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The best mystery movies have one thing in common: They make you feel like a detective—even if you’ve never been involved with law enforcement in your life. But let us assure you: There’s no shame in idolizing those on-screen code-breakers and clue-hunters—or even wanting to jump on the case yourself. And while we may not all be professional private investigators, we can still put our problem-solving skills to the test. From classic whodunnits to mind-warping modern thrillers, these best mystery movies are guaranteed to keep you on the case from start to finish.
One of the most famous detectives in the fictional realm—and one who’s been portrayed by everyone from Elementary‘s Jonny Lee Miller to the BBC’s Benedict Cumberbatch—Sir Arthur Conan Doyle‘s Sherlock Holmeswas brought back to the screen again in 2009 thanks to director Guy Ritchie. With Robert Downey Jr. in the lead role and Jude Law along for the ride as Holmes’ sidekick, Dr. Watson, the famous sleuth must solve the mystery around Lord Blackfoot (Mark Strong), a man who has risen from the grave with an evil plan in mind. The game is afoot, friends!
If you were suddenly suffering from amnesia, you would want to find out who you really are, wouldn’t you? That’s the question that one character faces in David Lynch‘s 2001 film Mulholland Drive. Laura Harring plays a woman who loses her memory after a car crash. While in a haze, she befriends an aspiring actress from the Midwest who attempts to help her solve the mystery around her identity. But as they try to uncover the truth, the two ladies stumble into a world that’s less a Hollywood dream and more a trippy nightmare.
The hunt is on in this 1993 remake of the classic TV series The Fugitive. In the film that was nominated for seven Academy Awards (and nabbed the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor), Harrison Ford takes on the role of Dr. Richard Kimble, a man who is framed and convicted for the murder of his wife. But when he suddenly finds himself on the run, he’s determined to track down the real killer while a relentless U.S. Marshal (Tommy Lee Jones) stays hot on his trail.
There are seven deadly sins that are apparently the root of all evil—pride, greed, lust, envy, gluttony, wrath, and sloth—and in 1995’s Se7en, Brad Pitt and Morgan Freemanplay a pair of detectives tasked with capturing a serial killer who murders based on the infamous immoral list. But beware! This crime thriller is considered a neo-noir horror film, so it can get rather gory.
Whether or not you’ve seen the original 2009 Swedish version of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, starring Noomi Rapace and Michael Nyqvist, you still need to watch the American version that was released two years later. With Daniel Craig in the lead role as disgraced journalist Mikael Blomkvist, and Rooney Mara appearing as hacker Lisbeth Salander, the story follows the two as they investigate the twisted disappearance of a woman 40 years earlier.
In this 2006 film based on the bestselling book of the same name, a murder at the Louvre in Paris sparks an investigation that unfolds via clues hidden in the art of Leonardo da Vinci and exposes a possible cover-up that leads all the way back to the life of Jesus. Starring Tom Hanks, Audrey Tautou, Sir Ian McKellen, Alfred Molina, Jean Reno, and Paul Bettany, you can follow your viewing of The Da Vinci Code with 2009’s Angels & Demons, which again stars Tom Hanks in the lead role, this time alongsideStar Wars alum Ewan McGregor.
Director Bryan Singer and writer Christopher McQuarrieteamed up for 1995’sThe Usual Suspects and pulled together an all-star cast for the film, which is now a cult classic. While introducing viewers to the vicious crime lord Keyser Soze, we’re taken through a twisted plot that will leave you unsure of anything except for the fact that “the greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist.”
Leonardo DiCaprio delivers some of his best work under the dircetion of Martin Scorsese, and that was made obvious once again in 2010’s Shutter Island. DiCaprio plays Teddy Daniels, a U.S. Marshal sent to an asylum for the criminally insane along with Chuck Aule (Mark Ruffalo) to investigate the seemingly impossible and unexplainable disappearance of a murderer. But while there, they begin to uncover facts that will leave you desperate to figure out what’s really going on before the mystery drives you mad.
Plenty of movies have been inspired by Agatha Christie‘s 1939 classic mystery novel And Then There Were None and 2003’s Identity does it yet again with a psychological thriller starring John Cusack as a man who is stranded in an isolated motel in the middle of the Nevada desert along with a group of nine others when a storm hits. Their stay takes a deadly turn when someone starts killing the guests just as they discover they share an unexpected connection.
If your friends can never figure out what to get you for your birthday, then you might want to ask them to watch 1997’s The Game with you. In the mystery thriller directed by David Fincher, Michael Douglas plays Nicholas Van Orton, a successful San Francisco banker who is haunted by his father’s suicide at the age of 48. On Nicholas’ own 48th birthday, his estranged brother (Sean Penn) shows up with a gift that sets off a series of inexplicable events that not only twist at every possible turn, they will also keep you deep within the story’s puzzle until the very end.
Another mystery thriller from David Fincher, Gone Girlstars Ben Affleck as a man who becomes the primary suspect in the disappearance of his wife after she mysteriously goes missing and leaves behind clues pointing in his direction. Based on the novel by Gillian Flynn, the 2012 film also features tantalizing performances by Rosamund Pike, Neil Patrick Harris, and Tyler Perry in the story that proves that the simplest answer isn’t always the correct one.
Kenneth Branagh slays the signature mustache of Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot in the 2017 remake of Murder on the Orient Express. The actor known for his Shakespearean-level performance chops is accompanied onscreen by an all-star cast including Penélope Cruz, Willem Dafoe, Judi Dench, Johnny Depp, Josh Gad, Derek Jacobi, Leslie Odom Jr., Michelle Pfeiffer, Tom Bateman, and Daisy Ridley as their characters board a train that will become the scene of a murder before arriving at its final destination.
If you’ve always thought about using your sleuthing skillsto become a paranormal detective, then you need to watch (or re-watch) The Sixth Sense. Written and directed by M. Night Shyamalan, the film stars Bruce Willis as a child psychologist who meets a young boy (Haley Joel Osment) who, well, sees dead people. The film earned six Oscar nominations partially due to the unexpected ending which we definitely won’t spoil for you. Simply put, it’s one of the best mystery movies of all time.
The chase is on again for Tommy Lee Jones in 1999’sDouble Jeopardy, only this time he’s on the trail of Ashely Judd. When Judd’s character is convicted of her husband’s murder only to (*surprise*) find out that he’s still alive and responsible for framing her, she does her time and is released fully aware of the fact that—thanks to the law that shares a name with the movie—she can shoot her ex “in the middle of Mardi Gras” and no one can do anything about it.
It’s not uncommon for people to use tattoos as a way to remind them of things they don’t want to forget. But 2000’s Memento takes that idea one step further with Guy Pearce‘s character, a man with short-term memory loss who inks his body with clues to his wife’s death so that he can be reminded of every detail and track down her killer. The mystery thriller also stars Carrie-Anne Mossand Joe Pantoliano who appeared in The Matrix together just one year earlier.
One of the best mystery movies of all time is related to one of the best family games of all time. Based on the classic board game that most of us played with our families when we got sick of Monopoly and Battleship, 1985’s Clue is the ultimate murder mystery. Colonel Mustard (Martin Mull), Mrs. White (Madeline Kahn), Mrs. Peacock (Eileen Brennan), Mr. Green (Michael McKean), Professor Plum (Christopher Lloyd), and Miss Scarlet (Lesley Ann Warren) join the butler Wadsworth (Tim Currey) and Yvette the maid (Colleen Camp) in this campy film where viewers can follow the guests as they try to figure out which one of the quirky characters is the killer. Was it Colonel Mustard in the library with a candlestick? We’ll never tell!