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100 best mystery movies of all time

  • 100 best mystery movies of all time

    Deciding on the best mystery movies of all time may be a mystery unto itself. Devotees of suspense, thrillers, whodunits, and horror films will no doubt have their own solutions to such a puzzle.

    Stacker compiled data on all mystery movies to come up with a Stacker score—a weighted index split evenly between IMDb and Metacritic scores. To qualify, the film had to be listed as a mystery on IMDb, have a Metascore, and have at least 2,500 votes. Ties were broken by Metascore, and further ties were broken by IMDb user rating. Every movie on the list has been considered according to the history and development of mystery films.

    Some of the best are based on true crime, like “Zodiac,” about a killer who terrorized Northern California in the late 1960s and was never found. “Sicario” is based on the real-life U.S.-led war on drugs on the United States-Mexico border, and “Reversal of Fortune” draws from the story of Claus von Bulow, accused of trying to kill his socialite wife, Sunny.

    Some are entirely unrealistic and futuristic, like the “The Wailing” or “Bacurau,” about a Brazilian village that starts disappearing from maps. The future is portrayed as horribly frightening and uninviting in such mysteries as “Ghost in the Shell” and “Minority Report.”

    Animation breeds its own hits, like “Zootopia,” Japanese science fiction anime like “Paprika,” or the steampunk setting of “April and the Extraordinary World.” Film noir holds its own with such favorites as “The Postman Always Rings Twice” and “Double Indemnity.”

    The 21st century shows its strength at the back of the list, but only manages to squeeze four films into the top 25 among the greats. Not surprisingly, Alfred Hitchcock holds the most claim to great movie mysteries, with far and away more favorites on the list than any other director, with “Rebecca,” “Suspicion,” “The Birds,” “The 39 Steps,” “North by Northwest,” “Psycho,” “Vertigo,” and “Rear Window.”

    But many of the best mysteries simply tell a great story, filled with unexpected twists and clever surprises that make moviegoers want to watch them again and again. That’s why movies like “The Usual Suspects,” “Mystic River,” “The Bourne Ultimatum,” “The Fugitive,” “The Lives of Others,” “Chinatown,” and “Apocalypse Now” are consistent favorites.

    Hold onto your seats, enjoy, and beware of a few spoilers that may follow.

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  • #100. Zodiac (2007)

    - Director: David Fincher
    - Stacker score: 84
    - Metascore: 78
    - IMDb user rating: 7.7
    - Runtime: 157 minutes

    “Zodiac” is based on the real story of a serial killer in the late 1960s in Northern California who sent coded messages to the San Francisco Chronicle newspaper. It stars Jake Gyllenhaal, Robert Downey Jr., Mark Ruffalo, and Anthony Edwards. The Zodiac killer was never found.

  • #99. The Wailing (2016)

    - Director: Na Hong-jin
    - Stacker score: 84
    - Metascore: 81
    - IMDb user rating: 7.4
    - Runtime: 156 minutes

    “The Wailing” is a horror film about demonic possession terrorizing a South Korean village. Critics credit it for being unpredictable and defying the genre’s formulas of suspense and storytelling.

  • #98. Ghost in the Shell (1995)

    - Director: Mamoru Oshii
    - Stacker score: 85
    - Metascore: 76
    - IMDb user rating: 8
    - Runtime: 83 minutes

    Set in the year 2029, “Ghost in the Shell” is a dark, violent Japanese anime film with a cult following. It follows an elite security team of cyborgs—part human, part computer—hunting a manipulative criminal hacker. A live-action version was made in 2017 starring Scarlett Johansson and Juliette Binoche.

  • #97. Minority Report (2002)

    - Director: Steven Spielberg
    - Stacker score: 85
    - Metascore: 80
    - IMDb user rating: 7.6
    - Runtime: 145 minutes

    “Minority Report” is set in a future when an elite police squad use psychic “precogs” to see crimes before they happen and arrest criminals before they can commit their crimes. Tom Cruise plays an officer accused of committing a future murder. He tries to prove his innocence by finding the case’s minority report—when one of the precogs has a dissenting prediction.

  • #96. Picnic at Hanging Rock (1975)

    - Director: Peter Weir
    - Stacker score: 85
    - Metascore: 81
    - IMDb user rating: 7.5
    - Runtime: 115 minutes

    “Picnic at Hanging Rock” is a classic favorite in which Australian schoolgirls disappear during a country outing on a hot St. Valentine’s Day in 1900. The haunting and unsettling film is shot as though it were based on a true story.

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  • #95. The Constant Gardener (2005)

    - Director: Fernando Meirelles
    - Stacker score: 85
    - Metascore: 82
    - IMDb user rating: 7.4
    - Runtime: 129 minutes

    Based on a novel by author John le Carre, “The Constant Gardener” spins the story of the murder of a British diplomat’s wife, played by Rachel Weisz, in Kenya. The search for the truth behind her death leads her bereft widower, played by Ralph Fiennes, into a web of multinational corruption and crime. Weisz earned an Oscar, a Golden Globe, and a Screen Actors Guild award.

  • #94. Mysteries of Lisbon (2010)

    - Director: Raoul Ruiz
    - Stacker score: 85
    - Metascore: 82
    - IMDb user rating: 7.4
    - Runtime: 272 minutes

    Directed by celebrated Chilean filmmaker Raul Ruiz, “Mysteries of Lisbon” is a period piece set in Portugal and adapted from a 19th century novel. It was originally created as a miniseries for European television, with the movie of intrigue and murder running more than four hours.

  • #93. Caché (2005)

    - Director: Michael Haneke
    - Stacker score: 85
    - Metascore: 83
    - IMDb user rating: 7.3
    - Runtime: 117 minutes

    “Caché” is a French thriller starring Juliette Binoche about a couple whose everyday lives are disrupted when mysterious videotapes start appearing at their doorstep. The tapes hint at secrets in their pasts. Michael Haneke took home three prizes from the 2005 Cannes Film Festival, including best director.

  • #92. Lantana (2001)

    - Director: Ray Lawrence
    - Stacker score: 85
    - Metascore: 84
    - IMDb user rating: 7.2
    - Runtime: 121 minutes

    In the psychological thriller “Lantana,” Anthony LaPaglia leads a cast of characters whose lives are intertwined by deceptions, suspicions, and betrayals. The film, which critics call complex and intelligent, also stars Barbara Hershey and Geoffrey Rush.

  • #91. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (2011)

    - Director: Tomas Alfredson
    - Stacker score: 85
    - Metascore: 85
    - IMDb user rating: 7.1
    - Runtime: 122 minutes

    Set in the Cold War, “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy” tells the story of British spy George Smiley, played by Gary Oldman, who comes out of semi-retirement to hunt for a Soviet mole. It is adapted from the popular espionage novel of the same name by John Le Carre. The story is drawn from the real-life ring of double agents known as the Cambridge Five, led by Kim Philby, discovered working in British intelligence in the 1950s.

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