Paranoid thrillers are like regular thrillers with the added terror of closing walls. Marvel has paid its own homage to the genre with Captain America: The Winter Soldier, which even cast Robert Redford – one of the genre’s most sought-after stars – in a major role as a villain.
This genre was particularly prevalent in the 1970s following the Watergate scandal. The shady dealings of the Nixon administration had resulted in a lack of confidence in the government, which filmmakers like Alan J. Pakula and Oliver Stone channeled into thrillers. According to IMDb, these are the greatest paranoid thrillers ever made.
ten JFK (8.0)
Unsurprisingly, given his politically charged directing style, Oliver Stone has directed three films about US presidents: JFK, about the assassination of John F. Kennedy; Nixon, on the downfall of Richard Nixon’s career; and W., a satire of the Bush administration.
The former is by far Stone’s most popular presidential film. Despite its duration of three hours, JFK did blockbusters in 1991. Audiences were mesmerized by his intriguing study of the various conspiracies surrounding Kennedy’s death.
9 All the President’s Men (8.0)
Of all the paranoid thrillers that immediately followed the Watergate scandal, the most closely related to the real events is All the president’s men, which tells how Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein – played by Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman, respectively – revealed the story.
Director Alan J. Pakula at the helm All the president’s men like the third and last part of his “paranoia trilogy”. The two previous films, Klute and The parallax view, are also classic thrillers.
8 The Samurai (8.1)
Of The Red Circle at Army of shadows, Jean-Pierre Melville has established himself as one of the greatest directors of thrillers. His most famous and influential film is arguably the Samurai.
Alain Delon plays the professional hitman Jef Costello, who is caught red-handed by various witnesses. As the law closes, he desperately tries to find an alibi that will hold.
7 Shutter Island (8.2)
Adapted from Dennis Lehane’s novel of the same name, Martin Scorsese’s novel Shutter island is one of the most shocking and mind-boggling psychological thrillers in recent memory.
Leonardo DiCaprio plays the role of an American Marshal sent to a mental institution on a remote island to investigate the disappearance of a patient. As his poignant story is unraveled, the Marshal learns that all is not as it seems.
6 Chinatown (8.2)
Chinese district has some truly heartbreaking twists and turns, but its Robert Towne screenplay is one of the greatest ever written. Jack Nicholson plays the role of a private investigator whose simple case of adultery turns into something much more sinister.
It was one of the many post-Watergate masterpieces that helped define the neo-noir genre that captured the contemporary zeitgeist and breathed new life into film noir.
5 Vertigo (8.3)
Given that Alfred Hitchcock has more than a dozen true masterpieces to his name, it’s hard to pick a single movie as its best. But fear of heights is a common choice.
James Stewart stars as a detective who suffers from acrophobia (which isn’t quite the same as vertigo) and is hired by an old friend to spy on his wife. After she appears to take her own life, the film turns from an intriguing psychological thriller to a shocking series of twists and turns.
4 North by Northwest (8.3)
Another Hitchcockian masterpiece, from north to north-west plays like a Bond film directed by Hitchcock. Cary Grant plays the role of a New York advertising manager who is mistaken for a government agent by foreign spies, which plunges him into a widespread conspiracy.
The film has a handful of iconic sets, like the duster hunt in rural Indiana and the action-packed finale set atop Mount Rushmore.
3 M (8.3)
Fritz Lang M pushed the boundaries of what was acceptable in popular cinema in 1931. Peter Lorre stars as a serial killer as his shocking criminal madness captivates Berlin, and when the police manhunt comes to nothing On the other hand, other criminals join the search.
Although it was initially rejected by contemporary critics, M is now known as one of the greatest films ever to be made. He even has a rare 100% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
2 Remembrance (8.4)
The movie that put Christopher Nolan on the map, Memento is a low-budget thriller starring Guy Pearce as an insurance investigator with short-term memory loss whose wife was murdered.
While trying to find his wife’s murderer, he has to tattoo all the clues on her body so as not to forget them. It’s no wonder this movie put Nolan on the Hollywood radar – it’s a brilliant thriller.
1 The Dark Knight (9.0)
After exploring the origin story of the bat more in depth than ever in Batman begins, Christopher Nolan followed him with an even bigger sequel, The black Knight. The movie’s MVP is Heath Ledger’s Joker, whose reign of terror over Gotham perfectly sums up modern security and surveillance fears.
Nolan was heavily influenced by Michael Mann Heat in crafts The black Knightcrime, corruption and moral gray areas of law and order in a sprawling American city.
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