Photo: via Reddit

thrillers The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time  

All Genre Movies Lists
4.4k votes 485 voters 52.7k views Embed

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

190 36
Ranker Video
The Silence of the Lambs Jodie Foster, Anthony Hopkins, Chris Isaak

136 31
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

156 43
Ranker Video
Memento Guy Pearce, Carrie-Anne Moss, Joe Pantoliano

130 37
Ranker Video
Kel Varnsen added The Sixth Sense Bruce Willis, Mischa Barton, Haley Joel Osment

105 24
Ranker Video
Rear Window Grace Kelly, James Stewart, Alfred Hitchcock

109 27
The Usual Suspects is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time
KirkSaw added The Usual Suspects Kevin Spacey, Benicio del Toro, Gabriel Byrne

148 49
Ranker Video
Lon Harris added Fight Club Brad Pitt, Jared Leto, Helena Bonham Carter

100 26
Ranker Video
Vertigo James Stewart, Kim Novak, Alfred Hitchcock

73 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

93 39
Inception is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time
ScottyDykstra added inception Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hardy, Marion Cotillard

118 57
Ranker Video
Shutter Island Leonardo DiCaprio, Michelle Williams, Mark Ruffalo

86 39
Ranker Video
The Game Sean Penn, Michael Douglas, Spike Jonze

85 43
Ranker Video
American Psycho Reese Witherspoon, Christian Bale, Willem Dafoe

78 40
Ranker Video
Donnie Darko Drew Barrymore, Ashley Tisdale, Jake Gyllenhaal

The Sexiest Characters in Thrillers

49 20
Taxi Driver is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time
KirkSaw added Taxi Driver Robert De Niro, Jodie Foster, Martin Scorsese

62 32
Ranker Video
Oldboy Choi Min-sik, Yoo Ji-tae, Oh Dal-su

65 40
Ranker Video
Mulholland Drive Naomi Watts, Billy Ray Cyrus, Melissa George

17 2
Misery is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time
Dlje115 added Misery Lauren Bacall, Kathy Bates, James Caan

57 36
Ranker Video
The Machinist Christian Bale, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Michael Ironside

59 43
Ranker Video
Zodiac Robert Downey Jr., Jake Gyllenhaal, Mark Ruffalo

16 7
Ranker Video
cpalmerray added Dial M for Murder Grace Kelly, Alfred Hitchcock, Ray Milland

The Greatest Sci-Fi Movies of All Time

37 29
Ranker Video
The Manchurian Candidate Frank Sinatra, Angela Lansbury, Janet Leigh

25 17
Ranker Video
KirkSaw added The Talented Mr. Ripley Gwyneth Paltrow, Cate Blanchett, Matt Damon

34 27
Ranker Video
Rebecca Laurence Olivier, Alfred Hitchcock, Joan Fontaine

34 28
Ranker Video
KirkSaw added Black Swan Natalie Portman, Mila Kunis, Winona Ryder

39 34
Ranker Video
Frailty Matthew McConaughey, Bill Paxton, Powers Boothe

30 25
Ranker Video
The Conversation Harrison Ford, Robert Duvall, Gene Hackman

30 25
Ranker Video
Marnie Sean Connery, Alfred Hitchcock, Tippi Hedren

The Best Thrillers with an Assumed Identity

31 27
Ranker Video
Pi Mark Margolis, Ajay Naidu, Clint Mansell

18 14
Ranker Video
KirkSaw added Play Misty for Me Clint Eastwood, Donna Mills, Jessica Walter

22 19
Ranker Video
KirkSaw added Fatal Attraction Glenn Close, Michael Douglas, Jane Krakowski

28 26
Ranker Video
Lost Highway Richard Pryor, Gary Busey, Patricia Arquette

27 25
Ranker Video
Videodrome Debbie Harry, James Woods, David Cronenberg

22 22
Ranker Video
Spellbound Ingrid Bergman, Gregory Peck, Alfred Hitchcock

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

60+ of Your Greatest Childhood Fears

17 17
Ranker Video
kaylee added Wait Until Dark Audrey Hepburn, Alan Arkin, Robby Benson

17 18
Ranker Video
KirkSaw added Falling Down Robert Duvall, Michael Douglas, Tuesday Weld

26 29
Ranker Video
Hard Candy Ellen Page, Sandra Oh, Patrick Wilson

21 24
Ranker Video
Les Diaboliques Simone Signoret, Michel Serrault, Paul Meurisse

25 29
Ranker Video
The Vanishing Johanna ter Steege, Bernard-Pierre Donnadieu, Gene Bervoets

21 25
Ranker Video
Straw Dogs Dustin Hoffman, David Warner, Peter Vaughan

11 13
Ranker Video
Zardoz added Seconds Rock Hudson, Will Geer, Richard Anderson

The Best Early 2000s Music Videos to Never Forget

22 27
Ranker Video
Repulsion Catherine Deneuve, Roman Polanski, Ian Hendry

17 21
Ranker Video
Peeping Tom Anna Massey, Michael Powell, Pamela Green

16 20
Ranker Video
The Stepfather Terry O'Quinn, Shelley Hack, Jill Schoelen

18 23
Ranker Video
House of Games William H. Macy, Joe Mantegna, J. T. Walsh

13 17
Ranker Video
The Tenant Roman Polanski, Shelley Winters, Isabelle Adjani

12 16
Ranker Video
Obsession John Lithgow, Cliff Robertson, Geneviève Bujold

12 16
Ranker Video
Sisters Margot Kidder, Charles Durning, Olympia Dukakis

19 25
Ranker Video
Dead Again Robin Williams, Emma Thompson, Kenneth Branagh