11 Movies Like Chinatown | TheReviewGeek Recommends

Ever since you first saw Chinatown, you’ve been chasing that feeling of mystery and intrigue. The twisting plot, Jack Nicholson’s hardboiled performance as private eye Jake Gittes, and the sinister score—it all comes together to create a dark, moody tone that defines the neo-noir genre. If you’re looking to recapture the magic of Chinatown, we’ve got you covered. Here are 10 neo-noir films to dive into if you love Chinatown.

From cult classics to modern masterpieces, this list has everything you need for a night of stylish suspense. Grab the popcorn, dim the lights, and get ready to go down the rabbit hole of conspiracy and moral ambiguity once again. These moody thrillers are sure to satisfy any neo-noir fan and leave you wanting more.

Best Movies like Chinatown

L.A. Confidential

L.A. Confidential is one of the best modern takes on film noir. Set in 1950s Los Angeles, it follows three LAPD detectives whose paths cross as they investigate a bizarre multiple homicide.

Ed Exley is the polished and political one eager to prove himself. Bud White is a tough guy with a soft spot for abused women. And Jack Vincennes is the slick one who consults for a TV cop show. Despite their differences, they team up to peel back the glamorous facade of Hollywood and uncover the seedy underbelly of drugs, prostitution, and police corruption.

Best Movies like Chinatown

Mulholland Drive

David Lynch’s surreal neo-noir thriller Mulholland Drive is a mind-bending descent into the dark side of Hollywood that lingers with you long after the credits roll.

As an aspiring actress arrives in LA with stars in her eyes and dreams of fame, she discovers the sinister forces that lurk behind the city’s glamorous façade. After surviving a bizarre car accident on Mulholland Drive, Rita develops amnesia. She crosses paths with Betty, an actress who is staying at her aunt’s empty apartment. The two attempt to piece together Rita’s identity, but the mystery only deepens with each clue.

Best Movies like Chinatown


Memento is a mind-bending neo-noir thriller from Christopher Nolan that will leave you questioning everything. This innovative film is told in reverse chronological order to put you in the mindset of the main character, Leonard Shelby, who suffers from anterograde amnesia.

Leonard is on a quest to find his wife’s murderer, but his condition prevents him from forming new memories. He has to rely on notes, photos, and tattoos to piece together clues and navigate his own life. Each scene takes you further back in time, revealing more details that make you question Leonard’s perception of events.

Best Movies like Chinatown


One of the most stylish modern neo-noir films is 2005’s Brick, written and directed by Rian Johnson. This clever high school-set mystery stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Brendan, a teen who’s determined to find out who killed his ex-girlfriend Emily. To unravel the mystery, Brendan navigates a criminal underworld of high school cliques run by manipulative kingpins.

Brick has all the classic hallmarks of film noir like dark lighting, moral ambiguity, and a hardboiled protagonist down a rabbit hole of lies and betrayal. However, the film subverts the genre by setting this familiar noir story within a modern-day high school. The archetypal femme fatale is the popular girl, Laura, the kingpin is the jock Brad, and our hero is the social outcast, Brendan.

By placing these stock noir characters in such an ordinary setting, Brick adds layers of irony and humour without losing the genre’s moodiness and intrigue.

Best Movies like Chinatown

Kiss Kiss Bang Bang

Kiss Kiss Bang Bang from 2005 is a darkly comedic neo-noir film that subverts classic noir tropes. Written and directed by Shane Black, known for films like Lethal Weapon and The Nice Guys, this cult crime caper stars Robert Downey Jr. and Val Kilmer. Downey plays Harry Lockhart, a thief who stumbles into a film audition while running from the cops. He’s offered a chance to train as a private investigator. Paired with Perry van Shrike, a flamboyant and eccentric PI played by Kilmer, Harry is thrown into a twisting murder mystery.

This stylish film is full of sharp humour and witty dialogue as Harry struggles to navigate the PI lifestyle. The flashy costumes and set design are reminiscent of 1940s noir while updating the genre with postmodern sensibilities. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang deconstructs the hardboiled detective archetype, focusing on the story of a bumbling amateur sleuth in over his head.

If you enjoyed the dark humour and mystery of Chinatown, you’ll appreciate the irreverent take on noir in this movie.

Best Movies like Chinatown

Blood Simple

Blood Simple is a neo-noir film from the Coen Brothers that helped launch their distinctive style. Released in 1984, it has a dark tone, moral ambiguity, and plot twists that define the neo-noir genre. If you enjoyed the complex mysteries and shady characters of Chinatown, Blood Simple should be next on your watchlist.

The story centres around a jealous bar owner, Julian Marty, who hires a private investigator to spy on his wife Abby and her lover Ray. However, the PI double-crosses Marty, leading to a series of violent events and mistaken identities. Like Chinatown, the plot is full of deception, betrayal, and murder.

Best Movies like Chinatown

Blue Velvet

David Lynch’s surreal 1986 mystery Blue Velvet is a dark and unsettling neo-noir film that rivals Chinatown. If you enjoyed the sinister underbelly and moral ambiguity of Chinatown, Blue Velvet will satisfy your craving for a bizarre and thrilling mystery.

Set in a small North Carolina town, Blue Velvet follows college student Jeffrey Beaumont as he investigates a strange severed human ear he finds in a field. His search leads him to nightclub singer Dorothy Vallens and a violent psychopath named Frank Booth. Jeffrey is drawn into their warped and frightening world underneath the town’s cheery surface.

Best Movies like Chinatown

The Big Lebowski

The Big Lebowski is a cult classic from the Coen Brothers that helped launch the career of Jeff Bridges. Released in 1998, this strange yet endlessly quotable comedy has become one of the most popular neo-noir films.

The story follows “The Dude,” an eccentric stoner who shares a name with a millionaire. When thugs break into the Dude’s home looking for money, he gets pulled into a bizarre kidnapping plot that spirals into absurdity.

Best Movies like Chinatown

Who Framed Roger Rabbit?

Who Framed Roger Rabbit? is a zany neo-noir comedy classic from 1988 that blends live-action and animation. Set in 1940s Los Angeles, gumshoe Eddie Valiant is hired to investigate the alleged adultery of cartoon star Roger Rabbit’s wife Jessica. However, things take a turn for the strange when Roger is accused of murdering Marvin Acme, the owner of Toontown.

As Eddie delves deeper into the sinister plot, he discovers that ruthless Judge Doom wants to destroy Toontown to make way for a freeway. The only way to stop him is for Eddie to team up with Roger and the voluptuous Jessica to prove Roger’s innocence.

Best Movies like Chinatown

The Sting

The 1973 neo-noir crime film The Sting is one of the greatest con movies ever made. Set during the Great Depression, it follows two grifters, Johnny Hooker and Henry Gondorff, as they plot an elaborate scam to take down a dangerous mob boss who had a friend of Hooker’s killed.

Directed by George Roy Hill and starring Paul Newman and Robert Redford, The Sting is stylish, funny and endlessly entertaining. The rapport between Newman and Redford is effortless, and the movie is filled with witty dialogue and twists that keep you guessing until the very end. Like Chinatown, it captures the style and tone of 1930s America, with help from ragtime music, fedoras, and pinstriped suits.

Best Movies like Chinatown

North by Northwest

Alfred Hitchcock’s 1959 thriller North by Northwest is considered one of the greatest films of the spy genre and a precursor to modern action-adventure films. Set in the world of espionage, it has all the makings of a classic Hitchcock film: mistaken identity, suspense, drama, and witty humour.

Roger Thornhill, a Manhattan advertising executive, is mistaken for a government agent by foreign spies. He is kidnapped and interrogated, then framed for murder. On the run from the police and spies, Roger meets the sultry Eve Kendall on a train. She helps him evade the authorities but her motives remain unclear. Roger struggles to prove his innocence as he is chased across the country, from New York City to Mount Rushmore.

There we have it, our list of 11 best movies like Chinatown. What do you think about our picks? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below:

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