The ultimate thriller movie is the one genre of film that most of us love. We have that curiosity that what will happen next. It requires that pace, tension, a fascinating plot and all the characters to bring it on perfect on the table.
Most of us like to see lots of twists and turns. On the top of that, they should be at the same time entertaining as well.
So, in no particular order, here is a compiled list of the best thriller movies of all time.
1. The Usual Suspects (1995)
A film by Bryan Singer in which the one and only survivor tells the story of twisting events leading up to dreadful gun battle on a boat, which started when five criminals meet at apparently random police lineup, a pleasing story written by Christopher McQuarrie which stars Kevin Spacey, Gabriel Byrne, Chazz Palminteri in influential roles.
2. Se7en (1995)
In this film directed by David Fincher, two detectives, one a beginner and the other a veteran, hunt a serial killer who uses the seven deadly crimes as his motives. The movie stars Morgan Freeman, Brad Pitt, Kevin Spacey, Andrew Kevin Walker.
3. Rear Window (1954)
Rear Window is a technicolor mystery thriller film directed by Alfred Hitchcock. The film is about a newspaper photographer with broken legs who passes time bouncing back to his health by observing his neighbors through his window which becomes his obsession. What all happens further in the movie with the nurse and the girlfriend thing; watch the movie.
4. Chinatown (1974)
A good narration by Roman Polanski, Chinatown is the story of a detective who specializes in marital affairs and is hired by Mrs. Mulwray to spy on her husband, the creator of the city’s water system. When Mr. Mulwray dies, the detective finds himself in a web of fraud.
5. Taxi Driver 1976
Taxi Driver is a psychological thriller film directed by Martin Scorsese. The movie is all about a mentally unstable insomniac veteran taxi driver who ends up getting attracted to save juvenescence prostitute named Iris. The film stars Robert De Niro, Jodie Foster, Cybill Shepherd, Harvey Keitel, Peter Boyle, Albert Brooks and Leonard Harris.
6. Die Hard
Die Hard is one of the best suspense movies of all time directed by John McTiernan based on the novel by Roderick Thorp, featuring the story of a detective who goes to LA city for Christmas holidays with his wife but comes to know about the hostage situation in an office building where his spouse was one of the hostages. Die Hard has an amazing star cast including Bruce Willis, Alan Rickman, Bonnie Bedelia.
7. North by Northwest (1959)
An exhilarating and one of the most thriller movies of all time is North by Northwest. A film of erotic and iconic mixes is directed by Alfred Hitchcock starring Cary Grant, Eva Marie Saint, and James Mason. The film is a story of mistaken identity, with an honest man followed across the United States by agents of a mysterious organization trying to prevent him from blocking their plan to transfer illegal microfilm that contains government secrets. It’s a beautiful film indeed!
8. Manchurian Candidate (1962)
Manchurian candidate revolves around the story of the Cold War and sleeper agents. It’s a suspense thriller story of the son of a prominent right-wing political family who becomes an unknown assassin in a communist conspiracy. The original adaptation of the novel is a prestigious thriller, playing a tortured Platoon commander with Frank Sinatra.
9. Blood Simple (1984)
Blood is a neo-noir crime thriller about a simple bartender who starts a love life with his bosses wife only to end in gunshot and bloodshed – there is literally a tense relationship from the beginning to the end. Frances McDormand’s scary facial expressions and whispering visual scenes were the directorial debut of the Coen Brothers and one of the best of that time – even if it was widely underrated when it was released for the first time.
10. The silence of the Lambs (1991)
The 90s psychological horror thriller film by Jonathan Demme starring Jodie Foster, Anthony Hopkins, Scott Glenn, Ted Levine, and Anthony Heald. The film revolves around brilliant performances by Jodie Foster as the cop playing psychological tennis with Anthony Hopkins’ cannibal and Ted Levine as ‘Buffalo Bill’. The movie was one of the most successful and best thriller movies of the decade.
11. L.A. Confidential 1997
A neo-noir crime, tense, thrilling, and satisfying film directed by Curtis Hanson starring Kevin Spacey, Guy Pearce, Danny DeVito, and Russell Crowe. It’s a story of LAPD officers in 1953 and the crossroads between police corruption and Hollywood celebrity.
12. Notorious 1946
Notorious is a spy film noir directed and produced by Alfred Hitchcock, which stars Cary Grant, Ingrid Bergman, and Claude Rains as three people whose lives become intimately complicated during a spying operation.
13. Memento 2000
In the list of thriller films, Memento is a psychological thriller film written and directed by Christopher Nolan starring Guy Pearce who plays the role of an excellent man suffering from anterograde amnesia (the inability to form new memories) and has short-term memory loss approximately every five minutes. He uses notes and tattoos to search for the man he thinks killed his wife. You can relate it to an Indian film, Gajini.
14. Dial M For Murder 1954
Dial M for Murder is a talky, sure, crime mystery film directed by Alfred Hitchcock starring Ray Milland, Grace Kelly, Robert Cummings and John Williams. Ray Milland who is a former tennis pro wants to murder his wife, played by Grace Kelly.
15. No Country For Old Men 2007
No Country For Old Men 2007 is a drama film written and directed by Joel & Ethan Coen. The clear sense of dusty Texas dreads that the Coen brothers drum up in this film which is as vast as the Lone Star state itself. It’s a cat and mouse thriller starring Tommy Lee Jones, Javier Bardem, and Josh Brolin, it follows a Texas welder and Vietnam veteran in the desert landscape of 1980 West Texas. A man (Josh Brolin) finds a great amount of cash, and then he’s chased by the hitman (the chillingly sinister Javier Bardem) who’s hired to get it back.
16. The Third Men 1949
The Third Man is a film directed by Carol Reed starring Joseph Cotten, Valli, Orson Welles, and Trevor Howard. The film is about the post–World War II Vienna where a writer goes to Vienna to find a childhood friend, only to learn that his friend is dead. But there’s more in the film! Do watch it.
17. Strangers On A Train 1951
Another psychological thriller film noir by Alfred Hitchcock starring Farley Granger, Ruth Roman, and Robert Walker, and features Leo G. Carroll, the director’s daughter Pat Hitchcock, and Laura Elliott. The film is based on the 1950 novel Strangers on a Train by Patricia Highsmith. The story is about a tennis player and a charming psychopath who look to trade murders with each other.
18. Vertigo 1958
Vertigo is a noir psychological thriller film directed produced by Alfred Hitchcock. It is one of the greatest movies of all time. In the film, the great Jimmy Stewart is a retired San Francisco detective who has an extreme fear of heights and becomes obsessed with the woman he’s been hired to follow.
19. The Night Of The Hunter 1995
The Night of the Hunter is a thriller film directed by Charles Laughton, starring Robert Mitchum, Shelley Winters, and Lillian Gish. The film is about a corrupt minister-turned-serial killer who efforts to charm an unsuspecting widow and steal $10,000 hidden by her executed husband.
20. Marathon Man 1976
In the hit list of best thriller movies directed by John Schlesinger, Marathon Man 1976 surrounds a man, Dustin Hoffman who is a grad student who finds herself in a heap of troubles by a dentist. The film has one famous torture scene but the film is more just than that.
Also Read: 57 Best Hollywood Movies Of All Time
21. Murder On The Orient Express 1974
Murder on the Orient Express is a mystery film directed by Sidney Lumet. The film is about a Belgian detective Hercule Poirot (Albert Finney), who is asked to investigate the murder of an American business giant aboard the Orient Express train. The star cast of suspects includes Lauren Bacall, Ingrid Bergman, Sean Connery, John Gielgud, Vanessa Redgrave, Michael York, Jacqueline Bisset, Anthony Perkins and Wendy Hiller.
22. Zodiac 2007
Another fine work by David Fincher after his directorial film, Se7ven. Zodiac is a thriller film starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Mark Ruffalo, and Robert Downey, Jr., with Anthony Edwards, Brian Cox, Elias Koteas, Donal Logue, John Carroll Lynch, Dermot Mulroney, and Chloë Sevigny in supporting roles.
Zodiac narrates the story of the manhunt for the Zodiac serial killer who called himself the “Zodiac” and killed in and around the San Francisco Bay Area during the late 1960s and early 1970s, taunting police with letters, bloodstained clothing and ciphers mailed to the newspaper. Based on the true story of the United States, Jake Gyllenhaal is fabulous as the newspaper reporter who can’t let go of the case and it remains one of the most infamous unsolved crimes.
23. Fargo 1996
Fargo is a 1996 crime, dark comedy film full of suspense and graphic violence. It was directed by Joel & Ethan Coen. In the film, Frances McDormand plays the role of Marge Gunderson, a pregnant Minnesota police chief investigating roadside killings that start to happen after a desperate car salesman (William H. Macy) hires two criminals (Steve Buscemi and Peter Stormare) to kidnap his wife in order to blackmail a big bribe from his wealthy father-in-law (Harve Presnell).
24. The French Connection (1971)
The French Connection is a crime thriller film directed by William Friedkin. It features a true account of cops, narcotics, and International Conspiracy. It focuses the story of New York Police Department detectives Jimmy “Popeye” Doyle and his partner in crime, Buddy “Cloudy” Russo, two NYC detectives attempting to bust up a heroin-smuggling thing. The film is based on actual facts showcasing Popeye bellows and brutalizes his way through a criminal fraternity.
25. Black Swan (2010)
Black Swan is a psychological horror film directed by Darren Aronofsky starring Natalie Portman, Vincent Cassel, Mila Kunis, Barbara Hershey and Winona Ryder. The plotting of film is in a way, a production of Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake ballet by a renowned New York City ballet company. The production needs a ballerina to play the innocent and dainty White Swan, for which the dedicated dancer Nina (Portman) is a perfect choice, as well as the dark and sensual Black Swan, which are qualities better incorporated by the new arrival Lily (Kunis). Nina is overwhelmed by a feeling of immense pressure when she finds herself competing for the part, resulting in losing her shaky grip on reality and collapse into a living nightmare.
26. Dead Man’s Shoes (2004)
Dead Man’s Shoes is a psychological thriller film directed by Shane Meadows starring Paddy Considine, Toby Kebbell, Gary Stretch and Stuart Wolfenden. Paddy Considine portrays the role of ex-soldier Richard, bringing a touch of Travis Bickle to a green countryside; Toby Kebbell is his hatred brother, Anthony, preyed upon by drug dealers who don’t know what’s coming.
27. Kill List (2011)
Kill List is a crime drama psychological horror film directed by Ben Wheatley starring Neil Maskell, MyAnna Buring, and Michael Smiley. It’s a story of a British soldier returns home from Kiev, he joins an old friend as contract killers. The bad past of his surfaces as he spins out of control during jobs and dangerous employers raise the stakes. Just see the film as the ending is terrifying, sometimes frustrating. It’s one of the best thriller movies of all time.