Who doesn’t love trying to solve a good mystery from the comfort of home? The best “whodunits” keep us entertained and guessing until the film’s end while leaving us satisfied with an intriguing outcome. Still, trying to choose which ones are the best murder mystery movies of all-time can be a difficult task.
Even though one study shows that many movie goers don’t mind – or actually like – seeing a film after hearing spoilers, a good murder mystery won’t give away the ending so easily. Discovering a killer’s methods and motives are a big part of the fun with these films, which range from dark comedies and dramas to outright horror films and psychological thrillers to true crime stories that seem out of this world.
There is so much content to watch today on streaming services that it can be overwhelming. In fact, a recent study shows the average person has a watch list so long, they will never finish it. So, even though you probably don’t need more to add to your endless list of flicks, these are some top contenders that you should consider. Plus, getting to know suspicious characters and trying to make sense of puzzling plot twists are all part of the fun with these films. So grab some popcorn and your favorite candy, because the best murder mystery movies will keep you glued to your seat for hours.
However, while one study found that critics and viewers don’t always agree when it comes to naming the best movies in a genre, these murder mystery movies are generally held in high regard across the board. Plus, StudyFinds checked with 10 expert websites to come up with this list of the best murder mystery movies, so we’re confident you’ll be tempted to watch. Share which one of these picks is your favorite or any other suggestions in the comments below.
The List: Best Murder Mystery Movies of All Time, Per Film Experts
1. “Rear Window” (1954)
James Stewart gives a gifted performance – from a wheelchair, no less – of a man who takes to spying on his neighbors while confined to his apartment. It’s a suspenseful film that keeps viewers on their toes until a climactic end. Parade calls this murder mystery “Alfred Hitchcock at his very best.” It writes, “It’s tense as hell. It’s tense because of the cinematography and writing.”
“Rear Window provides a masterclass on psychological thrillers,” gushes Esquire. “Stewart stars as a newspaper photographer who believes he’s witnessed a murder while spying on his neighbors through his window. Confined to his apartment after an injury, he must get to the bottom of things using the only vantage point he has.”
And Marie Claire writes, “A newspaper photographer with a broken leg passes the time during his recovery by observing his neighbors through his window. When he witnesses what he believes to be a murder, he goes to work solving the crime himself.”
2. “Murder on the Orient Express” (1974)
The original adaptation of Agatha Christie’s famous novel is one of the best murder mystery movies of all time – no disrespect to the modern remake. However, the original film perfectly captures the style and mood of the novel, and it was nominated for six Oscars.
“The late great Sidney Lumet directed an all-star cast in the sublime adaptation of Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express,” writes Screen Rant. “Albert Finney plays Hercule Poirot in the film, the infamous Belgian sleuth who is brought aboard the Orient Express when a murder takes place inside a train car. Those implicated in the end will surprise you more than most murder mysteries.”
Good Housekeeping states, “In this classic adaptation of Agatha Christie’s popular murder mystery novel, a detective named Hercule Poirot investigates the murder of an American business tycoon aboard the Orient Express train.”
“A glossy period travelogue set in Europe is not the sort of movie you’d expect from Sidney Lumet,” writes IMDb. “But he does a splendid job with an all-star cast (besides Albert Finney’s Poirot and Ingrid Bergman’s Oscar-winning Swedish missionary, there’s also Lauren Bacall, John Gielgud, and Sean Connery) and a typically twisty Christie plot with a jaw-dropping solution.”
3. “Se7en” (1995)
David Fincher’s unforgettable murder mystery draws you in with a thought-provoking string of crimes and finishes with a gut punch. Gritty and brutal to watch, it features iconic performances from Morgan Freeman, Brad Pitt, Kevin Spacey, and Gwenyth Paltrow.
Esquire writes, “Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman star as detectives following the twisted trail of a serial killer who targets his victims based on the seven deadly sins. … Se7en is a dark, brutal, and exciting crime tale.”
“A serial killer starts a seven deadly sins-themed murder spree, and two detectives (Freeman and Pitt) have to try to solve the case before he strikes again,” notes Marie Claire. “The film’s now known for a few key scenes, but the plot’s underrated and very tense. Watch out if you’re squeamish, though.”
“David Fincher’s ‘Se7en’ is a work of fiction, but somehow it appears to be a truth close to the heart that eventually your sin catches up to you,” writes The Cinemaholic.
4. “L.A. Confidential” (1997)
Nominated for nine Academy Awards, including Kim Basinger’s win for Best Supporting Actress, it’s a film noir set in 1950s Los Angeles. Lots of great performances by both seasoned actors of the time and relative newcomers who would go on to become stars.
“Curtis Hanson’s majestic adaptation of James Ellroy’s novel owes a debt to ‘Chinatown,’ a movie it equals in sheer paranoid dread,” writes IMDb. “When the denizens of a late-night diner are massacred, three mid-century Los Angeles detectives (Russell Crowe, Guy Pearce, and Kevin Spacey) follow different leads but all stumble upon the same vast conspiracy.”
Stacker calls it “A stylized thriller about corruption in the Los Angeles police force in the 1950s. The cast of suave and swaggering cops is played by Kevin Spacey, Guy Pearce, Russell Crowe, and James Cromwell.”
“Set in 1950s Los Angeles, L.A. Confidential is a neo-noir about three police officers … whose investigation of a series of murders unravels into a mysterious web of corruption and lies,” adds Esquire. “It all makes for an award-winning film about corrupt cops, the Hollywood scene, and the crime hidden beneath the surface of sunny California.”
5. “Memento” (2000)
Director Christopher Nolan’s slow-burn murder mystery is one of the best movies of the genre in the modern age thanks to its novel reverse-order sequencing and the intriguing way it unravels details. It’s full of twists you don’t see coming and its ending leaves you wanting more.
“Christopher Nolan’s innovative whodunit unspools in reverse chronological order, since protagonist Leonard (Guy Pearce, never better) has no short-term memory and forgets things that happened just a few minutes ago,” adds IMDb. “He remembers, though, that he’s hunting the man who raped and killed his wife, thanks to clues he’s tattooed all over his body. He can’t trust anyone – not seemingly sympathetic gal pal Carrie-Anne Moss, not shifty friend Joe Pantoliano, and certainly not himself.”
The Cinemaholic states, “Christopher Nolan‘s breakthrough moment came into prominence by this movie told in a non-linear way, using black and white sequences for the past and color sequences for present timelines. A man suffering from anterograde amnesia keeps looking for his wife’s killer. His only clues are the tattoos on his body. Apart from the innovative story telling format, the movie is also famous for its open ended finale which makes the viewer wonder.”
And Slash Film writes, “’Memento’ turns mystery filmmaking on its head. Not only is the identity of the killer an open question, but the hero’s own mind is a riddle wrapped in one of the most inventive puzzle plots ever put to celluloid.”
You might also be interested in:
- Good Housekeeping
- Screen Rant
- The Cinemaholic
- Marie Claire
Note: This article was not paid for nor sponsored. StudyFinds is not connected to nor partnered with any of the brands mentioned and receives no compensation for its recommendations.
What an ABSURD List, obviously made by young people. Have the authors of this article never watched Citizen Kane? North by Northwest? The Maltese Falcon? or Suspicion?