Last Updated: February 23rd
“Thriller” is kind of a catch-all term for movies that bleed into multiple genres. It can describe films rich with drama, action, crime, and quite possibly horror. That’s why its Netflix category is such a hodgepodge of entries, varying in tone, subject matter, and quality. A good thriller, though, is going to be suspenseful for any number of reasons. An unstoppable killer. An unsolvable mystery. A gripping world that draws viewers into it. A sympathetic character fighting for survival. Something that can keep an audience on the edge of its seats. And based on that, here are the 10 best thrillers on Netflix right now.
Related: The Best Horror Movies On Netflix Right Now
10. The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (2011)
Run Time: 158 min | IMDb: 7.8/10
Daniel Craig and Rooney Mara star in this muted crime thriller from David Fincher based on a best-selling series of books. Mara plays a gifted young hacker with a dark past who teams up with Craig’s journalist to investigate the mysterious disappearance of a wealthy woman from a prominent family 40 years earlier.
9. Blue Ruin (2013)
Run Time: 90 min | IMDb: 7.1/10
Macon Blair stars in this crime thriller about a man who returns to his hometown to carry out an act of vengeance and discovers he’s in over his head. Blair plays Dwight Evans, a vagabond who learns his parents’ murderer is being released from prison and returns home to kill him. He succeeds but ends up starting a blood feud with the guy’s family that doesn’t end how you expect.
8. Nightcrawler (2014)
Run Time: 117 min | IMDb: 7.9/10
Jake Gyllenhaal stars in this truly bonkers crime thriller from Dan Gilroy about a con-man who muscles his way into L.A.’s crime journalism scene and very quickly becomes the star of his own reporting. Lou Bloom (Gyllenhaal) is a petty thief who stumbles his way into the stringer profession — photojournalists who chase crime scenes to sell the footage to local TV stations. As Lou begins to record more exciting crimes, demand for his work grows and he starts staging scenes, obstructing police investigations, and inserting himself in high-speed chases to get the best shot. It’s a twisted, depressing look at the ethics of journalism and the consequences of consumerism, and Gyllenhaal has never been better.
7. The Invitation (2016)
Run Time: 100 min | IMDb: 6.7/10
After back-to-back big studio bombs, Karyn Kusama returned to her scrappy indie roots with this contained, brilliantly suspenseful study of the darkness that can arise when people don’t allow themselves to feel. The Invitation isn’t a perfect film, but Kusama does a lot with the scant resources she had to play with here, and you have to appreciate her willingness to tackle grief so directly in a genre that tends to have little time for genuine human emotion.
6. The Invisible Guest (2016)
Run Time: 106 min | IMDb: 8.1/10
This Spanish crime thriller follows a successful businessman framed for the murder of his married lover. A seemingly straightforward plot, until a car accident, a dead body, fake witnesses, and a family out for revenge is thrown into the mix. Mario Casas stars as the man in question, a young husband and father with a bright future who takes part in a terrible crime and is forced to pay for it in the most twisted of ways. You won’t figure this thing out until the end, we guarantee it.
5. The Killing Of a Sacred Deer (2017)
Run Time: 121 min | IMDb: 7/10
Filmmaker Yorgos Lanthimos has quickly earned a reputation for delivering highly-stylized dramas, filled with eccentric characters played by more-than-capable actors looking to reinvent and redefine their careers — and he doesn’t change that with this thriller that’s part horror, part mystery. Colin Farrell plays a charismatic surgeon who, along with his wife Anna (Nicole Kidman), must make a terrible sacrifice when a young boy he’s committed to helping begins displaying some sinister behavior. To say anything more would spoil some plot twists that you’ll definitely enjoy.
4. Good Time (2017)
Run Time: 101 min | IMDb: 7.3/10
This gritty crime drama hailing from the Safdie brothers transforms star Robert Pattinson into a bleach-blonde sh*t-stirrer from Queens desperate to break his developmentally disabled brother out of prison. Pattinson plays Connie, a street hustler and bank robber with grand plans to break out of his urban hood while Benny Safdie plays his brother Nick, who gets roped into his schemes. When Nick is sent to Ryker’s Island for a job gone wrong, Connie goes on a downward spiral to get him back. Pattinson’s manic energy carries this thing and there’s plenty of police run-ins, shootouts, and heists (however botched) to keep the adrenaline pumping.
3. Burning (2018)
Run Time: 148 min | IMDb: 7.6/10
Walking Dead alum Steven Yeun stars this psychological thriller from South Korean filmmaker Lee Chang-dong. Yeun plays Ben, a rich millennial with a mysterious job who connects with a woman named Shin Hae-mi on a trip to Africa. The two journey back home together where Ben meets Shin’s friend/lover Lee Jong-su. The three hang-out regularly, with Lee growing more jealous of Ben’s wealth and privilege while he’s forced to manage his father’s farm when his dad goes to prison. But it’s when Shin disappears, and Lee suspects Ben’s involvement, that things really go off the rails.
2. Uncut Gems (2019)
Run Time: 101 min | IMDb: 7.5/10
Now, audiences can absorb — from the comfort of their own living rooms — the full gravitational effect of Adam Sandler in the most intense performance of his career. The Sandman arguably got robbed of an Oscar nod for his turn in Josh and Benny Safdie’s electrifying crime thriller that accelerates tension to a fever pitch. He’s superb as a charismatic New York City jeweler who grows increasingly desperate while walking a tight-wire amid relentlessly threatening adversaries, and keep your eyes open for a supporting turn from the always great LaKeith Stanfield.
1. The Departed (2006)
Run Time: 151 min | IMDb: 8.5/10
Leonard DiCaprio, Jack Nicholson, Matt Damon, Mark Wahlberg, and Alec Baldwin star in this crime thriller from Martin Scorsese about an undercover cop and a mole in the police department who attempt to identify each other while infiltrating an Irish gang in Boston. DiCaprio plays the good guy (or as close as) with Billy, a disturbed officer playing the part of a criminal to get close to Nicholson’s kingpin, Frank. Damon plays the rat, Sullivan, who serves as a police officer on the force, but really works for Frank. The two unknowingly thwart each other at every turn, playing a thrilling game of cat and mouse before their secrets eventually come out.
Recent Changes Through February 2021:
Removed: It Comes At Night, The Interview, Green Room, Fargo, The Silence Of The Lamb, Drive, Zodiac
Added: The Departed, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo