The launch of innovative thrillers like “Glass Onion” and “Bullet Train” has re-ignited the love for this classic genre. These films are a potent concoction of action, suspense, crime, and sci-fi – prepared to keep viewers in an endless loop of anticipation (or fear).
IMDb makes it a breeze for thriller fanatics to find the cream of the crop. From award-winning classics like “Witness for the Prosecution” that form this genre’s identity to worldwide successes such as “Parasite.” It even includes two dark superhero movies from “The Dark Knight” franchise among its top-rated gems.
Ranked Best Thriller Movies [Sortable Table]
|18||Witness for the Prosecution||1957||8.4||76|
|17||The Lives of Others||2006||8.4||89|
|11||The Usual Suspects||1995||8.5||77|
|10||Léon: The Professional||1994||8.5||64|
|5||The Silence of the Lambs||1991||8.6||85|
|3||The Dark Knight Rises||2012||8.4||78|
|1||The Dark Knight||2008||9||84|
More About the Best Thriller Movies List
Our best thriller movies list includes 8.4 or higher rated movies from the 1950s to this decade. Two of these movies were directed by Alfred Hitchcock, a name synonymous with suspenseful thrillers like “Psycho” and “Vertigo.” Christopher Nolan also has five of his thrilling gems in this selection, including two from his acclaimed Batman trilogy.
18. “Witness for the Prosecution” (1957)
Director: Billy Wilder | Stars: Tyrone Power, Marlene Dietrich, Charles Laughton
IMDb rating: 8.4/10 (127K votes) | Metascore: 76
This classic courtroom drama film follows the story of an aging barrister who is determined to prove the innocence of his new client, Leonard Vole. Despite having an alibi for the murder, his wife’s testimony might be enough to get him convicted. The movie is based on a stage play by Agatha Christie and features an all-star cast that includes Marlene Dietrich and Charles Laughton.
It was nominated for 6 Oscars and 5 Golden Globes (Elsa Lanchester won Best Supporting Actress).
17. “The Lives of Others” (2006)
Director: Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck | Stars: Ulrich Mühe, Martina Gedeck, Sebastian Koch
IMDb rating: 8.4/10 (392K votes) | Metascore: 89
Set in 1984 East Berlin, “The Lives of Others” is an emotionally captivating best thriller movie that follows the story of an agent of the secret police, who is conducting surveillance on a writer and his lover. As he finds himself becoming increasingly absorbed by their lives, his moral compass is tested in various ways.
This best gripping thriller film won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film in 2007, has racked up 80 awards in total, and received some of the best reviews of all time.
16. “Rear Window” (1954)
Director: Alfred Hitchcock | Stars: James Stewart, Grace Kelly, Wendell Corey
IMDb rating: 8.5/10 (496K votes) | Metascore: 100
A classic best thriller movie from the master of suspense, Alfred Hitchcock. “Rear Window” follows the story of a wheelchair-bound photographer who spies on his neighbors from his Greenwich Village courtyard apartment window and becomes convinced one of them has committed murder. Despite the skepticism of his fashion-model girlfriend, he starts to investigate further.
The film was nominated for four Academy Awards and won 6 other major film awards. It’s also been listed as one of the 100 greatest American movies ever created by the American Film Institute.
15. “Oldboy” (2003)
Director: Park Chan-wook | Stars: Choi Min-sik, Yoo Ji-tae, Kang Hye-jeong
IMDb rating: 8.4/10 (586K votes) | Metascore: 77
“Oldboy” follows the story of Oh Dae-su, a South Korean man who is inexplicably kidnapped and held captive for 15 years without explanation. When he’s finally released, he sets out on a violent quest to find his captor and uncover the reason behind his imprisonment.
This best psychological thriller movie was critically acclaimed around the world and won multiple awards including Grand Prix at the 2004 Cannes Film Festival.
14. “Psycho” (1960)
Director: Alfred Hitchcock | Stars: Anthony Perkins, Janet Leigh, Vera Miles
IMDb rating: 8.5/10 (678K votes) | Metascore: 97
Another film from the master of suspense – Alfred Hitchcock. “Psycho” is a psychological horror film that follows the story of Marion Crane, a woman on the run who takes refuge at the Bates Motel. Here she meets the best scary movie’s iconic antagonist, Norman Bates. The movie was revolutionary for its time and is still considered one of Hitchcock’s best works.
It has been selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by The Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.”
“Psycho” was nominated for four Academy Awards and remains one of the best-known films in cinema history. It is widely considered to be one of the best examples of a suspense/horror film and has been cited as an influence on many other best thriller movies since its release.
13. “Aliens” (1986)
Director: James Cameron | Stars: Sigourney Weaver, Michael Biehn, Carrie Henn
IMDb rating: 8.4/10 (724K votes) | Metascore: 84
“Aliens” derives from the classic sci-fi franchise and a sequel to Ridley Scott’s 1979 horror film, “Alien.” The movie follows the story of Ellen Ripley (Sigourney Weaver), an intergalactic space warrior who is sent on a mission to investigate and destroy an alien species that has wiped out an entire colony. With her crew of rough-and-tumble marines, she battles against the aliens in one of the best action-packed thrillers ever made.
It won two Oscars for Best Visual Effects and Sound Effects Editing was nominated for five other Academy Awards and is considered one of the best sci-fi movies of all time.
12. “Parasite” (2019)
Director: Bong Joon Ho | Stars: Song Kang-ho, Lee Sun-kyun, Cho Yeo-jeong
IMDb rating: 8.5/10 (824K votes) | Metascore: 96
“Parasite” is South Korean director Bong Joon-ho’s popular thriller film and a modern classic from 2019. The movie follows the story of an impoverished family who infiltrates a wealthy household by posing as unrelated, highly qualified individuals. As the two families become increasingly entangled in each other’s lives, dark secrets are revealed that have catastrophic consequences for both families.
“Parasite” has been met with critical acclaim around the world and won four Academy Awards, making it the first foreign-language film in history to win Best Picture. It has also won numerous other awards including Palme d’Or at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival.
11. “The Usual Suspects” (1995)
Director: Bryan Singer | Stars: Kevin Spacey, Stephen Baldwin, Gabriel Byrne, Benicio Del Toro, Chazz Palminteri, Kevin Pollak
IMDb rating: 8.5/10 (1.1M votes) | Metascore: 77
“The Usual Suspects” is a neo-noir mystery film directed by Bryan Singer and written by Christopher McQuarrie that follows the story of five criminals who are brought together by a mysterious figure and forced to work on a criminal heist. As events unfold, it becomes increasingly clear that not all is as it seems and there may be more to the story than meets the eye.
Considered one of the best neo-noir films of all time, the movie has been revered for its masterful storytelling and twists. It has received critical acclaim around the world and won multiple awards including two Academy Awards and two BAFTA awards for Best Editing and Best Original Screenplay.
10. “Léon: The Professional” (1994)
Director: Luc Besson | Stars: Jean Reno, Gary Oldman, Natalie Portman
IMDb rating: 8.5/10 (1.2M votes) | Metascore: 64
Directed and written by French filmmaker Luc Besson, “Léon: The Professional” follows the story of an aging hitman, Léon (Jean Reno), who takes in a young girl, Mathilda (Natalie Portman), after her family is murdered. Together they form an unlikely bond as Léon teaches Mathilda the skills of his trade and helps her to hunt down those responsible for the death of her family.
Despite its brutal violence and subject matter, the movie has been widely praised for its emotionally powerful storytelling and is considered to be one of the best films of its kind.
9. “Memento” (2000)
Director: Christopher Nolan | Stars: Guy Pearce, Carrie-Anne Moss
IMDb rating: 8.4/10 (1.2M votes) | Metascore: 81
“Memento” is a neo-noir psychological thriller directed by Christopher Nolan and written by him and his brother Jonathan. It follows the story of Leonard Shelby (Guy Pearce), an insurance investigator who suffers from anterograde amnesia, meaning he is unable to remember anything for more than a few minutes at a time. On a mission to find the man responsible for his wife’s murder, Leonard relies on notes and tattoos as reminders while following leads that will eventually lead him to the truth.
The film has been praised for its clever and intricate story structure, which keeps the audience guessing until the very end. It has won and been nominated for numerous awards including two Academy Awards for Best Film Editing and Best Original Screenplay and is considered to be one of Nolan’s best films.
8. “Joker” (2019)
Director: Todd Phillips | Stars: Joaquin Phoenix, Robert De Niro
IMDb rating: 8.5/10 (1.3M votes) | Metascore: 59
“Joker” is a psychological thriller directed by Todd Phillips and written by him and Scott Silver that follows the story of Arthur Fleck (Joaquin Phoenix), a failed stand-up comic whose life slowly spirals out of control as he descends into madness. As the movie progresses, Fleck’s mental instability and resentment of society lead to acts of violence that will ultimately transform him into the legendary Batman villain.
The movie has been met with critical acclaim around the world, with many praising Phoenix’s performance and the film’s unflinching look at mental health and society. It has won numerous awards including two Academy Awards for Best Actor and Best Original Score.
7. “The Departed” (2006)
Director: Martin Scorsese | Stars: Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon, Jack Nicholson
IMDb rating: 8.5/10 (1.3M votes) | Metascore: 85
Directed by legendary filmmaker Martin Scorsese and written by William Monahan, “The Departed” is a crime drama set in Boston. It follows the lives of two men, Billy Costigan (Leonardo DiCaprio) and Colin Sullivan (Matt Damon), who have opposite roles in law enforcement: one is an undercover cop infiltrating a criminal organization while the other is a mole planted by said organization inside the police force. As their paths cross and events unfold, it becomes clear that there are no winners in this game of deception and betrayal.
The movie was met with critical praise, winning four Academy Awards including Best Picture, and is considered to be one of Scorsese’s finest works.
6. “The Prestige” (2006)
Director: Christopher Nolan | Stars: Hugh Jackman, Christian Bale, Michael Caine
IMDb rating: 8.4/10 (1.3M votes) | Metascore: 66
Directed by Christopher Nolan and written by him and his brother Jonathan, “The Prestige” is a period drama set in London during the late 19th century. It follows the story of two rival magicians, Alfred Borden (Christian Bale) and Robert Angier (Hugh Jackman), who are locked in a bitter feud over their respective stage acts. As their rivalry intensifies, the two men will eventually resort to desperate measures to outdo each other with tragic consequences.
The movie has been praised for its compelling story, great performances, and intricate plot twists and has been nominated for numerous awards including the Academy Award for Best Cinematography.
5. “The Silence of the Lambs” (1991)
Director: Jonathan Demme | Stars: Jodie Foster, Anthony Hopkins
IMDb rating: 8.6/10 (1.4M votes) | Metascore: 85
“The Silence of the Lambs”, directed by Jonathan Demme and written by Ted Tally, is a psychological thriller set in Baltimore and Washington D.C. It follows the story of FBI trainee Clarice Starling (Jodie Foster) as she investigates a series of gruesome murders, enlisting the help of the notorious serial killer Dr. Hannibal Lecter (Anthony Hopkins).
The movie has received widespread critical acclaim, winning five Academy Awards including Best Picture and Best Actor for Hopkins’ performance. It has also been praised for its gripping story, intense atmosphere, and thought-provoking themes.
4. “Se7en” (1995)
Director: David Fincher | Stars: Brad Pitt, Morgan Freeman
IMDb rating: 8.6/10 (1.7M votes) | Metascore: 65
“Se7en”, directed by David Fincher and written by Andrew Kevin Walker, is a dark thriller set in an unnamed American city. It follows the story of two detectives, Somerset (Morgan Freeman) and Mills (Brad Pitt), as they investigate a series of murders committed by a mysterious serial killer known only as John Doe.
The movie has been praised for its compelling plot, strong performances, and atmospheric cinematography. It is also noted for its unflinching depiction of violence and moral ambiguity, which has made it a cult classic among movie fans.
“Se7en” has received multiple award nominations, including an Academy Award nomination for Best Film Editing. It is one of the most influential thrillers of all time, inspiring countless other movies and TV shows.
3. “The Dark Knight Rises” (2012)
Director: Christopher Nolan | Stars: Christian Bale, Tom Hardy
IMDb rating: 8.4/10 (1.7M votes) | Metascore: 78
The conclusion to Christopher Nolan’s blockbuster Batman trilogy, “The Dark Knight Rises” follows the story of Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) as he faces off against a dangerous new foe: Bane (Tom Hardy). After being exiled from Gotham City and left to die in the desert, Bruce must rediscover his strength and courage to save the city he loves.
The movie has been met with critical praise, earning over 100 award nominations worldwide and winning over 40. It has also been praised for its thrilling action sequences, compelling story, and its topical themes. The film has become a cultural phenomenon, with visuals and dialogue from the movie often referenced in popular culture.
2. “Inception” (2010)
Director: Christopher Nolan | Stars: Leonardo DiCaprio, Joseph Gordon-Levitt
IMDb rating: 8.8/10 (2.4M votes) | Metascore: 74
“Inception”, written and directed by Christopher Nolan, is a science fiction heist film set in the dream world of corporate espionage. It follows the story of Dom Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his team of specialists as they attempt to plant an idea in a target’s mind through dream manipulation.
The movie has been praised for its innovative visuals, intelligent screenplay, and powerful performances. It has won numerous awards including four Academy Awards, an AFI Award for Movie of the Year, and a BAFTA Award for Best Special Effects. It has also been listed on multiple “Best Films of the Decade” lists from sources like CNET and IMDb.
1. “The Dark Knight” (2008)
Director: Christopher Nolan | Stars: Christian Bale, Heath Ledger
IMDb rating: 9.0/10 (2.7M votes) | Metascore: 82
The second installment in Christopher Nolan’s trilogy, “The Dark Knight” follows the story of Bruce Wayne’s alter ego Batman (Christian Bale) as he battles against a mysterious and powerful criminal known as the Joker (Heath Ledger). The movie has gained widespread critical acclaim, winning two Academy Awards and a BAFTA Film Award, including Best Supporting Actor for Ledger’s performance.
This best thriller movie is praised for its intense action sequences, gripping storyline, and excellent performances. It has also been noted for its exploration of complex moral issues, making it one of the most thought-provoking action films ever made. The movie has become an iconic piece of pop culture and a timeless classic.
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