There have been a very many thriller films to hit the big screen since the beginning of the movie industry. Even before there was sound, brilliant directors created works of art on film that thrilled and intrigued audiences worldwide. While writers, directors, and producers continue to develop new stories and bring them to movie goers everywhere, some of the most popular thriller movies came from the 20th century. Even though the advancement in cinematography and technology in filmmaking has provided filmmakers the ability to create great special effects that incorporate 3D and CGI into their movies, some of these classics remain popular among thrill seekers. Here is a short list of some of the most popular thriller movies to date.
The Silence of the Lambs (1991)
You cannot go wrong when you have actors the likes of Anthony Hopkins, Jodie Foster, and Anthony Heald playing the main characters in this Jonathan Demme 90’s thriller. Hopkins played the confined psychopathic serial killer with a taste for cannibalism so well and so convincingly that he still haunts people’s dreams to this day. Jodie Foster had an outstanding performance as the FBI agent tasked with the duty of using Hannibal Lector’s expertise in murder to catch a serial killer. This film will scare just about anyone who watches it.
Again, this film leads off with some amazing actors including Morgan Freeman, Brad Pitt, and Gwyneth Paltrow. Director David Fincher did an excellent job at pitting these great actors together and then using their very different acting styles to lead audiences through a true crime thriller. The story revolves around a serial killer as does The Silence of the Lambs, but this time the theme is religious making it all the more dangerous. Audiences stay on the edge of their seats until the very end.
Rear Window (1954)
Rear Window is a true classic directed by the King of Thrillers, Alfred Hitchcock. Using one of Hitchcock’s favorite actors, James Stewart, and one of film’s most recognized actresses, Grace Kelly, this film is fantastic for both story and acting. A guy spies on his neighbors while confined to a wheelchair in his apartment and then discovers a murder in the process. This is one of few movies that can pull off such a thrill ride from very limited locations – essentially just the apartment building. Hitchcock keeps the audience thinking until the truth is finally revealed.
The Usual Suspects (1995)
The Bryan Singer directed thriller is one that most film lovers have seen and have definitely recommended to others. This is truly a must see not only for the great performances from veteran actors Benicio del Toro, Kevin Spacey, and Stephen Baldwin, but for the plot that keeps you on your toes. Collect a bunch of criminals with no ties, put them in jail together, and watch them work as a group to confuse everyone, including the audience.
Another one of Alfred Hitchcock’s greatest films in the thriller genre, Vertigo showcases James Stewart’s wonderful acting opposite another screen legend, Kim Novak. From the very beginning, Hitchcock creates a sense that something’s terribly wrong. Through fantastic cinematography and superb directing, Vertigo is pure suspense, mystery, and thriller all the way through.
Taxi Driver (1976)
Robert de Niro has played a lot of great characters, but none as scary or captivating as a mentally unstable Vietnam vet cab driver. Martin Scorsese directs this psycho crime thriller.