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Movies for the Intelligent Movie Goer

Updated on March 25, 2016
Jaynie2000 profile image

With an eye on fashion, art, music and movies, Jaynie keeps her finger on the pulse of pop culture. Why? Because it's fun.

It's Movie Night!

Movies are a favorite pastime for most people, though many of us have varying opinions on what constitutes good entertainment. Some of us like our movies to be thought-provoking and thrilling. Others prefer raucous comedies with crude sexual overtones. Or not. Many of us like our movies to make social or political statements. Some of us like movies from all genres and choose those that suit our moods at a given point in time.

The following is a short list of intelligent movies that are certain to entertain if you like eerie and/ or suspenseful thrillers. So sit back, pop some corn, cuddle up to a brave partner, and enjoy!

The Sixth Sense

This 1999 thriller, directed by M. Night Shymalan, stars Bruce Willis in one of his best roles as psychiatrist, Dr. Malcolm Crowe, who takes time away from his troubled marriage to counsel a tortured young boy who sees dead people, played brilliantly by then up-and-coming actor, Haley Joel Osment. This movie sets the bar for deliciously and unexpectedly twisted endings! If you’ve not seen it, or haven’t seen it recently, it deserves to be rented.

The Others

The Others

Speaking of surprisingly twisted endings, The Others goes down as one of my favorite movies of all time. Directed by Alejandro Amenabar in 2001, The Others stars Australian actress, Nicole Kidman as a mother, living in an isolated home with her two photosensitive children, and three unusual servants in the years immediately following World War II. The dark subject matter and eerie sensations provoked by the movie are enhanced by the almost colorless film footage. The house is definitely inhabited by unwelcomed spirits, but who these spirits are and where they have come from will leave you completely spell-bound.

The Ring

At first I assumed this would be another in a long line of cookie cutter horror films, which I do not typically enjoy. But I gave it a viewing because the lead actress, Naomi Watts, is a talented actress with an impressive resume. Directed by Gore Virbinsky in 2002, the plot surrounds a mysterious video that, once watched, leads to a prophetic phone call, announcing that the viewer will die in seven days. Following her natural born reporter’s instincts, Rachel Keller (Naomi Watts) sets out to investigate following the death of four teenagers who recently watched it. One her son has unwittingly viewed the tape, Rachel has but seven days to solve the mystery of the tape and save him from his untimely death. Culminating with one of the creepiest scenes in horror movie history, this one is definitely a must-see for thought-provoking, horror movie lovers everywhere!


This 2007 movie, directed by Gregory Hoblit, stars Ryan Gosling as a young, eager prosecutor, pitted against a ruthless, calculating killer, played by Anthony Hopkins. This may be Sir Hopkins's most decadently evil role since Hannibal Lechter. What is brilliant about this movie, aside from the intriguing characters brought to believable life by these amazing actors, is the fact that the killer is revealed early on. In fact, he confesses to the crime! Yet writer and director still manage to pull off a deliciously twisted ending that you'll surely find jaw-dropping.


This movie was released in 1995, but maintains a timeless appeal. Directed by David Fincher, Seven stars Brad Pitt as a fledging detective and Morgan Freeman as his soon-to-be-retired partner. The film follows the two as they track a serial killer whose crime patterns are based upon the seven deadly sins. This movie is gory and troubling and definitely not for those of weak constitution. But the gore is not gratuitous. It is crucial to the realistic telling of this twisted tale. In fact, you may just find yourself paralyzed with horror but unable to look away. Seven is another intelligent movie with an unexpected and tragic ending, if you can stomach this one, you should definitely check it out!


Australian actor, Guy Pearce, shines in this twisted tale about a man named Leonard Shelby, who suffers from anteretrograde amnesia. This disorder affects his short term memory to the point that he cannot store any new memories. As a result the story is told from the ending and works its way back to the beginning as Mr. Shelby tries to piece together the events that led him to commit a murder that he doesn’t remember. Directed by Christopher Nolan, this 2000 movie is complicated and smart. Don’t take a bathroom break without hitting pause, or you’ll have trouble keeping it all together. If you love smart, unique concepts, this is the movie for you.


This film, directed in 2002 by Adrian Lyne, is definitely not a horror movie. I’m not even sure I’d classify it as a thriller. But it is a relatable tale of love, lust, passion, infidelity and flawed family values. The main characters are played to believable perfection by Diane Lane and Richard Gere, who star as a happily married couple whose marriage begins to crumble in the wake of Diane Lane’s infidelity with the much younger, seductive book seller, played by Olivier Martinez. The movie involves a murder, and investigation and a tale that every married couple can identify with, whether their marriages have been touched by unfaithfulness or not.

The Talented Mr. Ripley

If you’ve ever envisioned yourself as leading the life of the wealthy and privileged, this movie’s leading character will definitely resonate with you. The main character, Tom Ripley, is portrayed as a sympathetic, yet grossly flawed social climber by Matt Damon, who was hired by Dickie Greenleaf’s father, to track down his son and bring him home. Damon’s depiction will have you questioning how far you would go to protect the life you’d carefully constructed. Impressive supporting performances are given by Gwyneth Paltrow and Jude Law, as young and privileged lovers Marge Sherwood and Dickie Greenleaf, who befriend the psychologically damaged Tom Ripley. This thriller is along, but races along at an exciting clip and includes beautiful footage from a series of international locations. It also includes homoerotic undertones, which reveal much about the lead character. The movie was released in 1999 and was directed by Anthony Minghella. It was nominated for 5 Academy Awards, including best supporting actor for Jude Law.


James Mangold directed this 2003 movie, which stars Amanda Peet, Ray Liota and John Cusack as strangers who were stranded, along with seven others, at an isolated motel in Nevada during a torrential rainstorm. As the evening wears on, the strangers realize that they are being murdered one by one. But by whom? And why? Fantasy and reality are intermingled to form a complicated film cocktail that will leave you captivated until the last, unbelievable moments.

Rising Sun

This cop drama is a thrill ride from start to finish. It explains much about Japanese business culture, which adds to its intelligent appeal. Sean Connery, the Sempi John Conner, and Wesley Snipes, the Cohi Web Smith, co-star as investigators who become thrust together as unlikely partners, to investigate the murder of a woman during a party at a Japanese corporate high rise. The movie draws many parallels between the American and Japanese methods of doing business. The differences are further underscored in the divergent personalities of the older, wiser Conner and the younger and more impulsive Smith. If this movie sounds dry and boring, trust me. It is anything but!

Shutter Island

Martin Scorsese directed this 2010 thriller starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Mark Ruffalo and Ben Kingsley. The movie is set in 1954, with main character Teddy Daniels, investigating the disappearance of a female mental patient who had killed her children. Her disappearance is a mystery given that the asylum in which she had been confined is located on a desolate island, surrounded by relentless, rocky, shark-infested seas. What Teddy’s investigation reveals will leave you shaking your head with delighted surprise.

Ocean's 11

Steven Soderbergh directed this 2001 crime thriller that blends whip-smart plot with comedic elements and a stunning all-star cast to create cinema magic. This is one of the most intelligent movies I’ve ever seen, but it pulls off this level of intelligence without one ounce of pretentiousness. The movie stars George Clooney as Danny Ocean, who assembles a cast of bank robbing protégés including Brad Pitt, Elliot Gould, Carl Reiner, Casey Affleck, and Matt Damon. Ocean’s ex-wife is played by Julia Roberts and her new lover, ruthless casino owner, Tery Benedict, is portrayed by a perfectly understated Andy Garcia. Ocean’s team has one chance to pull off the most lucrative heist in Las Vegas history by knocking over three of Benedict’s casinos and making off with $150 million of Benedict’s money. If it sounds thrilling…it is!

© 2010 Jaynie2000


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