20 Best Mystery Movies of All Time

POSTED BY , UPDATED ON September 15th, 2014

best mystery movies of all time

Mystery is often associated with the thriller genre. The plot of such films usually centers on the intelligence, ability to work under pressure, confidence and cunning of the protagonist as it tries to unveil the mysterious factors by seeking evidence and pulling clues together. This is one of the most popular genres of classical films with a vast die hard audience. Following is our list of top 20 best mystery movies of all time to fullfil your appetite:


20. Orphan (2009)

Orphan 2009

Orphan is an American psychological mystery movie that revolves around a couple who are trying to fix the odds in their troubled marriage. Kate, the wife, is overcoming her drinking problem by therapy and the couple is looking for some orphan to adopt. They meet a well mannered girl named Esther in an orphanage and fall in love with her, head to toe. Kate feels that their son is unfriendly to their adopted daughter while their other deaf daughter is enchanted.

She at last begins to fear that Esther is manipulative and psychologically unstable. Bit by bit, Kate finds out about the dark secret of Esther, something that chills her to the bone. Esther, after all, is not as angelic and innocent as she pretends to be.


19. Changeling (2008)


Changeling is a drama-mystery film based on real life events happened in 1928 in Los Angeles. The story revolves around a single mother (played by Angelina Jolie) who comes home one day to find her nine-year-old son missing. She calls the Los Angeles Police Department who conduct a search.

Five months later, a boy is found who claims to be her son and fits the description well and good. But she insists that the boy is not her’s. Police dismisses her claims as either panic-stricken mother or a liar. She soon realizes that the police have given her a fake boy to silent the public protests and all. When she goes public with her thoughts, she finds herself arrested and locked up.


18. The Others (2001)

The Others 2001

The Others is a critically praised mystery movie, inspired by the novella, “The Turn of the Screw”, written by Henry James. The plot of the movie is set towards the end of the Second World War, and a woman named Grace Stewart is waiting for her husband to come back from the war. Her children have a strange disease in which they get hurt in some way when they are exposed to the sunlight.

She hires three servants to take care of her children but this brings up terrible turn of events and reveals dark secrets of the house they are living in. Grace must fight for the sanity and life of her children and her own self, or die trying.


17. Premonition (2007)

Premonition 2007

Premonition is a film about a middle class woman Linda Hanson. One Thursday, she wakes up and finds the Sherriff of the town at her door. He tells her that her husband, Jim Hanson, died in a car accident. She makes it through the day, sad and mourning. The next morning, she wakes up and finds her husband making breakfast in the kitchen and it’s the previous Monday.

She thinks of Thursday as a bad nightmare. Then, the next morning, she wakes up and it’s Saturday after her husband’s death. She then realizes that her days are out of order and she’s stuck in a weird and frightening net of time. Now Wednesday approaches. Can she save her husband?


16. Triangle (2009)

Triangle 2009

Triangle is a mind boggling mystery film about a girl named Jess who sets sail on a boat with her friends. She can’t help but feel that something is wrong but she shakes off her suspicions and tries to blend it with her friends. When the boat hits the open waters, a storm hits the sea and they are forced to go to a passing ocean liner to be safe. Here, Jess feels that she’s been on the ship before, having the sensation of déjà vu.

The ship seems deserted enough with no sign of captain or crew. Little do they know that there is someone hiding behind the shadows, lurking and waiting, trying to eliminate them one by one. Jess is the only person on board who can keep the murderer from killing them all.


15. The Shining (1980)

The Shining 1980

The Shining is a suspense-horror film based on the novel of Stephen King by the same name. The film shows Jack Torrance, a writer who seeks solace of a lonely winter hotel by becoming the caretaker. He hopes to use the solace of hotel to complete his unfinished writing project. He takes his wife and son to keep him company through the long nights. Jack’s son has a gift of “The Shining” which enables him to see into the past of the hotel.

The writer slips into the echelons of insanity and the ghost of hotel’s former waiter convinces him to “correct” the family. In the middle of mysteries of winter, snow, and past’s ghosts, it will be a miracle for the family to survive and live long enough to tell the tale, the gruesome force “The Shining” may be their only savior.


14. Insomnia (2002)

Insomnia 2002

Insomnia is an American psychological mystery film which is actually a remake of the 1997 Norwegian film of the same name. It is about a police detective Pacino who is sent to a small Alaska town to investigate the murder of a teenage girl. While trying to shoot a suspect, he accidently kills his own partner. Instead of admitting the mistake, he finds an unexpected defense to cover up his blunder.

This only increases the emotional trauma for him, and there is a murder case yet to be solved with a local detective investigating the case of murder of his partner. Will Pacino come out of this distasteful and complicated net, unscathed or is there suffering waiting for him in this freezing town?


13. The Green Mile (1999)

The Green Mile 1999

The Green Mile is a film based on the story of a novel of the same name by Stephen King. The movie shows a veteran prison guard of Death Row named Paul Edgecomb who tells the prison guard about an eight feet tall, black man who was convicted of raping and murdering two young white girls. The man, John Coffey, is afraid to sleep in the prison cell without a night light.

Edgecomb and other guards find out that the giant looking black male, is in fact, soft and kind in nature and very sensitive at heart. The big black man leaves Edgecomb with unforgettable memories of his soft nature, innocence and fear of dark.


12. Chinatown (1974)

Chinatown 1974

Chinatown is a film inspired by a series of disputes over southern California water called the California Water Wars. The films depicts Los Angeles of 1937 where a private detective, JJ Jake Gittes, who specializes in matrimonial cases. He is hired by a woman claiming to be Mrs Mulwary to spy on her husband who was builder of the city’s water supply system.

Shortly afterwards he starts working on the case, the real Mrs Mulwary appears in his office and threatens to sue him. Following this was the death of real Mrs Mulwary which leaves him in the middle of a complicated net of conspiracy, murder, mystery, deceit, incest and municipal corporation, all related to the water supply system.


11. The Prestige (2005)

The Prestige 2005

The Prestige is a classic British mystery film adopted from Christopher Priest’s 1995 novel of the same name. The story involves two apprentice magicians, Robert and Alfred who perform in London along with Robert’s wife. One day Robert’s wife Julia dies during a performance and Robert blames Alfred for her death. This makes the apprentice magicians and friends each other’s rivals.

They both become famous and try to sabotage each other’s performance with their skills. Alfred performs successfully, even with Robert trying to disrupt his performance. Robert becomes obsessed with trying to unveil the secret of his opponent which leads to unwanted and miserable consequences.


10. The Third Man (1949)

The Third Man 1949

The Third Man’s plot revolves around an unemployed Pulp novelist, Holly Martins. He travels to Vienna to take the job his friend, Harry Lime offered him. When he arrives, he learns about the death of Lime who died after being hit by a truck in his street. He sees a beautiful woman, Anna Schmidt, who was Harry’s lover. He then talks to two friends of Harry who tell him that they were the first to help Harry.

After that, Harry Lime’s porter tells him that Harry was helped by a third man. He decides to investigate the inconsistency and finds out about his friend’s involvement in black market. Further investigation reveals who that mysterious third man was and the truth leaves Holly Martin aghast and surprised.