White-knuckle suspense, shocking intrigue, gripping action — all are characteristics of great thrillers. Some of cinema's most iconic moments have come from the thriller genre, from Anthony Hopkins' sinister delivery of "Clarice" in "The Silence of the Lambs" to the grisly wood chipper scene in "Fargo."
Despite not having the immediate Oscar appeal of dramas, some thrillers have gone on to take home the best picture award, including recent films like "Argo" and "The Hurt Locker." Others, like "The Dark Knight," have joined the ranks of the highest-grossing movies ever. In a genre filled with so many greats, choosing the best of the best is no easy matter. That's why PrettyFamous, an entertainment data site by Graphiq, turned to the numbers.
The data experts found all movies in the thriller genre with over 50,000 IMDb votes and ranked each film by its Smart Rating — a score out of 100 that takes into account a movie's IMDb rating, Rotten Tomatoes' Tomatometer and Audience Score, Gracenote rating, Metacritic Metascore and the inflation-adjusted U.S. box office gross.
The resulting list spans 86 years of filmmaking, from the German crime thriller "M" (1931) to the Keanu Reeves action flick "John Wick: Chapter 2" (2017). With eight films on the list, Alfred Hitchcock is easily the most prevalent director. The Master of Suspense has three films in the top 10 alone — "North by Northwest," "Psycho" and "Rear Window." However, the No. 1 spot goes to a classic blockbuster that would launch the career of a young Steven Spielberg.
Note: Movie synopses are sourced (with minor edits) from Gracenote. Any ties are due to rounding.