The 10 best mystery films shares the format used by authors like Raymond Chandler, presenting a movie that puzzles the viewer. These movies allow the stories to unravel the clues until the final moment where all is revealed. From classic films to modern day thrillers, here are the best films in the mystery genre.
- “The Usual Suspects” – Before he directed “X-Men,” Bryan Singer made his name with this mystery film. The movie starts with the interrogation of a petty criminal played by Kevin Spacey and flashes back as he explains how a busted heist that caused the deaths of his partners went down.
- “Se7en” – Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman star as police partners investigating murders based on the seven deadly sins. In what could have been a generic mystery film, auteur David Fincher made the movie a work of art and the final reveal is a shocking twist that leaves the audience gasping.
- “Memento” – The director of “The Dark Knight” and “Inception” enjoyed his breakout with this mystery film that plays in reverse. A man shoots down another and then the movie traces the events leading up to the murder in reverse, leaving clues along the way until the beginning finally explains what we witnessed at the end.
- “Citizen Kane” – Orson Welles created the mystery film that many scholars proclaim to be the greatest movie of all time. A newspaper publishing mogul’s dying words – Rosebud – leads a reporter on a journey to uncover their meaning. The answer to that mystery is not as important as the dissection of the man’s life.
- “The Third Man” – Orson Welles stars as a man who is proclaimed dead when his friend shows up in Vienna to see him. However, before the friend leaves the town he sees the assumed dead man on the streets and sets out to solve this mystery film asking how a dead man can appear to be alive.
- “Chinatown” – Robert Towne won an Oscar for his screenplay for this mystery film, a complex labyrinth revolving around a water scheme in California. The movie stars Jack Nicholson as a PI investigating an adultery case who gets pulled into the grand schemes that culminates in dirty family secrets coming to light.
- “Rashomon” – This mystery film by Akira Kurosawa is a classic masterpiece that has been copied numerous times since its release. A horrible crime and its aftermath is told through differing viewpoints as each person involved tells their side of the story. When all sides are told, the true story is left up to the audience to decipher.
- “Shutter Island” – Martin Scorsese created his addition to the genre of mystery films with this adaptation of a Dennis Lehane novel. Two U.S. Marshals are sent to a prison island for the mentally insane to discover what happened to a woman who disappeared without a trace.
- “The Bourne Identity” – Matt Damon stars in the first part of this mystery film trilogy as a man who wakes up with a bullet hole in him but no memory of who he is. The entire series follows Damon as he races from clue to clue trying to discover his identity and why someone tried to kill him.
- “Twelve Monkeys” – Bruce Willis is sent back in time in this sci-fi mystery film to find out what caused most of the humans on Earth to die in the future. The movie then sets him out looking for a group called the Twelve Monkeys, who authority figures in the future believe is responsible.
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