The 10 best murder mystery films of all time span several decades, with a variety of famous faces, stellar directors and phenomenal stories. Although the genre is often dominated by classic films, especially those with Alfred Hitchcock’s signature style or the literary genius of authors like Agatha Christie, modern films occasionally capture the edge-of-your-seat guesswork of traditional murder mystery films.
- “Rear Window,” directed by Alfred Hitchcock with James Stewart. Hitchcock is synonymous with classic murder mystery films, and “Rear window” is a prime example. A wheelchair-bound man (Stewart) takes to spying on his neighbors to pass the time, only to see what he believes is a murder.
- “Murder on the Orient Express,” based on the Agatha Christie novel. This movie has detectives struggling to uncover the identity of a gruesome murderer—all while trapped on a train. The 1974 version won an Oscar for best actress in a supporting role for Ingrid Bergman’s portrayal of Greta.
- “Hound of the Baskervilles,” featuring Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson. Permanently associated with the genre, the “Hound of the Baskervilles” is one of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s best works. The 1939 version of the film remains the most popular, starring Basil Rathbone as Holmes and Nigel Bruce as Watson. The pair investigates tales of a supernatural hound on a foggy estate full of mysteries.
- “Laura,” film noir meets detective Dana Andrews. Released in 1994, “Laura” features a smitten detective investigating a murder mystery case. With Gene Tierney, Dana Andrews, Vincent Price and Judith Anderson in the cast, it’s no wonder that “Laura” was nominated for best actor in a supporting role, in addition to best director and best writing; it took home best cinematography.
- “Psycho,” an award-winning murder mystery directed by Alfred Hitchcock. Viewers watch as Marion Crane (Janet Leigh, nominated for best actress in a supporting role) steals $40,000 from her boss and skips town, only to find herself at the Bates’ motel under the care of gentle, considerate Norman Bates (Anthony Perkins) and his mother.
- “Se7en,” with Brad Pitt, Morgan Freeman and a crazy killer. Another 1995 blockbuster, “Se7en” has enough gore and horror to almost be overlooked as a murder mystery. Pitt and Freeman play a pair of cops desperately trying to discover the identity of a gruesome killer, whose victims portray each of the seven deadly sins. The film was nominated for an Oscar, and Kevin Spacey, Gwyneth Paltrow and R. Lee Ermey are phenomenal as a supporting cast.
- “The Gift” pits psychic powers against a vicious murderer. Cate Blanchett is phenomenal as Annabelle Wilson, a small-town psychic who finds herself in the middle of a gruesome murder mystery. Her “Gift” is more of a burden, filling her head with terrible visions as she searches for the killer. The A-list cast also includes Katie Holmes (with a nude scene), Keanu Reeves, Giovanni Ribisi and Greg Kinnear.
- “The Maltese Falcon,” from the American Film Institute’s top 100 American films list. A true classic from 1941, “The Maltese Falcon” paired Humphrey Bogart and Mary Astor in a murder mystery story which was nominated for three Oscars. With a clever detective, a gorgeous and deadly woman and a complicated murder case, no top ten murder mystery films list could be complete without this one.
- “The Usual Suspects,” crime meets murder mystery in this popular film. “The Usual Suspects” has been one of the most popular murder mystery films released in the last two decades. It hit theatres in 1995 with an impressive cast: Stephen Baldwin, Kevin Pollak, Kevin Spacey and Gabriel Bryne to name a few.
- “Clue,” for a light-hearted look at the murder mystery genre. This 1985 film features an impressive cast of characters acting-out the roles of the famous board game of the same name. Tim Curry, Christopher Lloyd, Madeline Kahn and Eileen Brennan are hilarious in their roles, but at the heart of “Clue” is the quintessential who-dun-it.
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