Best Neo Noir Films

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Best Neo Noir Films

When it comes to Best Neo Noir Films, there are so many films talking about this feeling. Here are 25 of our favorites.

The Usual Suspects (1995)

The Usual Suspects
★★★★
★★★★
3.4 out of 4 stars

From Bryan Singer, starring Kevin Spacey, Gabriel Byrne, Chazz Palminteri, Stephen Baldwin
Rated R

The Usual Suspects is an intense and intriguing crime thriller directed by Bryan Singer. The story follows five criminals -Verbal Kint, Dean Keaton, Michael McManus, Todd Hockney and Fred Fenster- who are brought together in a lineup by a mysterious figure known as Keyser Söze. When they are released without charge, they decide to join forces in order to take revenge on Söze. Their plan soon runs into trouble as they begin to unravel a complex web of lies, deceit and betrayal. As the story progresses, the audience is left to decide who is really behind the criminal activities and what their true motivations are. In the end, the audience is left with an unforgettable twist and a newfound respect for the power of storytelling.

Memento (2000)

Memento
★★★★
★★★★
3.4 out of 4 stars

From Christopher Nolan, starring Guy Pearce, Carrie-Anne Moss, Joe Pantoliano, Mark Boone Junior
Rated R

Memento follows Leonard Shelby, an insurance investigator with a rare form of amnesia that prevents him from forming new memories. He is on a quest to track down and kill the person he believes is responsible for the death of his wife. In order to remember his mission from one moment to the next, he takes Polaroids of people, places, and clues, and tattoos key facts on his body. As the film progresses, it reveals the dual timelines of Leonard's search; one in chronological order and the other in reverse. In the end, Leonard's search for revenge is revealed to be driven by a deep emotional need rather than any sense of justice.

Chinatown (1974)

Chinatown
★★★★
★★★★
3.3 out of 4 stars

From Roman Polanski, starring Jack Nicholson, Faye Dunaway, John Huston, Perry Lopez
Rated R

Chinatown is a 1974 neo-noir mystery film directed by Roman Polanski and starring Jack Nicholson, Faye Dunaway, and John Huston. Set in 1937 Los Angeles, the story follows private investigator J.J. "Jake" Gittes, who is hired by a mysterious woman to investigate her husband's alleged infidelity. After uncovering a series of unexpected and sinister connections between her husband and the city's powerful elite, Jake finds himself embroiled in a web of corruption and deceit that leads to the revelation of a startling family secret. The film combines themes of corruption, greed, and incest to craft a complex and enthralling narrative that has been praised for its period-accurate depiction of Los Angeles.

L.A. Confidential (1997)

L.A. Confidential
★★★★
★★★★
3.3 out of 4 stars

From Curtis Hanson, starring Kevin Spacey, Russell Crowe, Guy Pearce, Kim Basinger
Rated R

L.A. Confidential is a 1997 neo-noir crime film directed by Curtis Hanson and starring Kevin Spacey, Russell Crowe, Guy Pearce, Kim Basinger and Danny Devito. The film follows three police officers in 1953 Los Angeles, California, as they investigate a series of homicides and search for justice in a city filled with corruption and vice. Through a series of twists and turns, the detectives uncover a web of deceit and a conspiracy to cover up the truth. Along the way, they must grapple with their own complicated pasts and secrets, as well as their feelings for each other. The film is a powerful and gripping exploration of the dark side of the Hollywood dream, shining a light on the realities of crime and justice in the city of angels.

Taxi Driver (1976)

Taxi Driver
★★★★
★★★★
3.3 out of 4 stars

From Martin Scorsese, starring Robert De Niro, Jodie Foster, Cybill Shepherd, Albert Brooks
Rated R

Taxi Driver is a 1976 neo-noir psychological thriller directed by Martin Scorsese and written by Paul Schrader. It stars Robert De Niro as a mentally unstable Vietnam War veteran who works as a taxi driver in New York City and becomes obsessed with saving a young teen prostitute played by Jodie Foster. The movie follows Travis Bickle, a troubled Vietnam War veteran who is living in isolation in New York City. He takes a job as a cab driver to occupy his time, but quickly becomes emotionally invested in saving Iris, a young teen prostitute, from her exploitative pimp. When his attempts to save her come to no avail, Travis spirals into a violent rage and embarks on a vigilante path of revenge and retribution. In the end, Travis is left in an even more disturbed state of mind as he drives away from the scene of his bloody rampage.

Blade Runner (1982)

Blade Runner
★★★★
★★★★
3.2 out of 4 stars

From Ridley Scott, starring Harrison Ford, Rutger Hauer, Sean Young, Edward James Olmos
Rated R

Blade Runner is a 1982 science fiction film directed by Ridley Scott and starring Harrison Ford. The film is set in a dystopian future where genetically engineered replicants (advanced robots) have been created to work on off-world colonies. When four replicants rebel and return to Earth to find their creator, the blade runner, Deckard (Ford) is tasked with hunting them down and eliminating them. As he tracks the replicants down, Deckard discovers that they have a hidden agenda and begins to sympathize with them. The film has become a cult classic, praised for its visual style, complex story and themes of existentialism, as well as its exploration of the implications of artificial intelligence.

The Big Lebowski (1998)

The Big Lebowski
★★★★
★★★★
3.2 out of 4 stars

From Directors: Joel Coen, Ethan Coen, starring Jeff Bridges, John Goodman, Julianne Moore, Steve Buscemi
Rated R

The Big Lebowski is a 1998 American crime-comedy film written, produced, and directed by Joel and Ethan Coen. The film stars Jeff Bridges as Jeffrey "The Dude" Lebowski, a laid-back, easy-going middle-aged Californian slacker and amateur bowler who is thrust into a complex plot involving a millionaire, a missing wife and two thugs after being mistaken for another man named Jeffrey Lebowski. Along with Bridges, the film's cast includes John Goodman, Julianne Moore, Steve Buscemi, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Tara Reid, David Huddleston, and John Turturro. The Big Lebowski follows the Dude's bizarre and unpredictable adventures as he attempts to uncover the mystery behind the kidnapping of the millionaire's wife and the whereabouts of the missing money. Along the way, he is aided by his friends Walter and Donny, and comes into contact with a variety of eccentric characters, ranging from a nihilist artist, a private investigator, and a porn producer. A cult classic, The Big Lebowski has generated a dedicated fan base, and the film has achieved status as one of the best films of the 1990s.

Fargo (1996)

Fargo
★★★★
★★★★
3.2 out of 4 stars

From Directors: Joel Coen, Ethan Coen, starring William H. Macy, Frances McDormand, Steve Buscemi, Peter Stormare
Rated R

Fargo is a darkly comedic crime drama directed by Joel and Ethan Coen. The film follows the story of Jerry Lundegaard, a car dealer in Minnesota who hires two criminals to kidnap his wife in order to extort money from his wealthy father-in-law. The kidnapping goes awry, leading to a series of tragic events. Meanwhile, the dogged and methodical police officer Marge Gunderson is hot on the trail of the criminals and their accomplices, piecing together the strange chain of events. Fargo is a thrilling and suspenseful ride that culminates in a shocking conclusion.

Sin City (2005)

Sin City
★★★★
★★★★
3.2 out of 4 stars

From Directors: Frank Miller, Quentin Tarantino, Robert Rodriguez, starring Mickey Rourke, Clive Owen, Bruce Willis, Jessica Alba
Rated R

Sin City is a neo-noir crime film released in 2005, based on the graphic novel series of the same name. It was co-directed by Robert Rodriguez, Frank Miller, and Quentin Tarantino. The film follows a variety of characters in their struggles against corruption in the fictional Basin City. Dwight McCarthy is a former criminal struggling with his morality, Hartigan is a police officer attempting to protect a young girl from a prominent politician's son, and Marv, a hulking criminal, seeks revenge for the death of a beautiful woman he was fond of. The film features a series of intertwining stories, themes of justice, morality, and revenge, and a visual style that heavily emphasizes black and white with occasional use of color. Sin City was a critical and commercial success, earning a cult following and numerous awards.

Mulholland Drive (2001)

Mulholland Drive
★★★★
★★★★
3.2 out of 4 stars

From David Lynch, starring Naomi Watts, Laura Harring, Justin Theroux, Jeanne Bates
Rated R

Mulholland Drive is a 2001 psychological thriller directed by David Lynch. The film centers around a young woman named Betty Elms who, after relocating to Los Angeles, discovers a strange woman in her apartment. This woman, Rita, has lost her memory and the two embark on a surreal mystery to piece together her identity. Along the way, they encounter a host of bizarre characters and strange events that begin to reveal a sinister conspiracy. As their investigation progresses, Betty and Rita's lives become more intertwined, and their search for the truth leads them down a dark, psychological rabbit hole.

Drive (2011)

Drive
★★★★
★★★★
3.1 out of 4 stars

From Nicolas Winding Refn, starring Ryan Gosling, Carey Mulligan, Bryan Cranston, Albert Brooks
Rated R

Drive is a 2011 crime drama directed by Nicolas Winding Refn, starring Ryan Gosling as an unnamed Hollywood stunt driver who moonlights as a getaway driver for criminals. After helping a neighbor, Irene (Carey Mulligan), and her young son, Benicio, escape from her dangerous husband, Standard, the Driver finds himself in the middle of a heist gone wrong and embroiled in a web of betrayal and revenge. Forced to take sides in a deadly gang war, the Driver must rely on his taciturn nature and street smarts to stay alive and protect those he cares about. With its intense action sequences, stylish visuals, and a hauntingly dreamy music score, Drive is a thrilling ride that will leave viewers on the edge of their seats.

Blue Velvet (1986)

Blue Velvet
★★★★
★★★★
3.1 out of 4 stars

From David Lynch, starring Isabella Rossellini, Kyle MacLachlan, Dennis Hopper, Laura Dern
Rated R

Blue Velvet is a 1986 neo-noir mystery film written and directed by David Lynch. The film follows Jeffrey Beaumont, a college student who returns to his hometown of Lumberton, North Carolina after the sudden death of his father. While there, he discovers a severed human ear in a vacant lot and begins to investigate its connection to a local nightclub singer, Dorothy Vallens, who is being blackmailed by a sadistic criminal, Frank Booth. With the help of Dorothy's neighbor, Sandy Williams, Jeffrey discovers that Frank is involved in a dangerous underworld of sex and violence. As the investigation progresses, Jeffrey is forced to confront his own dark desires and the sinister truth at the heart of Lumberton.

Blood Simple (1984)

Blood Simple
★★★★
★★★★
3 out of 4 stars

From Directors: Joel Coen, Ethan Coen, starring John Getz, Frances McDormand, Dan Hedaya, M. Emmet Walsh
Rated R

Blood Simple is a 1984 crime film written and directed by Joel and Ethan Coen. The film follows a Texas bar owner (M. Emmet Walsh) who hires a private investigator (Dan Hedaya) to murder his wife (Frances McDormand) and her lover (John Getz). As the situation quickly spirals out of control, the investigator finds himself caught up in a deadly web of deception and violence. The film is a darkly comic crime thriller that goes beyond conventional genre boundaries and showcases the Coen brothers' signature style of dark humor and visual ingenuity. While the film was not a box office success, it garnered critical acclaim and won the Grand Jury Prize at the 1984 Sundance Film Festival. The film was later selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry in 2016.

Gone Baby Gone (2007)

Gone Baby Gone
★★★★
★★★★
3 out of 4 stars

From Ben Affleck, starring Morgan Freeman, Ed Harris, Casey Affleck, Michelle Monaghan
Rated R

Gone Baby Gone is a 2007 crime drama directed by Ben Affleck, starring Casey Affleck and Michelle Monaghan. The film follows two private detectives, Patrick and Angie, as they investigate the disappearance of a four-year-old girl, Amanda McCready, from her home in Boston's Dorchester neighborhood. The detectives soon find themselves in a dangerous web of violence and corruption as they navigate the city's criminal underworld. Along the way, they must grapple with their own moral dilemmas in order to bring Amanda home.

Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (2005)

Kiss Kiss Bang Bang
★★★★
★★★★
3 out of 4 stars

From Shane Black, starring Robert Downey Jr., Val Kilmer, Michelle Monaghan, Corbin Bernsen
Rated R

Kiss Kiss Bang Bang is a 2005 neo-noir black comedy crime film directed by Shane Black and starring Robert Downey Jr., Val Kilmer, and Michelle Monaghan. The film follows Harry Lockhart (Downey Jr.), a petty thief and aspiring actor who, after being hired to investigate a murder case, is thrown into the middle of a complex web of double-crosses and deceit in the Hollywood film industry. With the guidance of his private investigator friend Perry (Kilmer), and the help of the mysterious Harmony Faith Lane (Monaghan), Harry must work to investigate the case and clear his name before he becomes the next victim. Along the way, he discovers the truth about his own past and develops a newfound appreciation for the art of detective work.

The Man Who Wasn't There (2001)

The Man Who Wasn't There
★★★★
★★★★
3 out of 4 stars

From Joel Coen, starring Billy Bob Thornton, Frances McDormand, Michael Badalucco, James Gandolfini
Rated R

The Man Who Wasn't There is a 2001 black-and-white neo-noir film written, produced and directed by Joel and Ethan Coen. Starring Billy Bob Thornton, Frances McDormand, James Gandolfini, Tony Shalhoub, and Scarlett Johansson, it follows a laconic, chain-smoking barber in 1940s California as he becomes embroiled in an unfolding mystery. Ed Crane (Thornton) is an unhappy, unambitious barber whose wife Doris (McDormand) is having an affair with her boss, Big Dave (Gandolfini). After Ed discovers a scheme by which he could make a great deal of money, he hatches a plan to blackmail Big Dave, only to find himself in the middle of a much bigger, mysterious plot. As Ed begins to unravel the secrets behind the scheme, he finds himself on a journey of self-discovery and redemption.

Collateral (2004)

Collateral
★★★★
★★★★
3 out of 4 stars

From Michael Mann, starring Tom Cruise, Jamie Foxx, Jada Pinkett Smith, Mark Ruffalo
Rated R

Collateral is a 2004 American neo-noir crime thriller film directed by Michael Mann and starring Tom Cruise and Jamie Foxx. Cruise plays Vincent, a contract killer sent to Los Angeles to do five specific assassinations. Foxx plays Max, a taxi driver who unknowingly becomes Vincent's accomplice when he agrees to drive him around the city for the night. As the story progresses, Max discovers the truth about Vincent and his intentions and must ultimately decide whether to help him or use his knowledge to stop him. The film's supporting cast features Jada Pinkett Smith, Mark Ruffalo, Bruce McGill, and Javier Bardem. The film received generally positive reviews from critics, with many praising the performances of Cruise and Foxx, as well as the direction by Mann. It was a box office success, grossing more than $215 million worldwide.

Lone Star (1996)

Lone Star
★★★★
★★★★
3 out of 4 stars

From John Sayles, starring Chris Cooper, Elizabeth Peña, Stephen Mendillo, Stephen J. Lang
Rated R

Sexy Beast (2000)

Sexy Beast
★★★★
★★★★
2.9 out of 4 stars

From Jonathan Glazer, starring Ray Winstone, Ben Kingsley, Ian McShane, Amanda Redman
Rated R

Before the Devil Knows You're Dead (2007)

Before the Devil Knows You're Dead
★★★★
★★★★
2.9 out of 4 stars

From Sidney Lumet, starring Philip Seymour Hoffman, Ethan Hawke, Albert Finney, Marisa Tomei
Rated R

Brick (2005)

Brick
★★★★
★★★★
2.9 out of 4 stars

From Rian Johnson, starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Lukas Haas, Emilie de Ravin, Meagan Good
Rated R

Hard Eight (1996)

Hard Eight
★★★★
★★★★
2.9 out of 4 stars

From Paul Thomas Anderson, starring Philip Baker Hall, John C. Reilly, Gwyneth Paltrow, Samuel L. Jackson
Rated R

The Kid Detective (2020)

The Kid Detective
★★★★
★★★★
2.8 out of 4 stars

From Evan Morgan, starring Kaitlyn Chalmers-Rizzato, Adam Brody, Kaleb Horn, Wendy Crewson
Rated R

Killer Joe (2011)

Killer Joe
★★★★
★★★★
2.7 out of 4 stars

From William Friedkin, starring Matthew McConaughey, Emile Hirsch, Juno Temple, Thomas Haden Church
Rated R

The Ice Harvest (2005)

The Ice Harvest
★★★★
★★★★
2.5 out of 4 stars

From Harold Ramis, starring John Cusack, Billy Bob Thornton, Connie Nielsen, Lara Phillips
Rated R

 



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