There are different types of movies released every year. Every movie has its own genre like comedy, suspense, drama, horror, mystery, thriller, fantasy, and so on. Mystery movies are always appreciated by the public. Everyone loves mystery movies including me, you, and the whole universe. These types of movies are always popular among audiences. Mystery movies involve suspense, thriller, puzzle, secret, unsolved problems, questions, and so on. It depends on the movie to movie.
So here I have compiled a list of the top 18 best modern mystery movies which you must watch without any doubt. In the list, I am not going to mention all the old movies of the 19’s. Only modern movies of the 20th century will be there. If you are a Hollywood movie fan, then do watch this movie.
The movies which are mentioned below are really good to watch and keep you engaging till the end of the movie. This list is purely based on my opinion so no offense, please. I hope this will entice you to watch some. Please leave comments or feedback if you think differently and have something in mind which you want me to notice. Your comments and feedback are most welcome!
18 Best Modern Mystery Movies You Must Watch
18. Gone Baby Gone (2007)
Gone Baby Gone is a neo-noir modern mystery movie directed by none other than Ben Affleck. The movie was released on October 19, 2007, starring Casey Affleck, Michelle Monaghan, Morgan Freeman, Ed Harris, and much more. As you can see, this movie has a kick-ass cast. Affleck and Monaghan gave a strong presentation, and it was never the wrong time to watch Morgan Freeman at work. The cinematography is excellent, and the acting is simply superb. Casey Affleck plays the lead role with a lot of styles and a few of his dialogues were impressive and catchy. Next up is Ed Harris with another powerful presentation.
Michelle Monaghan and Morgan Freeman have given good performances as well. Credit also goes to Amy Ryan, who plays Helene McCready, who won an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress. I liked the way the characters were sketched. The movie is a gripping thriller in the first half, but the second half is full of unanticipated events. Whether or not you like the story, the movie will certainly impress you, thanks to the brilliant acting, screenplay, and presentation.
17. The Illusionist (2006)
The Illusionist is a romantic mystery movie directed by Neil Burger. The movie was released on August 18, 2006, starring Edward Norton, Paul Giamatti, and Jessica Biel in the lead role. I have to give kudos to Neil Burger for writing a rich adaptation of Millhauser’s story. He also did an excellent job of conveying his vision of the story through the direction of the crew and a cast of talented actors.
The Illusionist is a beautiful and mysterious love story filled with magic and political intrigue. The reasons why I liked this movie better are that it has a good story, good acting, and characters that one cares about, which ultimately are the constituents of a good movie. I highly recommend this movie for good old-fashioned filmmaking. It was not fast-paced or action-filled but it kept me gripped throughout.
16. The Secret in Their Eyes (2009)
The Secret in Their Eyes is an Argentine crime drama mystery movie directed by Juan Jose Campanella. The movie was released on 13 August 2009, starring Ricardo Darin, Soledad Villamil, Pablo Rago, Javier Godino and many others. The Secret in Their Eyes is also making history in Argentina, as the number one box office hit film for the past five weeks. Audiences have been raving and discussing the movie in the media and in cafés and restaurants throughout Argentina.
The movie won the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film. It is definitely an engaging mystery thriller with loads of subtle humor. It is therefore not surprising that the movie was a commercial and critical success in the country of its origin, Argentina.
15. The Machinist (2004)
The Machinist is a psychological mystery thriller movie directed by Brad Anderson. The movie was released on January 18, 2004, starring Christian Bale in a lead role. This is one of my favorite mystery and thriller movies I have ever seen. It features an extremely emaciated Christian Bale, who lost 63 lbs — down to 120 lbs– for the role. Bale is without a doubt one of the best actors of his generation. I love movies that make you think, and this one certainly does that.
The Machinist starts just as mysteriously as it means to go on. The power of the movie lies in Bale’s performance and the unfurling but the clear realization of exactly what happened to make him the way he is. This is a really dark gritty movie, very well made with a really great soundtrack that fits the mood perfectly. So, overall, a well-made, dark mystery thriller with a great score and a brilliant performance from Christian Bale. Very highly recommended.
14. Minority Report (2002)
Minority Report is a sci-fi action mystery thriller movie directed by Steven Spielberg. The movie was released on June 21, 2oo2, starring Tom Cruise, Colin Farrell, Samantha Morton, Max Von Sydow, and many more. Tom Cruise plays John Anderton, an officer in the Prime Division who is predicted to murder a man who he’s never met, and is forced to go on the run and prove his innocence. However, since he never committed the crime, it’s less about his innocence, and more about proving the inherent flaws of the system that he is a part of, and beliefs so firmly in.
The story and conception are very good, and overall this is a very good movie. The action is seriously incredible, and the CG is fantastic, with almost everything holding up remarkably well. Technically, it was well made, with dark cinematography, excellent visuals, and performances by Tom Cruise, Colin Farrell, Samantha Morton, and Max von Sydow all top-notch.
13. Source Code (2011)
Source Code is a sci-fi modern mystery thriller movie directed by Duncan Jones. The movie was released on April 1, 2011, starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Michelle Monaghan, and Vera Farmiga in the lead role. This movie is centered on a soldier portrayed by Jake Gyllenhaal who wakes up in the body of an unknown man and discovers he’s part of a mission to find the bomber of a Chicago commuter train. It is one of the best modern mystery movies of 2011 so far.
The story might get you confused especially at the end, just like the film “Inception”, but this is what made a film so successful…a film that makes you think….it shows that the storyline of the movie is complex, well-crafted, and fascinating! It is a film of a fresh idea of getting time travel as a frame to such an interesting story like this.
12. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011)
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is a mystery thriller movie directed by none other than David Fincher. The movie was released on December 20, 2011, starring Daniel Craig, Rooney Mara, Christopher Plummer, Stellan Skarsgard, Steven Berkoff, and much more. The cast is a good one with the addition of Stellan Skarsgard, Robin Wright, and of course the extremely talented Christopher Plummer.
Daniel Craig puts in his usual “adequate days work”, but the standout performance here was Rooney Mara. She has been nominated for Best Performance By An Actress In A Lead Role at The Oscars. I think anyone who has either read the book or seen the original movie should watch this and draw your own comparisons and share your views with us.
11. Black Swan (2010)
Black Swan is a psychological mystery thriller movie directed by Darren Aronofsky. The movie was released on December 17, 2010, starring Natalie Portman, Vincent Cassel, Mila Kunis, Barbara Hershey, Winona Ryder in the lead role. Black Swan is, without a doubt, the scariest thriller movie I’ve ever seen. Admittedly, I haven’t seen any good horror movies but even if I had, Black Swan would blow them all away.
One of the first things that should be said about Black Swan is that it’s a ballet movie and a horror movie at the same time. Maybe not as much horror as ballet, but it definitely has some incredibly creepy and disturbing moments in it. Some of these did seem a little bit forced, but it never got to the point where I didn’t enjoy watching them.
10. Donnie Darko (2001)
Donnie Darko is a psychological sci-fi mystery movie directed by Richard Kelly. The movie was released on October 26, 2001, and stars Jake Gyllenhaal, Jena Malone, Drew Barrymore, Maggie Gyllenhaal, and many others in the lead role. “Donnie Darko” is so well written that it was nearly a crime to deny this movie a nomination in the Best Original Screenplay category.
The smallest bits of dialogue spoken and the most accurate details presented are perfectly incorporated into the film’s fascinating storyline. Every puzzle piece fits together so well. The one thing that sets this movie apart from any other is the mood it creates. It evokes sadness, confusion, reflection, laughter, and joy– all at the same time. If you haven’t seen this film, it’s high time that you did. And if you have only seen it once, watch it again!
9. Mulholland Drive (2001)
Mulholland Drive (stylized as Mulholland Dr.) is a neo-noir mystery movie directed by David Lynch. The movie was released on October 21, 2001, starring Justin Theroux, Naomi Watts, Laura Elena Harring, and Robert Forster in the lead role. Mulholland Drive is a hugely intelligent movie and every shot feeds you with information through its visuals, its dialogue, or simply its sense of atmosphere.
This movie is prominently about dreams, specifically the relationship between dreams and reality. It is one of the best modern mystery movies which you should definitely watch if you want something unique in the movie. Frankly speaking, Mulholland Drive is the type of movie confusing-but-fun, the movie will make you frustrated in the beginning but somehow makes you stuck in a maze of puzzle fun.
8. Zodiac (2007)
Zodiac is a mystery thriller movie directed by David Fincher. The movie was released on March 2, 2007, starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Mark Ruffalo, Robert Downey Jr., Anthony Edwards, Brian Cox, and many more. Basically, Zodiac is a story about how inept Cops were in the ’60s and ’70s, and how they sucked so bad that they let one of the most infamous Serial Killers in U.S. history pretty much go on killing, and get away with it. “Zodiac” takes the role of the murder mystery and completely encapsulates the audience into asking questions.
Every time you as a viewer think they’ve found the missing piece to the puzzle, you realize the piece in question was to a completely different puzzle altogether. “Zodiac” keeps you guessing until the very end, and even though the film takes a few liberties based on Graysmith’s theories involving the murderer’s identity, knowing the actual killer was never identified only makes the suspense of the film stand out so much more. It’s a gripping drama that makes you feel for the characters but also engulfs you in the mystery of the identity of the killer.
7. Mystic River (2003)
Mystic River is a mystery drama movie directed by Clint Eastwood. The movie was released on October 15, 2003, starring Sean Penn, Tim Robbins, Kevin Bacon, Laurence Fishburne, and many more. This dark, emotional, character-driven mystery is told with restraint–there is no action or intrigue that is unnecessary to the story. It relies on solid storytelling, consistently outstanding performances, and a complex study of grief, revenge, and festering guilt and shame.
Much of the story lies beneath the surface. Thanks to skillful writing and brilliant performances across the board, much of these characters’ stories are unspoken, revealed in well-placed hints and facial expressions. What appears on the surface to be merely a gritty mystery is intelligent and multilayered.
6. Old Boy (2003)
Old Boy is a South Korean mystery thriller neo-noir movie directed by Park Chan-Wook. The movie was released on November 21, 2003, starring Choi Min-Sik, Yoo Ji-Tae, Kang Hye-Jung, and Yoon Jin-Seo in the lead role. It’s the story of Oh-Dae-Su, who gets captured and held a prisoner for 15 years. How he changes during his prison life and does he find out his captor’s true intentions is the basic plot of the movie. It’s one of the most notable movies ever to be made.
It will be remembered for its storyline. Great acting by the Oh Dae-Su and the captor. Surely it would take a lot of courage to write a script such as this one and execute it. Kudos to the director and the writer. Even though the movie sometimes feels very suspenseful like a commercial movie. It brings us to one of the crucial elements of its success, its story!
5. Gone Girl (2014)
Gone Girl is a drama thriller mystery type of movie which was directed by none other than David Fincher. The movie was released on October 3, 2014, starring Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike in a lead role. Gone Girl is one of the best modern mystery movies and one of the best movies of the year also. Gone Girl is deliciously entertaining and addictive. It’s a film that will grab you and it will never let you go. Gone Girl is a tough movie not to spoil, but in all honesty, it’s a movie that can’t be spoiled.
This is an absolutely terrific thriller and one that blew me away completely. Darkly addictive, acidic, biting, satirical, disturbing, invigorating – these are all adjectives that describe Fincher’s masterwork. He controls the film so tightly and adapts Gillian Flynn’s script perfectly for the big screen. Ben Affleck is very solid as Nick and Rosamund Pike give a mesmerizing performance as Amy Dunne.
4. Shutter Island (2010)
Shutter Island is a modern mystery psychological thriller movie directed by Martin Scorsese and based on the novel Shutter Island by Dennis Lehane. The movie was released on February 19, 2010, starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Mark Ruffalo, Ben Kingsley, Michelle Williams, and many others. Shutter Island is an outstanding mystery narrative that follows Teddy on a journey of collecting clues, interviewing hospital staff and mentally unstable inmates.
The story slowly unravels a series of deceptions and treachery. The ending is the most powerful, stunning, heartbreaking, gut-wrecking, and climatic scene in the movie which explores the true depth of Teddy’s self-discovery. Shutter Island generates such a real and raw thriller that creates authentic moods, keeping you on the edge of your seat. The movie keeps you engaging till the end. It is a must-watch movie for mystery movie fans.
3. Inception (2010)
Inception is one of the best thriller movies of Hollywood of all time which was directed by none other than Christopher Nolan and released on July 16, 2010, starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Ken Watanabe, Marion Cotillard, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and many others. This movie has a very interesting concept. The plot revolves around this piece of tech developed by the army which enables people to share dreams. So this team of architects adept at designing dream levels commits “mental heists”. The protagonist has to commit the heist central to the movie to get back to his children.
It is not a very easy movie which you can just sit back and watch. You really need to be alert to be able to capture what is going on in the movie. These dreams are within dreams and it is difficult to figure out in the first go how things are working. But it is definitely another masterpiece of a work by Nolan. Nolan does a great job of conveying his creation well to the audience.
The CG is seamless and the world of the dream has been shown in a very beautiful way. All the actors render laudable performances. I found the performance of Eames played by Tom Hardy to be my favorite. He plays the role of this expert forger with an exceptionally cool mind. All in all, this is a must-watch for people who want to challenge their intellect and want some outstanding thriller with mystery stuff.
2. The Prestige (2006)
The Prestige is a mystery thriller type of movie directed by Christopher Nolan. The movie was released on October 17, 2006, starring Hugh Jackman, Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Scarlett Johansson, Rebecca Hall, and many others in a lead role. The movie is based on the 1995 World Fantasy Award-winning novel The Prestige by Christopher Persist. Christopher Nolan does brilliant work, and it is a well-directed, well-written, well-made, and well-acted movie. It is a very complicated and very nonlinear movie. Nolan does brilliant work, and it is a well-directed, well-written, well-made, and well-acted movie.
The plot is about two magicians, Angier (Hugh Jackman) and Borden (Christian Bale), who had once been friends but then turned into rivals as Angie believes Borden had killed his wife (Piper Perabo) during a trick. Over time, the rivalry becomes stronger as Angie tries to prove himself to be a better magician and works hard to understand the secrets behind Borden’s most surprising trick, and eventually, there are revelations. A very well-made movie. It is a good movie but you just have to have patience while watching it. This movie will always be included in the list of best modern mystery movies. Without adding that movie to the list, the list will not be completed.
1. Memento (2002)
Memento is one of my favorite modern mystery movies which was directed by Christopher Nolan. The movie was released on September 5, 2000, starring Guy Pearce, Carrie-Anne Moss, Joe Pantoliano, and many others in a lead role. Memento takes an alternate perspective on storytelling with a non-linear approach.
The movie leaves viewers in suspense and thriller until the very end, where they learn the truth behind the protagonist’s past. The storytelling style of the movie uses two sequences: one, in color, is told backward while a black and white sequence progresses forward. This is what separates the movie from traditional suspense thrillers and left me guessing until the end.
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