100 Best Thriller Movies To Watch Right Now

100 Best Thriller Movies To Watch Right Now

May 31, 2024

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From action to horror to dystopia to romance, a good, hair-raising thriller can overlap with many different genres. It could follow an obsessed detective or an even more obsessed lover, and it could be about the end of the world just as much as it could be about the breakdown of any one person. Whatever its premise, the main thing about a thriller is that it should grip you from start to end, never letting your mind wander until you reach the jaw-dropping conclusion. 

In this list, we’ve gathered our favorite thrillers you can stream on your preferred platform right now. These movies span backgrounds, genres, and plot lines, but you can be sure that they are the best of the best: highly rated by critics and viewers alike. 

91. Open Your Eyes (1997)

best

8.0

Country

France, Italy, Spain

Director

Alejandro Amenábar

Actors

Chete Lera, Eduardo Noriega, Fele Martínez, Gérard Barray

Moods

Challenging, Character-driven, Discussion-sparking

While the mixed reception of its near-faithful American remake Vanilla Sky might make some viewers pause, there’s an intuitive brilliance in the Spanish original Open Your Eyes that isn’t easy to translate. Sure, the apparent differences help– it’s shorter and less complicated, and Cesar’s face turns more grotesque than David’s does. But what’s startling about Open Your Eyes is the way writer-director Alejandro Amenábar guides the camera through its various shifts, creating a more subtle and gradual realization that something is wrong, and thus, a more terrifying dream turned nightmare. Amenábar has later deemed the film as his worst, saying it was written when he didn’t know much about life, but, in our opinion, Abre Los Ojos still holds up as a groundbreaking existential sci-fi simulation, one that still puzzles and captivates years after.

92. The Guard (2011)

7.9

Country

Ireland, UK

Director

John Michael McDonagh

Actors

Brendan Gleeson, Conor Moloney, Darren Healy, David Pearse

The Guard played by Brendan Gleeson is a new character in cinema that appeals to the funny bone inside all of us. A character like this can make any movie lovable. It also features Don Cheadle playing an FBI agent who is in town to solve a crime under Gleeson’s jurisdiction. An overall great movie with great writing. Please note, for those who have a hard time understanding different accents, subtitles are advised.

93. A Hijacking (2012)

7.9

Country

Denmark

Director

Tobias Lindholm

Actors

Abdihakin Asgar, Allan Arnby, Amalie Ihle Alstrup, Andre Royo

Moods

Thrilling, True-story-based

A Danish cargo ship is hijacked by Somali pirates in the Indian Ocean. The pirates demand millions of dollars in ransom and from there on, a psychological drama between the pirates and the ship owner develops, as they negotiate the price for the ship and its crew. A really great thing about this film is the fact that it doesn’t get tangled up in the weepy feelings of the families back home – but instead focuses on the shrinking hope of the ship’s crew and the psychological consequences of the brutal negotiation, that drives the ship owner to the edge of madness. Inspired by a true story. Brilliantly acted.

94. We Need to Talk About Kevin (2012)

7.9

Country

Spain, UK, United Kingdom

Director

Female director, Lynne Ramsay

Actors

Aaron Blakely, Alex Manette, Andy Gershenzon, Annie O'Sullivan

Moods

Discussion-sparking, Intense, Mind-blowing

Adapted from the Lionel Shriver novel of the same name, We Need to Talk About Kevin is the story of a mother (Tilda Swinton) that never quite bonds with her child, but not by her choice. The son grows up to do a heinous act that begs the question: nature or nurture? This film is an uncompromising view on the development of an unloved child. Silent pain gets voice. Feelings are shown by actions not emotions in an authentic, comprehensible and aesthetic manner. Great work.

95. Uncut Gems (2019)

7.9

Country

South Africa, United States of America

Director

Benny Safdie, Josh Safdie

Actors

Abel Tesfaye, Adam Sandler, Alexander Gilkes, Andrea Linsky

Moods

Action-packed, Dark, Intense

A crazy, anxiety-inducing thriller that turns Adam Sandler into a thrill-generating machine, which in its own speaks volumes about the rhythm of this movie. It follows a jeweler who gets himself in trouble with what feels like all of New York – a gang, Kevin Garnett (the NBA player), other jewelers, his family, odd twins that appear out of nowhere – everyone. This all happens in the backdrop of him feeling he has “hit big” and is on the verge of receiving a lot of money.

If you watched Good Time, you know what to expect from directors Safdie brothers: excruciating tension that keeps building up when you thought it wasn’t possible. And that might be the only problem with Uncut Gems; the tension doesn’t feel that different from Good Time, and having watched one you can guess where the other one is going.

96. The Constant Gardener (2005)

7.9

Country

China, France, Germany

Director

Fernando Meirelles

Actors

Anneke Kim Sarnau, Archie Panjabi, Bill Nighy, Danny Huston

Moods

Emotional, Suspenseful

Ralph Fiennes plays a mild-mannered British diplomat in Kenya who is stunned by the news of his wife Tessa’s (Rachel Weisz) sudden death while in the company of another man. He sets off to investigate the suspicious death––and secret life–-of his late wife, within a tangle of personal betrayals, political threats, and corporate conspiracies. This film presents an exquisite contrast between Justin’s (Fiennes) gentle, contemplative demeanor and the progressively gripping details he uncovers; between rapturous romanticism and darkly corrupting interests. It’s a touching, smart, and suspenseful feast of a movie.

97. Hidden Agenda (1990)

7.9

Country

United Kingdom

Director

Ken Loach

Actors

Bernard Archard, Bernard Bloch, Brad Dourif, Brian Cox

Moods

A-list actors, Dramatic, Gripping

In Ken Loach’s conspiracy thriller, an American human rights activist (Frances McDormand) and a no-nonsense UK police officer (Brian Cox) work tirelessly to uncover the truth behind a suspicious death — but this is no rousing triumph of good over evil, only a bitter pill about corruption and complicity. Human rights lawyer Paul (Brad Dourif) and girlfriend Ingrid (McDormand) are in Troubles-era Belfast wrapping up their report into the UK government’s shoot-to-kill policy when Paul is shot dead by mysterious assailants while on his way to speak to an informant. Police investigator Kerrigan (Cox) is flown in from England to look into the death; Cox plays him as a stickler for the rules and fierce agent of justice, inspired by a real-life official who was abruptly suspended from the police before he could deliver his findings into the UK government’s alleged death squad in Northern Ireland.

But the network of high-level corruption that Kerrigan and Ingrid uncover poses a direct challenge to those values, ultimately forcing him to choose between revealing the conspiracy — and risk destroying his life — or concealing the truth and betraying his ethics. A fascinating look at the slippery slope to complicity, this is a gripping, unabashedly ideological conspiracy thriller blending Hollywood polish with gritty reality.

98. No Way Out (1987)

7.8

Country

United States of America

Director

Roger Donaldson

Actors

Brad Pitt, Charles Walker, Chris D., David Armstrong

Moods

Action-packed, Gripping, Suspenseful

The film that catapulted Kevin Costner to fame, No Way Out, is based on a novel by Kenneth Fearing, “The Big Clock”, and is also preceded by a film adaptation of it, around 40 years prior. Director Roger Donaldson found himself in charge of a film, haunted by the Cold War and spy thriller tropes, but already aligning itself with the late 80s erotic thriller. In a way, No Way Back is a symbol of this transitional period, but by retaining the classic noir vibe (deception, fleeing, yearning), it becomes a tribute to the past. In the film’s own past, a love triangle is taking shape in a rather unconventional way: layered with all three of the aforementioned dispositions. Two men want the same women, but their relationship is further complicated by professional hierarchies and the quest to own the past they both shared with Susan. 

 

99. Doi Boy (2023)

7.8

Country

Cambodia, Thailand

Director

Nontawat Numbenchapol

Actors

Arak Amornsupasiri, Awat Ratanapintha, Bhumibhat Thavornsiri, Ornjira Lamwilai

Moods

Challenging, Character-driven, Discussion-sparking

After years of documentaries covering Thailand’s controversial issues, some of which have been temporarily banned by the Ministry of Culture, Nontawat Numbenchapol takes a step into feature film in Doi Boy. The plot covers plenty of the topics he’s previously depicted– immigration, prostitution, and corruption– but it unfolds naturally into a slow-paced, but moving drama where an undocumented sex worker tries to find home. Awat Ratanapintha as Sorn excellently leads this journey, but Arak Amornsupasiri as reluctant cop Ji, and Bhumibhat Thavornsiri as passionate activist Wuth also make their mark. While the film doesn’t delve into the intricate intersectionality, it feels like that’s part of the point. The notion of a nation doesn’t care about people’s dreams, even if that dream is for the nation to be better.

100. Lost Illusions (2021)

7.8

Country

Belgium, France

Director

Xavier Giannoli

Actors

Alexis Barbosa, André Marcon, Benjamin Voisin, Candice Bouchet

Moods

Gripping, Smart, Thrilling

Despite being based on a 19th-century serial novel, Lost Illusions feels remarkably close to contemporary concerns about fake news and the devaluing of art for profit. But as the story is also, obviously, set in the 19th century, all this bribery and these backdoor dealings are done entirely through the written word and by sending runners from one Parisian theater to the next—and the result is uniquely thrilling. Nearly every character is a terrible person (like in an old-timey Goodfellas way) and it can get tiring seeing the film glorify their hustle, but the energy it brings is rare to find in any other period drama.

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