HomeEntertainment News20 Best Crime Movies of All Time, Ranked According to IMDb

20 Best Crime Movies of All Time, Ranked According to IMDb

The recently released true-crime movie The Good Nurse tells a spine-chilling story of murder and deception. It’s only one of the latest additions to the established crime genre, which has given viewers some of the most intense, well-written, and unforgettable films in cinematic history.

For viewers looking for the top crime movies, IMDb users have made it easy for fans to discover the best that the genre has to offer. The highest-rated crime movies on the platform for film buffs include numerous award-winning classics like The Godfather and more recent international hits like Jai Bhim. These genre-defining titles should be considered essential viewing for fans of crime movies.

Updated on May 23, 2023, by Hannah Saab:

With all the buzz surrounding highly-anticipated upcoming movies in the crime genre like Killers of the Flower Moon (premiering on October 6) and The Equalizer 3 (September 1), it’s clear that there’s enduring interest in the beloved genre. Only time will tell if these new entries will make it into the top 10 crime movies of all time on IMDb, as the rankings that favor legendary classics rarely change.



20 ‘A Clockwork Orange’ (1971)

A Clockwork Orange - 1971
Image via Warner Bros.

IMDb Rating: 8.3/10

A provocative film from director Stanley Kubrick, A Clockwork Orange depicts an unsettling dystopian version of England, where the disturbing story of Alex (Malcolm McDowell) and his “Droogs” takes place. Their violent nights are juxtaposed with eerily cheerful singing, all fueled by drugs and time spent at their favorite Milkbar, of course. When Alex is imprisoned for a horrific crime, a torturous experimental behavior modification technique leaves him broken and vulnerable to the same individuals he used to terrorize.

Blurring the line between right and wrong, A Clockwork Orange invites viewers to consider justice and morality through the lens of a surrealist and often disturbing story. The film creates a spellbinding and alien – yet somewhat familiar world – that comments on the dangers of unchecked power in society.

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19 ‘Scarface’ (1983)

Al Pacino as Tony Montana sitting down and looking intently in Scarface
Image via Universal Pictures

IMDb Rating: 8.3/10

Al Pacino brilliantly portrays one of his most iconic characters, the murderous drug lord Tony Montana, in director Brian De Palma‘s award-winning classic, Scarface. Set in Miami, the film depicts Tony’s perilous journey toward dominating the drug trade in the area, no matter the cost. His drug empire inevitably leads to a dangerous position of power, where Tony expects opposition and violence from all sides.

Aside from Al Pacino’s stunning performance that breathe life into the power-hungry character, the film is remembered for its horrible yet exhilarating depiction of the dark underbelly of the drug trade. Through its gritty portrayal of Miami’s drug scene and the rise and fall of its protagonist, Scarface offers viewers to a glimpse into the fragile and fleetingly successful life of crime that few individuals live.

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18 ‘Heat’ (1995)

Al Pacino aiming a gun as Lt. Vincent Hanna in Heat
Image via Warner Bros.

IMDb Rating: 8.3/10

Directed by Michael Mann, Heat is a seminal crime film that features some incredible performances, especially its two central characters – the master criminal Neil McCauley (flawlessly performed by Robert De Niro) and the dedicated detective Lieutenant Vincent Hanna (Al Pacino). McCauley is the leader of a notorious group of criminals, who is preparing for one last lucrative job before bidding farewell to crime. Lieutenant Hanna is in charge of bringing them to justice, but struggles with personal issues along the way.

A complex game of cat and mouse, the movie focuses on the ingenious ways both sides outwit each other, and the unlikely respect that begins to form between them because of this. When paired with intense action sequences and impressively realistic heists, it’s easy to see why the 1995 masterpiece has held up incredibly well.

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17 ‘Witness for the Prosecution’ (1957)

Marlene Dietrich as Christine VOle crying while a judge stands behind her in Witness for the Prosecution
Image via United Artists

IMDb Rating: 8.4/10

Witness for the Prosecution is a genre-defining courtroom drama that revolves around the mind-boggling case of Leonard Vole (Tyrone Power), who is accused of murdering a wealthy woman. Sir Wilfrid Robarts (Charles Laughton) soon agrees to take on Leonard’s case and is determined to prove his innocence, but is shocked when the protagonist’s wife, Christine (Marlene Dietrich), testifies against him, jeopardizing his defense.

Director Billy Wilder‘s twisty film is full of jaw-dropping revelations and unexpected turns. It’s a masterclass of crafting intricate character backgrounds and relationships, which are all laid on the table as the movie explores the lengths people will go to protect their own interests.

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16 ‘Joker’ (2019)

Joaquin Phoenix smoking a cigarette as Joker in Joker
Image via Warner Bros. Pictures

IMDb Rating: 8.4/10

Director Todd PhillipsJoker is a highly divisive film that undeniably stands out within the superhero and crime genres. It tells the story of Arthur Fleck (Joaquin Phoenix), a troubled comedian in Gotham City. The protagonist’s life is full of feelings of loneliness, as he struggles with his mental health and fitting in. Eventually, the mistreatment becomes too much, and his fragile mental state deteriorates. Arthur transforms into the legendary titular criminal mastermind, which is a representation of his rage and pain from years of marginalization.

Phoenix’s tour de force performance as Arthur brings to life the Joker’s controversial origin story, which attempts to make the villainous figure sympathetic. The gritty character study raises questions about institutions’ roles in creating real-life villains like Arthur, but also sends a contentious message about the extent of individuals’ responsibilities in functioning societies.

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15 ‘American History X’ (1998)

Edward Norton in 'American History X'

IMDb Rating: 8.5/10

Audiences searching for good crime movies don’t need to look further than director Tony Kaye‘s American History X. The powerful film revolves around the former neo-Nazi and ex-convict Derek Vinyard (Edward Norton), who struggles to help his younger brother Danny (Edward Furlong) steer clear of his past beliefs and associates.

The film is not for the faint of heart, as it doesn’t shy away from graphic violence and disturbing depictions of racial hatred to get its message across. It’s worth noting that Norton’s award-winning performance elevates the entire movie. American History X manages to tackle serious issues of racism and bigotry, while also offering insight and a unique perspective on the people who fall victim to such ideologies.

14 ‘The Usual Suspects’ (1995)

Kevin Pollak, Stephen Baldwin, Benecio Del Toro, Gabriel Byrne, and Kevin Spacey in a police line-up in the The Usual Suspects
Image Via Gramercy Pictures

IMDb Rating: 8.5/10

Director Bryan Singer‘s The Usual Suspects is widely regarded as one of the best crime films ever made (with one of the most iconic plot twists everyone knows). The film is centered on a group of career criminals who get together for a disastrous heist, which is soon linked by authorities to a larger conspiracy. The entire movie is mostly hinged on the interrogation of the heist’s only survivor, Verbal Kint (Kevin Spacey), who recounts the wild story that wouldn’t be possible without the enigmatic criminal mastermind, Keyser Söze.

Aside from its legendary twist, The Usual Suspects has left a mark on cinematic history with its memorable lineup scene, as well as a number of entertaining lines. The complexity of its plot and genuinely heart-pounding and thrilling moments leading up to its big reveal make it a gripping film from start to finish.

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13 ‘The Departed’ (2006)

Leonardo Dicaprio in The Departed.

IMDb Rating: 8.5/10

The Departed focuses on the messy connection between two men, Billy Costigan (Leonardo DiCaprio) and Colin Sullivan (Matt Damon), who find themselves on opposing sides in the same crime syndicate. Set in the bustling streets of Boston, the crime thriller movie depicts Billy’s experiences as an undercover cop infiltrating the gang, while Colin attempts to infiltrate the police department. To make things even more complicated, an investigation to expose the mole in the police department raises the pressure.

As the two individuals navigate the complexities of their respective targets in one of the best investigation movies ever, it soon becomes clear that achieving their respective goals won’t be easy. The enthralling film will keep viewers glued to their screens as the protagonists’ journeys build up to an explosive conclusion, and it doesn’t end well for anyone.

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12 ‘Léon: The Professional’ (1994)

'Leon: The Professional' which inspired alt-J's song.

IMDb Rating: 8.5/10

Natalie Portman, Jean Reno, and Gary Oldman star in the French crime-action-thriller, Léon: The Professional. The film follows the story of a professional hitman, Léon (Reno), who hesitantly cares for a young girl, Matilda (Portman), after a group of corrupt DEA agents led by Norman Stansfield (Oldman) murders her entire family. An odd duo, Léon and Matilda bond over the young girl’s desire for revenge, and the hitman teacher her everything she needs to know.

With stellar performances from the cast (especially Portman’s career-defining role as Matilda), action-packed sequences, and a wholly original and unconventional dynamic between its lead characters, it’s not surprising that the crime film enjoys the reputation it still has today. It’s a classic in the genre that pushed the boundaries of character relationship complexities.

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11 ‘City of God’ (2002)


IMDb Rating: 8.6/10

City of God is a critically-acclaimed epic crime movie that revolves around Rio de Janeiro’s eponymous slum. Co-directed by Fernando Meirelles and Kátia Lund, the film depicts criminal activity, poor living conditions, and constant violence in that area. A young and ambitious photographer who grew up there makes it his goal to document significant events and show the world what shouldn’t be ignored.

The terrifying and often jarring way the movie portrays the titular location will leave viewers shocked by how terrible the ‘City of God’ really is. Its frantic pace doesn’t allow for any breaks that are too drawn out, as there’s always some new form of crime or brutality around the corner.

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10 ‘The Silence of the Lambs’ (1991)

Jodi Foster looking at Anthony Hopkins behind the glass of his cell in The Silence of the Lambs

IMDb Rating: 8.6/10

Based on the eponymous novel by Thomas Harris, director Jonathan Demme‘s The Silence of the Lambs is an undeniable masterpiece in the crime and thriller genres. The film follows Clarice Starling (Jodie Foster), an inexperienced FBI trainee attempting to catch an active serial killer known as “Buffalo Bill” (Ted Levine). She seeks the help of the incarcerated cannibalistic serial killer Dr. Hannibal Lecter (Anthony Hopkins), who soon uses his skills at manipulation to work on his own desires.

An undisputed milestone in cinema, the award-winning film is renowned because of its incredible use of psychology to create complex characters and weave an engrossing story. The movie masterfully builds suspense all throughout, with the rising tension making it impossible not to feel invested in Clarice’s journey as she races against time and prevents another killing from happening.

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9 ‘The Green Mile’ (1999)

The Green Mile

IMDb Rating: 8.6/10

The renowned classic from director Frank Darabont, The Green Mile follows Warden Supervisor Paul Edgecomb (Tom Hanks) and a new inmate on death row, John Coffey (‎Michael Clarke Duncan). John has been accused of a heinous crime that led to the death of two young girls, but his supernatural gifts soon make Paul question whether he’s really guilty.

Those who have seen it know that it’s a heartbreaking movie that’s too painful to watch again. It’s impossible not to root for the kindhearted and innocent John, who develops a genuine friendship with Paul. John changes everyone around him, and audiences are no exception. The crime element is woven into fantasy and drama, making it a truly absorbing film.

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8 ‘Se7en’ (1995)

Morgan Freeman and Brad Pitt listening to a phone in Se7en
Image via New Line Cinema

IMDb Rating: 8.6/10

Director David Fincher’s Se7en is a box office hit that revolves around an unusual string of murders and the two detectives that try to find the serial killer. The disillusioned detective William Somerset (Morgan Freeman) and arrogant David Mills (Brad Pitt) have to work together to figure out who is using the seven deadly sins as a motif or inspiration to stage gruesome scenes after heinous killings.

The whodunit sets itself apart from other crime films with its superb writing and well-thought-out scenes. It can also be unbelievably unsettling, especially when audiences see the famous twist it’s known for and is still referenced in memes and other forms of media today.

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7 ‘Goodfellas’ (1990)

ray liotta goodfellas feature

IMDb Rating: 8.7/10

Director Martin Scorsese’s Goodfellas is based on the true story of the mob associate Henry Hill (played by Ray Liotta). It chronicles his rise to power alongside his associates from 1955 to 1980, as well as the changes in their lifestyles, relationships, and tolerance for murder and other crimes.

The gangster movie provides an intriguing fresh perspective on the genre, which shows the messiness of dealings between made men and the younger generation. It gives viewers an idea of what kind of criminal activity and sacrifice is expected from people who choose to pursue a life in the mafia.

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6 ‘Jai Bhim’ (2021)

Jai Bhim - 2021

IMDb Rating: 8.8/10

Based on an actual case fought by Justice K. Chandru, Jai Bhim is a legal drama that delves into police brutality and the oppression of a marginalized community. When Rajakannu (Manikandan) is arrested by the authorities and then mysteriously goes missing, his wife ​​Sengeni (Lijomol Jose) finds an advocate in Chandru (Suriya) to fight for her all-too-common case.

Taken as a fictional film, it does an excellent job of telling an engrossing and compelling tale that delivers its strong message about inequality. That said, director T. J. Gnanavel’s movie has been criticized for its reductionist approach to the complex issues it tries to portray by painting its victims without agency in their own stories.

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5 ‘Pulp Fiction’ (1994)

Image via Miramax

IMDb Rating: 8.9/10

Pulp Fiction is the wild crime film that made director Quentin Tarantino a household name. Set in Los Angeles, the movie is told from different perspectives and weaves together various stories of crime. The storylines include the retrieval of a mysterious suitcase for the gangster Marsellus Wallace (Ving Rhames), a twisted version of Bonnie and Clyde, a night gone wrong with Mia Wallace (Uma Thurman), and more.

Often considered Tarantino’s masterpiece, the movie has an obviously original tone, atmosphere, and characters. It’s a culturally significant work of art that continues to be parodied and referenced in different forms of media today.

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4 ‘The Godfather Part II’ (1974)

The Godfather Part 2

IMDb Rating: 9.0/10

The Godfather Part II continues director Francis Ford Coppola’s epic crime trilogy by serving as both a sequel and prequel to the 1972 film. It follows two main storylines: first, Don Vito’s (Robert De Niro/Oreste Baldini) roots and his experiences establishing the influential mafia and, second, Michael’s (Al Pacino) increasingly violent and risky encounters as the new patriarch of the family.

The engrossing sequel adds further details and nuances to the intricacies of the relationships, betrayals, and dangers within the Sicilian clan. Coppola proves that he has more to show audiences what life is like for a gangster, as they aren’t the comical and witless villains they’re often made out to be in the film industry.

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3 ’12 Angry Men’ (1957)

12 angry men characters

IMDb Rating: 9.0/10

Director Sidney Lumet’s 12 Angry Men is a legendary courtroom drama that revolves around the titular jurors, who struggle to come to an agreement in a hot and stuffy jury room of the New York County Courthouse. The case involves a young teenager who has been accused of murdering his own father.

The film is known for its incredible dialogue, complex characters, and use of one setting for the majority of the movie. It’s often cited among the best films from the 1950s, as it raised (still) relevant and hard-hitting questions about the legal system and racism in a thought-provoking way that can move and inspire audiences to re-evaluate their own beliefs.

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2 ‘The Dark Knight’ (2008)

Batman standing amidst smoke in The Dark Knight.
Image Via Warner Bros.

IMDb Rating: 9.0/10

Still considered by most fans and critics as the best live-action Batman movie, The Dark Night is a dark and gritty superhero film that’s difficult to compare to anything in the oversaturated genre. Director Christopher Nolan tells a captivating tale of the way Batman (Christian Bale) teams up with district attorney Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart) and police lieutenant James Gordon (Gary Oldman) to reduce crime in Gotham, only to fall short when an enigmatic villain known as the Joker (Heath Ledger) steps in.

From its daring action sequences and impressive visual effects to its compelling characters and surprisingly unsettling scenes, it’s easy to see why the film is still well-loved by fans. It doesn’t pull any punches when it comes to its shockingly disturbing moments and impossible-to-answer questions about morality.

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1 ‘The Godfather’ (1972)

Marlon Brando in 'The Godfather'
Image via Paramount Pictures

IMDb Rating: 9.2/10

The Godfather is a crime film that needs no introduction. Based on Mario Puzo’s eponymous 1969 novel, the iconic movie is centered on the Sicilian clan headed by Vito Corleone (Marlon Brando). Aside from depicting the ruthlessness and perilous activities that are so common in the mafia, it also follows the initially reluctant youngster, Michael Corleone (Al Pacino), and his rise to power.

It wouldn’t be an overstatement to say that Coppola’s masterpiece reinvigorated the gangster genre, as its unprecedented portrayal of psychologically complex characters shed new light on the inner workings of a mafia. The first movie is still the best of the trilogy and still holds up incredibly well today.

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NEXT: The Best Thriller Movies of All Time, Ranked According to IMDb



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