Nothing draws the audience in quite like a good mystery. Those stories that keep you guessing from start to finish can be so exhilarating when done properly and they have always been a huge part of the world of movies. And luckily, there are still great mystery films being made today.
It's always thrilling to discover a good mystery and there are plenty of underrated gems in the genre you can seek out. Though these films did not initially get the attention they deserved upon their release, audiences can discover them now and see if they can figure it all out before the credits roll. Here are the most underrated mystery films of the last 20 years.
10 State Of Play
The world of politics is filled with intrigue, so it makes a natural setting for a good mystery story. State of Play is based on an acclaimed BBC miniseries and stars Ben Affleck as a senator whose mistress is killed. He turns to his long-time friend and investigative journalist (Russell Crowe) to help him uncover the truth.
The movie starts with a compelling mystery and continues to pile on more and more shocking revelations. The all-star cast is great and the film touches on some interesting subjects like political spying and the dying newspaper industry.
Denis Villeneuve has become one of the most sought-after directors working right now, but his career in Hollywood started with this dark and complex thriller. The movie stars Hugh Jackman as a man whose daughter is abducted and he turns to extreme measures to bring her home.
Villeneuve creates a haunting atmosphere for the film that overwhelms the viewers in the best way. Jackman gives one of his best performances as the determined father and Jake Gyllenhaal is equally as good as the detective who seeks to unravel the mystery.
Identity is another great movie that works so well off the dark tone that is carried throughout the film. During a rainy night on an empty stretch of highway, a group of strangers find themselves stuck together at a seedy motel. As the night goes on, bodies begin piling up and it's clear one of them is the killer.
The cast of characters makes this an interesting ensemble and the simple premise makes for a great set-up. Though the final reveal might not sit well with everyone, the build-up is still effective.
7 Gosford Park
Gosford Park is a throwback to the kinds of murder mystery thrillers that Agatha Christie was known for, and such a story in the hands of a filmmaker like Robert Altman makes this a real winner. The movie is set in the 1930s during a party at a country house when one of the attendants is killed.
Gosford Park sometimes is remembered more as a costume drama, but the movie is a very effective mystery. The all-star cast is phenomenal as is the exploration of the class dynamics. The script makes the film both a smart and funny whodunit.
6 Gone Baby Gone
Ben Affleck makes another mystery appearance, this time behind the camera for his directorial debut. The Boston-set mystery stars Casey Affleck as a young private detective who is hired to find a missing girl and has to contend with the unaccommodating police detectives on the case.
Affleck proves his talents as a director, establishing a clever and brooding tale that keeps diving deeper into dark places while keeping you guessing about the truth. The actors are all solid and the ending will keep you talking about it long afterward.
5 Kiss Kiss Bang Bang
Before donning the Iron Man armor for the MCU, Robert Downey Jr. gave his true comeback performance in this Shane Black throwback pulp mystery. Downey Jr. plays a thief who accidentally winds up in Hollywood, where he is drawn into a conspiracy by his childhood crush and an unconventional detective.
With Shane Black writing and directing, the film sizzles with wacky energy. Downey Jr. and Val Kilmer are both hilarious as the leads and the convoluted plot is pushed along with the subversive humor.
4 Shutter Island
It's strange to think of a Martin Scorsese film being underrated, but Shutter Island is neglected among his best more recent films, despite being brilliant. The movie stars Leonardo DiCaprio as a US Marshal who travels to an island that houses a mental institution to hunt for a missing inmate.
Shutter Island seems to be dismissed as Scorsese making a "safe" and bankable film, but it is far more interesting than that. The paranoia and morbid atmosphere of the movie are effectively unsettling and it remains one of those films that benefits from rewatches once the mystery is revealed.
The identity of the Zodiac killer remains of the biggest real-life mysteries in recent memory. David Fincher applied his meticulous process to this fascinating story of the decades-long investigation of the Zodiac murders and the prime suspects at the time.
Fincher perfectly recreates the era of the time and constructs a spell-binding epic that is not only as dark and unsettling as the subject matter would have you expect, but also surprisingly funny. The great cast and sharp script help to make this one of Fincher's best.
Rian Johnson's mystery film Knives Out is already getting rave reviews, but he already explored the genre with his directorial debut, Brick. The inventive film stars Joseph Gordon Levitt as an isolated high schooler who investigates the disappearance of a former girlfriend.
Though set in a modern high school world, the film's dialogue has the feel of an old-school detective film. The stylized approach works surprisingly well and Johnson creates a genuinely brilliant film for his first feature.
1 Blade Runner 2049
Blade Runner played out like a noir detective film set in the future and the sequel follows the same path. Blade Runner 2049 stars Ryan Gosling as a replicant working as a Blade Runner. While on a mission, he makes a discovery that leads to shocking revelations about his own reality.
Despite the love the first film has, the sequel was sadly overlooked and flopped at the box office. However, it is not only a worthy follow-up to the classic original, but it might also be a better film. The mystery at its center is more interesting and Denis Villeneuve creates a truly amazing world for the film.