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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.

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The Silence of the Lambs Jodie Foster, Anthony Hopkins, Chris Isaak

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

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

109 26
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Rear Window Grace Kelly, James Stewart, Alfred Hitchcock

108 26
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Vertigo James Stewart, Kim Novak, Alfred Hitchcock

134 40
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Kel Varnsen added The Sixth Sense Bruce Willis, Mischa Barton, Haley Joel Osment

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

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

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

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Shutter Island Leonardo DiCaprio, Michelle Williams, Mark Ruffalo

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

89 42
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The Game Sean Penn, Michael Douglas, Spike Jonze

87 44
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American Psycho Reese Witherspoon, Christian Bale, Willem Dafoe

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

78 43
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Donnie Darko Drew Barrymore, Ashley Tisdale, Jake Gyllenhaal

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

67 41
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Mulholland Drive Naomi Watts, Billy Ray Cyrus, Melissa George

59 36
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The Machinist Christian Bale, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Michael Ironside

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

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Zodiac Robert Downey Jr., Jake Gyllenhaal, Mark Ruffalo

38 29
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KirkSaw added Black Swan Natalie Portman, Mila Kunis, Winona Ryder

36 28
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Rebecca Laurence Olivier, Alfred Hitchcock, Joan Fontaine

17 9
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cpalmerray added Dial M for Murder Grace Kelly, Alfred Hitchcock, Ray Milland

38 31
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The Manchurian Candidate Frank Sinatra, Angela Lansbury, Janet Leigh

26 19
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KirkSaw added The Talented Mr. Ripley Gwyneth Paltrow, Cate Blanchett, Matt Damon

41 36
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Frailty Matthew McConaughey, Bill Paxton, Powers Boothe

31 28
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Marnie Sean Connery, Alfred Hitchcock, Tippi Hedren

30 27
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The Conversation Harrison Ford, Robert Duvall, Gene Hackman

20 16
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KirkSaw added Play Misty for Me Clint Eastwood, Donna Mills, Jessica Walter

32 30
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Pi Mark Margolis, Ajay Naidu, Clint Mansell

29 27
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Videodrome Debbie Harry, James Woods, David Cronenberg

23 21
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KirkSaw added Fatal Attraction Glenn Close, Michael Douglas, Jane Krakowski

29 28
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Lost Highway Richard Pryor, Gary Busey, Patricia Arquette

24 24
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Spellbound Ingrid Bergman, Gregory Peck, Alfred Hitchcock

18 19
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kaylee added Wait Until Dark Audrey Hepburn, Alan Arkin, Robby Benson

27 31
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Hard Candy Ellen Page, Sandra Oh, Patrick Wilson

19 22
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Pallknowing1 added Moon Kevin Spacey, Mary Tyler Moore, Kaya Scodelario

18 21
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KirkSaw added Falling Down Robert Duvall, Michael Douglas, Tuesday Weld

25 30
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The Vanishing Johanna ter Steege, Bernard-Pierre Donnadieu, Gene Bervoets

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First Reformed Ethan Hawke, Amanda Seyfried, Cedric the Entertainer

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Les Diaboliques Simone Signoret, Michel Serrault, Paul Meurisse

21 27
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Straw Dogs Dustin Hoffman, David Warner, Peter Vaughan

17 22
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Peeping Tom Anna Massey, Michael Powell, Pamela Green

20 26
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Dead Again Robin Williams, Emma Thompson, Kenneth Branagh

16 21
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The Stepfather Terry O'Quinn, Shelley Hack, Jill Schoelen

12 16
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KirkSaw added The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari Conrad Veidt, Lil Dagover, Hans Heinrich von Twardowski

23 30
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Repulsion Catherine Deneuve, Roman Polanski, Ian Hendry

11 15
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Zardoz added Seconds Rock Hudson, Will Geer, Richard Anderson

7 10
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BrunoLipniskis added Primer Shane Carruth, David Sullivan, Keith Bradshaw

18 24
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House of Games William H. Macy, Joe Mantegna, J. T. Walsh