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Top 50 Best Mind Bending Movies Of All Time

AishwaryaAishwarya-Posted July 25, 2021


Mind Bending Movies

 

Among the different genres in motion pictures, mind-bending also known as thought-provoking movies are the most talked-about movies as they are not easy to make.

 

In order to become a thought-provoking or mind-bending film, it needs to have a few essential qualities.

 

The plot should have enough hidden twists to alter your impression. The acting in the movies should be top class since we do not want the viewers to guess the upcoming twist.

 

The director should have great skill to take you along one path and secretly draw the curtains to reveal a completely different one.

 

The audience should be riveted to the seats even after the movie, discussing how they were fooled into imagining one thing when the truth was totally different.

 

Has this ever happened to you? Have you walked out of a theatre unable to stop discussing the movie for a few days?

 

Have you ever felt like asking the person next to you, What the hell just happened? after the plot is revealed.

 

The hallmark of a good movie is that the audience should be moved enough to remember, discuss, and debate the plotlines, the acting, or the flow of the story.

 

These movies need not be fast-paced or with high-stakes action or a complicated script. A simple one like 12 Angry Men is my earliest recollection of a mind-bending film that was amazing.

 

It slowly altered the direction of the whole story without the audience realizing when and how it happened.

 

Such is the power of a mind-bending movie. Directors like Stanley Kubrick, Christopher Nolan, Darren Aronofsky, David Lynch are just a few who have managed to blindside us with their twists in the plots.

 

Sadly, not all shows in this category are a hit. In fact, many turn out to be misses as the script may be gold, but the audiences were not baffled enough or were too baffled.

 

Toeing the fine line between keeping the movie engaging while you are slowly taken deeper into the plot and suddenly pulling the rug out from under your feet deserves an Academy Award.

 

I have compiled a list of such films. Many of the movies in this list have won or been nominated for achieving this feat.

 

 

50. I’m Thinking of Ending Things

 

I’m Thinking of Ending Things

 

Entity Detail
Directed By Charlie Kaufman
Year 2020
Starring Jesse Plemon, Jessie Buckley, Toni Colette
IMDb 6.6
Rotten Tomatoes 82%
Worldwide Box Office collection -- (Netflix Original show)

 

This psychological horror movie was released on Netflix and is based on a book by the same name.

 

The book was written by Iain Reid. The movie starts with a young couple, Jake and his girlfriend.

 

They set out to meet his parents at their farm. From here, the audiences are taken through several dream-like sequences that depict interactions with family, co-workers, and strangers.

 

The real twist in the plot is revealed in the end. We are shown the school kids practicing a musical, whose story is the same as his journey.

 

It reveals his regrets, his missed opportunities, and his loneliness. Charlie Kaufman directed the movie well, but not many people could grasp the allegorical explanation of why and how his sad and lonely existence came to be.

 

 

49. Black Mirror: Bandersnatch

 

Black Mirror: Bandersnatch

 

Entity Detail
Directed By David Slade
Year 2018
Starring Fionn Whitehead, Craig Parkinson, Alice Lowe
IMDb 7.2
Rotten Tomatoes 72%
Worldwide Box Office collection --(Netflix Original show)

 

This psychological thriller is another Netflix Original. This movie is about Stephen, a programmer. He is assigned to create a game based on the book Bandersnatch.

 

He has to contend with the various options and plausible conclusions, like artistic freedom, saleability, approaching deadlines, distraction, etc.

 

The underlying theme of the whole movie is the question of whether destiny or fate is predefined.

 

If so, what is the point of choice? The movie plays out various options and outcomes while creating a subplot of a possible psychological experiment and more.

 

It is a wild ride that covers most of the angst-ridden dilemmas we all face in our lives at some point or the other.

 

 

48. Lucy

 

Lucy

 

Entity Detail
Directed By Luc Besson
Year 2014
Starring Scarlett Johansson, Morgan Freeman, Choi Min-Sik
IMDb 6.4
Rotten Tomatoes 67%
Worldwide Box Office collection $ 457.5 million

 

Lucy is the story of a woman who starts off as a hapless drug mule.

 

Through the course of the movie, she transforms into a psychopathic killer. She wreaks havoc on all those who trapped her in this situation.

 

It is a psychological mind game that revolves around various concepts like how the universe was created, the big bang, time, parallel universe, etc.

 

The main twist in the plot comes from how she transforms into the mindless killer with super abilities.

 

In typical Luc Besson style, the movie concentrates on human psychology and behavior when pushed to the limit.

 

Surprisingly, many viewers appreciated the female-centric story. Lucy turns into a badass killer and avenges the wrong done to her.

 

She does it herself rather than looking for a man to fight for her.

 

 

47. Cypher

 

Cypher

 

Entity Detail
Directed By Vincenzo Natali
Year 2002
Starring Jeremy Northam, Lucy Liu, Nigel Bennett
IMDb 6.8
Rotten Tomatoes 58%
Worldwide Box Office collection $ 7 million

 

With Cypher, Vincenzo Natali offers a sci-fi industrial espionage movie with corporate spies and double agents.

 

This film is a stylized, sci-fi flick with a limited budget as it is not mainstream Hollywood.

 

Morgan Sullivan is bored with his normal businessman lifestyle and craves a more fascinating life.

 

So, he joins DigiCorp as a corporate spy. The job appears safe and typical on the surface until it turns dangerous.

 

Sullivan gets acquainted with another spy, who is ready to play dirty to win. The movie has good acting from Lucy Liu and Jeremy Northam, but it suffers from a thin plotline.

 

 

46. The Fountain

 

The Fountain

 

Entity Detail
Directed By Darren Aronofsky
Year 2006
Starring Hugh Jackman, Rachel Weisz, Sean Patrick Thomas
IMDb 7.2
Rotten Tomatoes 52%
Worldwide Box Office collection $ 15.5 million

 

Darren Aronofsky marketed the movie as a love story. However, this is only one aspect of the storyline.

 

The film deals with topics like the fragility of human existence, death, and the quest for immortality.

 

There are three separate stories from three different timelines that run parallelly. In one storyline, a Spanish conquistador is on the quest for the famed Mayan Tree of Life for his queen.

 

In another story, a doctor is frantically researching a cure for cancer. His work is motivated to save his dying wife.

 

The third story is set 500 years into the future, where Jackman travels to a nebula with the Tree of Life.

 

In an interview, Aronofsky stated that the movie is about coming to terms with your own death, often driven by love.

 

The film was a flop, but the cinematography, acting, and storyline were at the top of the class.

 

 

45. The Invitation

 

The Invitation

 

Entity Detail
Directed By Karyn Kusama
Year 2015
Starring Logan Marshall-Green, Emayatzy Corinealdi, Michiel Huisman
IMDb 6.6
Rotten Tomatoes 88%
Worldwide Box Office collection $0.35 million

 

The film follows the events of a party that turns murderous due to the teachings of a cult leader.

 

A grief-stricken mother finds companionship in her new husband at a cult in Mexico. They come back to host a party in LA and invite her ex-husband and a bunch of friends.

 

The party slowly starts to unravel as unexplained events take place and end in a murderous fest.

 

The film is a slow-building thriller that uses tension to keep us engaged. It was received well by critics though the movie did not do well at the box office.

 

 

44. Primer

 

Primer

 

Entity Detail
Directed By Shane Carruth
Year 2004
Starring Shane Carruth, David Sullivan, Casey Gooden
IMDb 6.9
Rotten Tomatoes 72%
Worldwide Box Office collection $0.84 million

 

Primer is a low-budget indie film. It premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and won the Grand Jury Prize.

 

It also won other awards like the Nantucket Film Festival, the London International film festival for science fiction movies, etc.

 

The film is a psychological sci-fi movie that deals with time travel. Two friends discover a way to travel back in time for 6 hours and use this to make money in stock trading.

 

However, the more cautious friend realizes the dangers of this. He tries to end it against the wishes of his friend.

 

The other guy is more impulsive and adventurous, so he sees no harm in continuing.

 

The film has been praised for its innovative science fiction story, but it has also been critiqued for being a dense, obtuse, but stimulating film.

 

 

43. Cube

 

Cube

 

Entity Detail
Directed By Vincenzo Natali
Year 1997
Starring Nicole De Boer, Maurice Dean Wint, David Hewlett
IMDb 7.2
Rotten Tomatoes 64%
Worldwide Box Office collection $ 8.9 million

 

This is another Vincenzo Natali film that is a sci-fi horror from Canadian indie production.

 

The film follows six people who are forcibly brought together to participate in a maze.

 

The scary part is that the cube is fraught with deadly booby traps. Six unrelated individuals mysteriously wake up in a cube-shaped room and find out that each of the other rooms has been rigged with different traps to kill.

 

As the film progresses, they see people get injured or killed without any way out.

 

The stress and tension get to them. The film was a hit that spawned many sequels and prequels that did not live up to the original.

 

 

42. Waking Life

 

Waking Life

 

Entity Detail
Directed By Richard Linklater
Year 2001
Starring Ethan Hawke, Trevor Jack Brooks, Lorelai Linklater
IMDb 7.8
Rotten Tomatoes 81%
Worldwide Box Office collection $ 2.9 million

 

This movie is an adult animated movie that is written and directed by Richard Linklater.

 

This American experimental film premiered at the Sundance film festival and was widely praised for animation style, plot, screenplay, and cast performances.

 

The film flows through the dreams of the main character as he struggles to wake up.

 

In his dreams, he meets various people who offer opinions, insights, or asides on existential issues in life.

 

The interesting bit of trivia on the film is that the entire show was shot with live actors on a digital camera within 3 weeks.

 

It was later rotoscoped to give it a unique atmosphere.

 

 

41. Rosemary’s Baby

 

Rosemary’s Baby

 

Entity Detail
Directed By Roman Polanski
Year 1968
Starring Mia Farrow, John Cassavetes, Ruth Gordon
IMDb 8
Rotten Tomatoes 96%
Worldwide Box Office collection $ 33.4 million

 

Rosemary’s Baby is a horror movie with many psychological facets. Many layers are playing simultaneously throughout the picture.

 

The women's liberation movement, Christian values, devil worship, paranoia, etc. The film is usually categorized under horror.

 

The mind games and psychological bullying in this movie are what makes the story scary.

 

A young couple moves into an apartment building against the warning of its dark history.

 

Soon, events take place that appears innocuous but have a sinister feel to them. Rosemary becomes increasingly isolated and overwhelmed by them and eventually succumbs.

 

This masterpiece from Roman Polanski portrays our everyday fears, worries, doubts through the lens of stark realism.

 

In fact, he never shows anything out of the ordinary to frighten the viewers.

 

 

40. Frequency

 

Frequency

 

Entity Detail
Directed By Gregory Hoblit
Year 2000
Starring Jim Caviezel, Dennis Quaid, Shawn Doyle
IMDb 7.3
Rotten Tomatoes 70%
Worldwide Box Office collection $ 68 million

 

What would you do if you could alter the past? This is the question that becomes the premise of the movie.

 

We see the love and longing a son has to save his father. He does whatever it takes to prevent the death of his father.

 

During a rare aurora borealis, a father and son can connect across time using a Ham radio.

 

The father has died during a firefighting mishap, and the son tries to use his detective skills to prevent his death, the false conviction, and eventually catch the killer.

 

The movie made a compelling and emotional story with a science fiction basis. It was well-received by the audience and critics.

 

 

39. Predestination

 

Predestination

 

Entity Detail
Directed By Michael Spierig, Peter Spierig
Year 2014
Starring Ethan Hawke, Sarah Snook, Noah Taylor
IMDb 7.5
Rotten Tomatoes 84%
Worldwide Box Office collection $ 5.4 million

 

Predestination is about the life of a temporal agent who travels across different time zones, catching criminals and fighting crime.

 

It is inspired by the short story All About Zombies by Robert A. Heinlein. Variety magazine reviewed the film, and it said it was successful in teasing the brain and touching the heart even when its twists and turns keep multiplying well past the point of narrative sustainability.

 

The film garnered a generally positive response. The story of a time-traveling crime fighter whose last case is the most mind-bending of all his cases and how he reveals the truth makes the crux of it.

 

 

38. Dark City

 

Dark City

 

Entity Detail
Directed By Alex Proyas
Year 1998
Starring Rufus Sewell, Kiefer Sutherland, Jennifer Connelly
IMDb 7.6
Rotten Tomatoes 76%
Worldwide Box Office collection $ 27.3 million

 

The movie is a neo-noir science fiction about a man who wakes up without recollection of himself or his past.

 

He is chased by a mysterious group of people called The Strangers. He is trying to piece together his life and identity while fighting them off.

 

The story is vastly different from The Matrix, yet many viewers have noticed similarities between the two of them.

 

These movies were released a year apart. Later, a bit of trivia about the movie disclosed that the production team had sold many of its set pieces.

 

They were bought by the team of The Matrix. The storyline and the gloomy dark setting of the movie received position acclaim from the audience and critics alike.

 

 

37. The Machinist

 

The Machinist

 

Entity Detail
Directed By Brad Anderson
Year 2004
Starring Christian Bale, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Aitana Sanchez-Gijon
IMDb 7.7
Rotten Tomatoes 77%
Worldwide Box Office collection $ 8.7 million

 

The Machinist is about an insomniac factory worker who has to figure out his life before losing his sanity.

 

The movie is a psychological thriller with a strong plotline and great acting. The story traces the slow decline of Trevor Reznik, played by Christian Bale, towards increasingly disturbed behavior where he is haunted by disturbing events, images, and people that do not exist.

 

Christian Bale had lost an alarming 28 kg to play the role of a sleep-deprived, emaciated factory worker.

 

This created quite a buzz and curiosity among moviegoers.

 

 

36. Blade Runner 2049

 

Blade Runner 2049

 

Entity Detail
Directed By Denis Villeneuve
Year 2017
Starring Harrison Ford, Ryan Gosling, Ana De Armas
IMDb 8
Rotten Tomatoes 88%
Worldwide Box Office collection $ 259.2 million

 

Blade Runner 2049 is the much-awaited sequel of the Ridley Scott movie. It was inspired by the characters from the novel, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep.

 

The plot picks up 30 years after the first movie ends. An LAPD blade runner, K unearths a piece of startling new information that could upend the fragile balance in society.

 

He sets out to find Deckard and knows the full details. The film was panned and appreciated in equal measure.

 

Some viewers said that the movie was unnecessarily long with pointless drama before the truth is unveiled.

 

 

35. Cloud Atlas

 

Cloud Atlas

 

Entity Detail
Directed By Lana Wachowski, Lilly Wachowski, Tom Tykwer
Year 2012
Starring Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Hugh Grant
IMDb 7.4
Rotten Tomatoes 66%
Worldwide Box Office collection $ 130.7 million

 

This is a science fiction movie that is a part love story, part historical story, part comedy, part revolutionary tale. 6 narratives take place in different periods from the 1800s up to the 24th century.

 

The film captures the struggle of man to overcome hurdles in different periods. In one story, he struggles with slavery, in one with societal norms (anti-homosexuality) in others, it is greed for money or power or control, etc.

 

The film has beautifully interwoven all these stories. The critics praised the film as being a sprawling, ambitious blend of thought-provoking narrative and eye-catching visuals.

 

Yet, the scale of the movie is a little overwhelming to grasp at one go.

 

 

34. Pi

 

Pi

 

Entity Detail
Directed By Darren Aronofsky
Year 1998
Starring Sean Gullette, Mark Margolis, Ben Shankman
IMDb 7.4
Rotten Tomatoes 88%
Worldwide Box Office collection $ 4.7 million

 

This is the debut directorial venture of Darren Aronofsky that is based on the relation between Pi (the mathematics concept) and religion, mysticism, the universe, etc.

 

It was shot on black and white reversal film for aesthetics. The movie is a neo-noir psychological thriller about an obsession of a mathematician with complete order in the real world.

 

The film proposes that the world, economies, the religions, are all based on number series.

 

It was shot on a limited budget and sold to a production house for limited release.

 

Yet the picture was a hit based on the profits it made.

 

 

33. The Man From Earth

 

The Man From Earth

 

Entity Detail
Directed By Richard Schenkman
Year 2007
Starring David Lee Smith, Tony Todd, John Billingsley
IMDb 7.9
Rotten Tomatoes 85%
Worldwide Box Office collection --

 

The Man From Earth is a science fiction movie that was written by Jerome Bixby.

 

He had been thinking of the story since 1960 but completed it only before his death.

 

The story was picked up by Robert Schenkman as soon as he read it. The film received most of its publicity through file sharing on the internet as the film went into DVD rentals and iTunes by 2009.

 

The film revolves around a party to bid farewell to John Oldman, a retiring professor.

 

He makes a startling revelation in this party and creates quite the stir before he leaves.

 

The story is a psychological study of human response to unbelievable information.

 

 

32. Pan’s Labyrinth

 

Pan’s Labyrinth

 

Entity Detail
Directed By Guillermo Del Toro
Year 2006
Starring Ivana Baquero, Ariadne Gil, Sergi Lopez
IMDb 8.2
Rotten Tomatoes 95%
Worldwide Box Office collection $ 87 million

 

Pan’s Labyrinth is a fairy tale that is surrounded by real-world problems and people. A critic described the story as being similar to Alice in Wonderland, but for adults.

 

The movie was nominated for 6 Academy Awards and won 3 of them. The film is made in Spanish but comes with English subtitles.

 

It is the story of a young girl who accompanies her pregnant mother to live with her step-father.

 

He is Captain Vidal, a falangist who ruthlessly squashes all rebels. Ofelia, the young girl, finds a maze and meets three fairies, a faun, and other magical beings that only she can see.

 

 

31. The Matrix

 

The Matrix

 

Entity Detail
Directed By Lana Wachowski, Lily Wachowski
Year 1999
Starring Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishbourne, Carrie-Anne Moss, Hugo Weaving
IMDb 8.7
Rotten Tomatoes 88%
Worldwide Box Office collection $ 465.4 million

 

The Matrix is one movie that needs no introduction. It is a neo-noir sci-fi movie that offers a view of a dystopian future where humans are overrun by machines and live their whole life in their own minds.

 

The mind-bending idea behind The Matrix is that the value of human life is reduced to a battery that charges machines and AI.

 

Now, humans are trying to fight back and liberate themselves from this fate. The film has gained equal prominence for both its ideology and for its ground-breaking stunt work and action.

 

 

30. Identity

 

Identity

 

Entity Detail
Directed By James Mangold
Year 2003
Starring John Cusack, Ray Liotta, Amanda Peet
IMDb 7.3
Rotten Tomatoes 62%
Worldwide Box Office collection $ 82.1 million

 

Identity is more a slasher movie than anything else. Yet, the psychological aspect as victims pile up one after another makes the movie intriguing.

 

The film has a cult following though it was equally panned and praised by critics.

 

The film script was inspired by the story of Michael Cooney that has the same style as Agatha Christie.

 

Critics said that the film is riveting yet has a very far-fetched storyline that leaves the audiences hanging without a proper ending.

 

 

29. Audition

 

Audition

 

Entity Detail
Directed By Takashi Miike
Year 1999
Starring Ryo Ishibashi, Eihi Shiina, Tetsu Sawaki
IMDb 7.2
Rotten Tomatoes 81%
Worldwide Box Office collection $ 0.13 million

 

This movie is a Japanese horror movie based on the novel by Ryu Murakami. The film was a sleeper hit, and it featured on the best horror movie list of many viewers.

 

The story tells us of a widower who spends his life taking care of his business and son.

 

Finally, after his son grows up, his friends suggest that he search for a new wife using the guise of auditions for a fake film.

 

The psychological drama between the widower and his date can only be dubbed as a startling horror that slowly unfolds and threatens to take over his life.

 

 

28. Moon

 

Moon

 

Entity Detail
Directed By Duncan Jones
Year 2009
Starring Sam Rockwell, Kevin Spacey, Dominic McElligott
IMDb 7.8
Rotten Tomatoes 90%
Worldwide Box Office collection $ 10.7 million

 

Moon is a science fiction film written by Nathan Parker. The story is a psychological sci-fi thriller.

 

The story is set in the future, and the plot is tight without any loopholes.

 

Sam Rockwell plays the role of the technician at Lunar Industries that harvest fuel from the moon.

 

He works all alone at the moon base along with an AI named GERTY. The loneliness gets to him, and he starts experiencing mental health issues as he gets close to the end of his tenure.

 

Later, the character of Same Rockwell discovers a more sinister plot behind the whole fuel harvesting project, and how he uncovers the lid becomes the crux of the story.

 

 

27. Memento

 

Memento

 

Entity Detail
Directed By Christopher Nolan
Year 2000
Starring Guy Pearce, Carrie-Anne Moss, Joe Pantoliano
IMDb 8.4
Rotten Tomatoes 93%
Worldwide Box Office collection $ 39.7 million

 

This Christopher Nolan movie has spawned a multitude of copycat versions. The story was pitched by Johnathan Nolan based on an earlier short story called Memento Mori.

 

This story created the neo-noir psychological thriller that uses the premise of anterograde amnesia. Memento was a hit film.

 

Guy Pearce plays an amnesiac who struggles to take revenge on the killers of his wife.

 

Due to his anterograde amnesia, he cannot create any new memories. He takes Polaroid pictures of things that he needs to remember and uses them to track and kill the perpetrators.

 

 

26. A Tale Of Two Sisters

 

A Tale Of Two Sisters

 

Entity Detail
Directed By Jee-Woon Kim
Year 2004
Starring Lim Soo-jung, Jung-ah Yum, Kim Kap-su
IMDb 7.2
Rotten Tomatoes 85%
Worldwide Box Office collection $ 0.74

 

The film is a South Korean psychological horror drama that revolves around two sisters. They are apparently ill-treated by their stepmother.

 

The family dynamics of Korean society play a role that is key to the plot.

 

The two sisters are recently discharged from a psychiatric asylum and come home to witness disturbing events.

 

The movie is the highest-grossing South Korean horror film, and it was also the first South Korean picture to be screened in American theatres.

 

 

25. Snowpiercer

 

Snowpiercer

 

Entity Detail
Directed By Bong Joon Ho
Year 2013
Starring Chris Evans, Jamie Bell, Tilda Swinton
IMDb 7.1
Rotten Tomatoes 94%
Worldwide Box Office collection $ 86.8 million

 

The film is a truly international film with a South Korean director, based on a French novel named Le Transperceneige and produced by the Korean-Czech production house.

 

The story is a science fiction action movie about a post-apocalyptic world, where the ice age has begun after a failed attempt to fight global warming.

 

The remaining humanity is confined to a long train called Snowpiercer that circumnavigates the earth.

 

They have been living like this for the past 17 years. The poor dwellers in the tail end of the train decide to revolt against the privileged front-end residents.

 

They want equal treatment like food, ration, etc.

 

 

24. Being John Malkovich

 

Being John Malkovich

 

Entity Detail
Directed By Spike Jonze
Year 1999
Starring John Cusack, Cameron Diaz, Catherine Keener, John Malkovich
IMDb 7.7
Rotten Tomatoes 94%
Worldwide Box Office collection $ 32.3 million

 

Being John Malkovich is a rare fantasy-comedy movie in this genre of serious films. The film was made in 1999, and it was nominated for 3 Academy Awards, including Best Director, Best Actress in supporting role, and Best original screenplay.

 

The film revolves around a fantasy that through the portal in the building of Dr. Lester, a person can inhabit the mind of John Malkovich. This causes some fun and awkward scenarios for all those involved.

 

The film boasts of cameos and uncredited appearances from a host of stars, including Brad Pitt, David Fincher, Spike Jonze, Sean Penn, Winona Ryder, etc.

 

 

23. The Others

 

The Others

 

Entity Detail
Directed By Alejandro Amenabar
Year 2001
Starring Nicole Kidman, Christopher Eccleston, Fionnula Flanagan
IMDb 7.6
Rotten Tomatoes 83%
Worldwide Box Office collection $ 207.8 million

 

The Others is a gothic supernatural psychological horror set at the end of World War II.

 

The film was nominated for and won many awards for best direction, actress in lead roles, and supporting roles categories.

 

The film follows a mother and her 2 children who move into a new home in Jersey.

 

They are waiting for their father to return from the war. They employ a new housekeeper, gardener, and a maid for their home.

 

From here onwards, begin a series of unexplained supernatural occurrences. The storyline slowly unfolds the unexplained events, strange noises, the reason for them, and an explosive ending.

 

 

22. Black Swan

 

Black Swan

 

Entity Detail
Directed By Darren Aronofsky
Year 2010
Starring Natalie Portman, Mila Kunis, Vincent Cassel
IMDb 8
Rotten Tomatoes 85%
Worldwide Box Office collection $ 331.2 million

 

Black Swan is based on the ballet production of the famous Swan Lake. There is fierce competition to be cast in the lead role, that of white swan and black swan as they are the pivotal characters.

 

The main story revolves around a ballerina who is recently cast in this role. She has an overbearing mother and a ballet director who is lecherous, to add constant stress.

 

On top of it, her main rival appears to be better suited for a role she covets.

 

Natalie Portman, as the lead performer, was brilliant. She acts well as someone who struggles to balance the demanding role, the competition, the director, and the mother.

 

The movie is a psychological horror that drew inspiration from multiple sources like books, folklore, and other films.

 

 

21. V For Vendetta

 

V For Vendetta

 

Entity Detail
Directed By James McTeigue
Year 2005
Starring Hugo Weaving, Natalie Portman, Rupert Graves
IMDb 8.1
Rotten Tomatoes 73%
Worldwide Box Office collection $ 130.2 million

 

This movie is a dystopian political action movie that depicts a world where the UK is governed by a fascist totalitarian regime.

 

V is an anarchist who incites a rebellion and brings down the fascists. The script was written by the Wachowskis, and it was inspired by the DC Comics graphic novel created by Alan Moore and David Lloyd.

 

The movie made the Guy Fawkes mask the symbol of all anarchists and rebellious ideologies.

 

It was a major hit, both in the UK and US box office.

 

 

20. Edge Of Tomorrow

 

Edge Of Tomorrow

 

Entity Detail
Directed By Doug Liman
Year 2014
Starring Tom Cruise, Emily Blunt, Bill Paxton
IMDb 7.9
Rotten Tomatoes 91%
Worldwide Box Office collection $ 367 million

 

The light novel, All You Need Is Kill, by the Japanese writer Hiroshi Sakurazaka inspired the movie.

 

It was adapted by the director Doug Liman into the script of Live Die Repeat: Edge of Tomorrow.

 

The film is a sci-fi action flick. It takes place in Europe, which is ravaged by the invasion of an alien race.

 

The film follows Major William Cage (Tom Cruise), who gets stuck in a time loop in his fight against the aliens.

 

He relives the fight with the aliens again and again as he fights alongside the characters of Emily Blunt, Bill Paxton, and more.

 

It is also a good old action film.

 

 

19. Ex Machina

 

Ex Machina

 

Entity Detail
Directed By Alex Garland    
Year 2014
Starring Alicia Vikander, Domhnall Gleeson, Oscar Issac
IMDb 7.7
Rotten Tomatoes 92%
Worldwide Box Office collection $ 38.4 million

 

This science-fiction psychological thriller is based on the question, how far can artificial intelligence replace humans.

 

The film was well-received, both critically and by the audiences. It was nominated for BAFTAs, Oscars, Saturn awards, and more.

 

The story starts with a programmer winning a chance to spend a week with the CEO of a major tech giant.

 

There, he meets a humanoid girl created by the CEO. He is administering the Turing Test on the humanoid and asks the programmer for his feelings on the being.

 

The film was critiqued as being heavier on the idea than on the effects, although it was praised as a visually polished work and an engaging sci-fi work.

 

The movie is worth the watch...

 

 

18. Arrival

 

Arrival

 

Entity Detail
Directed By Denis Villeneuve
Year 2016
Starring Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner, Forest Whitaker
IMDb 7.9
Rotten Tomatoes 94%
Worldwide Box Office collection $ 203.1 million

 

Arrival is a science fiction drama movie about an extraterrestrial arrival to earth. The movie differs from other alien movies of its genre as it speaks of working together in peace rather than war.

 

The film garnered considerable praise. It has Academy Award nominations for Amy Adams, the director Denis Villeneuve, adapted screenplay, and it won one for sound editing.

 

The story begins with the arrival of the 12 alien ships across nations. Each of them prepares to open communication and also an attack if the former fails.

 

Amidst all this tension, Dr. Banks has to decode the message from the aliens and restart communication from all nations.

 

This story has a good twist in the end.

 

 

17. Looper

 

Looper

 

Entity Detail
Directed By Rian Johnson
Year 2012
Starring Joseph Gordon-Lewit, Bruce Willis, Emily Blunt
IMDb 7.4
Rotten Tomatoes 93%
Worldwide Box Office collection $ 170.5 million

 

Looper is a sci-fi, time travel movie written and directed by Rian Johnson. In this action flick, assassins from the crime syndicate are sent into the future to kill their older self if they survive 2074, thereby closing the loop.

 

However, this smooth operation is threatened by an assassin who refuses to comply, thereby sabotaging the whole syndicate.

 

The story is innovative in its concept of using time travel to maintain ranks in crime syndicates.

 

Yet, in the end, the will to survive and love prevails. The film was praised as the best time-travel movie since 12 Monkeys.

 

The movie also received a 5-star rating from a few critics.

 

 

16. Brazil

 

Brazil

 

Entity Detail
Directed By Terry Gilliam
Year 1985
Starring Jonathan Pryce, Robert De Niro, Kim Griest
IMDb 7.9
Rotten Tomatoes 98%
Worldwide Box Office collection $ 9.9 million

 

Brazil is a dystopian science fiction film that is inspired by the George Orwell novel 1984.

 

It has been described as a satire on bureaucracy, corporatism, and state-sponsored capitalism. The film stars a bevy of big names, stars Jonathan Pryce, Robert De Niro, Kim Greist, Michael Palin, Katherine Helmond, Bob Hoskins, and Ian Holm.

 

The film was described as a visionary Orwellian fantasy, is an audacious dark comedy filled with strange, imaginative visuals.

 

Definitely worth watching.

 

 

15. Seven

 

Seven

 

Entity Detail
Directed By David Fincher
Year 1995
Starring Morgan Freeman, Brad Pitt, Kevin Spacey
IMDb 8.6
Rotten Tomatoes 82%
Worldwide Box Office collection $ 328.1 million

 

The David Fincher flick, Seven is a psychological crime thriller made in the neo-noir style.

 

It follows two detectives as they solve the crimes in the bustling metropolis. This particular case is of a serial killer whose murders symbolize the 7 deadly sins.

 

The acting of Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman was particularly praised, and it took the movie to another level of suspense, angst, and pain.

 

The film was well-received by critics and audiences alike with the taut performances, the concept of the 7 deadly sins forming the premise for his murders.

 

 

14. Eternal Sunshine of A Spotless Mind

 

Eternal Sunshine of A Spotless Mind

 

Entity Detail
Directed By Michel Gondry
Year 2004
Starring Jim Carrey, Kate Winslet, Tom Wilkinson
IMDb 8.3
Rotten Tomatoes 92%
Worldwide Box Office collection $ 72.4 million

 

This sci-fi romantic drama was written by Charlie Kauffman, who is famed for his award-winning comedic scripts.

 

This movie was a comedic drama as well. It is about a couple who get their memory of each other erased after they split.

 

The film was well-received and even garnered Oscar nominations for Best Actress and Best screenplay.

 

The film built a steady cult following over the years. The film explores the concept of what happens when we can remove specific memories from our unwanted past.

 

Would we still get involved with the same person and repeat the mistake even after we erase their memory.

 

 

13. Mulholland Drive

 

Mulholland Drive

 

Entity Detail
Directed By David Lynch
Year 2001
Starring Naomi Watts, Laura Herring, Justin Theroux
IMDb 7.9
Rotten Tomatoes 83%
Worldwide Box Office collection $ 20.8 million

 

Mulholland Drive is an award-winning movie from 2001, directed by David Lynch. The film takes a surrealist view of a struggling actress who suffers from mental health issues.

 

David Lynch received an Oscar nomination for Mulholland Drive, and the audience also appreciated the psychological thriller that steadily maintained the suspense till the end.

 

The story deals with themes like dreams, alternate realities, dream interpretation, etc. The film has built a strong following online, with people theorizing on whether the director left any bread crumbs in the credits to indicate the ending.

 

 

12. The Skin I Live In

 

The Skin I Live In

 

Entity Detail
Directed By Pedro Almodovar
Year 2011
Starring Antonio Banderas, Elena Anaya, Jan Cornett
IMDb 7.6
Rotten Tomatoes 80%
Worldwide Box Office collection $ 38.2 million

 

This Spanish movie is a psychological thriller. It was described as being a horror movie without any screams or frights.

 

The story follows the life and obsession of Robert Ledgard, a brilliant plastic surgeon who invents artificial skin that is resistant to burns and insect bites.

 

When his wife commits suicide and dies, his obsession with her increases. Skipping to present times, a young captive girl who has the same appearance as his dead wife Vera seems to be living with him.

 

Who she is, what happens next is the plot of the movie.

 

 

11. The Prestige

 

The Prestige

 

Entity Detail
Directed By Christopher Nolan
Year 2006
Starring Christian Bale, Hugh Jackman, Scarlett Johansson, Michael Caine
IMDb 8.5
Rotten Tomatoes 76%
Worldwide Box Office collection $ 104.4 million

 

Christopher Nolan and his brother Johnathan wrote the screenplay for The Prestige based on a novel by the same name, written by Christopher Priest.

 

The author was keen to have his story directed by Nolan based on his earlier works.

 

The film is a sci-fi psychological thriller involving the one-upmanship and rivalry between two magicians, Robert Angier and Alfred Borden.

 

This Academy Award-nominated movie was highly praised by all quarters. Audiences appreciated all the twists and surprises in the storyline that keep them at the edge of their seat.

 

 

10. 2001: A Space Odyssey

 

2001: A Space Odyssey

 

Entity Detail
Directed By Stanley Kubrick
Year 1968
Starring Kier Dullea, Gary Lockwood, William Sylvester
IMDb 8.3
Rotten Tomatoes 92%
Worldwide Box Office collection $ 71.9 million

 

This avant-garde movie was made in 1968 and received critical praise and appreciation from all quarters.

 

It was written by Arthur C Clarke as part of the Space Odyssey series. The film is well known for its scientific realism, pioneering special effects, and imagery of space.

 

When the movie was released, it was not an instant hit with the audience. Although now, it is listed as among all times greatest films in AFI.

 

The film starts when an alien monolith is discovered in Africa by the indigenous hominids.

 

It teaches them tools to fight back against attackers. Later another one is found on the lunar crater.

 

From here, the film begins the journey of Discovery One on a mission to Jupiter to research another similar monolith.

 

What they find and what happens next will make up the plot lines.

 

 

9. Source Code

 

Source Code

 

Entity Detail
Directed By Duncan Jones
Year 2011
Starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Michelle Monaghan, Vera Farmiga
IMDb 7.5
Rotten Tomatoes 92%
Worldwide Box Office collection $ 140.4 million

 

The film is a science fiction action thriller about an air force mission to travel back in time to prevent a bomb explosion and catch the bomber.

 

The film had a successful run at the box office, despite the critics comparing the plot to The Groundhogs Day.

 

The film was appreciated by the audiences with an approval of 92% on Rotten Tomatoes.

 

The Air Force builds a prototype machine that simulates the last 8 minutes of the memories of the passengers before the train explodes, and using this memory, Capt. Stevens must find the bomber and stop him.

 

 

8. Donnie Darko

 

Donnie Darko

 

Entity Detail
Directed By Richard Kelly
Year 2001
Starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Jena Malone, Mary McDonnell, Maggie Gyllenhaal
IMDb 8
Rotten Tomatoes 86%
Worldwide Box Office collection $ 7.5 million

 

Donnie Darko is a dark psychological thriller of a troubled teenager who sees a mysterious, human-sized rabbit that forces him to do bizarre things.

 

This rabbit manipulates the teenager to commit several crimes. This ends up isolating him further from his family and loved ones.

 

The film was released around the same time as the 9/11 attack, and hence it did not have a successful box office run.

 

Yet, the film gathered a cult following over the years, and people drew parallels between the world events and those predicted in the movie.

 

The movie stars Jake and Maggie Gyllenhaal as siblings, and both give compelling performances.

 

 

7. 12 Monkeys

 

12 Monkeys

 

Entity Detail
Directed By Terry Gilliam     
Year 1995
Starring Bruce Willis, Brad Pitt, Madeleine Stowe
IMDb 8
Rotten Tomatoes 89%
Worldwide Box Office collection $ 168.8 million

 

Terry Gilliam made 12 Monkeys based on another short film from 1962 called La Jetee by Chris Marker.

 

It is a science fiction movie about a pandemic that spreads throughout the globe and kills more than half the population in the world.

 

Mankind is forced to live underground to escape this pandemic. Here they invent a way to travel back in time and prevent the pandemic or find its cure.

 

In light of the recent world events, this film comes very close to reality. Brad Pitt received an Academy Award nomination for his role in the film and won a Golden Globe.

 

 

6. Split

 

Split

 

Entity Detail
Directed By M. Night Shyamalan
Year 2016
Starring James McAvoy, Anya Taylor-Joy, Haley Lu-Richardson
IMDb 7.3
Rotten Tomatoes 77%
Worldwide Box Office collection $ 278.8 million

 

This psychological horror comes from the stables of M. Night Shyamalan, famed for his engaging and suspenseful drama.

 

They are always full of twists. He wrote, directed and produced, Split. The film is about a man with Dissociative Identity Disorder who kidnaps 3 adolescent girls.

 

He has 24 different personalities, and the strongest of them all is Barry. The film works on the premise that in DID, there are physiological changes too.

 

With each personality switch, the body undergoes physiological changes too. This would explain the Beast, who has superhuman speed, agility, and strength.

 

Two of the identities of the kidnapper plan to sacrifice the girls to the Beast.

 

 

5. Get Out

 

Get Out

 

Entity Detail
Directed By Jordan Peele
Year 2017
Starring Daniel Kaluuya, Allison Williams, Bradley Whitford
IMDb 7.7
Rotten Tomatoes 98%
Worldwide Box Office collection $ 252.5 million

 

Get Out is a horror film that deals with racism against African Americans. It is the directorial debut of Jordan Peele, famous for his comedy sketches for Key & Peele.

 

The movie garnered multiple Oscar nominations. They include Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Director, and it won the Oscar for Best Original screenplay.

 

The story is about an African American photographer who goes to the hometown of his girlfriend.

 

There he encounters many suspicious events, unexplained sights, and behaviors. All these culminate in a strange Stepford Wives kind of plot in the end, as it tries to take over his life.

 

 

4. Shutter Island

 

Shutter Island

 

Entity Detail
Directed By Martin Scorsese
Year 2010
Starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Mark Ruffalo, Ben Kingsley, Max Von Sydow
IMDb 8.2
Rotten Tomatoes 68%
Worldwide Box Office collection $ 299.4 million

 

Shutter Island is a neo-noir psychological thriller based on the novel by Dennis Lehane with the same name.

 

It shows us a psychiatric facility that houses a dangerous inmate, played by DiCaprio. He killed his depressed wife after she drowned their children.

 

Through an elaborate ploy, the psychiatrist enacts the life that the inmate believes. He thinks he is a US marshall sent to investigate a case.

 

They try to make him recognize the truth and hopefully cure his insanity. The film was recognized as not being the usual Martin Scorsese movie, yet it was a refreshing change, and the plot had enough twists to keep viewers engaged and engrossed.

 

 

3. 12 Angry Men

 

12 Angry Men

 

Entity Detail
Directed By Sidney Lumet
Year 1957
Starring Henry Fonda, Lee J. Cobb, Martin Balsam
IMDb 9
Rotten Tomatoes 100%
Worldwide Box Office collection $ 379 (absence of verifiable figures)

 

12 Angry Men is the most unique film on this list. It is a courtroom drama about jury deliberations over a murder case.

 

The film was made in 1958, and it deals with critical issues like social stigmas around dysfunctional families, inequalities in class, and their psychological impact.

 

This film has been critically appreciated as a masterpiece. The psychological drama is where the jury deliberates over the sentence.

 

They discuss whether the defendant was guilty or not, the conjectures put forth by the lawyers, etc.

 

The entire film is carried by superb acting, with a taut and compelling story and direction.

 

The film is listed as the second-best courtroom drama in a list of top 10 movies by the American Film Institute.

 

 

2. Interstellar

 

Interstellar

 

Entity Detail
Directed By Christopher Nolan
Year 2014
Starring Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Jessica Chastain
IMDb 8.6
Rotten Tomatoes 72%
Worldwide Box Office collection $ 652 million

 

In the distant future, the earth is no longer livable, and humankind has set out to the far reaches of the galaxy to find a new home for the human race.

 

The story for this science fiction was co-written by Christopher and Jonathan Nolan. The movie is also directed and produced by him.

 

It was one of the highest-grossing films of 2014 with 5 Academy Award nominations, including a win.

 

The dystopian world where climate change, overexploitation of resources, natural disasters have made human survival difficult on the planet.

 

NASA is forced to find a new home for us. The film follows a group of astronauts who travel through a wormhole near Saturn, surveying a new home.

 

They travel to different planets before returning home and finding that they have not aged the same way as their family.

 

 

1. Inception

 

Inception

 

Entity Detail
Directed By Christopher Nolan
Year 2010
Starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Joseph Gordon-Lewit, Elliot Page, Tom Hardy
IMDb 8.8
Rotten Tomatoes 87%
Worldwide Box Office collection $ 728.6 million

 

This movie is considered the magnum opus of Christopher Nolan. It is a science fiction action thriller that was hugely successful with the audience and the critics.

 

It won four Academy Awards and was nominated for four more awards, including Best Picture and Best Original Screenplay.

 

The film is based in a future where dreams can be hacked into to steal valuable information as part of corporate espionage.

 

Cobb and his crew are an illegal team that extracts information using the latest military technology.

 

They are recruited to attempt a risky new theory. The team tries to plant a new idea in the mind of the target.

 

The team has to build a multi-layered dream scenario where different members have exact roles that cannot be miscalculated.

 

In a complex dream, Cobb attempts this feat. He reawakens, but the ending is open to interpretation.

 

The director does not make it clear if the illusion ended or not for the audience.

 

This was my list of top 50 mind-bending and thought-provoking movies. Apart from these movies, you can also follow those prolific directors who are famous for such works.

 

Here is my watchlist of few directors you can follow apart from the list mentioned earlier; Roman Polanski, David Fincher, Rain Johnson, M. Night Shyamalan, Denis Villeneuve, etc. Netflix and Apple TV also have many TV movies that telecast experimental new stories and shows.

 

They will shock and amaze you. If you think that I missed out on any movie you love, you can feel free to add it to my list.