100 Best Thriller Movies To Watch Right Now

100 Best Thriller Movies To Watch Right Now

March 12, 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. 

21. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2009)

best

8.8

Country

Denmark, Germany, Norway

Director

Niels Arden Oplev

Actors

Alexandra Pascalidou, Annika Hallin, Barbro Enberg, Bjorn Granath

Moods

Character-driven, Smart, Suspenseful

The original Swedish mystery thriller that was later remade by David Fincher. It’s the same story of a wealthy man hiring a journalist and scrappy hacker to solver a murder, but told better. This version is slower, has more attention to detail and pace. In casting, authenticity triumphs over good looks. In staging, aesthetics are given as much importance as thrills. And in the story, intelligence wins over plot. This gives the main character of Lisbeth Salander (played by Noomi Rapace) better space to deploy her full mysticism and enigmatic nature. Danish director Niels Arden Oplev masterfully brings everything together to make for a movie that will forever be remembered.

22. The Teachers’ Lounge (2023)

best

8.8

Country

Germany

Director

İlker Çatak

Actors

Anne-Kathrin Gummich, Antonia Luise Krämer, Eva Löbau, Katharina M. Schubert

Moods

Gripping, Suspenseful, Well-acted

The Teacher’s Lounge is one of those movies where a simple misunderstanding is blown out of proportion, so much so that it causes the fabric of a community to unravel into chaos. Aided by a precise score, it ticks like a timebomb, with every second filled with so much dread and anxiety you have to remind yourself to breathe. It’s an impeccable and taut thriller, but it also works as an allegory about modern-day surveillance and authority. Director İlker Çatak gives the Gen-Z students and their much older teachers a level field where they struggle for control, and the result is both bleak and funny. It’s often said that schools are a microcosm of the real world, but nowhere is that more apparent than here. 

23. Punch-Drunk Love (2002)

best

8.7

Country

United Kingdom, United States of America

Director

Paul Thomas Anderson

Actors

Adam Sandler, David H. Stevens, Don McManus, Emily Watson

Moods

Easy, Lighthearted

Adam Sandler, though currently imminently marketable, incredibly played out and boring, used to be a real actor. This is the film by which his legacy will be judged, where we see the funnyman drop the mask and actually show real feelings besides bumbling rage. Sandler’s hurt and confused performance is beautifully vulnerable and true and is complimented by P.T. Anderson’s incomparable direction (the man behind Boogie Nights and There Will Be Blood), creating a true masterpiece of American cinema. This beauty also stars Philip Seymour Hoffman and Emily Watson.

24. Upgrade (2018)

8.7

Country

Australia, United States of America

Director

Leigh Whannell

Actors

Abby Craden, Arthur Angel, Benedict Hardie, Betty Gabriel

This film really satisfied my craving for an original thriller, despite the fact that I spent most of it thinking about how Logan Marshall-Green looks like a budget Tom Hardy.

He plays a guy whose wife is killed during a violent mugging that also leaves him paralyzed in the aftermath. When a billionaire approaches him with an Artificial Intelligence solution that would “upgrade” his body, he has a chance to take vengeance.

This is Robocop meets Ex Machina meets Blade Runner. It’s original, low-budget without feeling low-budget, and honestly just so thrilling. It gives the genre of sci-fi a much needed upgrade.

25. The Vanishing (1988)

best

8.7

Country

France, Germany, Netherlands

Director

George Sluizer

Actors

Bernadette Le Saché, Bernard-Pierre Donnadieu, Caroline Appéré, Didier Rousset

Moods

Dark, Depressing, Original

Fear of abandonment is at the heart of The Vanishing. Lovers Rex and Saskia are separated on their way to France after the latter vanishes without a trace. For the next three years, Rex dedicates his life to finding out what happened to Saskia in whatever way possible, endangering his own safety in the process. George Sluizer’s chilling psychological thriller shows the evils that curiosity and obsession can bring, and is a uniquely perverse look at the ugly side of truth-seeking.

26. Full Time (2021)

best

8.7

Country

France

Director

Eric Gravel

Actors

Agathe Dronne, Anne Suarez, Bô Gaultier de Kermoal, Carima Amarouche

Moods

Character-driven, Depressing, Dramatic

Full Time is about the Herculean task that is getting through the day. For Julie Roy (the incredible Laure Calamy), that means keeping a job in the city as a single mother living in the suburbs. In this particular week, she has to attend to childcare, work a job below her skill set, apply for a job that actually matches her skill set, and get home before her children’s bedtime, all while a transport strike immobilizes the city. 

Protests aside, Julie’s reality is an everyday feat some of us don’t even bother to question, but the film—edited and scored like a thriller—makes a vital point about the overlooked difficulties of juggling career, family, and self. 

It’s unrelenting, intense, and truly gripping from start to end, kind of like Uncut Gems for the everywoman. It’s rare to see social commentary at this pace, but it’s also unexpectedly powerful, a necessary portrait of the times.

27. Gosford Park (2001)

best

8.7

Country

Italy, United States of America

Director

Robert Altman

Actors

Adrian Scarborough, Alan Bates, Bob Balaban, Camilla Rutherford

Moods

A-list actors, Character-driven, Gripping

Gosford Park inspired screenwriter Julian Fellowes to create Downton Abbey — but don’t let that association fool you, because this is no quaint, sentimental period drama but a scalding satire of 1930s England class relations (even though Maggie Smith does play a withering dowager countess here, too). Robert Altman, master orchestrator of ensembles, assembled a banquet of performers here, including Michael Gambon, Kristin Scott Thomas, and Charles Dance as the well-to-do attendees of a hunting party on a grand estate. Working furiously to meet their every whim is the house’s domestic staff, played by such talents as Emily Watson, Helen Mirren, Kelly Macdonald, and Clive Owen.

The murder comes over an hour into the film, which ought to tell you about its real focus (Altman actually called Gosford Park a “who cares whodunnit”). In place of Agatha Christie-style intrigue is brilliant characterization and storytelling. Even at 137 minutes, 30-plus characters mean time is of the essence, but Altman and his actors miraculously find a way to convey a deep sense of each person — especially those downstairs. This tangle of rich lives never gets overwhelming, though, because Gosford Park is expertly paced. It’s nothing less than a joy to sit back and experience the masterful unraveling of its many threads, each more revelatory than the last.

28. Margin Call (2011)

best

8.6

Country

United States of America

Director

J. C. Chandor

Actors

Aasif Mandvi, Al Sapienza, Ashley Williams, Demi Moore

Moods

A-list actors, Instructive, Thought-provoking

A thoughtful drama about the financial crisis, Margin Call is gripping. Seriously, even something as convoluted as the 2008 global economic meltdown is not only accessible and understandable, but it’s gripping. Margin Call transports you to the heart of Wall Street, both the financial institutions and the street, literally. It is exciting, well-acted and informative. Uh, also: Kevin Spacey.

29. Nightcrawler (2014)

best

8.6

Country

United States of America

Director

Dan Gilroy

Actors

Alex Ortiz, Ann Cusack, Bill Blair, Bill Paxton

Moods

A-list actors, Challenging, Character-driven

The film stars Jake Gyllenhaal as Lou Bloom, an impromptu freelance videographer who begins covering the crime world in LA for a local TV station. Almost as dark as a mystery can get, it is disturbing, and plays out as a combination of “Drive” and “The Network”. The film is visually stunning as well as immensely suspenseful. It then becomes almost impossible to look away, even when you’re the most horrified by just how far Bloom is willing to go to reach success. Gyllenhaal’s performance is widely compared to that of Robert De Niro in Taxi Driver, which should give you an idea of its caliber.

30. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (2005)

best

8.6

Country

United States of America

Director

Shane Black

Actors

Ali Hillis, Angela Lindvall, Ariel Winter, Ben Hernandez Bray

Moods

A-list actors

Robert Downey Jr’s triumphant return to film, this movie is a satirical take on film noir and detective movies in general. The screen chemistry between Gay Perry the private eye, played by Val Kilmer, and Downey Jr’s robber turned actor, Harry Lockhart, is hysterical, and the film’s tongue in cheek nature is witty, smart, and delivers. Directed by the man who directed Lethal Weapon, the action is top notch, the laughs are pretty much constant, and the mystery is compelling. It’s mind boggling that nobody saw this when it came out.

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