10 Best Mystery Movies Of All Time, According To IMDb (2023)

With the recent premieres of movies like The Good Nurse, Barbarian, and Death on the Nile, it’s easy to see that genres like crime, thriller, and mystery are still just as relevant as ever. Mystery movies are especially having a renaissance, with highly anticipated entries in the genre like Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery proving renewed interest in the whodunit formula.

There are some mystery movies that have stood the test of time and are considered the best among the numerous films in the genre by IMDb users. Their votes have determined the must-see mystery movies that defined, reinvented, or pushed forward the established genre.

‘Coco’ (2017) – 8.4

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Often cited alongside the best Pixar films ever made, Coco follows the story of a 12-year-old boy named Miguel who has a passion for music. Unfortunately, a bizarre ban on music by his entire family makes it difficult for him to become a musician like his idol, Ernesto de la Cruz. When a magical string of events leads to him being stuck in the Land of the Dead, Miguel experiences and learns things that change him forever.

A mix of fantasy and adventure, the mystery aspect of director Lee Unkrich’s heartwarming masterpiece lies in the strange ban on music that is never explained to Miguel. His time in the Land of the Dead reveals previously questionable facts about his family’s messy history.

‘Rear Window’ (1954) – 8.5

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Director Alfred Hitchcock’s groundbreaking work, Rear Window, is centered on the photographer L. B. "Jeff" Jefferies, who is recovering from a broken leg. In the meantime, he looks through his window and watches the neighbors to keep him occupied (and entertained). He’s soon disturbed by something he sees and is convinced that he has spotted a murderer.

The renowned film is known for its brilliant commentary on voyeurism, as audiences become voyeurs through the protagonist’s eyes, just waiting for something terrible to happen. Its intense scenes and flawless pacing also make the actual mystery in the movie gripping.

‘Psycho’ (1960) – 8.5

Arguably Hitchcock’s most significant and enduring masterpiece, Psycho is a bold and innovative film that takes place in the now-iconic Bates Motel. This is where the fleeing criminal Marion Crane decides to rest, and also where she meets the eccentric but seemingly harmless proprietor, Norman Bates. She’ll soon discover that she has made the wrong choice.

With its infamous shower scene, transgressive subject matters, and even a flushing toilet, Hitchcock’s film pushed the genre forward by leaps and bounds. Not to mention the riveting mystery that will keep audiences at the edge of their seats as those searching for Marion uncover truly disturbing things.

‘Apocalypse Now’ (1979) – 8.5

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Loosely based on Joseph Conrad’s 1899 novella, Heart of Darkness, Apocalypse Now is set in the Vietnam War. It follows Captain Benjamin Willard, a burnt-out operative who is tasked with assassinating a rogue Green Beret Colonel named Walter Kurtz. Kurtz has fashioned himself as a god among his followers and is leading unauthorized guerilla attacks – reaching him will not be easy.

Director Francis Ford Coppola showcases the horrors of war in the movie, which has an undeniable intensity and fervor the deeper the protagonist goes during his river journey. Its inclusion in the mystery genre is owed to the lack of information about Kurtz, as his motivations, plans, and past are initially unclear.

‘The Usual Suspects’ (1995) – 8.5

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Director Bryan Singer’s The Usual Suspects is a neo-noir classic that is centered on the interrogation of Verbal Kint. The police question him about the mysterious crime lord, Keyser Soze, who is supposedly behind their daring but disastrous multi-million dollar heist that left several people dead or injured.

Told through flashbacks, everything viewers (and authorities) know comes from Verbal’s convoluted version of the events that transpired. There’s a frustrating sense of urgency to figure out exactly what happened and answer the questions about the massacre, but a huge and iconic twist towards the end makes the entire film worth watching.

‘The Prestige’ (2006) – 8.5

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One of director Christopher Nolan’s most underrated films, The Prestige follows the stage magicians Robert Angier and Alfred Borden, and the rivalry that forms between them towards the end of the 19th century. They both become obsessed with beating each other through impossible performances and perilous stunts, often with tragic outcomes.

The riveting and somewhat frightening film highlights the consequences of taking things too far for the sake of competition or ambition. Its mystery element comes from the explanation behind strange and startling tricks that seem like actual magic, but turn out to be far darker than viewers may expect.

‘Harakiri’ (1962) – 8.6

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Director Masaki Kobayashi’s Harakiri is a jidaigeki movie that tells the story of the rōnin Hanshirō Tsugumo, who approaches the local feudal lord to ask to die by seppuku. His request for an honorable death is questioned in relation to the younger samurai who was there not too long ago, asking for the same thing.

The entire movie is dedicated to watching the mystery of the protagonist’s reasoning unfold, especially when his real connection to the younger samurai is revealed. It’s an important film that delves into controversial themes like honor, entrenched corruption, and suicide.

‘Se7en’ (1995) – 8.6

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When a serial killer begins actively murdering victims and using the seven deadly sins as inspiration, retiring detective William Somerset partners with the inexperienced David Mills in Se7en. They follow the grotesque trail the enigmatic murderer leaves behind, while also dealing with their own differences that affect how they handle the case.

Director David Fincher’s critically-acclaimed film is known for its sharp writing, gruesome scenes, and, of course, jaw-dropping twist. The shocking climax and the end of the mystery it presents is still referenced and parodied today, emphasizing just how impactful the movie is.

‘The Green Mile’ (1999) – 8.6

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Director Frank Darabont’s The Green Mile revolves around Warden Supervisor Paul Edgecomb’s experiences while supervising death row, which turns into something extraordinary after the arrival of John Coffey. John has been sentenced to die after being found guilty of murdering two young girls, but, after a series of inexplicable interactions, Paul soon realizes that there’s more to the story.

The blockbuster is based on Stephen King's eponymous novel from 1996. The mystery it depicts is of a magical and fantastical nature, which is made better by the compelling characters (Paul and John). Their unexpected friendship and the movie’s heartbreaking ending make it a memorable one.

‘Spirited Away’ (2001) – 8.6

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Studio Ghibli’s most popular film, Spirited Away, follows the misadventures of 10-year-old Chihiro. Directed by Hayao Miyazaki, the animated movie depicts the way Chihiro finds herself in the spirit world of the Kami, which she has to brave to rescue her parents. She encounters all kinds of fascinating, terrifying, and comforting beings in the mysterious realm.

From its gorgeous visuals and wonderfully weird creatures to its touching story and endearing protagonist, viewers who have never seen the animated film should know that there are several reasons it’s so popular and beloved by fans. Its element of mystery is in more than one thing, as the people and beings Chihiro meets are often hiding astounding secrets.

NEXT: 10 Best Thriller Movies Of All Time, According To IMDb

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