Whether you fancy a murder mystery or a far-reaching conspiracy with huge social ramifications, we’ve put together a list with some of the best mystery movies of all time. With directors Kenneth Branagh and Rian Johnson reviving the genre in a big way in theaters (and Daggers in the Back landing on Netflix), we take a look at some true classics.
Ya sea Alfred Hitchcock, David Fincher, John Huston o Christopher Nolan, we have covered almost all eras, from film noir to modern thrillers. Shootings, stabbings, poisonings… And these movies present some of the greatest mysteries of all time.
Daggers in the Back (2019)
Where to see: Netflix, HBO Max
Rian Johnson’s star-studded old-school murder mystery was packed with devilish performances and cunning twists. Daniel Craig landed his second franchise here (Knives in the Back: The Mystery of the Glass Onion has just arrived on Netflix) as the curious Benoit Blanc, a southern detective called to investigate the death of a wealthy mystery writer (Christopher Plummer). Standing in their way is the writer’s nefarious family and also his nurse, Marta (Ana de Armas), who fears being found guilty of an unjust death. Chris Evans, Jamie Lee Curtis, Michael Shannon, Don Johnson, Toni Collette, and LaKeith Stanfield also star in the film.
The Big Sleep (1946)
Where to see: Rent or buy (Google Play, Apple TV, Amazon…)
The Big Sleep (1946), the pinnacle of film noir, is the famous adaptation of Raymond Chandler’s crime novel starring Humphrey Bogart in the role of private detective Philip Marlowe. He helped lay the foundation for detectives who find themselves embroiled in labyrinthine conspiracies and up against enemies they have no real chance of defeating. Also, at the time, America had “Bogie and Bacall” (his co-star Lauren Bacall) fever, as the two had married the previous year. Their chemistry is to die for.
The Maltese Falcon (1941)
Where to see: Renting or buying (Rakuten TV, Apple TV, Amazon…)
A few years before The Big Sleep, the legendary John Huston wrote and directed this adaptation of Dashiell Hammett’s The Maltese Falcon. This mystery classic has it all: Humphrey Bogart as San Francisco private detective Sam Spade, Mary Astor as his femme fatale client, and a rogues’ gallery of characters. Gladys George, Peter Lorre and Sydney Greenstreet co-star in what is considered one of the best movies of all time.
Rear Window (1954)
Where to see: of the movie
This list could easily be dominated by the films of “Master of Suspense” Alfred Hitchcock, so for the sake of brevity, we’ve chosen Rear Window as one of the director’s best murder mystery thrillers to represent Hitchcock’s place. . Rear Window features a surprising stunt, hilarious performances by Jimmy Stewart and Grace Kelly, and the director’s signature sinister style. Like a handful of movies on this list, it’s considered one of the best.
Murder on the Orient Express (1974) / Death on the Nile (1978)
Where to see: Disney+ (Orient Express), Filmin (Death on the Nile)
You can check out Kenneth Branagh’s remakes of Murder on the Orient Express and Death on the Nile (and then A Haunting in Venice when it hits theaters in September 2023) or you can check out these gorgeous ’70s versions of two of the Agatha Christie’s best Hercule Poirot mysteries. It’s up to you. Christie is one of the best mystery writers of all time and Poirot is the main protagonist of her (alongside Miss Marple). Different actors play Poirot in these adaptations (Albert Finney and Peter Ustinov, respectively), but as in Branagh’s versions, the “red herring” sets are packed with famous faces of the time.
Where to see: of the movie
Forty years after the crime novels that inspired film noir, Chinatown brought the format back and spawned one of the greatest and most acclaimed mystery films of all time. Jack Nicholson played private detective JJ Gittes, a penniless 1930s investigator who randomly discovers a series of murders related to the water war in California. This multi-layered story, part mystery, part psychological drama, also starred Faye Dunaway and John Huston, director of The Maltese Falcon.
Where to see: Rent or buy on most platforms
Often, film noir mysteries were deliberately baffling and focused on the investigation itself, while the results didn’t add much. It was a comment on the erosion of clarity and morality of the time, stemming from the existential crisis that was taking place in the United States after the First World War. Well, Christopher Nolan took that idea and turned it into a full-fledged format twist, as Memento featured a main character with the inability to form new memories and a story that, due to this short-term memory loss, works. backward. The tattooed widower Guy Pearce, bent on revenge, finds himself at the mercy of his own past rage, unable to realize that he is fooling himself. Carrie-Anne Moss and Joe Pantoliano also star.
Gosford Park (2001)
Where to see: Prime Video, Film
Director Robert Altman and Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellowes delivered a twisted, dark comedy with the murder mystery Gosford Park (2001), starring a truly amazing cast of actors including Maggie Smith, Kristin Scott Thomas, Emily Watson, Charles Dance, Ryan Phillippe, Stephen Fry, Michael Gambon, Richard E. Grant, Derek Jacobi, Kelly Macdonald, Helen Mirren, Jeremy Northam, and Clive Owen. When a murder occurs after a dinner party during a filming weekend in an English country house, wealthy Britons and their servants present their different perspectives on what happened.
The Game of Suspicion (Cluedo) (1985)
Where to see: of the movie
Before there were movies based on video games, there was The Game of Suspicion (Cluedo), a wacky comedy based on the murder mystery board game (with main characters taken directly from the game itself), featuring a cast of comedic actors hit stars as Tim Curry, Madeline Kahn, Christopher Lloyd and Michael McKean, in a wacky plot featuring three different endings/resolutions. In 1985, the ending varied depending on the theater in which the film was seen. Now you just have to watch the final three unravel at the end, though that doesn’t take away from this hilarious and quotable dinner-turned-deadly party.
Millennium: The Men Who Didn’t Love Women (2011)
Where to see: Prime Video
Director David Fincher hasn’t made as many feature films as Alfred Hitchcock, but his gruesome twist on the thriller genre has given us gorgeous modern mysteries like Seven, The Game, and Lost. Our pick for Fincher, however, is his American remake of Millennium: The Men Who Didn’t Love Women, an adaptation of Stieg Larsson’s first book in the “Millennium saga,” starring hacker Lisbeth Salander and journalist Mikael Blomkvist. The ferocious film, starring Daniel Craig and Rooney Mara, teams the two together to solve the mystery of a missing girl from a wealthy family 40 years earlier.
Who cheated on roger rabbit? (1988)
Where to see: Disney+
This landmark film in the mix of live-action animation (during a time when intellectual property was used) imagines a world where cartoons are real and live in Los Angeles, shooting their animated shorts as the actors of a normal movie would do. A stylish, goofy, and sometimes terrifying homage to film noir, Who Framed Roger Rabbit? pairs a light-hearted but goofy cartoon with low-life alcoholic private investigator Bob Hoskins on a murder case that leads to a land grab conspiracy, filled with thought-provoking social commentary and wacky scenes.
LA Confidential (1995)
Where to see: Prime Video, HBO Max
Curtis Hanson’s masterful ensemble drama about good cop, bad cop and worst cop helped put Australian actors Guy Pearce and Russell Crowe on the US map, while reminiscing about classic film noir. There’s a new drug dealer in Los Angeles and three different cops, working from different angles, must come together to take down the mysterious new crime lord in the city of Los Angeles. Taking home a pair of Oscars (including one for actress Kim Basinger), LA Confidential is cynical and suspenseful.