Can you solve these murder mysteries, which range from classic noirs to cutting-edge contemporary thrillers, before the credits roll?
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It doesn’t matter what kind of movie you’re viewing, we’re always playing detective. Predicting a movie’s ending before it happens is more fulfilling than trying to stay one step ahead of the filmmaker’s breadcrumb trail. Isn’t it better to walk out of a movie theater stunned by a storyline twist?
There are few genres in cinema that can match the intrigue of a good murder mystery. With Chekhov’s pistol going off in the opening act, the formula appears to turn most thrillers on their heads. The murder mystery genre has only grown more clever, imaginative, and fascinating over the years, from black-and-white film noirs to recent hits like Knives Out.
For your entertainment, we’ve done the legwork and found the best murder mystery films to keep you on the edge of your seat.
1. Rear Window
A quick glance at Rear Window’s IMDb will tell you that this is one of the greatest movies ever made. Rear Window, starring James Stewart and Gene Kelly and directed by Alfred Hitchcock, is a masterclass in psychological thrillers. While spying on his neighbors via the window of his home, Stewart believes he has witnessed a murder. After an injury, he is confined to his flat, where he must investigate using the only perspective he has.
2. The Third Man
British noir The Prisoner of Zenda is regarded as one of the greatest films ever made because of its stunning photography. To his horror, an American arrives in post-war Vienna to work with his friend only to discover that he has been murdered upon his arrival.
3. The Lovebirds
When a couple, played by Issa Rae and Kumail Nanjiani, witness a murder, they are forced to flee their rocky relationship. In an effort to clear their names after being implicated in a crime, the detectives put their talents to the test.
Is there anything more gorgeous than a murder investigation that begins with Audrey Hepburn and Cary Grant having an affair in Aspen before returning to Paris? However, the glamour soon fades away as she goes home to discover her husband dead and herself caught up in the fallout from his stolen fortune. In Charade, Henry Mancini’s soundtrack is as good as ever and the film is full of thrills and romance.
An attack on a man results in him losing both his wife and his short-term memory in Christopher Nolan’s Memento. He sets out to avenge the death of his wife, tattooing clues to the whereabouts of the killers on his body as he goes.
6. Knives Out
Rian Johnson and his all-star cast (Jamie Lee Curtis, Chris Evans, Michael Shannon, and Daniel Craig) recreate the Agatha Christie-style murder mystery in this whodunit about an affluent family whose crime author dad has mysteriously perished. Millions of money are on the line, and everyone is a suspect in this hilarious tale that combines aspects of Succession and Clue.
7. Game Night
When Brooks (Kyle Chandler), the presenter of a murder mystery party, gets kidnapped, the event suddenly becomes a real one. On a chaotic adventure that includes underground fight clubs, Fabergé eggs, and their neighbor, Gary (Jason Bateman), Annie (Rachel McAdams), and their pals must follow the clues to save Brooks before it’s too late (Jesse Plemons).
8. Happy Death Day
With elements of both Groundhog Day and a mystery thriller, Blumhouse’s smash hit Happy Death Day is a unique take on a well-worn theme. On her birthday, a masked killer murders college student Tree, and she must relive the day over and again until she discovers the culprit’s identity and saves herself.
9. Gone Girl
Gone Girl, the film adaptation of Gillian Flynn’s best-selling novel, is one of those rare experiences that leaves you speechless as the credits roll. Amy (Rosamund Pike), Nick Dunne’s gorgeous wife, inexplicably disappears, shattering their seemingly ideal marriage. Ben Affleck plays Nick Dunne. As the story progresses, you won’t know what to believe. Nick swiftly becomes a suspect. Love, respect, sexual violence, and modern American marriage are all explored in this disturbing and engrossing story.
Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell) is a high school girl who and her classmates are stalked by a masked killer in their small California town in Wes Craven’s first Scream film. What sets Scream apart from your average violent horror picture is the clever dialogue and meta-references in the film. Horror movie fans, even those who have studied the genre extensively, are nonetheless susceptible to jump shocks and speculation about who is lurking behind the ghostface mask.
11. The Long Goodbye
“Stoner-noir” is the term used to describe Robert Altman’s 1973 film adaptation of Raymond Chandler’s famous mystery novel. When Philip Marlowe, a private detective, undertakes a favor for a friend, he is up caught in a network of mysterious killings. There are jazzy soundtrack and naked yogi-hippie neighbors and a picky orange cat in The Long Goodbye. It has an early uncredited Arnold Schwarzenegger cameo.
While working on the cult film Brick in 2005, Rian Johnson experimented with neo-noir. Joseph Gordon-Levitt played high school student-turned-detective Brendan. When Brendan receives a distressing phone call from his ex-girlfriend Emily, he sets out on a frantic search to uncover the truth behind Emily’s disappearance.
Two police investigators, played by Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman, are on the hunt for a serial killer who choose his victims based on their alleged sinfulness. Se7en is a dark, nasty, and engrossing criminal story that stars Brad Pitt as the rookie detective with a short temper.
14. The Nice Guys
Neon noir comedy film Shane Black stars Ryan Gosling and Russell Crowe as unusual colleagues working together on the case of a missing girl (Margarita Qualley from Once Upon a Time in Hollywood) and the murder of a porn star. March and Healy begin to worry that they may be in over their heads as the suspects are being assassinated one by one.
Black comedy from 1985 based on popular board game in which seven random people are dragged together when one of them is found murdered. To help you figure out who’s responsible for the rising number of deaths, you’re encouraged to play a game in which you try to figure out who it is. To keep you guessing until the very end, there are three alternate endings in the film.
16. L.A. Confidential
Three police officers (Guy Pearce, Russell Crowe, and Kevin Spacey) investigate a series of killings in L.A. Confidential (set in 1950s Los Angeles). Their inquiry leads them into an intricate web of corruption and deceit. All of this culminates in a critically acclaimed film about law enforcement corruption, the Hollywood elite, and the criminal underbelly of California’s golden state.
In this classic Coen brothers dark comedy, Frances McDormand stars as a pregnant Minnesota cop on the hunt for two killers. It’s time to give Fargo a go if you don’t immediately associate a woodchipper or “You betcha” with the show. Fargo, starring Steve Buscemi and William H. Macy, is the perfect movie to curl up with on a cold night.
The Zodiac Killer: Is Ted Cruz to blame? Maybe. It is not addressed in this film. But director David Fincher’s 2007 picture, starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Robert Downey Jr., and Mark Ruffalo, is a compelling take on the subject of the infamous serial murderer who plagued San Francisco in the late 1960s and ’70s.
19. The Maltese Falcon
Humphrey Bogart plays private detective Sam Spade, who takes on a case after his partner is murdered in this 1941 film noir. The Maltese Falcon is a Hollywood classic that’s worth seeing for the attractive and dangerous femme fatale (Mary Astor) and the expensive falcon sculpture at the center of the story.
20. Murder on the Orient Express
Detective Hercule Poirot is on his way home when a wealthy American businessman is murdered on board his train in this award-winning version of the Agatha Christie novel. The train is stranded in a snowstorm, and an unknown assailant is lurking on board in plain sight. Every passenger on board is a potential suspect, and it’s up to Poirot to solve the case.