Must-Watch: 10 Best Detective Movies | TheReviewGeek Recommends

Ever have one of those days where you want to curl up on the couch with a mug of hot cocoa and lose yourself in a good mystery? We’ve got you covered. Grab your popcorn and settle in for a night of sleuthing and suspense with our picks for the top 10 must-watch detective movies. From classics like The Maltese Falcon to newer hits like Knives Out, this list has something to scratch your whodunnit itch.

By the end of the night, you’ll be deducing with the best of ’em and guessing the killer before the big reveal. So dim the lights, hit play, and put on your detective hat – the game is afoot! The clues are there for noticing if you’re paying close enough attention. Think you’ve got what it takes to crack the case? Let’s find out.

Best Detective Movies
The Maltese Falcon (1941)

The Maltese Falcon is a classic film noir from 1941 that helped define the genre. This private eye mystery centres around Humphrey Bogart as the hardboiled detective Sam Spade. When his partner is murdered while investigating a case, Spade is pulled into a dangerous hunt for a priceless statuette.

You’ll be on the edge of your seat as Spade navigates the seedy underbelly of San Francisco, questioning femme fatales and dodgy criminals alike. The plot takes twist after twist until the final, shocking reveal. Bogart is perfect as the smooth but cynical Spade, and the stylish cinematography and mood lighting create a sense of mystery and intrigue.

Best Detective Movies
Murder on the Orient Express (1974)

Murder on the Orient Express is a classic whodunit from the 70s that you have to see. This stylish film adaptation of Agatha Christie’s famous novel is set aboard the luxurious Orient Express train.

When a passenger is murdered in his cabin, famed detective Hercule Poirot is on the case. You follow along as Poirot interviews the colourful cast of characters – all suspects with secrets to hide and motives to kill.

Best Detective Movies
Chinatown (1974)

Chinatown is a neo-noir mystery thriller directed by Roman Polanski. Set in 1930s Los Angeles, the story follows private detective J.J. “Jake” Gittes (Jack Nicholson) as he investigates an adultery case that turns out to be much more sinister.

This complex and disturbing film is considered a masterpiece of the detective genre. Nicholson gives a legendary performance as the cynical yet determined Gittes. The twisty plot, full of corruption and family secrets, has become iconic. Polanski’s direction is brilliant, using minimalism and subtlety to create a mood of dread and paranoia.

Best Detective Movies
Zodiac (2007)

The 2007 film Zodiac, directed by David Fincher, is a dark and gripping detective thriller based on the real Zodiac Killer case. Set in 1970s San Francisco, the movie follows cartoonist Robert Graysmith (Jake Gyllenhaal) as he becomes increasingly obsessed with cracking the cryptic cyphers and codes sent to the press by the serial killer terrorizing the city.

Along with detectives Dave Toschi (Mark Ruffalo) and Bill Armstrong (Anthony Edwards), Graysmith works to solve the mystery of the murderer’s identity before he claims more victims. However, the case grows increasingly cold and unsolvable. The killer continues to taunt the police with disturbing letters and puzzles but leaves few clues behind at his crime scenes.

Best Detective Movies
Se7en (1995)

Se7en is a dark and disturbing crime thriller from 1995, directed by David Fincher. This modern classic follows Detectives Mills and Somerset as they hunt for a serial killer using the seven deadly sins as inspiration for gruesome murders.

As the murders mount up, the scenes become increasingly more chilling and unsettling. The killer, John Doe, is meticulous in planning and executing his crimes, forcing the detectives to decipher the cryptic clues he leaves behind. The cat-and-mouse game culminates in a grim finale that will haunt you.

Best Detective Movies
Memento (2000)

Memento is a mind-bending psychological thriller told in reverse chronological order. Directed by Christopher Nolan, the film follows Leonard Shelby, an insurance investigator suffering from anterograde amnesia, meaning he cannot form new memories. Shelby is trying to find his wife’s murderer, relying on a system of notes, Polaroid photos, and tattoos to piece together clues about what has already happened.

As the story unfolds in reverse, you experience Leonard’s world as he does – with no memory of what came before. This innovative twist on traditional storytelling means you uncover the mystery at the same rate as our protagonist. Memento will have you guessing until the very end as you try to put the pieces of the puzzle together.

Best Detective Movies
Rear Window (1954)

One of Alfred Hitchcock’s most acclaimed films, Rear Window is a masterclass in suspense and voyeurism. Set almost entirely in a single room, the thriller follows photographer L.B. “Jeff” Jeffries as he spies on his neighbours from his wheelchair while recovering from an injury.

Jeff begins to suspect that one of the tenants across the courtyard, Lars Thorwald, has murdered his wife. However, his girlfriend Lisa and nurse Stella are sceptical about his claims. Undeterred, Jeff continues his surveillance with the help of his physical therapist and amateur sleuth, Doyle.

Best Detective Movies
The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (2011)

The 2011 adaptation of Stieg Larsson’s novel features a compelling mystery and one of the most intriguing heroines of recent years. Lisbeth Salander, the titular girl with the dragon tattoo, is a hacker with a traumatic past who helps journalist Mikael Blomkvist solve the decades-old disappearance of a woman from a wealthy family.

Rooney Mara and Daniel Craig have fantastic chemistry as the unconventional duo working to crack the case. The chilly Swedish setting, moody soundtrack, and twisted plot will keep you guessing until the very end. This riveting thriller deservedly has a passionate following and has inspired many fans to get their own dragon tattoos.

Best Detective Movies
The Fugitive (1993)

The Fugitive is one of the most thrilling detective films of the 90s. Starring Harrison Ford as Dr. Richard Kimble, a man wrongly convicted of murdering his wife, this movie will have you on the edge of your seat.

On the run from U.S. Marshal Samuel Gerard (Tommy Lee Jones in an Oscar-winning role), Kimble desperately searches for the real killer—a one-armed man—while evading the law. Ford and Jones are perfectly cast in their roles, with Ford portraying Kimble as a sympathetic yet determined man seeking justice and Jones as the witty, relentless marshal hot on his trail.

Best Detective Movies
Vertigo (1958)

The 1958 psychological thriller Vertigo is considered Alfred Hitchcock’s masterpiece and one of the greatest films ever made. Set in San Francisco, the film stars Jimmy Stewart as John “Scottie” Ferguson, a former police detective who suffers from acrophobia and vertigo.

Scottie is hired to follow a friend’s suicidal wife, Madeleine Elster (Kim Novak). He quickly becomes obsessed with Madeleine and falls in love with her. After Madeleine’s death, Scottie’s obsession continues when he meets a woman named Judy Barton who bears a striking resemblance to Madeleine.

There we have it, our list of 10 best detective movies. What do you think about our picks? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below:


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