When The Twenty-Three came out, I did a list of my favourite thriller movies. Reading through it, I think the list still holds up.
The first real thriller I ever saw in a movie theatre was The Satan Bug. It was 1965, and I was ten. I don’t remember a lot about it, but some deadly pathogen had been released from a lab, and the fate of the world hung in the balance.
As it often does.
The Satan Bug has a special spot in my heart, but it doesn’t make my list, I’m afraid.
Here are my favourite cinematic thrillers. They aren’t in any particular order until you get near the top five or six, which are my absolute faves, although what’s in the #1 spot can change depending on my mood. But those top two are my top two, always and forever.
23. The Conversation: Francis Ford Coppola’s absorbing study of a surveillance expert (Gene Hackman) slowly being driven mad by the suspicion that someone is listening in on him.
22. The French Connection: Hackman, again! Gritty, with one of the best car chases ever filmed.
21. The Bourne Movies: I’m talking Identity, Supremacy and Ultimatum, and NOT Legacy, or the new Jason Bourne. I’ll count them all as one.
20. Children of Men: Riveting adaptation of the P.D. James novel.
19. Diva: French thriller about an unauthorized recording of an opera singer.
18. Bullitt: Steve McQueen. A chase. A Mustang. ‘Nuff said.
17. The Fugitive: Flat out fun. Harrison Ford and Tommy Lee Jones are great.
16. The Untouchables: That baby carriage on the staircase scene is one of the greatest in movie history.
15. Fargo: Quirky, brilliant. Maybe the Coen Brothers best movie.
14. Road to Perdition: A hit man father and son flick. Magnificent.
13. Marathon Man: Great adaptation of a great book. William Goldman wrote the novel and the screenplay.
12. The Sixth Sense: I was totally fooled. Always fun to rewatch to see how I got sucked in.
11. Dirty Harry: Simple, visceral, my favourite Clint Eastwood flick. And it has a great Lalo Schifrin score. (As does Bullitt.)
10. Unbreakable: M. Night Shyamalan’s post Sixth Sense movie, and it may even be better.
The sad thing is, it’s that director’s last good film.
9. Misery: Terrifying. One of the best movies ever made from a Stephen King book.
8. Casino Royale: The first James Bond reboot with Daniel Craig in the lead role.
7. The Godfather II: Okay, maybe not technically a thriller, but who cares. It’s a masterpiece.
6. Die Hard: My favourite Christmas movie.
5. Skyfall: Daniel Craig, again, in what may be the best 007 movie ever.
4. Psycho: Alfred Hitchcock kills off the leading lady before the halfway point. Whoa.
3. Jaws: The mechanical shark rarely worked, so Steven Spielberg did more with less and scared the hell out of all of us.
2. Vertigo: Hitch again, with the greatest psychological thriller ever made. Creepy, troubling, mesmerizing. The plot’s kind of a mess, but who cares?
1. Rear Window: Hitch for the hat trick. My novel Trust Your Eyes is inspired, in part, by this classic, and attentive readers will even find a line from it in my book.