20 Best Mystery Movies of All Time

POSTED BY , UPDATED ON September 15th, 2014


9. Citizen Kane (1941)

Citizen Kane is an Academy Award winning film directed, produced, co-written by Orson Welles. The film was nominated for nine Academy Awards in total and successfully bagged one of them. It was also voted for the best film of all time in Sight & Sound polls of critics five times consecutively. The story revolves around the mysterious life and the secret behind the last words of one of the richest and most powerful men in America, Charles Foster Kane. His last word “Rosebud” fascinates a newspaperman into deciphering the meaning it holds.

The newspaperman finds out the life history of Kane, about how a child torn away from his family, ascended to the echelons of power by buying his own newspaper and marrying the daughter of next-to-be-president of United States. The man lost his peace and maybe even his soul to his own idea of idealism.


8. Oldboy (2003)

Oldboy 2003

Oldboy is a South Korean mystery film based loosely on the Japanese manga of the same name by Nobuaki Minegishi and Garon Tsuchiya. It is the second part of The Vengeance Trilogy. The plot revolves around a common businessman, Oh Dae-su, who is kidnapped by unknown people on the night of his daughter’s birthday and is kept in prison for the next 15 years without an explanation.

During his days in cell, he finds out that his wife has been murdered and he is the prime suspect in the case. After 15 years, he is released from the cell without an explanation. After he comes out, he tries to track down his kidnapper and find out the reason of his kidnapping. While seeking revenge, he unveils dark secrets from the past.


7. North by Northwest (1959)

North by Northwest 1959

North by Northwest is an American film, directed and produced by Alfred Hitchcock. The plot of the film is centralized around a man named Roger Thornhill who finds himself surrounded by spies who mistake him for a man named George Kaplan.

Thornhill barely escapes for his life from the clutches of foreign spies, but to save his life, he must find Kaplan to clear his name of the murder he is thought to have carried out. He is chased throughout the state by both government officials and spies, but a beautiful blonde tries to help him out of the mess he has landed in.


6. Shutter Island (2010)

mystery film Shutter Island 2010

Shutter Islands is a brilliant mystery film starring Leonardio De Caprio, Mark Ruffalo, Ben Kingsley, and Michelle Williams. The story is about US Marshals, Teddy Daniels and his partner Chuck Aule who go to Boston’s Shutter Islands to investigate the disappearance of a patient from Ashecliffe Hospital. Teddy wanted to come to Shutter Islands for personal reasons but as the film proceeds, he feels that he has been brought here as a twisted scheme of hospital doctors.

Due to hurricane, the communication of Island is cut off from the rest of the world and Teddy finds himself in the middle of a sinister game, where everything is different from what it seems. As the story proceeds, he begins to doubt everything around him. He starts getting severe migraines and he even starts doubting his own colleague, his memory and even his sanity.


5. Seven(1995)

se7en movie 1995

Seven is a film about two detectives, one senior Detective William R and the other recently transferred Detective David Mills, who are partnered together to investigate a series of murders, each representing seven deadly sins. The murderer thinks of himself as the Sword of God, punishing the sinners. The pair of investigators traces every horrible and gruesome step of psychotic killer, edging closer to a fate none of them ever foresaw. They may fall victim to the horrific plans of the criminal or worse, become a part of it.

Seven is considered to be one of the best murder mystery films of all time and enjoys an extremely favorable reputation among majority of critics. The film also rocked the box office with an astounding business of $327.3 million.


4. Vertigo (1958)

Vertigo 1958

A psychological mystery film based on the novel D’entre les morts by Boileau-Narcejac, Vertigo is a story about a retired police detective, John Scotties. The detective’s college friend, Gavin Elster, asks him to look into his wife’s odd behavior. She seems to be under the impression that she is reincarnation of an old dead ancestor. John looks into the case and saves the woman from an attempted suicide.

He produces affection for Madeleine, but she attempts suicide again and succeeds. She falls from the Bell Tower of the church that too in front of John but he fails to rescue her this time. The death is declared as suicide. John finds another woman who is the image of Madeleine. His quest of truth and love for the memory of Madeleine leads to mysterious circumstances.


3. The Usual Suspects (1995)

suspense movie the usual suspects

The Usual Suspects is focused on five men who are arrested by the police as suspects of a truck hijack. None of them are guilty of the crime, so they plan to take revenge on the police. Little do they know that it was all a part of a bigger plan and they are just pieces in the game.

They soon get to know that they have crossed a big fish without knowing and now they must payback. This new job leads to a mess of 27 dead bodies with only two survivors. The big question: Who is the actual player pulling the string?


2. Psycho (1960)

Psycho 1960

Psycho is based on a 1959 novel with the same name by Robert Bloch. The film was a hit on box office and got positive reviews from critics with four Academy Award nominations. It often tops various online top mystery films lists and enjoys cult following.

The film is about Marion Crane who is fed up with life and can’t marry the love of her life because of financial crises. One day, she gets an opportunity to steal 40,000$ from her employer. She seizes the opportunity to end her financial instability and leaves the city for her lover’s California store. On the way, she gets stuck up in the storm and stays at a motel. The crime leads to guilt, unwanted deaths, and unveils psychological disorders in unsuspected characters.


1. Rear Window (1954)

Rear Window 1954

Rear Window is a classic American suspense-mystery film based on Cornell Woolrich’s short story “It Had To Be Murder”. The film is about a photographer, LB Jeff, who breaks his leg in an accident on racetrack. To kill time, he sits by his rear window and watches the neighbors including a composer, a couple with dog, a newlywed couple, a dancer and a salesman and his wife.

One day, the salesman’s wife disappears. Jeff suspects that the salesman may have killed his own wife but he has no proof. His girlfriend and nurse make a plan to catch the killer but it may endanger all of their lives.


Honorable Mentions

Our list of top mystery movies cannot be completed with honoring these thrillers:

  • The Uninvited (2009)
  • Mulholland Drive (2001)
  • Blue Velvet (1986)
  • The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011)

What are your best mystery movies of all time that you would recommend to your friend? Let us know in the comments section below!