Good mystery movies to watch?
May 16, 2013 10:44 PM   Subscribe

I'd like to get some good mystery movie recommendations from the 80s on. It's OK if they veer toward the thriller, like Michael Clayton, ridiculous like Ford Fairlaine, noirish like Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang, or are a more standard outing with a strong, interesting, well developed detective lead like Zero Effect. Drawing room mysteries totally A-OK too. Super bonus points if I can stream them now on Hulu plus or Netflix.
posted by jsturgill to Media & Arts (24 answers total) 45 users marked this as a favorite
I suppose these are all super-obvious, but:

Spies Like Us


The Usual Suspects

LA Confidential

posted by brennen at 10:56 PM on May 16, 2013

Also: Miller's Crossing
posted by brennen at 10:59 PM on May 16, 2013 [1 favorite]

The Departed
posted by fuse theorem at 11:08 PM on May 16, 2013

House of Games
posted by pete_22 at 11:31 PM on May 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


War Games

Ground Zero (1987 Australian film)

then these two are possibly not what you are looking for, but I like them.

The Pelican Brief (1993 yeah yeah)

The Killing of a Chinese Bookie (more noir then mystery though)
posted by Burgatron at 11:39 PM on May 16, 2013

Death Trap
Apartment Zero
The Secret In Their Eyes
Manhattan Murder Mystery
In Bruges
Old Boy
Girl with a Dragon Tattoo
Bourne Trilogy
The Fugitive

posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 12:14 AM on May 17, 2013

The Long Good Friday -- classic London gangster film where, in a way, the bad guy is the detective ** streaming

Sexy Beast -- another take on London gangsters, this time with a heist and a necessary moral choice ** streaming

The Square -- crackling Australian everyman modern noir, with a femme fatale and ... sorry, spoilers (key character is Joel Edgerton currently in Gatsby) ** streaming

Thief -- great 80s take, a "professional" who can't get out of his profession ** streaming

F/X -- a cult favorite with Bryan Brown as a movie special effects master who gets recruited into the criminal world, then naturally tries to get back out ** streaming

Serpico -- OK, not in your timeline, but I think this one gets overlooked, and it's (mostly all) true ** streaming

Ronin -- one of the all-time classic spies vs. spies movies, where everybody's out for themselves, or are they? ** streaming

Memento -- great take on the genre with a man investigating his own life ** streaming
(Nolan's earlier Following is also streamable, though I couldn't ... follow it)

Margin Call -- taut high-finance thriller based on the market crisis, good performances, a bit slow *8 streaming

Haywire -- recent Soderberg spy thriller, with non-actress MMAer Gina Carano turning in an effective performance as a woman on the run with .. shall I say it ... an homme (or two?) fatale ** streaming

The Constant Gardener -- African-based espionage/aid/deception/betrayal thriller, though Ralph Fiennes was a bit too underplayed, I thought ** streaming

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo -- the full Swedish trilogy ** streaming
(I loved Fincher's take on it, but the original is a bit more visceral although also at times clunky/amateurish)

Carlos -- fictionalization of the life of Carlos the Jackal, the bin Laden of the 1970s (there is a "movie" form and a "miniseries" form but I don't know how much they differ, both ** streaming)
posted by dhartung at 12:18 AM on May 17, 2013 [3 favorites]

The Package with Gene Hackman and Tommy Lee Jones 1989.
posted by three blind mice at 1:32 AM on May 17, 2013 [1 favorite]

There's Clue, which qualifies on at least three counts: drawing-room mystery, ridiculous, and available on Netflix.
posted by Gneisskate at 1:47 AM on May 17, 2013 [1 favorite]

Sexy Beast is mentioned, but that other movie by Glazer, Birth, is one fine mystery that has a jaw dropping storyline. Another great overlooked movie about a hyper sensitive woman, who doesn't know what to think about what happened is The Headless Woman, by Lucrecia Martel. Dark and unsettling (and don't get the wrong impression from the trailer. Of course, we know about Haneke's Caché, here at mefi. But have you seen it? Have you actually seen it, 'till you got it?
posted by ouke at 1:55 AM on May 17, 2013 [2 favorites]

posted by backwards guitar at 5:06 AM on May 17, 2013 [4 favorites]

Black Widow with Theresa Russel and Debra Winger.
posted by BlahLaLa at 5:56 AM on May 17, 2013

My Cousin Vinnie!
posted by tilde at 6:20 AM on May 17, 2013 [1 favorite]

Charade (Cary Grant, Audrey Hepburn, great supporting cast, music by Henry Mancini, directed by Stanley Donen), 1963. Currently streaming on Netflix.

Murder by Death (1976) is a mystery farce written by Neil Simon with a great ensemble cast.
posted by usonian at 6:29 AM on May 17, 2013

Matchstick Men. Don't read anything about it before you watch it.
posted by jbickers at 6:50 AM on May 17, 2013

Mona Lisa (1986) - dark neo-noir with moments of absurd humour and a great performance by Bob Hoskins.

Angel Heart (1987) - one of the better of the steamy private eye movies of the eighties.

A Simple Plan (1998) - not sure if this qualifies as much of a mystery, but it's still a great thriller / noir.
posted by afx237vi at 7:08 AM on May 17, 2013 [1 favorite]

It's just a bit earlier than your time window, but you should try Sleuth, with Michael Caine and Sir Lawrence Olivier. Truly an amazing movie, and absolutely riveting.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 7:14 AM on May 17, 2013

Mortal Thoughts got mediocre reviews but I enjoyed it.

(It was flawed as a mystery but I think most mysteries are basically flawed, especially ones you can fit into a two-hour movie, and that it's really more about the atmosphere and the acting, and this movie has both.)
posted by BibiRose at 7:19 AM on May 17, 2013

Smilla's Sense of Snow.
posted by BibiRose at 7:22 AM on May 17, 2013 [1 favorite]

(Apologies, I missed the time frame criteria completely with my other post)

Seconding House of Games, and maybe The Spanish Prisoner (1997).

Also: Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy (2011) although it seems to be a love it or hate it sort of movie; it's a slow, brooding cold war piece full of subtle tension; not a car chases & explosions action thriller. I really liked it. I've never seen the 1979 BBC miniseries version, but from what I've read it's excellent.
posted by usonian at 9:14 AM on May 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


(also a ditto to everything usonian mentioned).
posted by juv3nal at 10:19 AM on May 17, 2013

Paris, Texas
posted by Chenko at 12:04 PM on May 17, 2013

In the behind-the-scenes material, one of the production staff (Altman? I forget) describes Gosford Park as "less a whodunit than a thatitwasdone". Highly recommended (along with the behind-the-scenes material; do not miss the screenwriter's commentary).
posted by Lexica at 10:25 PM on May 17, 2013 [1 favorite]

And now I have 17 more titles in a bookmarks folder I keep for stuff to add when I have room in my queue. Thanks all!
posted by dhartung at 6:49 PM on May 19, 2013

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