10 best female-led thrillers of the 2020s

Thrillers are full of conflict, surprise twists, and tension that keep you on the edge of your seat, rather than the blood and gore of many horror movies. Even better, thrillers can make viewers question themselves, their loved ones, and even their own reality due to the fear, terror, and confusion they feel.

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What could be more satisfying than seeing a female protagonist go through these terrifying moments and then watching her unravel perfectly? From daring revenge for a best friend to a fight or be eaten situation, here’s a list of ten of the best thrillers with female leads of the 2020s to watch that will have you nail-biting the whole time.

“Promising Young Woman” (2020)

Cassie dresses up as an ourfit nurse with colored hair probably holding a 10 blade

Emerald Fennellthe former showrunner of Kill Eve, crafted a chilling and utterly gripping drama about rape and the trauma it causes. Cassie (Carey Mulligan), is a 30-year-old medical school dropout whose life has come to a halt since her childhood best friend was sexually abused and humiliated at a college party. Her attackers face no punishment and move on with their lives, while Cassie hatches a plan to make them and all like-minded men pay for their outrageous actions.

Cassie is a tough, determined and stubborn woman who, in the end, makes a very bold and controversial decision. Promising young woman is a unique rape-revenge story that is free from opportunistic violence and features a level of likability that is often lacking in thrillers of this genre.


“I Care a Lot” (2020)

Blonde lady in costume and red lips in sharpness

Rosamund pike is one of the few actresses who can play a character who does horrible things and still wins the hearts of the public. In I care a lot, she played a very Amy-Dunne-like character named Marla Grayson, a professional legal guardian. Marla exploits the legal system to care for the elderly in order to take all their valuables and assets, which she must now manage. Eventually, Marla thinks she may have met her match when she targets mob lord Roman Lunyov’s mother (Pierre Dinklage).

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Pike’s Marla, like Amy Dunne, displays disconcerting traits, such as a lack of fear, relentless lies, skillful manipulation, and a propensity for going to extremes. I care a lot is a gripping and humorous examination of American greed and the various ways people can exploit the mechanisms in authoritative places for personal gain.

“Last Night in Soho” (2021)

Sandie and Eloise are standing in the mirror

Last night in Soho the public is never completely oriented in time, a bit like Eloise (Thomasin McKenzie), a social underdog and aspiring fashion designer who is continually drawn back in time to uncover the tragic story of lounge singer Sandie (Anya Taylor Joy).

Eloise and Sandie, the leading ladies, are both resilient, fierce, and courageous young women learning about themselves and the world for the first time. Last night in Soho is the epitome of “show, don’t tell.” It creates an interesting mystery that spans decades without giving anything away, culminating in a twist that blurs the film’s own message.

“Shirley” (2020)

Shirley feeds the Rose Mushroom in the wood

Elizabeth Moss plays the lead role in this story, which is a fictional thriller about mystery and horror writer Shirley Jackson, who is best known for works such as The Loturthere and The Haunting of Hill House. Shirley and her husband Stanley (Michael Stuhlbarg) welcome Rose and Fred Nesmer (young odessa and Logan Lerman), a young newlywed couple who inspired her new job, and it all goes wrong from there.

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Shirley is smart, but perhaps even more unbalanced. Shirley isn’t exactly cinematic comfort food; there’s a sense of unease that flows from scene to scene, with Moss contributing to the tone of the picture by giving her character tremendous depth and a compelling performance.

‘Kimi’ (2022)

A mixed race woman with blue hair staring at the camera

Angela, played by Zoe Kravitz, is an agoraphobic woman who works for a major tech company that produced the Alexa-style device, Kimi. She analyzes and updates Kimi’s user data to improve the quality of service, and while she’s at it, she overhears a recording of a woman in distress and decides to help her.

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Angela’s physique, along with her depiction of past trauma, makes her a character that audiences will desperately want to root for. Beyond thrills Kimi has a lot to say about the pros and cons of our overreliance on technology, working women, and life amid COVID, which the film acknowledges and sets during.

“Thinking About Ending Things” (2020)

The young woman tastes the falling snow

I’m thinking of ending things summarizes the point of view of an anonymous woman played by Jessie Buckleywho considers ending her relationship as she travels with her boyfriend Jake (jesse plemons) to visit his parents at their farm. Things get weird from there, for real Charlie Kaufman fashion.

The movie is really Buckley’s show, as she gives a compelling performance as a flexible and dynamic woman. The story develops psychological suspense and your mind will undoubtedly be blown away by the ending. At the same time, the acting is excellent and the film is both challenging and scary.

“The Invisible Man” (2020)

Cecilia is standing with her back to the mirror

Leigh Whannelthe writer/director, recreated the original Universal Monster as an obsessive scientist who uses his fantastical invisible technology to fake his death and shine a perfect light on his ex-girlfriend Cecilia (Elisabeth Moss).

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The invisible Man is an exhilarating and highly nerve-wracking new take on a classic tale, allowing audiences to experience the relentless anxiety and suffering of our tormented protagonist. Cecelia de Moss is the real star of the series, fighting for her life against the invisible monster.

‘Run’ (2020)

A woman with blood on her hand leans against a glass box

Kiera Allenthe character of The Daughter of Coursefinds that his loving mother (Sarah Paulson) is more actively responsible than she could have imagined for her multiple long-term illnesses and disabilities.

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In this film, The Daughter is feisty, approachable, watchable, and effortlessly hip, offering an anchor of empathy and a compelling desire to see her win. His mother, on the other hand, is terrifying and incomparable. Course is an unmissable female thriller with relentless suspense, surprise laughs, and one of the most heartbreaking endings.

‘Fresh’ (2022)

A woman is shopping in the fresh meat section of the grocery store

Mimi’s CaveThe assured directorial debut of begins with a critique of modern app-based dating and Noa (Daisy EdgarJones) is a horrible first date. Later, she has an unexpected encounter with a seemingly more mature and charming Steve (Sebastian Stan) in a grocery store, it’s an invigorating change and it charms her with no problem. When Steve invites Noa on vacation to a place he thinks remains secret, things go south, very quickly.

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Costs is a fast-paced emotional roller coaster that will make your stomach turn. Starring Noa, played by Edgar-Jones, evolves from a naïve, vulnerable, and love-filled character at the start to a tough, bold, and resolute lady in the finale.

“I Am Your Wife” (2020)

A woman in a pink dress smokes on a deck chair

I’m your wife focuses on spouses and mothers who frequently settle in the context of Martin Scorsese and by Francis Ford Coppola acclaimed crime dramas. Rachel Brosnahan plays an innocent mob doll who is kept in the dark about her husband’s illicit activities until she becomes a target on the run.

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The film takes inspiration from crime thrillers, melodramas, and road movies and remixes them into a sympathetic, if fragile, story about taking charge of one’s future in a life-and-death situation. Jean (Brosnahan) progresses from fear to fearlessness, and from helplessness to power. Brosnahan transforms a woman who could have been irritating into a moving character as well as an effective audience surrogate.

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