As a self proclaimed book worm/obsessive writer I feel that the mystery genre has kept me enthralled all my life. Ever since I picked up The Hardy Boys when I was eight, till today when I am twenty two and my affection for this genre has evolved from reading into watching. In fact I used to loath watching the small screen, they'd miss out so many of the tiny details the author of a bonafide mystery book provides. It wasn't until I saw Polanski's masterful Chinatown that I found some details were better left to the audience's imagination if only to make them a part of the movie.
Yes, a good mystery demands attention but a great one absorbs it. Since there are so many great films for this category, I shall be counting movies past the 1990s (with a couple of exceptions), which I believe was the best decade for crime/detective movies. So put on your deerstalkers and let's begin the countdown.
10) Chinatown (1974)
This film was my introduction to noir. If you liked Jack Nicholson in One Flew Over The Cuckoos Nest or The Shining, then you'll be damn impressed that this is one of his best movies ever, its a must watch for Nicholson fans. Roman Polanski is a great director as he weaves and twists the plot amazingly well. Also gives cinema its first significant femme fatale in the form of Evelyn Mulwary also excellently potrayed by Faye Dunaway. This film has all the makings of a classic. If you do not mind decieving yourself, please watch it. You will be pleasantly suprised.
9) Velvet Blue (1996)
That poster is purely for shock value. David Lynch is amongst the more underrated greats in his lifetime. He also created the excellent Twin Peaks, Mulholland Drive, The Lost Highway to name a few. This is a rare noir film made by the master of the genre himself. This has tones of Hitchcock's Psycho, although seemingly influenced. It is completely different and is genre defining in its category. It also gives the best femme fatale in a noir, its just so worth catching this one for just seeing Isabella Rossellini. If you think Inception was weird and you had to catch it twice, wait till you watch this one.
8) Psycho (1960)
Technically speaking, this is a psychological horror/thriller. So please don't kill me. This is a fine fine example of why black and white is the perfect colour setting for thrillers. This film is sooooo influential, I don't neeed to explain how much of a culture shock it caused. It is a masterpiece, no one had ever ventured this deeply and distubingly into how horrifyingly twisted the human mind can become(see Norman Bates). While the Tv show prequel is good, it does not hold a candle to this film. The soundtracks, the cast, the direction are so viscerally used. This is my first must watch on this list.
7) Vertigo (1958)
Hitchcock fans knew this was coming, we cannot exclude Vertigo from the list. It would never be a true list without this movie. Before Psycho there was Vertigo (Hitchcock and his single word films).
Sorry, couldn't resist the temptation. This film can do without words, a picture is worth a thousand words (see above). Its my second must watch on this list. Also the last Hitchcok entry on this list (boo!).
6) L.A. Confidential
Yep so when you take Kevin Spacey, Rusell Crowe, Guy Pearce and Kim Basigner and wait Danny DeVito in a movie, you'd expect a bunch of wholesome goodness out of it. So what does this movie do? It says fuck your expectaions, we are gonna slingshot it to the moon. It more than delivers. This sexy crime thriller is worth all its recognition and more. Also, easily one of the best movies of the 1990s. So go watch it, you can always return to this list later.
5) The Departed (2006)
Ok, the first thing that caught my attention is the number of fucks they use in this film. Its a fucking amazing film, ab-fucking-solutely amazing. I was just counting the number of well placed fucks in this movie and then it hit me. I was captivated, I'd already guessed it was the best fillm of the year, and guess what? Oscar 2006. Martin Scorcese and his baby, now not be unfair. This film is loosely based on the Hong Kong film Internal Affairs, but thats all where the similarity ends. Also, the third must watch movie here. Leo finally grew up!
4) Silence Of The Lambs (1988)
'Agent Clarice....' Most of you would have expected to place this higher on the list. It should've but... The film revolves around the performances of Sir Anthony Hopkins and Jodie Foster, that being the only real flaw here. I couldn't have enough of the immaculate Dr. Hannibal Lecter, all his scenes in this film are the highlights of the movie. Other than which, this disturbing great influenced an entire genre of serial killer flicks should say enough about how awesome it is. My fourth must watch.
3) Dirty Harry (1971)
What happens when you bring the wild wild west into law with Clint Eastwood? You get Dirty Harry. This film leans more heavily towards the action part but is iconic nonetheless. Clint Eastwood makes it legendary. The violence in this film is so gratifying, its almost legal. Watch it, watch it, watch it. My fifth must watch.
2) The Usual Suspects (1995)
The best film in the noir genre by my standards, excellent cast, excellent story and Kevin Spacey. Kevin friggin' Spacey. Not to say much. This film will leave you in awe. Watch and find out. That's all I got. and now for my numero uno,
Basic Instinct.......................... Right, no.
1) Se7en (1997)
You all knew this was coming. David Fincher, takes the cake home here. Se7en is quite unlike any other film in its genre. Its easily the best detective film, I've seen. Not just because of its excellent actors, director, cinematography, soundtrack. Jesus. The list doesn't stop. Overall, this movie differs from all other movies on the list in one regard. It manages to succeed in propagationg an idea. What it is? I will let you find out. Hence, this rounds my top 10 greatest detective films of all time.
Honorable Mentions: Pulp Fiction, Reservior Dogs, The Prisoners and so so many more. PM me if you want a recommendation. I would be happy to suggest.
Afterword: This is MY list, as usual if you differ to my judgement, please comment. Id be happy to be enlightened. Thank you. I'll be doing a myTake on the best detective TV series soon so watch this space. Thank you for reading.