A thriller can be hard to define, but you know one when you see one – or rather when you feel one. In your palms. Under your armpits. In your teeth, as you grind down the enamel and your leg that won’t stop involuntarily shaking. Next to horror, it’s the most physical of all film genres, one that, when done right, prompts a visceral response unlike any other.
You can be sure the greatest thriller movies do it right. How they initiate that response, however, varies widely. Under the thriller umbrella, you’ll find political conspiracies, murder mysteries, explosive and quietly tense psychological dramas – and, of course, lots and lots of crime. Clearly, the thriller contains multitudes. But the best of them will draw you in, steal your breath, and leave your head spinning.
1. The Pale Blue Eye
world-weary detective is hired to investigate the murder of a West Point cadet. Stymied by the cadets’ code of silence, he enlists one of their own to help unravel the case – a young man the world would come to know as Edgar Allan Poe.
Director: Scott Cooper | Stars: Christian Bale, Harry Melling, Simon McBurney, Timothy Spall
2. The Menu (2022)
A young couple travels to a remote island to eat at an exclusive restaurant where the chef has prepared a lavish menu, with some shocking surprises.
Director: Mark Mylod | Stars: Ralph Fiennes, Anya Taylor-Joy, Nicholas Hoult, Hong Chau
3. M3GAN (2022)
A robotics engineer at a toy company builds a life-like doll that begins to take on a life of its own.
Director: Gerard Johnstone | Stars: Allison Williams, Violet McGraw, Ronny Chieng, Amie Donald
4. Glass Onion (2022)
Famed Southern detective Benoit Blanc travels to Greece for his latest case.
Director: Rian Johnson | Stars: Daniel Craig, Edward Norton, Kate Hudson, Dave Bautista
5. Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania (2023)
Scott Lang and Hope Van Dyne, along with Hank Pym and Janet Van Dyne, explore the Quantum Realm, where they interact with strange creatures and embark on an adventure that goes beyond the limits of what they thought was possible.
Director: Peyton Reed | Stars: Paul Rudd, Evangeline Lilly, Jonathan Majors, Kathryn Newton
6. Knives Out (2019)
A detective investigates the death of the patriarch of an eccentric, combative family.
Director: Rian Johnson | Stars: Daniel Craig, Chris Evans, Ana de Armas, Jamie Lee Curtis
7. Bullet Train (2022)
Five assassins aboard a swiftly-moving bullet train find out that their missions have something in common.
Director: David Leitch | Stars: Brad Pitt, Joey King, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Brian Tyree Henry
8. X (II) (2022)
In 1979, a group of young filmmakers set out to make an adult film in rural Texas, but when their reclusive, elderly hosts catch them in the act, the cast find themselves fighting for their lives.
Director: Ti West | Stars: Mia Goth, Jenna Ortega, Brittany Snow, Kid Cudi
9. Operation Fortune: Ruse de guerre (2023)
Special agent Orson Fortune and his team of operatives recruit one of Hollywood’s biggest movie stars to help them on an undercover mission when the sale of a deadly new weapons technology threatens to disrupt the world order.
Director: Guy Ritchie | Stars: Jason Statham, Aubrey Plaza, Cary Elwes, Hugh Gr
10. Amsterdam (2022)
In the 1930s, three friends witness a murder, are framed for it, and uncover one of the most outrageous plots in American history.
Director: David O. Russell | Stars: Christian Bale, Margot Robbie, John David Washington, Alessandro Nivola
11. Jurassic World: Dominion (2022)
Four years after the destruction of Isla Nublar, Biosyn operatives attempt to track down Maisie Lockwood, while Dr Ellie Sattler investigates a genetically engineered swarm of giant insects.
Director: Colin Trevorrow | Stars: Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Laura Dern, Sam Neill
12. Plane (2023)
A pilot finds himself caught in a war zone after he’s forced to land his commercial aircraft during a terrible storm.
Director: Jean-François Richet | Stars: Gerard Butler, Daniella Pineda, Mike Colter, Tony Goldwyn
13. Barbarian (2022)
A woman staying at an Airbnb discovers that the house she has rented is not what it seems.
Director: Zach Cregger | Stars: Georgina Campbell, Bill Skarsgård, Justin Long, Matthew Patrick Davis
14. Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (2022)
The people of Wakanda fight to protect their home from intervening world powers as they mourn the death of King T’Challa.
Director: Ryan Coogler | Stars: Letitia Wright, Lupita Nyong’o, Danai Gurira, Winston Duke
15. The Northman (2022)
A young Viking prince is on a quest to avenge his father’s murder.
Director: Robert Eggers | Stars: Alexander Skarsgård, Nicole Kidman, Claes Bang, Ethan Hawke
16. The Batman (2022)
When a sadistic serial killer begins murdering key political figures in Gotham, Batman is forced to investigate the city’s hidden corruption and question his family’s involvement.
Director: Matt Reeves | Stars: Robert Pattinson, Zoë Kravitz, Jeffrey Wright, Colin Farrell
17. Don’t Worry Darling (I) (2022)
A 1950s housewife living with her husband in a utopian experimental community begins to worry that his glamorous company could be hiding disturbing secrets.
Director: Olivia Wilde | Stars: Florence Pugh, Harry Styles, Chris Pine, Olivia Wilde
18. Smile (V) (2022)
After witnessing a bizarre, traumatic incident involving a patient, Dr. Rose Cotter starts experiencing frightening occurrences that she can’t explain. Rose must confront her troubling past in order to survive and escape her horrifying new reality.
Director: Parker Finn | Stars: Sosie Bacon, Jessie T. Usher, Kyle Gallner, Robin Weigert
19. Where the Crawdads Sing (2022)
A woman who raised herself in the marshes of the Deep South becomes a suspect in the murder of a man with whom she was once involved.
Director: Olivia Newman | Stars: Daisy Edgar-Jones, Taylor John Smith, Harris Dickinson, David Strathairn
20. Violent Night (2022)
When a group of mercenaries attack the estate of a wealthy family, Santa Claus must step in to save the day (and Christmas).
Director: Tommy Wirkola | Stars: David Harbour, John Leguizamo, Beverly D’Angelo, Alex Hassell
21. Nope (2022)
The residents of a lonely gulch in inland California bear witness to an uncanny and chilling discovery.
Director: Jordan Peele | Stars: Daniel Kaluuya, Keke Palmer, Steven Yeun, Brandon Perea
22. Knock at the Cabin (2023)
While vacationing, a girl and her parents are taken hostage by armed strangers who demand that the family make a choice to avert the apocalypse.
Director: M. Night Shyamalan | Stars: Dave Bautista, Rupert Grint, Jonathan Groff, Ben Aldridge
23. Decision to Leave (2022)
A detective investigating a man’s death in the mountains meets the dead man’s mysterious wife in the course of his dogged sleuthing.
Director: Park Chan-wook | Stars: Park Hae-il, Tang Wei, Lee Jung-hyun, Go Kyung-Pyo
24. Sick (2022)
Due to the pandemic, Parker and her best friend decide to quarantine at the family lake house alone – or so they think.
Director: John Hyams | Stars: Gideon Adlon, Marc Menchaca, Jane Adams, Dylan Sprayberry
25. Fall (I) (2022)
Best friends Becky and Hunter find themselves at the top of a 2,000-foot radio tower.
Director: Scott Mann | Stars: Grace Caroline Currey, Virginia Gardner, Mason Gooding, Jeffrey Dean Morgan
26. The Wonder (I) (2022)
A tale of two strangers who transform each other’s lives, a psychological thriller, and a story of love pitted against evil.
Director: Sebastián Lelio | Stars: Florence Pugh, Tom Burke, Kíla Lord Cassidy, Niamh Algar
27. The Black Phone (2021)
After being abducted by a child killer and locked in a soundproof basement, a 13-year-old boy starts receiving calls on a disconnected phone from the killer’s previous victims.
Director: Scott Derrickson | Stars: Mason Thames, Madeleine McGraw, Ethan Hawke, Jeremy Davies
28. Gravity (2013)
Two astronauts work together to survive after an accident leaves them stranded in space.
Director: Alfonso Cuarón | Stars: Sandra Bullock, George Clooney, Ed Harris, Orto Ignatiussen
29. Hereditary (2018)
A grieving family is haunted by tragic and disturbing occurrences.
Director: Ari Aster | Stars: Toni Collette, Milly Shapiro, Gabriel Byrne, Alex Wolff
30. John Wick (2014)
An ex-hit-man comes out of retirement to track down the gangsters that killed his dog and took his car.
Directors: Chad Stahelski, David Leitch | Stars: Keanu Reeves, Michael Nyqvist, Alfie Allen, Willem Dafoe
31. Midsommar (2019)
A couple travels to Northern Europe to visit a rural hometown’s fabled Swedish mid-summer festival. What begins as an idyllic retreat quickly devolves into an increasingly violent and bizarre competition at the hands of a pagan cult.
Director: Ari Aster | Stars: Florence Pugh, Jack Reynor, Vilhelm Blomgren, William Jackson Harper
32. The Dark Knight (2008)
When the menace known as the Joker wreaks havoc and chaos on the people of Gotham, Batman must accept one of the greatest psychological and physical tests of his ability to fight injustice.
Director: Christopher Nolan | Stars: Christian Bale, Heath Ledger, Aaron Eckhart, Michael Caine
33. Reba McEntire’s the Hammer (2023)
Kim Wheeler, an attorney who is appointed as a judge for Nevada’s 5th district after the former judge’s death. As the investigation into the death intensifies, Kim’s sister, who runs the local brothel, becomes the prime suspect.
Director: Jeff Beesley | Stars: Rex Linn, Melissa Peterman, Reba McEntire, Kay Shioma Metchie
34. The Expendables 4 (2023)
The Expendables will square up against: an arms dealer who commands the might of a massive private army.
Director: Scott Waugh | Stars: Jason Statham, 50 Cent, Megan Fox, Dolph Lundgre
35. The Gray Man (2022)
When the CIA’s most skilled operative, whose true identity is known to none, accidentally uncovers dark agency secrets, a psychopathic former colleague puts a bounty on his head, setting off a global manhunt by international assassins.
Directors: Anthony Russo, Joe Russo | Stars: Ryan Gosling, Chris Evans, Ana de Armas, Billy Bob Thornton
36. The ‘Burbs (1989)
An overstressed suburbanite and his neighbors are convinced that the new family on the block is part of a murderous Satanic cult.
Director: Joe Dante | Stars: Tom Hanks, Bruce Dern, Carrie Fisher, Corey F
37. Killers of the Flower Moon
Members of the Osage tribe in the United States are murdered under mysterious circumstances in the 1920s sparking a major F.B.I. investigation involving J. Edgar Hoover.
Director: Martin Scorsese | Stars: Leonardo DiCaprio, Robert De Niro, Lily Gladstone, Jesse Plemons
38. In Bruges (2008)
Guilt-stricken after a job gone wrong, hitman Ray and his partner await orders from their ruthless boss in Bruges, Belgium, the last place in the world Ray wants to be.
Director: Martin McDonagh | Stars: Colin Farrell, Brendan Gleeson, Ciarán Hinds, Elizabeth Berrington
39. No Time to Die (2021)
James Bond has left active service. His peace is short-lived when Felix Leiter, an old friend from the CIA, turns up asking for help, leading Bond onto the trail of a mysterious villain armed with dangerous new technology.
Director: Cary Joji Fukunaga | Stars: Daniel Craig, Ana de Armas, Rami Malek, Léa Seydoux
40. The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent (2022)
In this action-packed comedy, Nicolas Cage plays Nick Cage, channeling his iconic characters as he’s caught between a superfan (Pedro Pascal) and a CIA agent (Tiffany Haddish).
Director: Tom Gormican | Stars: Nicolas Cage, Pedro Pascal, Tiffany Haddish, Sharon Horgan
41. Emily the Criminal (2022)
Down on her luck and saddled with debt, Emily gets involved in a credit card scam that pulls her into the criminal underworld of Los Angeles, ultimately leading to deadly consequences.
Director: John Patton Ford | Stars: Aubrey Plaza, Theo Rossi, Bernardo Badillo, John Billingsley
42. Scream 6 (2023)
In the next installment, the survivors of the Ghostface killings leave Woodsboro behind and start a fresh chapter in New York City.
Directors: Matt Bettinelli-Olpin, Tyler Gillett | Stars: Melissa Barrera, Jenna Ortega, Courteney Cox, Jasmin Savoy Brown
43. Emancipation (2022)Imdb: 6.0
A runaway slave forges through the swamps of Louisiana on a tortuous journey to escape plantation owners that nearly killed him.
Director: Antoine Fuqua | Stars: Will Smith, Ben Foster, Charmaine Bingwa, Gilbert Owuor
44. Inception (2010)
A thief who steals corporate secrets through the use of dream-sharing technology is given the inverse task of planting an idea into the mind of a C.E.O., but his tragic past may doom the project and his team to disaster.
Director: Christopher Nolan | Stars: Leonardo DiCaprio, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Elliot Page, Ken Watanabe
45. The Invitation (II) (2022)
A young woman is courted and swept off her feet, only to realize a gothic conspiracy is afoot.
Director: Jessica M. Thompson | Stars: Nathalie Emmanuel, Thomas Doherty, Sean Pertwee, Hugh Skinner
46. John Wick: Chapter 4 (2023)
John Wick uncovers a path to defeating The High Table. But before he can earn his freedom, Wick must face off against a new enemy with powerful alliances across the globe and forces that turn old friends into foes.
Director: Chad Stahelski | Stars: Keanu Reeves, Donnie Yen, Bill Skarsgård, Laurence Fishburne
47. Blade Runner 2049 (2017)
Young Blade Runner K’s discovery of a long-buried secret leads him to track down former Blade Runner Rick Deckard, who’s been missing for thirty years.
Director: Denis Villeneuve | Stars: Harrison Ford, Ryan Gosling, Ana de Armas, Dave Bautista
48. Fast X (2023)
Action, Crime, Mystery | Post-production
Director: Louis Leterrier | Stars: Helen Mirren, Charlize Theron, Alan Ritchson, Brie Larson
49. Jurassic Park (1993)
A pragmatic paleontologist touring an almost complete theme park on an island in Central America is tasked with protecting a couple of kids after a power failure causes the park’s cloned dinosaurs to run loose.
Director: Steven Spielberg | Stars: Sam Neill, Laura Dern, Jeff Goldblum, Richard Attenborough
50. Scream (I) (2022)
25 years after a streak of brutal murders shocked the quiet town of Woodsboro, Calif., a new killer dons the Ghostface mask and begins targeting a group of teenagers to resurrect secrets from the town’s deadly past.
Directors: Matt Bettinelli-Olpin, Tyler Gillett | Stars: Neve Campbell, Courteney Cox, David Arquette, Melissa Barrera