Time Out’s The 100 Best Thrillers

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Everyone has their favourite genre but we can surely all agree that thrillers are the best. And if you don’t believe us, there’s a suspicious figure in that darkened doorway who’d like a word. From the early classics, like Alfred Hitchcock’s The Lodger or Fritz Lang’s M, to the films of David Fincher and Martin Scorsese, they’re rich in nerve-shredding, adrenaline-pumping rides into the darker recesses of the psyche. Thrillers show us horrors and weave in human dramas, but they use those raw materials to forge something particular: a sense of unease and suspense.

With masterful control of those elements, Hitchcock could manipulate his audiences like puppets on a string, delivering shocks that reverberate through cinema history. Fincher’s Seven and Zodiac have carried on the legacy, while films like Pig, Nightmare Alley and The Card Counter show that the thriller is the genre for all eras. Even superhero flicks, like Captain America: Civil War and The Batman, have been borrowing liberally from the crime thriller. It is, unlike many of its ill-fated characters, alive and well.

But what are the very best of them? As we’ve done with science fiction, horror films, romances, comedies, westerns and war films, we’ve dusted cinema for prints and taken a magnifying glass to its finest thrillers to boil them down to a tonne of all-timers. On the list? Murder, political intrigue, espionage, conspiracy, manipulation, gaslighting and, of course, crime. Lots of crime. Enjoy – and hold on tight.

Written by Abbey Bender, Joshua Rothkopf, Phil de Semlyen, Tom Huddleston, Andy Kryza & Tomris Laffly

List created in June 2018 (updated June 2021)
Last Updated: March 23, 2022

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  1. 1 -

    North by Northwest

    1959, in 28 top lists Check
  2. 2 -

    M - Eine Stadt sucht einen Mörder

    1931 — a.k.a. M, in 34 top lists Check
  3. 3 -

    Chinatown

    1974, in 30 top lists Check
  4. 4 -

    The Third Man

    1949, in 34 top lists Check
  5. 5 -

    Reservoir Dogs

    1992, in 26 top lists Check
  6. 6 -

    Touch of Evil

    1958, in 28 top lists Check
  7. 7 -

    The Silence of the Lambs

    1991, in 34 top lists Check
  8. 8 -

    The 39 Steps

    1935, in 15 top lists Check
  9. 9 -

    The Maltese Falcon

    1941, in 26 top lists Check
  10. 10 -

    Les diaboliques

    1955 — a.k.a. Diabolique, in 20 top lists Check
  11. 11 -

    Double Indemnity

    1944, in 36 top lists Check
  12. 12 -

    Zodiac

    2007, in 13 top lists Check
  13. 13 -

    Kiss Me Deadly

    1955, in 19 top lists Check
  14. 14 -

    The Fugitive

    1993, in 8 top lists Check
  15. 15 -

    Vertigo

    1958, in 40 top lists Check
  16. 16 -

    Mulholland Dr.

    2001 — a.k.a. Mulholland Drive, in 25 top lists Check
  17. 17 -

    Taxi Driver

    1976, in 32 top lists Check
  18. 18 -

    Se7en

    1995, in 26 top lists Check
  19. 19 -

    The Manchurian Candidate

    1962, in 15 top lists Check
  20. 20 -

    L.A. Confidential

    1997, in 25 top lists Check
  21. 21 -

    The Conversation

    1974, in 22 top lists Check
  22. 22 -

    The Killing

    1956, in 15 top lists Check
  23. 23 -

    Du rififi chez les hommes

    1955 — a.k.a. Rififi, in 17 top lists Check
  24. 24 -

    The Big Sleep

    1946, in 21 top lists Check
  25. 25 -

    Blue Velvet

    1986, in 25 top lists Check
  26. 26 -

    Rear Window

    1954, in 30 top lists Check
  27. 27 -

    Dog Day Afternoon

    1975, in 22 top lists Check
  28. 28 -

    Dr. No

    1962, in 7 top lists Check
  29. 29 -

    Blowup

    1966 — a.k.a. Blow-Up, in 19 top lists Check
  30. 30 -

    Le salaire de la peur

    1953 — a.k.a. The Wages of Fear, in 28 top lists Check
  31. 31 -

    Oldeuboi

    2003 — a.k.a. Oldboy, in 32 top lists Check
  32. 32 -

    The Usual Suspects

    1995, in 23 top lists Check
  33. 33 -

    Spoorloos

    1988 — a.k.a. The Vanishing, in 13 top lists Check
  34. 34 -

    Notorious

    1946, in 23 top lists Check
  35. 35 -

    The Night of the Hunter

    1955, in 31 top lists Check
  36. 36 -

    The Long Goodbye

    1973, in 14 top lists Check
  37. 37 -

    Heat

    1995, in 22 top lists Check
  38. 38 -

    Point Blank

    1967, in 15 top lists Check
  39. 39 -

    Profondo rosso

    1975 — a.k.a. Deep Red, in 7 top lists Check
  40. 40 -

    Ascenseur pour l'échafaud

    1958 — a.k.a. Elevator to the Gallows, in 9 top lists Check
  41. 41 -

    Shadow of a Doubt

    1943, in 13 top lists Check
  42. 42 -

    Blood Simple

    1984, in 9 top lists Check
  43. 43 -

    The Grifters

    1990, in 8 top lists Check
  44. 44 -

    Nóz w wodzie

    1962 — a.k.a. Knife in the Water, in 14 top lists Check
  45. 45 -

    The French Connection

    1971, in 22 top lists Check
  46. 46 -

    Blow Out

    1981, in 6 top lists Check
  47. 47 -

    Le samouraï

    1967 — a.k.a. Le Samouraï, in 19 top lists Check
  48. 48 -

    One False Move

    1992, in 7 top lists Check
  49. 49 new

    Madeo

    2009 — a.k.a. Mother, in 7 top lists Check
  50. 50 -1

    Zero Dark Thirty

    2012, in 8 top lists Check
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Last updated on May 21, 2022 by Fergenaprido; source