Detective movies make great thrillers. They are about the exciting hunt for clues and the pursuit of the truth behind a mysterious and/or puzzling crime.
Today, detective movies are also known for featuring a lot of action, but that wasn’t always the case. When the first detective movies started to appear in the early 1900s, they were not action-packed.
The Maltese Falcon, a movie that is often credited as the first detective movie, is a good example of that. You’ll hardly find any action in this film. Instead, the plot is mainly driven by the search for a statue, so it is a mystery more than anything else.
As movies evolved, the genre is spiced up by a mix of action and investigation. With the character of Sherlock Holmes, detective the genre took a turn toward action and, sometimes, even violence. So, when comes to detective movies, there is a lot of colors to enjoy.
Additionally, these movies are usually set in urban or metropolitan areas, where most of the crimes take place. And about our hero, the detective, he is always a step or two ahead of the police and solves the case before them.
With the best wishes to our detective, let’s count down on the 10 best detective movies ever made.
10. The Departed | 2006 | 8.5 IMDB
The best Scorsese film since Goodfellas. One of the best neo-noir films ever made.
The story centers around a cop who goes undercover in an Irish mob. The mob boss is played by Jack Nicholson. The best scenes in the movie are the ones between Nicholson and Leonardo DiCaprio, who plays the undercover cop. The movie is violent, but the violence is always justified.
9. Dark Places | 2015 | 6.2 IMDB
Dark Places is a movie that is based on the novel of the same name by Gillian Flynn. This movie is about Libby Day, who comes to believe that her brother may have been the person who killed her family.
Libby is one of the only survivors of an attack on her family. She is called in to speak about the attack, which happened almost twenty-five years ago. The group that wants to hear her is a group of people who believe in the paranormal.
The group believes that the killer is a demon and that a group of witches cast a spell to kill her family.
Libby is not sure what to believe, but she seems to have some idea of what happened.
I will say that this movie is not for everyone. It has elements of the paranormal, which may make it a little hard to watch, but it is definitely worth a watch for a horror movie fan.
8. The Lovebirds | 2020 |6.1 IMDB
The movie is about a couple who come to a small Italian village for a vacation. They stop in the village to enjoy the view of the Eiffel Tower, when they are approached by a stranger who seems to know them.
The stranger introduces himself as a police detective and asks them to help him with an investigation. The couple agrees and the detective tells them that there is a serial killer on the loose in the village. He asks them to follow the killer around and report anything suspicious.
The couple agrees and starts following the killer. The killer doesn’t seem to know that he is being followed. The couple decides to take pictures of him and the killer has no idea what is going on.
The killings continue and the couple starts to investigate the murders. They learn that the man who is being killed is related to them. Soon, the couple realizes that they are being followed and they start to wonder if the detective is the killer.
The movie is full of suspense and the ending is hard to guess.
7. The Invitation | 2016 | 6.6 IMDB:
The Invitation is an American horror film directed by Karyn Kusama and written by Phil Hay and Matt Manfredi. The film stars Logan Marshall-Green, Tammy Blanchard, Michiel Huisman, Emayatzy Corinealdi, and John Carroll Lynch. The story revolves around Will (Marshall-Green), a man who, after losing his wife, is invited to a dinner party by an ex-girlfriend.
The movie is about a man who is invited to a dinner party by an ex-girlfriend (Tammy Blanchard). The dinner party is hosted by her ex-husband (Michiel Huisman) at his house.
The man and his ex-wife were in a very stable and happy marriage until the wife died in a car accident. The woman’s death was ruled an accident, but the man thinks otherwise and is convinced that his ex-wife’s death wasn’t an accident.
The movie is a roller coaster ride with unexpected twists and turns. The plot is original and the film is very well-made. The film’s pace is fast and the acting is great.
6. The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo | 2011 | 7.8 IMDB
This film was a huge success at the box office. It was the first Swedish movie to have a budget of over $100 million. It’s based on the novel of the same name by Stieg Larsson.
The story is about a journalist and a computer hacker who team up to solve a mystery. The mystery involves a forty year old murder. The murder involved a wealthy family named Vanger.
The movie is very much like a modern version of a classic detective movie. It has the same kind of feel. It’s atmospheric and the cinematography is outstanding. The action is compelling, and the characters are intriguing. You may have seen it before, but it’s well worth a second viewing.
5. Fargo | 1996 | 8.1 IMDB
Coen brothers’ masterpiece. A masterpiece of black comedy with a very funny and at the same time, very dark story.
The movie is about a married couple who are desperate for money. The wife wants to have her husband’s wife kidnapped and held for ransom. They get a couple of goons to do the job. But things go wrong, and people get killed. The wife has to try and fix the situation, while her husband is out of town.
The movie is very funny, but not in a crude way. The lead actress Frances McDormand won an Oscar for her performance.
The movie is very dark and is full of murder and mayhem. It also has a great cast. William H. Macy is great as the dimwitted husband. Steve Buscemi is also great as one of the goons.
4. North by Northwest | 1959 | 8.3 IMDB
One of the most entertaining, exciting, and clever movies made by Alfred Hitchcock. Cary Grant is absolutely perfect in the lead role. The plot is full of twists and turns, and the outcome is hard to predict.
The movie is about a man who is mistaken for someone else. The man is Cary Grant, an advertising executive who is on a business trip to Manhattan. He is mistaken for a man who works for the government and is on the run from someone who wants to kill him. The man is being tracked down by government officials who can’t seem to find him.
The man is trying to get to the UN headquarters where he will be safe. Grant’s character takes over the man’s identity and tries to keep the government off his trail.
The film may be difficult to get into due to the pace, but if you stick with it, you’ll be rewarded. The score by Bernard Herrmann is superb.
3. Zodiac | 2007 | 7.7 IMDB
The movie is about the hunt for the Zodiac Killer, who had been terrorizing San Francisco since the 1960s. Based on a true story, this movie is a slow-burning thriller that contains a lot of great performances from its cast. Jake Gyllenhaal is a stand-out.
Directed by the fabulous David Fincher, Zodiac contains an amazing score that adds to the mystery and intensity of the movie. If you like thrillers, Zodiac is one you can’t miss.
2. Seven | 1995 | 8.6 IMDB
Well, this is a no-brainer. It is a classic and features the legendary Morgan Freeman. The movie follows two detectives who are tracking a serial killer who carries out his rituals with seven deadly sins.
They suspect they have found the killer when they find a box with the words “John Doe” written inside, but soon realize there is more to the story. The movie is dark, and, indeed, one of the best detective movies ever made.
1. Prisoners | 2013 | 8.1 IMDB
To say this movie is gripping is an understatement. It is a rollercoaster ride that leaves you in a fog at the end. The movie stars Hugh Jackman as a father whose daughter goes missing. When the police seem to give up on the case, he decides to take matters into his own hands and investigate.
After all, he has nothing to lose. Jackman’s home is full of evidence, and he’s convinced a local man is responsible for his daughter’s disappearance. Still, between the possibility of brutalizing an innocent to get answers, and fear of losing his daughter, jackman chooses the first.