Film Industry

Best Thriller Movies Of All Time: What Are The Best Thriller Movies?

Photograph of the blog post author, Dylan Easton

Dylan Easton

8.7.2021

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The great thing about cinema is transporting you to another world and nothing gets the blood pumping like a good thriller movie. It is a captivating genre that has seen many talents, from directors such as David Fincher to actors such as Leonardo Di Caprio. While it is difficult to rank so many of the best thriller movies, we’ve taken it upon ourselves to create a list of our top thriller movies.

Shutter Island is one of the best thriller movies of all time

In this article, we will count down our top 10 best thriller movies of all time. We will have many newer entries as well as some golden oldies. Be sure to stick around for our top spot!

Top 10 Best Thriller Movies

Without further ado, let’s jump into our list of best thriller films!

10. Vertigo (1958)

Vertigo is one of the best thriller movies of all time

Vertigo is widely considered as one of director Alfred Hitchcock’s best films. This literary adaptation of the French novel D’entre Les Morts follows personal investigator Scottie Ferguson (James Stewart). His character realises he has vertigo after a police officer tries to rescue him from falling off a building.

James Stewart’s traumatised detective, John ‘Scottie’ Ferguson, must track a friend’s wife who is in danger.  But then she vanishes, leaving him chasing shadows and questioning his sanity. 

The film meanders through each twist which shifts the ground beneath the audience. The excellent cinematography disorientates the audience and depicts Scottie’s terror and psychosis. In 2012 it was named the greatest film of all time in Sight and Sound’s critics’ poll. It is simply a masterpiece and certainly belongs on our list of best psychological thriller movies.

9. Uncut Gems (2019)

Uncut Gems is one of the best thriller movies of all time

The Safdie Brothers, Josh, and Benny, have proven in the past that they have a keen eye and unique tone to make one of the best crime thriller movies of recent with 2017’s brilliant Good Time. 

With regards to our list of best thriller movies, 2019 offered their follow up, Uncut Gems. This excellent film takes their work even further. Adam Sandler, believe it or not, is excellent as Howard Ratner. His character is a high-rolling, motormouth, diamond-dealing New Yorker who’s in deep with the sharks. He just about keeps the wolves from knocking down his door by escalating to bigger and bigger bets. 

He gets his hands on an extraordinarily rare black opal which is where the film kicks off. This film is incredibly difficult to follow, in the best kind of chaotic way. This deserves a spot on our list as one of the best thriller movies on Netflix and one of the best thriller movies, 2019.

8. Nightcrawler (2014)

Nightcrawler is one of the best thriller movies of all time

Jake Gyllenhaal is a different level of creepy in Nightcrawler. It is a spiteful and illuminating thriller about an evil, yet enthusiastic man. His character discovers that you can make very good money by filming tragedies and selling the footage to the local news. 

Moral devastation is at the heart of Nightcrawler, as it is reminiscent of the classic cinema of the 1970s. There’s clear influence from everything from Taxi Driver to Network, but writer and director Dan Gilroy’s thriller feels more contemporary and discomforting. 

Gyllenhaal’s anti-anti-antihero, Louis Bloom, represents an increasingly inhumane generation of young, male Americans. Gyllenhaal’s performance is somewhat hypnotic in one of the bleakest and horrifying thrillers of its kind. 

7. The Silence Of The Lambs (1991)

The Silence Of The Lambs is one of the best thriller movies of all time

The silence of the lambs is the film that launched the 90s cinema obsession with psychopathic killers (Se7en, Scream, etc). This is one of the best thriller films, thanks to one of the most memorable bad guys ever depicted on screen.

It’s easy to forget that the second Hannibal Lecter film was a taut-as-hell thriller that also featured brilliant performances from Jodie Foster, as the cop playing psychological tennis with Anthony Hopkins’s cannibal, and Ted Levine as ‘Buffalo Bill’. 

This thriller cleaned up at the Oscars, winning Best Picture, Director, Actor, Actress. This makes it one of the most successful films of the decade and it stands the test of time.

6. Memento (2000)

Memento is one of the best thriller movies of all time

We could’ve had The Prestige on this list also, but Memento is the film that takes the cake. In this Christopher Nolan epic, the narrative works its way backward from scene to scene. 

Pearce plays Leonard Shelby, who suffered brain trauma during an attack on his wife. He is now incapable of developing new memories. Despite this, nothing will stop him from pursuing his wife’s murderer. 

Nolan experiments with an innovative structure of Memento as it works its way backward. The audience is right at the moment with Leonard’s ignorance of all the events that propel him to each fascinating scene

Memento could have been taken for a novel editing gimmick, however, Nolan constructs a gripping suspense narrative around our protagonist’s limited perception. 

5. Prisoners (2013)

Prisoners is one of the best thriller movies of all time

Keller Dover’s (Hugh Jackman) daughter goes missing and launches his own investigation to find out who kidnapped her.

Detective Loki (Jake Gyllenhaal) is assigned to the case and warns Dover to stand down and let the authorities do their job, despite his suspicions over a local boy named Alex Jones (Paul Dano).

The entire spine-tingling film is a downward spiral that keeps you on the edge of your seat.

4. Gone Girl (2014)

Gone Girl is one of the best thriller movies of all time

Gone Girl is a David Fincher’s vicious adaptation of Gillian Flynn’s bestselling novel. Nick Dunne (Ben Affleck) discovers that his wife Amy (Rosamund Pike) has vanished. She leaves behind evidence of foul play and, to Nick’s surprise, evidence that he is responsible. 

The first half of Gone Girl is packed full of suspense, as Fincher drip-feeds us revelation’s about Nick and Amy’s marriage. Nick makes seemingly innocent but suspicious decisions, and the media makes him suffer for it. 

Needless to say, there’s more to this story. Gone Girl leads to monumental story twists and dramatic re contextualization of everything seen before.

This is certainly one of David Fincher’s finest movies, and that’s saying something. We could’ve included Se7en, Zodiac, and Fight Club on this list. While they are all classics, we feel this is Fincher’s most mature movie as he has mastered the genre he has cultivated for so long. Not to mention Pike’s character is instantly iconic and received an Oscar nod for her revelatory performance.

3. The Handmaiden (2016)

The Handmaiden is one of the best thriller movies of all time

The Handmaiden is an adaptation of Sarah Waters’ novel Fingersmith. Park Chan-wook transports the action to Korea, where a young con artist is enlisted to work for a wealthy Japanese heiress. Her role is to convince her to marry a handsome scam artist. However, soon enough, Sook-Hee (Tae-ri Kim) finds herself falling for Lady Hideko (Min-hee Kim). 

You may think you know where this film is heading, but we assure you that you do not. The Handmaiden, Park Chan-wook’s stunningly photographed, sensual, and absolutely astonishing historical thriller reveals one shocking twist after the other. 

This movie blows wide open the misogynistic cruelty and the evils of the male gaze. The movie is unpredictable and absolutely captivating, The Handmaiden is simply a masterpiece. 

2. Shutter Island (2010)

Shutter Island is one of the best thriller movies of all time

Iconic film duo Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio come together in one of the best suspense movies ever. We see DiCaprio’s character, federal marshal Teddy Daniels and his partner Chuck (Mark Ruffalo) head to Shutter Island. This is the location of a mental hospital for the criminally insane.

While investigating a patient named Rachel Solando (Emily Mortimer), Teddy begins to struggle with the memory of his wife’s murder at the hands of an arsonist who is on the island and is forced to question his own mental state.

Scorcese masterfully constructs a narrative that has the audience questioning their own sanity. With a great performance from Di Caprio and stunning cinematography, we feel this is a fitting on our list. 

1. Jaws (1975)

Jaws is one of the best thriller movies of all time

‘Two notes and you’ve got a villain’. This is how Jack Black’s character from The Holiday perfectly sums up the simple genius of Steven Spielberg’s Jaws. Jaws is the quintessential summer blockbuster movie that has permanently scarred the world from going in the sea.

In this Steven Spielberg-directed epic, we see several people become victims to a murderous predator. However, a group of fishermen believes they can go toe to toe, or toe to fin rather, with the great white and save their local community. 

Jaws is the ultimate thriller and one of the best horror-thriller movies to date. The longevity of this film is a testament to Spielberg’s excellent storytelling and eye for cinematography. A notable shot is the dolly zoom which is simply wonderful. Just mind out for that jumpscare.

That Was Our Review Of The Best Thriller Movies

The Silence Of The Lambs is one of the best thriller movies of all time

So, there we have it! That was our list of the best thriller movies of all time. Hopefully, we’ve answered the question ‘what are the best thriller movies of all time’. We’ve looked at some of the best action-thriller movies as well as some truly mind-bending psychological thriller films.

This is a fantastic genre and we hope to see some more great thriller movies in the years to come. Why not have yourself a thriller movie marathon, if your heart can take it!

If you enjoyed this article, why not check out a few other movie guides on our blog? To get you started, we recommend the Best Sci-Fi Movies, How To Be A Film Critic, and our Film Terminology Guide.

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