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

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

With the recent premieres of movies like The Good Nurse, Barbarian, and Death on the Nile, it’s easy to see that genres like crime, thriller, and mystery are still just as relevant as ever. Mystery movies are especially having a renaissance, with massively popular recent entries in the genre like Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery proving renewed interest in the whodunit formula.

There are some mystery movies that have stood the test of time and are considered the best among the numerous films in the genre by IMDb users. Their votes have determined the must-see mystery movies that defined, reinvented, or pushed forward the established genre.

Updated on May 23, 2023, by Hannah Saab:

The mystery genre continues to be a vital part of cinema. And while the top 10 mystery movies on IMDb rarely change, viewers who are itching for an exciting film can go further down the list to discover more award-winning classics (and more Hitchcock masterpieces).



20 ‘Gone Girl’ (2014)

Rosamund Pike as Amy Dunne taking a bath in 'Gone Girl'

IMDb Rating: 8.1/10

Based on the eponymous bestselling novel by Gillian Flynn and directed by David Fincher, Gone Girl is a mind-blowing psychological thriller and mystery film that follows the disappearance of Amy Dunne (Rosamund Pike). All eyes turn to Nick Dunne (Ben Affleck), Amy’s husband, whose erratic behavior only makes authorities and the public – captivated by the media frenzy – more suspicious of him.

Layers of secrets and lies are peeled back as Gone Girl unfolds, leading to unexpected twists and turns that are satisfyingly faithful to the source material. Fincher’s signature style shows through the film’s atmosphere of tension and unease, which further immerses audiences in a psychological game of cat and mouse. A standout in the genre, it’s a film audiences should see knowing as little as possible about its shocking mid-point reveal.

Watch on Max

19 ‘Prisoners’ (2013)

Jake Gyllenhaal as Keller and Paul Dano as Alex fighting in 'Prisoners'
Image Via Warner Bros.

IMDb Rating: 8.1/10

Director Denis Villeneuve’s Prisoners is a nail-biting mystery-thriller film that revolves around Keller Dover (masterfully played by Hugh Jackman), whose world is shattered when his young daughter goes missing. He soon takes matters into his own hands, as the official investigation doesn’t seem to be going anywhere – in fact, the authorities released the prime suspect. Soon, alongside Detective Loki (Jake Gyllenhaal), the desperate families find themselves caught in a web of unexpected twists.

Prisoners explores the dark side of human nature by portraying ethical dilemmas that make audiences wonder what they would do if they were in the characters’ shoes. The line between right and wrong is blurred as the protagonist takes extreme measures to recover his loved one, while also doubting the competency of those supposed to help him unmask the criminal responsible.

Watch on Netflix

18 ‘Chinatown’ (1974)

Jack Nicholson and Faye Dunaway as Jake Gittes and Evelyn Cross driving in Chinatown
Image via Paramount Pictures

IMDb Rating: 8.2/10

A renowned neo-noir mystery film, director Roman Polanski’s Chinatown is a genre-defining timeless masterpiece that follows private detective J.J. “Jake” Gittes (Jack Nicholson) as he investigates a seemingly typical infidelity case. Before he knows it, he is plunged into a labyrinthine tale of corruption, deception, and power.

Set in 1930s Los Angeles, Chinatown perfectly captures the essence of the noir genre with its dark atmosphere and twisty story. Its stunning period details wonderfully complement its complex characters, who demonstrate the inextricable link between humanity, greed, and corruption.

Watch on Showtime

17 ‘L.A. Confidential’ (1997)

Russell Crowe standing next to Guy Pearce who is looking into a car in L.A. Confidential
Image via Warner Bros.

IMDb Rating: 8.2/10

Set in 1950s Los Angeles, L.A. Confidential is a gorgeous masterpiece centered on three LAPD detectives – Detective Lieutenant Exley (Guy Pearce), Officer White (Russell Crowe), and Sergeant Vincennes (Kevin Spacey). The trio navigates a complicated and dangerous situation involving murder, corruption, and scandal.

Directed by Curtis Hanson, the renowned classic brings the gritty and seductive world of 1950s Los Angeles to life. The film’s noir and mystery elements work to create an engrossing film full of twists and turns as the detectives confront their dark sides in the quest for justice or recognition.

Watch on Hulu

16 ‘The Sixth Sense’ (1999)

Haley Joel Osment in 'The Sixth Sense'

IMDb Rating: 8.2/10

Featuring one of the most infamous twists by director M. Night Shyamalan, The Sixth Sense is an iconic supernatural film that follows Dr. Malcolm Crowe (Bruce Willis), a child psychologist who forms a bond with a young boy named Cole Sear (Haley Joel Osment), who claims to see the dead.

The Sixth Sense stands out as a great mystery movie not only for its intriguing twist but also for the suspense and surprising emotional depth built up before it gets there. As the story unfolds, audiences find themselves drawn deeper into the eerie world of Cole’s visions, eagerly searching for answers alongside Dr. Crowe, not expecting that there’s an unfolding mystery in front of them all along.

15 ‘Shutter Island’ (2010)

A U.S. Marshall and his partner arrive to investigate a remote asylum for the criminally insane.
Image via Paramount Pictures

IMDb Rating: 8.2/10

Director Martin Scorsese‘s Shutter Island is a twisty psychological thriller with an absorbing mystery at the center. It tells the story of U.S. Marshal Teddy Daniels (Leonardo DiCaprio), and his partner Chuck Aule (Mark Ruffalo), as they investigate the mysterious disappearance of a patient at Ashecliffe Hospital, a remote mental health facility located on the titular island.

Teddy eventually begins to delve deeper into a mind-bending journey that blurs the lines between reality and illusion. As he discovers more shocking secrets about the island, they all inevitably lead to realizations about his own life. The protagonist’s haunting story is made better by the dark, claustrophobic, and foreboding atmosphere that hangs over the entire film, reminding viewers that this doesn’t end well.

Watch on Prime Video

14 ‘North by Northwest’ (1959)

Roger Thornhill running away from a plane in North by Northwest

IMDb Rating: 8.3/10

A renowned Alfred Hitchcock thriller from the end of the ’50s, North by Northwest follows the exhilarating story of an advertising executive, Roger Thornhill (Cary Grant), who goes on a wild journey after being mistaken for a government agent by international spies. As he’s pursued across the country, he winds up on a train, which also happens to be carrying the enigmatic passenger, Eve Kendall (Eva Marie Saint).

With remarkably elaborate set pieces and witty dialogue to go with tight pacing and action-packed sequences, it’s not surprising that the film enjoys the reputation it still has today. One iconic scene of Grant running away from a crop duster is still referenced and parodied in pop culture, a testament to this mystery movie’s far-reaching influence.

Watch on Max

13 ‘Vertigo’ (1958)

John Ferguson standing on the street and looking on in 'Vertigo'
Image via Alfred J. Hitchcock Productions

IMDb Rating: 8.3/10

One of Hitchcock’s most studied works, Vertigo is centered on a retired detective, Scottie Ferguson (James Stewart), who’s hired by his friend to investigate his wife’s bizarre behavior. The detective soon finds himself becoming obsessed with the subject he’s supposed to objectively observe, which is made even more challenging by sudden bouts of vertigo while he’s on the job.

Aside from being the film responsible for the “Vertigo Effect” cinematic shot, Hitchcock’s masterpiece provided necessary commentary about the male gaze in cinema. It’s an early critique of toxic masculinity, which the film does while also being impeccably scored and flawlessly shot from frame to frame.

12 ‘Citizen Kane’ (1941)

Orson Welles in Citizen Kane
Image via RKO

IMDb Rating: 8.3/10

Citizen Kane is a film that needs no introduction. Widely regarded as one of the greatest movies ever made, the film is directed by and stars Orson Welles, who plays the role of a wealthy newspaper magnate. A reporter soon delves into the magnate’s mysterious last word, “Rosebud,” and makes some disturbing discoveries along the way.

Welles’ powerhouse performance is perfectly complemented by his innovative narrative structure, which follows a non-linear style. The film also showcased a groundbreaking focus on cinematographic techniques, which are still used in the industry today. Of course, its enduring message about the complex connections between power, money, and the media is just as relevant as ever.

11 ‘The Lives of Others’ (2006)

A man wearing headphones

IMDb Rating: 8.4/10

The Lives of Others (German: Das Leben der Anderen) is a fantastic German mystery-drama film that’s centered on Stasi officer, Gerd Wiesler (Ulrich Mühe), who’s ordered to spy on a playwright and his girlfriend. Written and directed by Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck and set in East Berlin during the Cold War, the captivating movie portrays the protagonist’s wavering loyalty to his government as he listens in on his subjects’ conversations and develops an emotional connection with them.

A bold commentary about life under a surveillance state, the film explores the more intimate effects of constant observation on both the spy and the victim. Nuanced performances from its cast elevate the movie and turn it into a deeply emotional, yet unnervingly quiet one all throughout.

Watch on Mubi

10 ‘Memento’ (2000)


IMDb Rating: 8.4/10

A neo-noir psychological thriller and mystery film all in one, director Christopher Nolan‘s Memento is a must-see masterful combination of these genres. It follows a man with anterograde amnesia, Leonard Shelby (Guy Pearce), who is looking for his wife’s killer. Since he can’t form new memories, the protagonist uses Polaroid photos and tattoos to keep track of clues and events.

Notable for its unconventional non-linear structure, Memento has two timelines that eventually meet to paint a complete picture. It subverts expectations by providing audiences with a puzzle to piece together, instead of just depicting the puzzle like a typical crime thriller. Aside from this novel approach to structure, Nolan’s thriller also effectively explores the human psyche and raises questions about the nature of memories and reality through Leonard Shelby’s mind-bending story.

Watch on Max

9 ‘Apocalypse Now’ (1979)

Martin Sheen in 'Apocalypse Now'

IMDb Rating: 8.4/10

Loosely based on Joseph Conrad’s 1899 novella, Heart of Darkness, Apocalypse Now is set in the Vietnam War. It follows Captain Benjamin Willard (Martin Sheen), a burnt-out operative who is tasked with assassinating a rogue Green Beret Colonel named Walter Kurtz (Marlon Brando). Kurtz has fashioned himself as a god among his followers and is leading unauthorized guerilla attacks – reaching him will not be easy.

Director Francis Ford Coppola showcases the horrors of war in the movie, which has an undeniable intensity and fervor the deeper the protagonist goes during his river journey. Not often counted among great mystery movies, its inclusion in the genre is owed to the lack of information about Kurtz, as his motivations, plans, and past are initially unclear.

8 ‘Oldboy’ (2003)

A man holding a hammer

IMDb Rating: 8.4/10

Oldboy is a cult classic and critically-acclaimed revenge movie that revolves around Oh Dae-su (Choi Min-sik), who is kidnapped and held captive for fifteen years for seemingly no rhyme or reason. When he’s suddenly released, the protagonist decides to look for the captors responsible for his suffering, but soon becomes embroiled in a major conspiracy.

Directed by Park Chan-wook, Oldboy is infamous for its disturbing and iconic twist, which ties together its themes of payback and obsession. Of course, it’s also known for its flawlessly choreographed action sequences, particularly Oh Dae-su’s hallway fight against a group of goons, which highlights the film’s amazing cinematography.

7 ‘Rear Window’ (1954)

Jeff Jefferies using a camera to look at something off-camera in Rear Window.

IMDb Rating: 8.5/10

Director Alfred Hitchcock’s groundbreaking work, Rear Window, is centered on the photographer L. B. “Jeff” Jefferies (James Stewart), who is recovering from a broken leg. In the meantime, he looks through his window and watches the neighbors to keep him occupied (and entertained). He’s soon disturbed by something he sees and is convinced that he has spotted a murderer.

One of the best mystery movies from Hollywood’s roughest decade, the renowned film is known for its brilliant commentary on voyeurism, as audiences become voyeurs through the protagonist’s eyes, just waiting for something terrible to happen. Its intense scenes and flawless pacing also make the actual mystery in the movie gripping.

6 ‘Psycho’ (1960)

Marion Crane screams in the shower in Psycho
Image via Paramount Pictures

IMDb Rating: 8.5/10

Arguably Hitchcock’s most significant and enduring masterpiece, Psycho is a bold and innovative film that takes place in the now-iconic Bates Motel. This is where the fleeing criminal Marion Crane (Janet Leigh) decides to rest, and also where she meets the eccentric but seemingly harmless proprietor, Norman Bates (Anthony Perkins). She’ll soon discover that she has made the wrong choice.

With its infamous shower scene, transgressive subject matters, and even a flushing toilet, Hitchcock’s film pushed the genre forward by leaps and bounds. Not to mention the riveting mystery that will keep audiences at the edge of their seats as those searching for Marion uncover truly disturbing things.

5 ‘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 a neo-noir classic that is centered on the interrogation of Verbal Kint (Kevin Spacey). The police question him about the mysterious crime lord, Keyser Soze, who is supposedly behind their daring but disastrous multi-million dollar heist that left several people dead or injured.

Told through flashbacks, everything viewers (and authorities) know comes from Verbal’s convoluted version of the events that transpired. There’s a frustrating sense of urgency to figure out exactly what happened and answer the questions about the massacre, but a huge and iconic twist towards the end makes the entire film worth watching.

Watch on Tubi

4 ‘The Prestige’ (2006)

the prestige christian bale featured
Image via Warner Bros

IMDb Rating: 8.5/10

One of director Christopher Nolan’s most underrated films, The Prestige follows the stage magicians Robert Angier (Hugh Jackman) and Alfred Borden (Christian Bale), and the rivalry that forms between them towards the end of the 19th century. They both become obsessed with beating each other through impossible performances and perilous stunts, often with tragic outcomes.

The riveting and somewhat frightening film highlights the consequences of taking things too far for the sake of competition or ambition. Its mystery element comes from the explanation behind strange and startling tricks that seem like actual magic, but turn out to be far darker than viewers may expect.

3 ‘Spirited Away’ (2001)


IMDb Rating: 8.6/10

Studio Ghibli’s most popular film, Spirited Away, follows the misadventures of 10-year-old Chihiro (voiced by Rumi Hiiragi). Directed by Hayao Miyazaki, the animated movie depicts the way Chihiro finds herself in the spirit world of the Kami, which she has to brave to rescue her parents. She encounters all kinds of fascinating, terrifying, and comforting beings in the mysterious realm.

From its gorgeous visuals and wonderfully weird creatures to its touching story and endearing protagonist, viewers who have never seen the animated film should know that there are several reasons it’s so popular and beloved by fans. Its element of mystery is in more than one thing, as the people and beings Chihiro meets are often hiding astounding secrets.

Watch on Max

2 ‘The Green Mile’ (1999)

Image via Warner Bros.

IMDb Rating: 8.6/10

Director Frank Darabont’s The Green Mile revolves around Warden Supervisor Paul Edgecomb’s (Tom Hanks) experiences while supervising death row, which turns into something extraordinary after the arrival of John Coffey (Michael Clarke Duncan). John has been sentenced to die after being found guilty of murdering two young girls, but, after a series of inexplicable interactions, Paul soon realizes that there’s more to the story.

The blockbuster is based on Stephen King’s eponymous novel from 1996. The mystery it depicts is of a magical and fantastical nature, which is made better by the compelling characters (Paul and John). Their unexpected friendship and the movie’s heartbreaking ending make it a memorable one.

Watch on Max

1 ‘Se7en’ (1995)

Morgan Freeman and Brad Pitt holding flashlights in Se7en
Image via Warner Bros

IMDb Rating: 8.6/10

When a serial killer begins actively murdering victims and using the seven deadly sins as inspiration, retiring detective William Somerset (Morgan Freeman) partners with the inexperienced David Mills (Brad Pitt) in Se7en. They follow the grotesque trail the enigmatic murderer leaves behind, while also dealing with their own differences that affect how they handle the case.

Director David Fincher’s critically-acclaimed film is known for its sharp writing, gruesome scenes, and, of course, jaw-dropping twist. The shocking climax and the end of the mystery it presents is still referenced and parodied today, emphasizing just how impactful the movie is.

Watch on Showtime

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



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Most Popular

Recent Comments

%d bloggers like this: