Mysteries with the Best Twists

Tom Cruise as John Anderton in the mystery sci-fi film, Minority Report.

Image Credit: bipolarjew24 on Deviant Art.

It takes seriously good writing and acting chops to make mysteries with mind-blowing twists.

Audiences don’t want to feel outright tricked, nor get nothing but red herrings: the surprise needs to feel both completely unexpected, and right under your nose all along.

These mysteries deliver satisfying yet unexpected endings, and feed you just enough clever clues to make you say, “How did I not see those twists coming?”—while being so glad you didn’t.

Clue (1985)


Director: Jonathan Lynn
Starring: Tim Curry, Christopher Lloyd
Rotten Tomatoes: 65%
Where To Watch: Fandango, Vudu, Amazon Prime, Apple TV

This wacky movie stars the characters from the board game of the same name: Mrs. Peacock, Miss Scarlett, Professor Plum, Mrs. White, Mr. Green, and Colonel Mustard.

After the mysterious Mr. Boddy invites them to dinner, this colorful cast lands themselves smack-dab in a murder mystery where everyone’s a suspect.

This was one of the first movies to feature multiple endings—and every last one is fantastic.

 

The Pelican Brief (1993)


Director: Alan J. Pakula
Starring: Julia Roberts, Denzel Washington
Rotten Tomatoes: 53%
Where To Watch: Fandango, Vudu, Amazon Prime, Apple TV, HBOMax

When a young law student writes a legal brief concerning the assassination of Supreme Court justices, she becomes the target for professional killers.

Following the murders of multiple loved ones, she realizes exactly how spot-on her predictions are, and just what a dangerous position she’s in.

She then teams up with a journalist to uncover the murders and solve this conspiracy.

 

Primal Fear (1996)


Director: Gregory Hoblit
Starring: Richard Gere, Edward Norton
Rotten Tomatoes: 76%
Where To Watch: Fandango, Vudu, Amazon Prime, Apple TV

A defense attorney, more concerned with his own fame and fortune than any moral imperative, suddenly finds his views changed while defending an ex-altar boy who’s on trial for murdering an archbishop.

As he looks deeper into the case, the attorney finds the Church has quite a few secrets under wraps…and they want to keep them that way.

 

Minority Report (2002)


Director: Steven Spielberg
Starring: Tom Cruise, Colin Farrell
Rotten Tomatoes: 90%
Where To Watch: Fandango, Vudu, Amazon Prime, Apple TV

More action-packed than most mysteries, Minority Report takes place in a future when people are prosecuted for crimes they haven’t yet committed.

When one man finds himself on the wrong end of a prediction, he must find out what could possibly turn him into a murderer.

 

Flightplan (2005)


Director: Robert Schwentke
Starring: Jodie Foster, Peter Sarsgaard
Rotten Tomatoes: 37%
Where To Watch: Fandango, Vudu, Amazon Prime, Apple TV

Jodie Foster plays Kyle Pratt, an engineer on a long flight home to bury her deceased husband. In the middle of the flight, however, she suddenly realizes that her daughter is no longer on the plane.

Stranger still is that no one else on board remembers seeing her daughter.  In fact, she isn’t listed on the flight plan at all.

Pratt must solve the disappearance of her missing daughter before the plane lands in New York.

 

Zodiac (2007)


Director: David Fincher
Starring: Mark Ruffalo, Jake Gyllenhaal
Rotten Tomatoes: 89%
Where To Watch: Fandango, Vudu, Amazon Prime, Apple TV

In this film based on true events, journalists and police officers team up to solve the mystery of the Zodiac Killer.

The murderer sends increasingly strange letters to tabloids, baiting the police with details from local crimes that only the killer could possibly know.

David Fincher takes the audience on a tense ride through this movie, which drops brilliant little hints about who might be the killer.

 

The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (2011)


Director: David Fincher
Starring: Daniel Craig, Rooney Mara
Rotten Tomatoes: 87%
Where To Watch: Fandango, Vudu, Amazon Prime, Apple TV, Netflix

Based on the book by Swedish author Steig Larsson, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo follows an investigator named Lisbeth Salander and a financial reporter, Mikael Blomkvist.

They team up to solve the murder of a wealthy businessman’s beloved niece. Despite the crime being decades old, their investigation takes them places no one could have ever predicted.

 

Side Effects (2013)


Director: Steven Soderbergh
Starring: Jude Law, Rooney Mara
Rotten Tomatoes: 81%
Where To Watch: Fandango, Vudu, Amazon Prime, Apple TV

Emily has waited years to see her husband again, after he was sent to jail for insider trading. But even once he returns home, her depression doesn’t go away.

A psychiatrist prescribes her a new medication to alleviate her symptoms. However, the side effects of that drug prove to be even worse.

Emily must investigate the drug’s origins…before it’s too late.

 

Gone Girl (2014)


Director: David Fincher
Starring: Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike
Rotten Tomatoes: 87%
Where To Watch: Fandango, Vudu, Amazon Prime, Apple TV, Hulu

A popular, seemingly perfect couple becomes the object of public fascination and rumor after the wife suddenly goes missing.

Police, acquaintances, and strangers alike suspect her husband of foul play—especially once the investigation turns up unsavory aspects of their wedded life.

 

Knives Out (2019)


Director: Rian Johnson
Starring: Daniel Craig, Chris Evans
Rotten Tomatoes: 97%
Where To Watch: Fandango, Vudu, Amazon Prime, Apple TV

There can never be enough praise for a good old-fashioned detective film like Knives Out.  This film revisits typical mysteries’ tropes with innovate plot twists, without taking itself too seriously.

Craig’s showmanship and the script’s subtlety more than satisfy. While it’s possible to guess the ending, it’s extremely challenging.  Even the slyest armchair sleuths might find themselves shocked by this one.

 

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Mysteries with truly incredible twists do more than leave your jaw dropping after the reveal—they get you rewatching, hunting for every single clue you missed the first time around.

For more recommendations, check out these true crime documentaries, TV shows about Sherlock Holmes, or every Black Mirror episode, ranked from worst to best.