The 12 best thriller movies of all time

In the movie world, Thriller is a very broad category. As you’ll see in our compiled list of the “Top 12”, it ranges from 80 years old and delves into many other genres – horror, film noir, espionage, etc. a summary that spans several decades, evokes different moods and shows many directors (although there are some repetitions). So here are the best Thrillers of all time, from gloomy, smiling ghosts, to serial killers, to brainwashed pawns of enemy nations.

The 12 best thrillers

12. The Manchurian Candidate

The Manchurian candidate

The Manchurian candidate

Where to watch: Roku Channel (with ads), Tubi (with ads), Pluto TV (with ads) or rented on most platforms.

First of all, Jonathan Demme’s remake of 2004’s The Manchurian Candidate, starring Denzel Washington, is also pretty good. A different movie in many ways, but still good. Nothing beats the original in this case, however, as John Frankenheimer’s 1962 adaptation of Manchurian Candidate blends drama, suspense, science fiction, and political satire in such an effective way that it’s hard to place it in any category. Starring Frank Sinatra, Laurence Harvey and Angela Lansbury, The Manchurian Candidate follows a returning hero soldier suspected of being a brainwashed killer.

11. Remembrance

Souvenir

Souvenir

Where to watch: HBO, HBO Max, Hoopla or rented on most platforms.

Guy Pearce, Joe Pantoliano and Carrie-Anne Moss star in this inventive 2001 thriller from writer-director Christoper Nolan, which tells the story of a vengeful man suffering from short-term memory loss. Memento unfolds in ten-minute sequences, shown in reverse chronological order, creating an experience that put Nolan on everyone’s list, and made Memento one of the few privileged films that become lexicon.

10. The Talented Mr Ripley

The talented Mr Ripley

The talented Mr Ripley

Where to watch: Peacock, or rented on most platforms.

Anthony Minghella’s 1999 adaptation of the first of Patricia Highsmith’s five Tom Ripley novels is a magnificently twisted and unsettling thread. It’s about a young sociopath (Matt Damon) with high society dreams, who becomes dangerously obsessed with a wealthy college dropout (Jude Law) living in Italy. The Talented Mr. Ripley is a riveting thriller that takes us inside the mind of a monster that hides in plain sight, kills with kindness and will do anything to cover its tracks.

9. The Sixth Sense

The sixth Sense

The sixth Sense

Where to watch: Amazon Prime Video, or rented on most platforms.

Even though everyone knows the big twist now, M. Night Shyamalan’s 1999 film, starring Bruce Willis and Toni Collette, is still a movie that stands firm even without the shock and awe of its final moments. Haley Joel Osment’s journey as young Cole, a tortured boy desperate to find out why the dead appear to him, is a masterful narrative, containing a meaningful message about embracing what terrifies you to uncover the truth underneath.

8. The conversation

The conversation

The conversation

Where to watch: Amazon Prime Video, or rented on most platforms.

Between The Godfather and The Godfather Part II Francis Ford Coppola has made The Conversation, a paranoid masterpiece on par with his best work. It stands today as a remarkable depiction of a man’s professional life shattered by his inescapable personal convictions. Gene Hackman has a remarkable performance as Harry Caul, a surveillance expert who finds himself hiding in a possible assassination plot as he tries to recover from his role in the deaths of three people years earlier.

7. Zodiac

Zodiac

Zodiac

Where to watch: Hoopla, or rented on most platforms.

David Fincher’s Zodiac, about the hunt for the Zodiac Killer in the late 1960s, is a moody masterpiece brimming with harrowing anxiety. Jake Gyllenhaal, Mark Ruffalo and Robert Downey Jr. star in this cold-blooded crime epic born from decades of baffling facts and suspicions built around the case. You’ll never hear Donovan’s “Hurdy Gurdy Man” the same way again.

6. Double Indemnity

double indemnity

double indemnity

Where to watch: The Criterion Channel, or rented on most platforms.

Billy Wilder’s legacy is to be one of the most versatile and talented directors in Hollywood history. If you know Fred MacMurray as the lovable father in My Three Sons, you’ll look at him differently after seeing his performance as Walter Neff in Double Indemnity, a riveting and pivotal noir about an insurance salesman and a seductive housewife. (Barbara Stanwyck) who team up to end her husband. It’s dark, cynical and full of dark humor that’s as troubling as it is inviting.

5. Se7en

Se7en

Se7en

Where to watch: HBO Max, or rented on most platforms.

David Fincher’s Seven (also “Se7en”) brought macabre wit and jagged emotions to the oversaturated game of ’90s serial killer movies. Seven Deadly Sins, Seven features Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman as a detective duo on the brink of having their worlds destroyed forever.

Chinatown

Chinatown

Where to watch: HBO, HBO Max, Cinemax Go, Hoopla or rented on most platforms.

Featuring a strong, Oscar-winning screenplay by Robert Towne, Chinatown is an incredible neo-noir thriller that simultaneously honors and redefines the film noir genre. It follows private detective JJ Gittes (Jack Nicholson) as he investigates a murder and stumbles upon a conspiracy involving the future of Los Angeles. Brilliantly telling a complex story and featuring brilliant performances from Nicholson and co-star Faye Dunaway, Chinatown has been on every best thriller/noir list since its debut in 1974.

3. Psychopath

Psycho

Psycho

Where to watch: Tubi (with ads) or rented on most platforms.

Simply put, Psycho is one of the best and most influential thrillers ever made. This 1960 Alfred Hitchcock classic, starring Anthony Perkins and Janet Leigh, changed cinema and inspired countless future filmmakers in the process. For Hitchcock – who had previously made films like North by Northwest, Vertigo and Rear Window – the film was a notable departure from his established formula. Filmed on a smaller budget, in black and white, by the staff of their Alfred Hitchcock Presents television series, Psycho was controversial (at the time) in both structure and theme, and now stands as one of the greatest films of all time.

2. The Silence of the Lambs

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Where to watch: Fubo, or rented on most platforms.

Remember when a horror movie won the Oscars for Best Picture, Director, Actor, Actress and Screenplay? Not only did The Silence of the Lambs launch a Hannibal Lecter media franchise and usher in a brief era of “prestige horror” – big-name directors doing scary things (i.e. Misery, Interview with a Vampire, Bram Stoker’s Dracula, etc.) led to dozens of copycat serial killer movies throughout the 1990s (one even called Copycat). Oh, and did we mention that it’s also a phenomenal movie with some of the best twists, turns, and scares ever? The Silence of the Lambs is almost unbeatable.

1. North by Northwest

North by Northwest

North by Northwest

Where to watch: HBO Max, or rented on most platforms.

In fact, this list could be mostly Alfred Hitchcock Films. So it’s only fitting that he grabs the top spot here with his epic mystery/thriller, North By Northwest. A spy adventure filled with intrigue and fun, and featuring some of cinema’s most copied sequels, North By Northwest stars the incomparable Cary Grant as Roger Thornhill, a man mistaken for a spy and forced to flee a relentless pursuit, providing a plan. by which all thrillers can be judged.

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