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film 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
187 34
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The Silence of the Lambs Jodie Foster, Anthony Hopkins, Chris Isaak

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2
135 30
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

3
153 41
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Memento Guy Pearce, Carrie-Anne Moss, Joe Pantoliano

4
128 35
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Kel Varnsen added The Sixth Sense Bruce Willis, Mischa Barton, Haley Joel Osment

5
107 25
The Usual Suspects is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time
KirkSaw added The Usual Suspects Kevin Spacey, Benicio del Toro, Gabriel Byrne

6
102 23
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Rear Window Grace Kelly, James Stewart, Alfred Hitchcock

7
147 48
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Lon Harris added Fight Club Brad Pitt, Jared Leto, Helena Bonham Carter

8
97 25
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Vertigo James Stewart, Kim Novak, Alfred Hitchcock

9
71 21
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

10
117 55
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Shutter Island Leonardo DiCaprio, Michelle Williams, Mark Ruffalo

11
91 38
inception is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time
ScottyDykstra added inception

12
85 38
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The Game Sean Penn, Michael Douglas, Spike Jonze

13
83 43
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American Psycho Reese Witherspoon, Christian Bale, Willem Dafoe

14
15 1
Misery is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time
Dlje115 added Misery Lauren Bacall, Kathy Bates, James Caan

15
75 40
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Donnie Darko Drew Barrymore, Ashley Tisdale, Jake Gyllenhaal

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16
62 31
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Oldboy Choi Min-sik, Yoo Ji-tae, Oh Dal-su

17
48 20
Taxi Driver is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time
KirkSaw added Taxi Driver Robert De Niro, Jodie Foster, Martin Scorsese

18
64 40
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Mulholland Drive Naomi Watts, Billy Ray Cyrus, Melissa George

19
56 35
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The Machinist Christian Bale, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Michael Ironside

20
58 42
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Zodiac Robert Downey Jr., Jake Gyllenhaal, Mark Ruffalo

21
25 16
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KirkSaw added The Talented Mr. Ripley Gwyneth Paltrow, Cate Blanchett, Matt Damon

22
36 28
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The Manchurian Candidate Frank Sinatra, Angela Lansbury, Janet Leigh

23
34 27
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KirkSaw added Black Swan Natalie Portman, Mila Kunis, Winona Ryder

24
33 27
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Rebecca Laurence Olivier, Alfred Hitchcock, Joan Fontaine

25
14 7
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cpalmerray added Dial M for Murder Grace Kelly, Alfred Hitchcock, Ray Milland

26
37 33
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Frailty Matthew McConaughey, Bill Paxton, Powers Boothe

27
29 25
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Marnie Sean Connery, Alfred Hitchcock, Tippi Hedren

28
29 25
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The Conversation Harrison Ford, Robert Duvall, Gene Hackman

29
30 27
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Pi Mark Margolis, Ajay Naidu, Clint Mansell

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30
28 25
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Lost Highway Richard Pryor, Gary Busey, Patricia Arquette

31
17 14
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KirkSaw added Play Misty for Me Clint Eastwood, Donna Mills, Jessica Walter

32
21 19
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KirkSaw added Fatal Attraction Glenn Close, Michael Douglas, Jane Krakowski

33
26 25
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Videodrome Debbie Harry, James Woods, David Cronenberg

34
21 22
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Spellbound Ingrid Bergman, Gregory Peck, Alfred Hitchcock

35
26 28
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Hard Candy Ellen Page, Sandra Oh, Patrick Wilson

36
18 19
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Pallknowing1 added Moon Kevin Spacey, Mary Tyler Moore, Kaya Scodelario

37
16 17
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kaylee added Wait Until Dark Audrey Hepburn, Alan Arkin, Robby Benson

38
16 17
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KirkSaw added Falling Down Robert Duvall, Michael Douglas, Tuesday Weld

39
20 24
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Les Diaboliques Simone Signoret, Michel Serrault, Paul Meurisse

40
20 25
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Straw Dogs Dustin Hoffman, David Warner, Peter Vaughan

41
23 29
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The Vanishing Johanna ter Steege, Bernard-Pierre Donnadieu, Gene Bervoets

42
19 24
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Dead Again Robin Williams, Emma Thompson, Kenneth Branagh

43
10 13
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Zardoz added Seconds Rock Hudson, Will Geer, Richard Anderson

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44
21 27
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Repulsion Catherine Deneuve, Roman Polanski, Ian Hendry

45
16 21
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Peeping Tom Anna Massey, Michael Powell, Pamela Green

46
15 20
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The Stepfather Terry O'Quinn, Shelley Hack, Jill Schoelen

47
17 23
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House of Games William H. Macy, Joe Mantegna, J. T. Walsh

48
12 17
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The Tenant Roman Polanski, Shelley Winters, Isabelle Adjani

49
11 16
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Sisters Margot Kidder, Charles Durning, Olympia Dukakis

50
11 16
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Obsession John Lithgow, Cliff Robertson, Geneviève Bujold