The 12 best thrillers of all time

In the world of cinema, Thriller is a very broad category. As you’ll see with our compiled “12 Best” list, it spans 80 years and dips its toes into many other genres – horror, film noir, espionage, and more. We’ve done our best here to give you a great sample, an overview that spans decades, evokes different moods, and features many directors (although there are some repetitions). So here are the best thrillers of all time, from grim, grinning ghosts to serial killers to brainwashed pawns of enemy nations.

The Top 12 of the best thrillers

12. The Manchu Candidate

The Manchu Candidate

The Manchu Candidate

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

First of all, Jonathan Demme’s 2004 remake of The Manchurian Candidate, starring Denzel Washington, is also very 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 combines drama, suspense, sci-fi and political satire in such an effective way that it’s hard to put it in a single category. Starring Frank Sinatra, Laurence Harvey and Angela Lansbury, The Manchurian Candidate follows a returned hero soldier suspected of being a brainwashed assassin.

11. Remembrance

Memento

Memento

Where to watch: HBO, HBO Max, Hoopla or commendable 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 who suffers from short-term memory loss. Memento unfolds in ten-minute sequences, presented in reverse chronological order, creating an experience that put Nolan on everyone’s shortlist and made Memento one of the few favored films to become lexical.

10. The Talented Mr. Ripley

The talented Mr Ripley

The talented Mr Ripley

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

Anthony Minghella’s 1999 adaptation of Patricia Highsmith’s first of five Tom Ripley novels is a beautifully twisted and unsettling thread. It’s about a young sociopath (Matt Damon) with dreams of high society, 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 who lurks in plain sight, kills with kindness, and will do anything to cover his tracks.

9. The Sixth Sense

The sixth sense

The sixth sense

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

Even though everyone knows the big twist by now, M. Night Shyamalan’s groundbreaking 1999 film, starring Bruce Willis and Toni Collette, is still a film that holds its own 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 masterful storytelling, with a meaningful message about coming to terms with what terrifies you to uncover the truth beneath.

8. Conversation

The conversation

The conversation

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

Between The Godfather and The Godfather Part II Francis Ford Coppola made The Conversation, a paranoid masterpiece on par with his best work. It stands today as a remarkable representation of a man’s professional life destroyed by his inescapable personal convictions. Gene Hackman gives a historic performance as Harry Caul, a sad surveillance expert who finds himself locked in a potential assassination plot while trying to recover from his role in the deaths of three people years before.

7. Zodiac

Zodiac

Zodiac

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

David Fincher’s Zodiac, about the manhunt 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 saga born out of decades of mind-boggling facts and suspicions piled up 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 commendable on most platforms.

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

5. Se7en

Se7fr

Se7fr

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

David Fincher’s Seven (also “Se7en”) brought macabre intelligence and thrills to the oversaturated serial killer movie set of the 90s. A beautifully dark film, which unfolds the bloody story of a maniac punishing his victims through demanding brutality based on the seven deadly sins, Seven casts Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman as an uneasy detective duo about to see their worlds shattered forever.

Chinese district

Chinese district

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

Featuring a solid, Oscar-winning screenplay from Robert Towne, Chinatown is an awe-inspiring neo-noir thriller that both pays homage to and redefines the film noir genre. It follows private detective JJ Gittes (Jack Nicholson) as he investigates a murder and stumbles upon a plot 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 list of top thriller/noir since its premiere in 1974.

3.Psycho

psychology

psychology

Where to watch: Tubi (with ads), or commendable 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. For Hitchcock – who had previously directed films like North by Northwest, Vertigo and Rear Window – the film was a notable departure from his established formula. Filmed on a low budget, in black and white, by the crew of his television series Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Psycho was controversial (at the time) in both structure and subject matter and now stands as one of the best movies of all time. .

2. The silence of the lambs

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

Do you remember when a horror movie won the Oscar for Best Picture, Director, Actor, Actress and Screenplay? The Silence of the Lambs not only launched a Hannibal Lecter media franchise and ushered in a brief era of “prestige horror” – big-name directors doing spooky stuff (i.e. Misery, Interview with the Vampire, Dracula Bram Stoker, etc.) — but it also led to dozens of copied serial killer movies throughout the 90s (one even called Copycat). Oh, and did we mention it’s also a phenomenal movie with some of the best twists, turns, and scares of all time? The silence of the lambs is almost unbeatable.

1. North by northwest

From North to Northwest

From North to Northwest

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

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

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