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The Most Confusing Movies Ever Made

Updated September 22, 2020 49.0k votes 7.7k voters 257.7k views127 items

List RulesVote 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.

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  • 1
    Mulholland Drive is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Most Confusing Movies Ever Made
    1,198
    373

    ActorsNaomi Watts, Billy Ray Cyrus, Melissa George, Laura Harring, Justin Theroux

    Directed byDavid Lynch

    Mulholland Drive is a 2001 American neo-noir mystery film written and directed by David Lynch... more on Wikipedia
  • 2
    2001: A Space Odyssey is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Most Confusing Movies Ever Made

    ActorsArthur C. Clarke, Leonard Rossiter, Ed Bishop, Keir Dullea, Gary Lockwood

    Directed byStanley Kubrick

    2001: A Space Odyssey is a 1968 epic science fiction film produced and directed by Stanley... more on Wikipedia
  • 3
    Inception is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Most Confusing Movies Ever Made
    1,937
    915

    ActorsLeonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hardy, Marion Cotillard, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Ellen Page

    Directed byChristopher Nolan

    Inception is a 2010 science fiction thriller film written, produced, and directed by... more on Wikipedia
  • 4
    Primer is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Most Confusing Movies Ever Made
    566
    184

    Primer

    2004

    ActorsShane Carruth, David Sullivan, Keith Bradshaw, Kevin Lucero Less, Casey Gooden

    Directed byShane Carruth

    Primer is a 2004 American science fiction drama film about the accidental discovery of a means... more on Wikipedia
  • 5
    Donnie Darko is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Most Confusing Movies Ever Made
    1,646
    472

    ActorsDrew Barrymore, Ashley Tisdale, Jake Gyllenhaal, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Seth Rogen

    Directed byRichard Kelly

    Donnie Darko is a 2001 American supernatural drama film written and directed by Richard Kelly... more on Wikipedia
  • 6
    Memento is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Most Confusing Movies Ever Made
    1,514
    761

    ActorsGuy Pearce, Carrie-Anne Moss, Joe Pantoliano, Jorja Fox, Stephen Tobolowsky

    Directed byChristopher Nolan

    Memento is a 2000 American neo-noir psychological thriller film directed by Christopher Nolan.... more on Wikipedia
  • 7
    Eraserhead is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Most Confusing Movies Ever Made
    492
    192

    ActorsJack Nance, Jeanne Bates, Jack Fisk, Charlotte Stewart, Judith Anna Roberts

    Directed byDavid Lynch

    Eraserhead is a 1977 American experimental body horror film directed by David Lynch. Henry... more on Wikipedia
  • 8
    Jacob's Ladder is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Most Confusing Movies Ever Made
    429
    223

    ActorsMacaulay Culkin, Tim Robbins, Jason Alexander, Lewis Black, Ving Rhames

    Directed byAdrian Lyne

    Jacob's Ladder is a 1990 American psychological horror film directed by Adrian Lyne, written... more on Wikipedia
  • 9
    Lost Highway is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Most Confusing Movies Ever Made
    365
    180

    ActorsRichard Pryor, Gary Busey, Patricia Arquette, Henry Rollins, Giovanni Ribisi

    Directed byDavid Lynch

    Lost Highway is a 1997 French-American psychological thriller film written and directed by... more on Wikipedia

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  • 10
    12 Monkeys is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Most Confusing Movies Ever Made
    787
    487

    ActorsBrad Pitt, Bruce Willis, Christopher Plummer, Madeleine Stowe, Christopher Meloni

    Directed byTerry Gilliam

    12 Monkeys, also known as Twelve Monkeys, is a 1995 American science fiction film directed by... more on Wikipedia

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  • 11
    Pi is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Most Confusing Movies Ever Made
    401
    231

    Pi

    1998

    ActorsMark Margolis, Ajay Naidu, Clint Mansell, Ben Shenkman, Samia Shoaib

    Directed byDarren Aronofsky

    If you're a fan, be sure to check out our list of the best surrealist films.

  • 12
    Eyes Wide Shut is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Most Confusing Movies Ever Made
    672
    402

    ActorsTom Cruise, Nicole Kidman, Stanley Kubrick, Alan Cumming, Leelee Sobieski

    Directed byStanley Kubrick

    Eyes Wide Shut is a 1999 American thriller film loosely based upon Arthur Schnitzler's 1926... more on Wikipedia
  • 13
    Eternal Sunshine of the Spotle is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Most Confusing Movies Ever Made

    ActorsKate Winslet, Kirsten Dunst, Jim Carrey, Mark Ruffalo, Elijah Wood

    Directed byMichel Gondry

    Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is a 2004 American romantic science-fiction comedy-drama... more on Wikipedia
  • 14
    Being John Malkovich is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Most Confusing Movies Ever Made

    ActorsCameron Diaz, Brad Pitt, Charlie Sheen, Sean Penn, Winona Ryder

    Directed bySpike Jonze

    Being John Malkovich is a 1999 American fantasy comedy film written by Charlie Kaufman and... more on Wikipedia

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  • 15
    Cloud Atlas is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Most Confusing Movies Ever Made
    399
    221

    ActorsHalle Berry, Tom Hanks, Susan Sarandon, Hugh Grant, Hugo Weaving

    Directed byTom Tykwer, Andy Wachowski, Lana Wachowski

    Cloud Atlas is a 2012 science fiction film written and directed by Lana Wachowski, Tom Tykwer... more on Wikipedia

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  • 16
    Fight Club is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Most Confusing Movies Ever Made
    1,110
    804

    ActorsBrad Pitt, Jared Leto, Helena Bonham Carter, Edward Norton, Meat Loaf

    Directed byDavid Fincher

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

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  • 17
    The Fountain is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Most Confusing Movies Ever Made
    435
    256

    ActorsHugh Jackman, Rachel Weisz, Ellen Burstyn, Donna Murphy, Ethan Suplee

    Directed byDarren Aronofsky

    The Fountain is a 2006 American drama film that blends elements of fantasy, history,... more on Wikipedia
  • 18
    Brazil is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Most Confusing Movies Ever Made
    315
    200

    Brazil

    1985

    ActorsRobert De Niro, Bob Hoskins, Ian Holm, Jim Broadbent, Michael Palin

    Directed byTerry Gilliam

    Brazil is a 1985 British film directed by Terry Gilliam and written by Gilliam, Charles... more on Wikipedia
  • 19
    Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Most Confusing Movies Ever Made

    ActorsDavid Bowie, Heather Graham, Kiefer Sutherland, Chris Isaak, Mädchen Amick

    Directed byDavid Lynch

    Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me is a 1992 American psychological horror film, directed by David... more on Wikipedia
  • 20
    The Matrix is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Most Confusing Movies Ever Made
    883
    834

    ActorsKeanu Reeves, Hugo Weaving, Carrie-Anne Moss, Laurence Fishburne, Gloria Foster

    Directed byAndy Wachowski, Lana Wachowski

    The Matrix is a 1999 American-Australian science fiction action film written and directed by... more on Wikipedia

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  • 21
    The Machinist is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Most Confusing Movies Ever Made
    254
    173

    ActorsChristian Bale, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Michael Ironside, Anna Massey, Aitana Sánchez-Gijón

    Directed byBrad Anderson

    The Machinist is a 2004 English-language Spanish psychological thriller film directed by Brad... more on Wikipedia
  • 22
    Naked Lunch is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Most Confusing Movies Ever Made
    211
    139

    ActorsIan Holm, Roy Scheider, Julian Sands, Judy Davis, Nicholas Campbell

    Directed byDavid Cronenberg

    Naked Lunch is a 1991 science fiction drama film written and directed by David Cronenberg and... more on Wikipedia

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  • 23
    Antichrist is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Most Confusing Movies Ever Made
    252
    230

    ActorsWillem Dafoe, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Storm Acheche Sahlstrøm

    Directed byLars von Trier

    Antichrist is a 2009 Danish experimental horror film written and directed by Lars von Trier.... more on Wikipedia

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  • 24
    Solaris is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Most Confusing Movies Ever Made
    138
    118

    ActorsAnatoly Solonitsyn, Natalya Bondarchuk, Jüri Järvet, Yulian Semyonov, Olga Barnet

    Directed byAndrei Tarkovsky

    Solaris is a 1972 Russian science fiction art film adaptation of Polish author Stanisław Lem's... more on Wikipedia

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  • 25
    The Prestige is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Most Confusing Movies Ever Made
    355
    242

    ActorsScarlett Johansson, David Bowie, Hugh Jackman, Christian Bale, Michael Caine

    Directed byChristopher Nolan

    The Prestige is a 2006 mystery drama film directed by Christopher Nolan, from a screenplay... more on Wikipedia

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