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The Movie Like The Usual Suspects That Thriller Fans Need To See

Since 1995, one name, two words, and four syllables have captured the imaginations of thriller fans and struck fear into the hearts of good guys and evildoers alike: Keyser Söze. The primary antagonist in director Bryan Singer's masterwork "The Usual Suspects," Keyser Söze is a terrifying myth of the criminal underworld made flesh, the boogeyman that haunts the dreams of all who would dare cross him. And the most frightening thing about him is he's been sitting in front of you the entire time, toying with you, ad-libbing a tale of woe and intrigue interwoven with tiny context hints to amuse himself at the expense of your fear and befuddlement. 

Fans of "The Usual Suspects" know that Keyser Söze had been telling the tale all along, under the guise of pathetic, unassuming con man Roger "Verbal" Kint (Kevin Spacey), as interrogated by United States Customs Agent David Kujan (Chazz Palminteri). How much of his story is fact and how much he came up with off the top of his head remains a mystery, and to make things even more maddeningly unclear, the filmmakers have stuck by the ambiguity of the film's ending and would not confirm that Verbal was, indeed, Keyser Söze. But fans aren't the only ones in the dark: according to an interview Spacey gave to the Evening Standard, Singer had pretty much convinced every actor that he was the real Keyser Söze. "I remember Gabriel Byrne and Bryan had an argument in the parking lot because he was absolutely convinced he was Keyser Söze," Spacey said, offering a fun anecdote behind one of the greatest movie plot twists in history.

Thriller fans looking to get their fix with another gritty, neo-noir tale that will keep them guessing should check out a film that came out several years after "The Usual Suspects."

2000's Memento put director Christopher Nolan on the map and confused audiences around the world

In 2000, actor Guy Pearce appeared in a film that would push his star power beyond that which he garnered with his role in 1997's critical darling "L.A. Confidential" and confuse the hell out of pretty much everyone who watched it: "Memento," the second feature film by director Christopher Nolan. Pearce took on the role of Leonard Shelby — a man suffering from anterograde amnesia (the inability to form new memories) and searching for the person who killed his wife but destined to revert to factory settings a few times an hour — in this time-jumping psychological thriller. Leonard's dedication to his cause is the stuff of legend, with a system of tracking information as permanent as having clues tattooed on his body and as fallible as taking Polaroid photographs and writing down the answers he may or may not have found on the backs of them.

Pearce received a nomination for the 2002 Saturn Award for Best Actor for his portrayal of the fractured, grief-stricken vigilante, among myriad other similar critics society nominations. Carrie-Anne Moss and Joe Pantoliano — fresh off of collaborating on 1999's "The Matrix" — took on the supporting roles of shady characters Natalie and Teddy, respectively. "Memento" received nominations for two Academy Awards — Best Editing and Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen — in addition to a nod for Best Motion Picture Screenplay at the Golden Globes. Christopher Nolan won Screenwriter of the Year at the American Film Institute awards. Despite the praise for the movie's intricate, nonlinear story, Pearce didn't have the easiest time with the script. "The thing was that even though on some level it felt like gobbledegook as I was reading it, because you got the sense that things were all over the place, what I really got and what was really clear was the emotional journey of the character," he told GQ in 2020.