Mystery movies are so rewarding because you feel like an active participant in the story, trying to solve the mystery before the film reveals the answer to you. For this reason, these films are some of the most beloved and recommended out there. They thrill, hold audiences in suspense, and make them feel all the feels along the way.
We decided to curate a list of mystery movies to share from silent movie treasures to newer entries in the canon. There is no shortage of mysteries for you to solve. These films make for the perfect rainy night activity when you can cuddle up on the couch and become engrossed in a thrilling story. Let’s take a look at some of the very best mystery films for you to try!
These Mystery Movies Will Make You Scratch Your Chin!
Rear Window (1954)
With Grace Kelly and James Stewart, Rear Window is one of Alfred Hitchcock‘s best films. The film centers around a wheelchair-bound photographer who watches his neighbors from his apartment window. After a series of wild events, he becomes convinced that one of them has committed murder. Do yourself a favor and watch this thrilling mystery if you’ve never seen it before. It’s artful.
Double Indemnity (1944)
Double Indemnity is one of the finest mystery movies ever made! Barbara Stanwyck plays a seductive housewife who talks an insurance representative into involving himself in a murder plot that would see a big insurance payout. If you’d like a textbook definition of Film Noir!
Scream does an excellent job of planting breadcrumbs to keep viewers guessing about who might be the masked killer who is terrorizing a bunch of high schoolers. If you live for a twist, how have you not seen this yet? This is one of the best high-stakes whodunnit mystery movies ever made!
Evelyn, the wife of a prominent bureaucrat hires a private investigator to look into her husband’s infidelity. As the PI, J.J. investigates he uncovers multiple murder plots, a good deal of corruption, and a mysterious young girl, Evelyn’s sister who is somehow involved. It’s one of the very best “classic” mystery movies ever made.
Mulholland Drive (2001)
Mulholland Drive is one of the mystery movies to watch if you want to understand how dream logic can inform the structure of a narrative film. To try and describe the plot of this film would be a disservice as no two people will see it the same way. Beautiful, disarming, puzzling, and chilling, Mulholland Drive is a movie that defies convention while playing into it.
The Maltese Falcon (1941)
One of the classics to watch if you’re interested in Film Noir, The Maltese Falcon stars Humphrey Bogart as a detective who is in search of a priceless statuette along with some eccentric and strange criminals. As you watch the movie, you’ll quickly realize that hundreds of other movies have referenced this film and its mysterious shots.
In this gritty crime drama two detectives: Somerset and Mills search for a killer obsessed with the seven deadly sins. Each deadly sin motivates a murder to reveal each victim committed the sin in their life. The twist ending of this film is one of the greatest in film history and certainly among other mystery movies.
The Silence of the Lambs (1991)
One of the mystery movies to watch when you want to sleep with the lights on for a few nights is The Silence of the Lambs. Jodie Foster and Anthony Hopkins deliver some of the best performances of their careers in this horrific movie that went on to sweep at the Academy Awards in 1992. You likely know about Hannibal the Cannibal even if you’ve never seen this film because it’s such a cultural touchstone.
Gone Girl (2014)
When his seemingly content wife, Amy goes missing, Nick, who is a bit of a flirt, becomes the prime suspect of her disappearance. However, the audience learns that Amy has meticulously planned her own disappearance. Will Nick discover her plot? This is one of the very best mystery movies that puts all of the answers right in front of you.
One of the world of cinema’s most influential filmmakers, Akira Kurosawa, delivered a masterpiece when Rashomon premiered in 1950. It’s a psychological thriller about a heinous crime that’s seen through four different character’s perspectives. It takes the idea of an unreliable narrator and runs with it! Who can be trusted?
The Guest (2014)
Director Adam Wingard brings equal amounts of tension and suspense to this feature which tells the story of a stranger who comes to stay with the Peterson family after the death of their soldier son. The family, still not over their loss, takes the stranger in only to discover that death seems to follow him. The climax of the movie is one of the very best cat-and-mouse scenes of any of the mystery movies on this list.
Citizen Kane (1941)
Newspaper magnate, Charles Foster Kane whispers the word “rosebud” on his deathbed. He dies. The mysterious word motivates a journalist to uncover aspects of Kane’s past which include scenes of his ruthless quest for power. What does the mysterious word mean? Watch one of the best mystery movies ever made to find out!
In the Heat of the Night (1967)
An important film that felt timely during the Civil Rights Era and, unfortunately, still does, In the Heat of the Night, tells the story of a Black detective from Philadelphia who becomes involved with the investigation of a murder in a small town in Mississippi. Sidney Poitier is unshakable in this mystery that shows the difficulties Black Americans face in certain small towns full of people with small minds.
Leonard Shelby suffers from amnesia following a traumatic home invasion that left his wife dead. His inability to create new memories following the event means he must leave clues for himself in the forms of tattoos, notes, and photographs. All of this is done in an attempt to find his wife’s murderer. Will he solve the mystery before you do?
Vagabond (Sans toit ni loi) (1985)
For all the attention that directors Truffaut and Godard get for their contributions to French New Wave cinema, no other director innovated and worked in the space so creatively as Agnes Varda. If you haven’t seen her films yet, consider starting with Vagabond. The film begins with a young woman’s frozen body being discovered in a ditch. Then, through flashbacks and interviews, the story of how she met that fate is told. It’s one of the most inventive mystery movies!
The Invitation (2016)
For fans of Jennifer’s Body, check out the psychological, suspense trap, The Invitation. The same director, Karyn Kusama directed both films. However, they are very different types of movies. Where Jennifer’s Body leans into camp and comedy, The Invitation leans into existential dread and mystery.
One of the few mystery movies to involve almost exclusively high schoolers, Brick tells the story of a loner who finds himself deep in the underbelly of his high school’s secret crime ring. All he wants is to investigate the death of his ex-girlfriend but he’s met with obstacles at every turn.
We’re not sure how Frances McDormand does it, but if you have not yet seen her in one of her best-known performances as Marge Gunderson, get your eyes in front of a screen that’s playing Fargo. If you’re looking for mystery movies to watch that have it all, look no further than Fargo. It’s funny, thrilling, at times surreal, and most importantly it is told with tons of heart.
Starring Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn, Charade is a blast of a movie that’s also funny and rather romantic. The premise is a winning one: a woman’s husband dies suddenly and is shrouded in mystery. Soon after, men come after the widow until she is rescued by a stranger. But, can he be trusted? It’s one of the mystery movies on this list that truly defies convention is much better for it.
She Dies Tomorrow (2020)
A woman named Amy becomes convinced that she will die the following day. Although irrational, she manages to spread her conviction to others. What mystery ailment can cause such mass delusion?
One of the mystery movies on this list that plays like a horror movie at times, Zodiac follows a team of investigators and journalists as they all try to identify and capture the Zodiac Killer who terrorized the San Francisco Bay area in the 1960s and 70s.
The One I Love (2014)
A struggling couple try to repair their relationship by taking a vacation together. But, something about the place they’re staying is causing strange occurrences and further straining their relationship. Can they get to the bottom of it before things completely unravel?
Mystic River (2003)
A dark, gruesome film, Mystic River tells the story of three men who were childhood friends who are brought back together after the death of one of their children. Could the people the grieving father has known his entire life be involved? It’s one of the darkest mystery movies on this list but it’s well worth the slog through it.
The Black Dahlia (2009)
The Black Dahlia is one of the most celebrated mystery movies of the last 20 years but we’re not sure it sticks the landing. We included it on this list as many people do love it, but viewer beware, you might be left wanting more. The film stars Josh Hartnett, Aaron Eckhart, and Scarlett Johansson who all give fine performances which almost make it worth it.
A twisted tale of police corruption in 1920s LA, Changeling tells the story of a single mother whose son disappears. Months later, she is told by the police that they’ve located her son. She quickly realizes the boy they found is not her own and the police proceed to gaslight and intimidate her from sharing her realization.
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Dial M for Murder (1954)
A man plots the ideal murder to get rid of his cheating wife, but is backed into a corner when his wife fights back and kills her assassin in self-defense. One of the many Alfred Hitchcock mystery movies on this list, the plot starts out divinely twisted and only gets more tangled as the film goes on.
Eyes Without a Face (Les yeux sans visage) (1960)
Georges Franju‘s terrifying classic Les yeux sans visage is as beautifully poetic as it is scary. This French classic centers on a surgeon who causes an accident that leaves his daughter disfigured. How far will he go to give his daughter a new face? You’ll have to watch to find out what lies behind the mysterious visage!
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2009)
You can watch David Fincher‘s English-language remake of this movie but we’re fond of the original starring Noomi Rapace. This dark and twisty thriller follows a journalist and a young hacker who work in concert to solve the murder of a woman who has been dead for 40 years. It’s one of the mystery movies that feels very fresh and modern today.
Following the assassination of 11 Israeli Olympians in Munich, the Israeli government mounted a secret mission to find and murder the members of the terrorist group Black September who carried out the initial attack. Munich follows the team tasked with the mission and their inner conflicts with it.
If you’re looking for a subversive romp, check out Clue which take the murder mystery board game and turns it into one of the funniest mystery movies you will ever see. Tim Curry is blissfully unhinged in this silly movie.
Murder on the Orient Express (1974)
We urge you to skip the (awful) remake and watch the original film adapted from Agatha Christie’s murder mystery. It’s a classic whodunnit that Christie is so well-known for and the film manages to realize her vision beautifully. If you’re unfamiliar with premise, a bunch of folks are on a train and someone turns up dead. Who did it? The killer must be among them!
Lost Girls (2020)
Starring Amy Ryan, Lost Girls tells the story of one mother’s fight for justice after the disappearance of her daughter. In her quest to find her daughter, she uncovers that a dozen sex workers have been murdered in her Long Island community. It’s one of the real mystery movies as it’s based on a true story.
Considered one of the best murder mystery movies ever, Laura is haunting and beautiful with some very dramatic and moody shots. The film begins after the murder of ad exec named Laura. As the detective gets close to the people in her life, he becomes obsessed with the murdered woman’s story. Give it a try and you won’t regret it!
Alfred Hitchcock‘s twisty thriller, Vertigo is one of the best mystery movies ever made. It’s a clever movie with plenty of unnerving moments that amount to an inescapable feeling of dread. If you’ve never seen a Hitchcock film, this would be an excellent one to start with.
Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil (1997)
Although not as good as the source material, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil follows one journalist’s journey through the eccentric world of beautiful architecture and Southern lore that you will find in Savannah, Georgia. The journalist is there to write a story on a local millionaire’s famous Christmas parties, but he discovers that there is much more to the millionaire than meets the eye. Could he be a murderer? The journalist stays in Savannah to cover the murder trial that follows.
Caché is a French mystery thriller starring Juliette Binoche about a couple whose lives are upended when mysterious videotapes start appearing at their doorstep. The tapes hint at secrets in their pasts. Who is leaving them and why? It’s one of director Michael Haneke’s most commercially successful films and a must-see for lovers of European cinema.
Fritz Lang‘s first sound film, M, is one of the earliest examples of a crime procedural and it holds up incredibly well. The film follows the hunt for a murderer who preys on children. It’s one of the mystery movies to watch if you really want to understand film history and why we love crime dramas so very much.
The Prestige (2006)
After a tragic incident, two magicians engage in a battle to create the ultimate illusion while sacrificing everything they have to outdo one another. There’s a side of magic along with a heaping helping of mystery in this thrilling film!
The Big Sleep (1946)
Starring Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall, The Big Sleep tells the story of Private Detective Philip Marlowe who is hired by a family to take care of gambling debts but there’s much more for him to discover. As he works the case, he discovers murder and blackmail all while falling for a member of the family he’s meant to be helping.
“A boy’s best friend is his mother,” character Norman Bates, owner of the Bates Motel, says in Psycho. Probably Alfred Hitchcock’s best-known film, Psycho is a must-watch. It’s well-paced, creepy, and stylish. Anthony Perkins‘ performance as Bates is just so fabulous! Although this is considered a horror movie, it’s definitely one of the mystery movies forget to lump into the category.
North By Northwest (1959)
We realize this list is Hitchcock-heavy but he was one of the greatest in the game when it comes to mystery movies. North By Northwest is one of the greatest movies ever made that finds Cary Grant as Roger, a man who is framed for a murder. As he tries to evade the authorities, he also must solve the murder to absolve himself. It’s one truly remarkable thriller!
Blue Velvet (1986)
In another film by David Lynch, Blue Velvet is slightly more tethered to reality than Mulholland Drive but ever so. It’s one of the mystery movies to watch if you would like to be thoroughly creeped out. After finding a severed head, a young man investigates a beautiful nightclub singer who is mixed up with a group of unsavory criminals who he discovers have kidnapped her child. The movie is as much an indictment on the idealization of small-town America as it is a look into the darkest desires of men.
LA Confidential (1997)
With a dynamite cast that includes Guy Pearce, Russell Crowe, Kevin Spacey, Kim Basinger, James Cromwell, and Danny DeVito, LA Confidential aims for the moon and hits the bullseye. On its face, the movie is about three police officers who try to solve three different murders but something very untoward is simmering just beneath the surface.
Hitchcock really proved he could craft mystery movies after adapting Rebecca for the screen in 1940. The movie follows a young bride who learns her husband’s first wife died under mysterious circumstances. But, what happened? Atmospheric and haunting, this is one classic movie to give a shot!
Jamie Foxx leads this neo-noir film playing Max, a cab driver who is taken hostage and forced to drive for a hitman played by Tom Cruise. A crazy night, packed with action follows for the pair as they travel the dark streets of Los Angeles.
The Sixth Sense
Can you figure out the twist before the big reveal in The Sixth Sense? If you have not seen this classic in a while, you’re going to love the strong performances by Toni Collette and Haley Joel Osment. A boy claims to see dead people and a psychologist comes to help but something is not right!
The Bird with the Crystal Plumage (L’uccello dalle piume di cristallo) (1970)
In Italy, there is an entire genre of film and literature called Giallo. These murder mysteries are slightly campy, slightly smutty, and a whole lot of fun for audiences to try and solve. One of the genre’s most prolific directors, Dario Argento helmed The Bird with the Crystal Plumage which is a slick crime caper with one very good twist ending. It’s one of the best whodunnit movies you will ever lay eyes on.
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Two girls go missing while on a walk thrusting two families into uncertainty and fear for their well-being. While the police pursue multiple leads, one of the fathers, played by Hugh Jackman, takes matters into his own hands. Who will discover the girls’ fate first? It’s one of the most thrilling mystery movies on this list.
Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988)
Who Framed Roger Rabbit might be a fun-for-all-ages movie, but its technological advances were groundbreaking at the time of its release. The movie centers around Detective Eddie Valiant, a cartoon-hating detective who ends up being a cartoon rabbit’s only hope to prove his innocence after being accused of murder. It’s a wild romp that you should really check out if you haven’t seen it yet. It’s rated PG and it’s a blast to watch with kids!
Before I Go to Sleep (2014)
Christine Lucas (played by Nicole Kidman) cannot remember her life after a violent attack caused amnesia. Instead, she wakes up every morning with no memories and has to reacquaint herself with everyone she knows, including her own husband. It’s one of the best mystery movies because the narrator is so unreliable and solving the mystery is extremely difficult. Enjoy!
There you go! We hope you have bookmarked some of these mystery movies to watch the next time you need a thrill! These suspenseful crime capers are endlessly watchable and will keep you guessing until the conclusion of the film. This feature makes these mystery movies so absolutely rewarding for audiences. Enjoy the ride!
Andrew is a Chicago-based writer who enjoys finding the best of the internet, obsessively making lists, and cooking for friends. After studying Film and Art History, he developed a deep love for both topics. Celebrity news, pop culture, and stories that bring people together are his passions.
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