think the utter madness of Primer is cause to be among the worst movies of all time, vote for the movies you think are the most confusing below! Have a confusing movie in mind that's not listed? Add it! Help us rank the most confusing movies ever made.

list ordered by
1
1,699 800
Memento is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Most Confusing Movies Ever Made
2000
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
2
2,090 980
Inception is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Most Confusing Movies Ever Made
2010
Inception is a 2010 science fiction thriller film written, produced, and directed by Christopher Nolan. The film stars a large ensemble cast that includes Leonardo DiCaprio, Ellen Page, Joseph ...more
3
1,220 373
Mulholland Drive is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Most Confusing Movies Ever Made
2001
Mulholland Drive is a 2001 American neo-noir mystery film written and directed by David Lynch and starring Naomi Watts, Laura Harring, and Justin Theroux. It tells the story of an aspiring ...more
4
1,786 493
Donnie Darko is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Most Confusing Movies Ever Made
2001
Donnie Darko is a 2001 American supernatural drama film written and directed by Richard Kelly and starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Drew Barrymore, Patrick Swayze, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Noah Wyle, Jena ...more
5
1,192 457
2001: A Space Odyssey is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Most Confusing Movies Ever Made
1968
2001: A Space Odyssey is a 1968 epic science fiction film produced and directed by Stanley Kubrick. The screenplay was written by Kubrick and Arthur C. Clarke, and was partially inspired by ...more
6
838 507
12 Monkeys is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Most Confusing Movies Ever Made
1995
12 Monkeys, also known as Twelve Monkeys, is a 1995 American science fiction film directed by Terry Gilliam, inspired by Chris Marker's 1962 short film La Jetée, and starring Bruce ...more
7
704 448
Eyes Wide Shut is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Most Confusing Movies Ever Made
Bootsdad added 1999
Eyes Wide Shut is a 1999 American thriller film loosely based upon Arthur Schnitzler's 1926 novella Dream Story. The film was directed, produced, and co-written by Stanley Kubrick. It was his ...more
8
608 395
Being John Malkovich is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Most Confusing Movies Ever Made
1999
Being John Malkovich is a 1999 American fantasy comedy film written by Charlie Kaufman and directed by Spike Jonze. It stars John Cusack, Cameron Diaz and Catherine Keener, with John Malkovich ...more
9
1,236 803
Fight Club is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Most Confusing Movies Ever Made
1999
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
10
994 874
The Matrix is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Most Confusing Movies Ever Made
wiabux added 1999
The Matrix is a 1999 American-Australian science fiction action film written and directed by The Wachowskis, starring Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne, Carrie-Anne Moss, Hugo Weaving, and Joe ...more
11
490 304
The Fountain is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Most Confusing Movies Ever Made
2006
The Fountain is a 2006 American drama film that blends elements of fantasy, history, spirituality, and science fiction. It is directed by Darren Aronofsky, and stars Hugh Jackman and Rachel ...more
12
753 698
The Shining is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Most Confusing Movies Ever Made
1980
The Shining is a 1980 British-American psychological horror film produced and directed by Stanley Kubrick, co-written with novelist Diane Johnson, and starring Jack Nicholson, Shelley Duvall, ...more
13
310 268
Antichrist is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Most Confusing Movies Ever Made
2009
Antichrist is a 2009 Danish experimental horror film written and directed by Lars von Trier. It tells the story of a couple (Willem Dafoe and Charlotte Gainsbourg) who, after the death of their ...more
14
432 247
Jacob's Ladder is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Most Confusing Movies Ever Made
ChangesDownClub added 1990
Jacob's Ladder is a 1990 American psychological horror film directed by Adrian Lyne, written and produced by Bruce Joel Rubin and starring Tim Robbins, Elizabeth Peña and Danny Aiello. ...more
15
523 222
Eraserhead is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Most Confusing Movies Ever Made
1977
Eraserhead is a 1977 American surrealist body horror film written and directed by filmmaker David Lynch. Shot in black-and-white, Eraserhead is Lynch's first feature-length film, coming after ...more
16
583 205
Primer is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Most Confusing Movies Ever Made
2004
Primer is a 2004 American science fiction drama film about the accidental discovery of a means of time travel. The film was written, directed, produced, edited and scored by Shane Carruth, who ...more
17
444 256
Pi is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Most Confusing Movies Ever Made
1998
Pi, also titled π, is a 1998 American surrealist psychological thriller film written and directed by Darren Aronofsky in his directorial debut. The film earned Aronofsky the Directing Award at ...more
18
540 510
The Usual Suspects is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Most Confusing Movies Ever Made
1994
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
19
669 370
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotle... is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Most Confusing Movies Ever Made
2004
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is a 2004 American romantic science-fiction comedy-drama film about an estranged couple who have each other erased from their memories, written by Charlie ...more
20
403 216
Lost Highway is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Most Confusing Movies Ever Made
1997
Lost Highway is a 1997 French-American psychological thriller film written and directed by David Lynch. The film features the last film appearances of Richard Pryor, Jack Nance, and Robert ...more
21
665 699
The Sixth Sense is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Most Confusing Movies Ever Made
1999
The Sixth Sense is a 1999 American supernatural thriller film written and directed by M. Night Shyamalan. The film tells the story of Cole Sear (Haley Joel Osment), a troubled, isolated boy who ...more
22
307 292
Identity is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Most Confusing Movies Ever Made
Haskins added 2003
Identity is a 2003 American psychological thriller film directed by James Mangold from a screenplay written by Michael Cooney. The film stars John Cusack, Ray Liotta, Amanda Peet, Alfred Molina, ...more
23
341 218
Brazil is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Most Confusing Movies Ever Made
Dave Loomis added 1985
Brazil is a 1985 British film directed by Terry Gilliam and written by Gilliam, Charles McKeown, and Tom Stoppard. British National Cinema by Sarah Street describes the film as a ...more
24
423 237
Cloud Atlas is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Most Confusing Movies Ever Made
SamiMorcos added 2012
Cloud Atlas is a 2012 science fiction film written and directed by Lana Wachowski, Tom Tykwer and Andy Wachowski. Adapted from the 2004 novel of the same name by David Mitchell, the film has ...more
25
390 445
Total Recall is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Most Confusing Movies Ever Made
1990
Total Recall is a 1990 American science fiction action film directed by Paul Verhoeven, starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, Rachel Ticotin, and Sharon Stone. The film is loosely based on the Philip ...more