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Thrillers The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time  

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List of the best psychological thrillers and mystery films ever made. Though a variety of definitions for the "psychological thriller" genre have been offered, there is no universally accepted set of guidelines. In general, psychological thrillers integrate personal character elements into mystery and suspense films, essentially toeing the line between a dramatic character study and the sort of plot structure you'd expect from a detective movie. Many psychological thrillers resemble traditional thrillers or suspense films, only with a personal, internal antagonist rather than a traditional movie villain. (For example, "Repulsion" or "The Conversation," in which the plot is moved forward by the main character's growing paranoia and madness.) In many films of this type, the solution to the main character's conflict comes in the form of altering their perspective or discovering some buried truth about themselves and their past, rather than winning a fight or battling an opponent.

Many psychological thrillers play around with the main character's backstory, or make use of an unreliable narrator. Films like Christopher Nolan's "Memento" present the audience with one perspective on the story, and then generate suspense by showing the ways in which "reality" contrasts to this perspective. (This sometimes, but not always, results in a "twist" or surprise ending based on the difference between the main character's perception and that of outside observers.) Several Alfred hitchcock films utilize this technique, particularly movies like "Spellbound" and "Marnie," in which the story concerns a character becoming mentally well after years of madness and confusion.

This list contains the very best films from the psychological thriller genre. It is Open and Voteranked, so be sure to vote for your favorites and add any other movies we missed at the bottom of the page.
list ordered by

1
195 38
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Jodie Foster, Anthony Hopkins, Chris Isaak

2
142 32
Seven is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time
KirkSaw added Brad Pitt, Gwyneth Paltrow, Morgan Freeman

3
160 45
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Guy Pearce, Carrie-Anne Moss, Joe Pantoliano

4
109 26
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Grace Kelly, James Stewart, Alfred Hitchcock

5
108 26
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James Stewart, Kim Novak, Alfred Hitchcock

6
134 40
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Kel Varnsen added Bruce Willis, Mischa Barton, Haley Joel Osment

7
152 52
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Lon Harris added Brad Pitt, Jared Leto, Helena Bonham Carter

8
111 31
The Usual Suspects is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time
KirkSaw added Kevin Spacey, Benicio del Toro, Gabriel Byrne

9
75 23
Psycho is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time
Roger Royce added Alfred Hitchcock, Janet Leigh, Anthony Perkins

10
125 59
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Leonardo DiCaprio, Michelle Williams, Mark Ruffalo

11
95 40
Inception is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time
ScottyDykstra added Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hardy, Marion Cotillard

12
89 42
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Sean Penn, Michael Douglas, Spike Jonze

13
87 44
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Reese Witherspoon, Christian Bale, Willem Dafoe

14
54 21
Taxi Driver is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time
KirkSaw added Robert De Niro, Jodie Foster, Martin Scorsese

15
78 43
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Drew Barrymore, Ashley Tisdale, Jake Gyllenhaal

16
64 33
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Choi Min-sik, Yoo Ji-tae, Oh Dal-su

17
67 41
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Naomi Watts, Billy Ray Cyrus, Melissa George

18
59 36
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Christian Bale, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Michael Ironside

19
18 3
Misery is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time
Dlje115 added Lauren Bacall, Kathy Bates, James Caan

20
61 45
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Robert Downey Jr., Jake Gyllenhaal, Mark Ruffalo

21
38 29
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KirkSaw added Natalie Portman, Mila Kunis, Winona Ryder

22
36 28
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Laurence Olivier, Alfred Hitchcock, Joan Fontaine

23
17 9
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cpalmerray added Grace Kelly, Alfred Hitchcock, Ray Milland

24
38 31
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Frank Sinatra, Angela Lansbury, Janet Leigh

25
26 19
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KirkSaw added Gwyneth Paltrow, Cate Blanchett, Matt Damon