7 Great Detective Mystery Movies

By October 29, 2013Films

7 Great Detective Mystery Movies

The beginning of fall marks the beginning of the perfect season for movie marathons in the warm indoors. If you are a mystery thriller fan, here are seven great detective mystery movies you have to watch:


Starring Guy Pearce, Carrie-Anne Moss, and Joe Pantoliano, Momento follows the story of Leonard Shelby (Pearce), a man suffering from anterograde amnesia, as he searches for the man he believes murdered his wife. Since his amnesia does not allow him to store new, recollectional memories, Shelby must rely on hand-written notes to himself, tattoos, and Polaroid photos before his short working memory leaves him with no recollection of where he is and what he is doing. Directed by Christopher Nolan, this movie was greatly praised for its use of two nonlinear storylines, one in color moving in reverse and one in black and white moving chronologically. Memento was also praised by medical experts as being one of the most accurate depictions of anterograde amnesia in any motion picture. This film was nominated for a 2002 Academy Award for both Original Screenplay and Editing.

Rear Window

This Alfred Hitchcock classic stars James Stewart, Grace Kelly, Wendell Corey, Thelma Ritter, and Raymond Burr. In this story, professional photographer L.B. Jefferies (Stewart) is confined to his apartment after breaking his leg while he is photographing a racetrack accident. The rear window of his apartment overlooks a courtyard and several other apartments, so he passes the time while his leg is healing by watching his neighbors out the window. In observing his neighbors he becomes convinced that he has partially witnessed a murder. Jeff asks his detective-friend to check out the situation for him, but a quick investigation reveals nothing. Still convinced that something is out of place, Jeff asks his girlfriend Lisa (Kelly) to help investigate the situation. This film received four Academy Award nominations for Best Director, Best Screenplay, Best Cinematography, and Best Sound Recording.


This detective thriller starring Brad Pitt, Morgan Freeman, Gwyneth Paltrow, and John C. McGinley tells the story of two detectives, rookie David Mills (Pitt) and end-of-career William Somerset (Freeman) in their investigative case of a serial killer who uses the seven deadly sins to plan his murders. This film was nominated for an Academy Award for Film Editing.


Chinatown starring Jack Nicholson, Faye Dunaway, and John Huston is a film inspired by the California Water Wars at the beginning of the 20th century. In this film private investigator J.J. Gittes (Nicholson) is set up to perform what he thinks is a surveillance to catch the chief engineer of the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power in adultery, but instead finds himself investigating corruption and murder. This film is often credited for starting Jack Nicholson’s legacy. In 1974 this film won the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay and was also nominated for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Film Editing, Best Art Direction, Best Costume Design, Best Cinematography, Best Sound Mixing, and Best Musical Score.


This mystery thriller starring Laurence Olivier and Michael Caine tells the story of Andrew Wyke (Olivier) seeking revenge on his wife’s lover, Milo Tindle (Caine), by telling him that he is actually happy to have an excuse to be rid of her and then inviting Tindle to help him seek revenge on his wife by robbing her which is all part of a grand scheme to deceive Tindle.

The Usual Suspects

This film starring Stephen Baldwin, Gabriel Byrne, Benicio del Toro, Chazz Palminteri, Kevin Pollak, Pete Postlethwaite, and Kevin Spacey, follows Roger “Verbal” Kint who is one of two survivors of a massacre on a ship docked in a port of off Los Angeles. Verbal is brought in by police detectives as a suspect to explain the massive explosion that occurred on the ship, the millions of dollars of cocaine believed to be on board that are mysteriously missing, and the events that lead to the disaster. What ensues is a story more complex than anyone can imagine. This film won Academy Awards for Best Original Screenplay and Best Supporting Actor.

Gone Baby Gone

This film directed by Ben Affleck tells the story of two private detectives, Patrick Kenzie and Angela Gennero, in their search for an abducted four-year-old girl in Boston. What they find is a story of corruption that is perhaps darker than what either of them could have expected. This feature-length directorial debut of Ben Affleck was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress.

What is your favorite detective mystery movie? Leave a comment below.

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