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55 Best Crime Movies Of All Time Ranked

Why do we love crime movies? Perhaps it's the rush of anxiety we feel when a character is committing a heinous act. Or maybe it's the satisfaction that fills us when we see a cold-blooded killer finally placed behind bars. Crime flicks vary when it comes to the illegal activities depicted: Everything from petty theft to vicious murder can be found within the genre. Some of the greatest crime gems hook us simply through providing insight into disturbed individuals' psyches, being less interested in what they've done rather than why they've done it.

Hungry for stories of law-breaking? The following films serve up platters of bad behavior, perfect for those wanting a glimpse into society's rough underbelly. These are the 55 best crime movies of all time, ranked from the merely fantastic to the absolutely superb.

Updated on April 14, 2022: New crime movies hit theaters every week. We'll be keeping this list updated to reflect the very best of the genre. Be sure to check back often to see if we've updated our list with fresh tales of illegal activity.

55. El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie

Serving as an epilogue to the legendary "Breaking Bad" series, "El Camino" catches us up with Jesse Pinkman as he flees Todd's Brotherhood compound, where he's been held captive and forced to make meth. Blending flashbacks with the present day, we follow Pinkman as he fights to leave his dark past behind him. To put it simply, "El Camino" is fun. For those of you longing for the good ol' days of newly released "Breaking Bad" episodes, this crime gem feels warmly familiar and effortlessly great.

  • Starring: Aaron Paul, Jesse Plemons, Charles Baker
  • Director: Vince Gilligan
  • Year: 2019
  • Runtime: 123 minutes
  • Rating: NR
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 91%

54. Natural Born Killers

Mickey and Mallory are madly in love — but they're also psychopathic serial killers who go on a murder spree throughout the Southwest. As their body count racks up, so does the media's obsession with the duo, leading to bizarre glorification. "Natural Born Killers" was far from a hit at the time of its release, with the press denouncing its celebration of violent crimes. That said, it serves as a fantastic think piece on society's infatuation with real-life violence. One of the most bloody and intense road-trip flicks out there, it's pure chaos.

53. Shoplifters

The Shibatas, a struggling family in Tokyo, are barely scraping by through their life of petty theft. Incredibly, they seem happy enough — but after their young son is arrested, secrets are revealed that test the bonds of kinship and upend their low-key life. Director Kore-eda does a phenomenal job luring you into this family's life with heartfelt moments that feel like warm hugs. Then, suddenly, you're left feeling like your heart has been ripped out. "Shoplifters" is a layered and truly unique watch.

  • Starring: Lily Franky, Sakura Ando, Mayu Matsuoka
  • Director: Hirokazu Kore-eda
  • Year: 2018
  • Runtime: 121 minutes
  • Rating: R
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 99%

52. Big Deal on Madonna Street

One of the more light-hearted entries on this list, "Big Deal on Madonna Street" is an Italian crime comedy about two best pals, Peppe and Mario. These bumbling thieves devise a master ploy to dig a tunnel from an apartment to the pawn shop next door. Enlisting the help of other criminals, Peppe and Mario deduce their plan is foolproof — except for one problem. Nobody in their crew has any experience tunnel-digging. A clear spoof on classic heist flicks of the '50s, this charming caper's incompetent yet incredibly likable leads will leave you in stitches.

  • Starring: Vittorio Gassman, Renato Salvatori, Memmo Carotenuto
  • Director: Mario Monicelli
  • Year: 1958
  • Runtime: 111 minutes
  • Rating: NR
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 89%

51. The Old Man and the Gun

At the age of 70, Forrest Tucker manages the unthinkable: He escapes from San Quentin State Prison. From there, he goes on a successful crime spree, committing various heists that oddly captivate his hostages and leave the police and Detective John Hunt utterly stumped. A witty and warm-hearted ride, you can't help but root for Tucker. Reportedly Redford's final film, "The Old Man and the Gun" proves that the actor, well into his golden years, still has that special spark on camera. It's the perfect farewell to a cinematic legend.

  • Starring: Robert Redford, Sissy Spacek, Casey Affleck
  • Director: David Lowery
  • Year: 2018
  • Runtime: 93 minutes
  • Rating: PG-13
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 93%

50. Pusher III

All three movies in the "Pusher" trilogy take us into Copenhagen's seedy underworld, yet they also focus on three distinct characters. The third, a standalone crime film, welcomes back Milo, an aging drug lord whose empire is slowly crumbling. A crafty baker in the kitchen, Milo is also planning his daughter's 25th birthday ... all while dealing with a massive, faulty drug shipment. Refn delivers an exhilarating level of violence and chaos, yet it's Buric who truly shines in this flick. Getting into Milo's psyche makes this installment of the series the most interesting.

  • Starring: Zlatko Buric, Marinela Dekic, Ilyas Agac
  • Director: Nicolas Winding Refn
  • Year: 2005
  • Runtime: 108 minutes
  • Rating: NR
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 93%

49. Good Time

The Safdie brothers crank up the cinematic anxiety with "Good Time." Small-time crook Connie botches a bank robbery that sees his younger brother Nick arrested. As our lead struggles to save Nick (over the course of one adrenaline-packed night, no less), we see just how manipulative he is — and how badly he wants both of them to escape the law. The camerawork in this 2017 hit is jittery and claustrophobic, while Daniel Lopatin's pounding score is relentless. We dare you to find a more nail-biting heist flick than this one.

48. Drive

Ryan Gosling plays the role of the unnamed "Driver," a Hollywood stuntman who spends his evenings serving as a getaway driver for criminals. We don't know much about our moody antihero, yet we see pockets of warmth emerge as he develops feelings for his neighbor Irene, a single mom. After her husband, who's freshly released from prison, enters their lives, the pair take part in a botched heist. An effortlessly stylish fluorescent-soaked gem, "Drive" is a visual buffet and one of the first staples of the 2010s' neon aesthetic.

  • Starring: Ryan Gosling, Carey Mulligan, Bryan Cranston
  • Director: Nicolas Winding Refn
  • Year: 2011
  • Runtime: 100 minutes
  • Rating: R
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 93%

47. Angst

Based on a true story, this Austrian crime thriller follows a mass murderer just released from prison who breaks into a remote home to kill an older woman, her daughter, and her disabled son. Eerie to the core, what makes "Angst" work is its terrifyingly realistic portrayal of a home invasion. Adding to the unsettling atmosphere is Oscar-winner Zbigniew Rybczyński's unreal camerawork: "Angst" is packed with impressive point-of-view and aerial shots that'll surprise you at every twist and turn. If your stomach can handle it, it's a definite must-see.

  • Starring: Erwin Leder, Silvia Ryder, Edith Rosset
  • Director: Gerald Kargl
  • Year: 1983
  • Runtime: 83 minutes
  • Rating: R
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 100%

46. Run Lola Run

Manni is a small-time crook in Berlin tasked with delivering money to his boss. Unfortunately, he manages to leave a bag of cash in a subway car. He frantically begs his girlfriend, Lola, to come up with the dough in a mere 20 minutes to save his life. We're shown three different outcomes that spin out of this premise, all dependent on various events. For a flick that literally epitomizes its title, "Run Lola Run" never gets monotonous, thanks in large part to blaring techno music, minimal dialogue, and exhilarating energy.

  • Starring: Franka Potente, Moritz Bleibtreu, Herbert Knaup
  • Director: Tom Tykwer
  • Year: 1998
  • Runtime: 80 minutes
  • Rating: R
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 93%

45. The Italian Job

Charlie Croker is freshly released from prison — but that doesn't mean he's learned anything from his experience. In fact, he's already plotting his next big heist. After finding out his friend has failed a risky job in Italy involving the mafia, Croker takes the lead: He plans to use various vehicles to create a traffic jam, allowing him to spirit the loot out safely. But can he pull it off? Littered with irony and classic British humor, this movie is a riot. Plus, the Mini Coopers Charlie uses will leave you begging for one of your own.

  • Starring: Michael Caine, Noël Coward, Benny Hill
  • Director: Peter Collinson
  • Year: 1969
  • Runtime: 99 minutes
  • Rating: G
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 81%

44. Branded to Kill

A yakuza noir classic that infuses 1960s absurdism with satire, "Branded to Kill" offers up a simple plot: An assassin, Gorô, fumbles his most recent assignment, and finds himself on the run from a higher-ranked killer.  Director Suzuki is widely known for his outlandish yakuza flicks, which forgo traditional narratives in favor of hyper-stylized visuals and over-the-top fight sequences. This cult classic doesn't take itself too seriously either, which results in a crime caper of unique verve.

  • Starring: Joe Shishido, Kôji Nanbara, Isao Tamagawa
  • Director: Seijun Suzuki
  • Year: 1967
  • Runtime: 91 minutes
  • Rating: NR
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 100%

43. Ms .45

Thana is a mute seamstress working in New York's garment district. One awful day, she's sexually assaulted twice, by two different men. This leads her on a sudden, violent quest for vigilante justice. Our lead isn't out to get back at her assailants exclusively, though — she seeks revenge against all predatory men. Director Ferrara creates some lasting visuals in this one, particularly Thana's transformation from shy young woman to the sort of seductress who straps a gun to her garter belt. It can be hard to watch at times, but the visual pivot near the end is haunting and will undoubtedly leave a lasting impression.

  • Starring: Zoë Tamerlis, Albert Sinkys, Darlene Stuto
  • Director: Abel Ferrara
  • Year: 1981
  • Runtime: 80 minutes
  • Rating: R
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 85%

42. The Sting

Two Chicago crooks band together after the murder of their mutual friend to plot revenge against Lonnegan, a mob boss and veteran conman. The men set up a fake gambling den to carry out their sting operation, and all sorts of chaos ensues. "The Sting" is one of those flicks with so many unexpected twists and turns, it demands multiple re-watches. Oozing with classy visuals and a beautiful color palette, you'll be hard-pressed to forget Redford's pinstriped red and white suit.

  • Starring: Paul Newman, Robert Redford, Robert Shaw
  • Director: George Roy Hill
  • Year: 1973
  • Runtime: 129 minutes
  • Rating: PG
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 94%

41. True Romance

Elvis fanboy Clarence and sex worker Alabama strike up a whirlwind romance and get hitched. Marital bliss doesn't last long, however, after the duo accidentally steals a huge bag of cocaine from her pimp. After Alabama decides they should sell the drugs for a hefty payday, the two are suddenly on the run from a mobster and the authorities. Effortlessly charming and fun, "True Romance" is distinguished by its memorably witty dialogue. If it seems reminiscent of a Tarantino film, that's because "True Romance" was written by Tarantino: In fact, it was the first script he wrote for a major motion picture.

  • Starring: Christian Slater, Patricia Arquette, Michael Rapaport
  • Director: Tony Scott
  • Year: 1993
  • Runtime: 118 minutes
  • Rating: R
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 93%

40. Léon: The Professional

New York contract killer Léon lives in the same building as the 12-year-old Mathilda. After an unlawful DEA agent kills her family, Léon begrudgingly starts looking after her. When the girl learns of her sudden guardian's career, she begs him to teach her the ropes so she can seek revenge. "Léon: The Professional" is much more than a classic revenge tale: It adds a surprising amount of depth to its characters, especially the houseplant-loving Léon. What's more, Portman utterly steals the show from the heavyweights around her.

39. American Psycho

Based on the brutal novel by Bret Easton Ellis, "American Psycho" gave us the legendary character that is Patrick Bateman, a wealthy and egotistical investment banker who spends his days trying to one-up his equally successful peers. But there's a twist: By night, he's an unhinged serial killer. Oozing with slick satire, director Harron tackles misogyny and classism in such a hilarious and enthralling way, you can't help but cackle. Pay close attention to the meticulous intro scene, as it tells us everything we need to know about the personality of this obsessive psychopath.

38. BlacKkKlansman

"BlacKkKlansman" introduces us to Ron Stallworth, a Black cop in 1970s Colorado Springs, and his Jewish partner, Flip Zimmerman. Together, they go undercover to infiltrate the Ku Klux Klan. Director Lee successfully addresses major issues with scathing wit and inventive camera angles, which inject us into an unstable world that lacks any kind of control. The ending refuses to give audiences superficial comfort, resulting in a poignant sense of historically-rooted heaviness.

  • Starring: John David Washington, Adam Driver, Laura Harrier
  • Director: Spike Lee
  • Year: 2018
  • Runtime: 135 minutes
  • Rating: R
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 96%

37. Blow Out

Littered with homages to some of the finest suspense flicks ever made, "Blow Out" follows Jack Terry, a sound-effects professional for B-grade slasher flicks. He's recording sounds for an upcoming film one evening when he suddenly hears something horrific. As Terry digs deeper, he becomes convinced he's stumbled upon a political assassination. Along with fellow eyewitness, he's dead-set on exposing the truth of this conspiracy. Drenched in paranoia, "Blow Out" is filled with voyeurism, murder, and sleaze. De Palma serves up one of the most deliciously shocking endings in crime flick history with this one, making it essential viewing.

  • Starring: John Travolta, Nancy Allen, John Lithgow
  • Director: Brian De Palma
  • Year: 1981
  • Runtime: 108 minutes
  • Rating: R
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 85%

36. Charade

Regina and Peter fall in love during a skiing holiday, but she's a married woman. Moreover, she soon finds out her husband has been murdered. Peter offers to help Regina, who's now on the run from thugs claiming her husband had the fortune they stole together during World War II. But is there more to Peter than meets the eye? Heavily borrowing elements from many Hitchcockian thrillers, "Charade" has countless twists and turns and features incredible banter between Grant and Hepburn. Top that off with a score by the ever-elegant Henry Mancini, and this crime classic is an absolute delight.

  • Starring: Cary Grant, Audrey Hepburn, Walter Matthau
  • Director: Stanley Donen
  • Year: 1963
  • Runtime: 113 minutes
  • Rating: NR
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 94%

35. They Live by Night

Bowie is an innocent man wrongly convicted of murder. When he escapes prison, he goes into hiding and meets a fellow criminal's niece, Keechie, to whom he takes a liking. Because he still wants to clear his name and pay for a lawyer, Bowie agrees to participate in a robbery, which leaves him injured. As Keechie tends to his wounds, our hero yearns ever more deeply to start afresh with his love. "They Live by Night" is a beautiful film noir, with Granger doing an incredible job portraying the innocent Bowie. As he hides from the world with Keechie, it's impossible not to root for their doomed romance.

  • Starring: Cathy O'Donnell, Farley Granger, Howard Da Silva
  • Director: Nicholas Ray
  • Year: 1948
  • Runtime: 95 minutes
  • Rating: NR
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 96%

34. Shoot the Piano Player

A former classical pianist, shy Charlie now plays jazz in a seedy Parisian bar. After his two brothers scam local gangsters, they ask for Charlie's assistance. He has to help them disappear — but how? A gangster thriller and a comedy, "Shoot the Piano Player" is simply fun. Charlie is different from many other men found in French New Wave flicks: He's mild-mannered and sweet and tries to stay out of the way, hoping to live out his life in peace. Truffaut cleverly adds a sense of impending doom to our hero, making for an absolutely bittersweet watch.

  • Starring: Charles Aznavour, Marie Dubois, Nicole Berger
  • Director: François Truffaut
  • Year: 1960
  • Runtime: 81 minutes
  • Rating: NR
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 90%

33. Pierrot le Fou

Bored of his high society life, Ferdinand (also known as Pierrot) runs away with his family's babysitter, Marianne, and subsequently falls in love. Unfortunately, his new companion just so happens to be chased by thugs. The pair is forced to steal a car and live a life on the run, eventually making their way to the Mediterranean Sea. A whimsical treat from the French New Wave movement, this film brilliantly uses primary colors in both its surroundings and the leads' costumes to convey vivid emotions. The result is a Mondrian delight.

  • Starring: Jean-Paul Belmondo, Anna Karina, Graziella Galvani
  • Director: Jean-Luc Godard
  • Year: 1965
  • Runtime: 110 minutes
  • Rating: NR
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 87%

32. Blue Velvet

David Lynch trades in notoriously crime-ridden cities for Lumberton, North Carolina, where he rips away suburbia's pleasant disposition to reveal a macabre world. After college student Jeffrey Beaumont comes home to see his ailing father, he discovers a severed ear in a field. This leads him down a rabbit hole to the alluring Dorothy Vallens, a nightclub singer with a twisted past. "Blue Velvet" sees Lynch doing what he does best: Crafting a living nightmare in a world that isn't all that it seems.

31. Jackie Brown

Flight attendant Jackie Brown smuggles cash into the country for her gunrunner boss. But when she gets caught, the cops force her to cooperate in nabbing the kingpin. However, Brown has other ideas, and soon hatches a plot to keep all the cash for herself. Filled to the brim with Tarantino's witty dialogue and a fantastic score, "Jackie Brown" is pure entertainment. The imperfection of its characters is especially well done, rendering them perfectly human.

30. Serpico

Based on the true story of NYPD officer Frank Serpico, this '70s crime flick explores the titular character's stand against police corruption. Serpico denies bribes, unlike his colleagues, and as abuse of the system gets progressively worse, he starts making official complaints. Ultimately, this creates a major problem. Pacino is absolutely magnetic as Serpico: You see him transform from a rookie cop to a frustrated yet idealistic hero. Lumet's New York is incredibly gritty, too, with an almost documentarian approach that makes the proceedings that much more realistic.

  • Starring: Al Pacino, John Randolph, Jack Kehoe
  • Director: Sidney Lumet
  • Year: 1973
  • Runtime: 130 minutes
  • Rating: R
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 91%

29. Thief

Frank, a highly skilled diamond thief, longs to use the money he's made to settle down with his girlfriend. He signs up to do one final heist for Leo, an all-powerful mob boss, to ensure he has enough funds. However, Leo doesn't plan to let Frank retire so quickly. Mann showcases Chicago at its grimiest — something that's made immediately apparent in the opening few shots, which are void of words. This neon-soaked world influenced the 2010s' neon revival in a major way, so if that's a visual style you crave, this is a must-see.

  • Starring: James Caan, Tuesday Weld, Willie Nelson
  • Director: Michael Mann
  • Year: 1981
  • Runtime: 123 minutes
  • Rating: R
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 94%

28. Fallen Angels

This jaw-droppingly stunning neo-noir gem consists of two criminal stories. One follows a hitman as he tries to go straight, whose colleague, dubbed his "partner" (who is secretly lusting after him), gives him one final assignment. The other focuses on a mute ruffian who, having escaped prison, suddenly falls in love. "Fallen Angels" is an intoxicating and sorrowful look at love that successfully incorporates comedic elements unique in Wong Kar-wai's filmography.

  • Starring: Leon Lai, Charlie Yeung, Takeshi Kaneshiro
  • Director: Wong Kar-wai
  • Year: 1995
  • Runtime: 96 minutes
  • Rating: NR
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 95%

27. Bob le Flambeur

Blending the influence of American gangster films with the innovative techniques of the French New Wave movement, "Bob le Flambeur" introduces us to Bob Montagné, an expert gambler beloved by virtually everyone in town. A former criminal, Bob has traded in bank robberies for a legal career. But when his gambling luck runs dry, he decides to return to his former occupation for one last heist: Robbing the famous Deauville casino. "Bob le Flambeur" oozes stylish cool, making this one of the most elegant crime capers of all time. It also solidified Melville as a mentor for his French New Wave contemporaries.

  • Starring: Roger Duchesne, Isabelle Corey, Daniel Cauchy
  • Director: Jean-Pierre Melville
  • Year: 1956
  • Runtime: 102 minutes
  • Rating: PG
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 97%

26. M

Despite coming out in the early 1930s, "M" remains an uncomfortable watch by today's standards. Hans Beckert is a serial killer in Berlin who targets children. Even his fellow criminals are repulsed by his horrendous crimes. As people from both sides of the law go after him, Hans goes into a frenzy to escape. Lang's first sound flick is a masterclass in psychological thrills; it's easy to see why filmmaking legends like Hitchcock have borrowed from the uneasy and captivating "M."

  • Starring: Peter Lorre, Ellen Widmann, Inge Landgut
  • Director: Fritz Lang
  • Year: 1931
  • Runtime: 111 minutes
  • Rating: NR
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 100%

25. Badlands

Terrence Malick's debut classic, "Badlands" is loosely based on the lives of Charles Starkweather and Caril Ann Fugate, who went on a killing spree in America's midwest. The film follows Holly, a naïve teen who falls in love with her much-older boyfriend, Kit. On the run from authorities after Kit kills Holly's family, the pair continues their slaughter as they run through the Dakota Badlands. "Badlands" is an impressive introduction to Malick's style, especially his use of sprawling, natural landscapes as a backdrop to chilling violence.

  • Starring: Martin Sheen, Sissy Spacek, Warren Oates
  • Director: Terrence Malick
  • Year: 1973
  • Runtime: 93 minutes
  • Rating: PG
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 97%

24. Elevator to the Gallows

Florence, a classic femme fatale, convinces her lover Julien to murder her husband. Julien kills the wealthy industrialist after climbing a rope into his office one evening, but after escaping, he realizes he's left it dangling outside the window. Returning to the building via an elevator, Julien suddenly finds himself trapped inside. A hauntingly beautiful debut, this French crime staple is made even more special by an improvised score from jazz icon Miles Davis.

  • Starring: Jeanne Moreau, Maurice Ronet, Georges Poujouly
  • Director: Louis Malle
  • Year: 1958
  • Runtime: 91 minutes
  • Rating: NR
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 93%

23. Fargo

An excellent black comedy, "Fargo" introduces us to Jerry, a sleazy car salesman freighted with debt. He hatches a plan to hire two thugs to kidnap his wife so he can collect a ransom from her wealthy father, but his ploy runs amok after a police chief begins to follow his trail. "Fargo" succeeds because it serves up a seemingly benevolent world that's actually a lot more violent than it appears. Coen skips the fancy camerawork with this one, choosing instead to put the focus on witty dialogue and delivery. This is a great choice that nabbed him and his brother Ethan an Academy Award for best writing.

  • Starring: Frances McDormand, William H. Macy, Steve Buscemi
  • Director: Joel Coen
  • Year: 1996
  • Runtime: 98 minutes
  • Rating: R
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 94%

22. The Bad Sleep Well

What do you get when you combine film noir with a modern interpretation of "Hamlet"? You end up with "The Bad Sleep Well," Kurosawa's exploration of corporate corruption and greed within postwar Japan. We follow Kôichi, an illegitimate son, as he climbs up the ranks of a Japanese company and marries the daughter of the organization's vice president. During the reception, we discover that Kôichi (who acts as a stand-in for Hamlet) is actually out to seek revenge for his father, an executive who allegedly fell to his death from a high window.

  • Starring: Toshirō Mifune, Masayuki Mori, Kamatari Fujiwara
  • Director: Akira Kurosawa
  • Year: 1960
  • Runtime: 151 minutes
  • Rating: NR
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 100%

21. American History X

Former white supremacist leader Derek Vinyard is released from prison after serving three years for murder. As he's reformed, he's dead-set on preventing his brother, Danny, from following in his footsteps — a path that proves difficult, as Derek's harrowing past has greatly influenced his younger sibling. "American History X" is provocative and unflinching, thanks in large part to Edward Norton's career-defining performance as Derek. He presents us with a complex character whose journey of redemption is anything but smooth.

  • Starring: Edward Norton, Edward Furlong, Beverly D'Angelo
  • Director: Tony Kaye
  • Year: 1998
  • Runtime: 119 minutes
  • Rating: R
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 83%

20. No Country for Old Men

One day, Texan hunter Llewelyn stumbles upon the carnage of a botched drug deal. After taking a large bag of money left at the scene, he suddenly finds himself on the run from both a sheriff out for answers and a contract killer dead-set on claiming the cash for himself. Javier Bardem's Anton Chigurh is one of the coldest and most calculated killers ever to grace the big screen. Using a bolt stunner as his weapon of choice, we see how he compares his victims to cattle, making him all the more terrifying.

  • Starring: Javier Bardem, Tommy Lee Jones, Josh Brolin
  • Directors: Joel Coen, Ethan Coen
  • Year: 2007
  • Runtime: 122 minutes
  • Rating: R
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 93%

19. Mean Streets

"Mean Streets" is the story of two men: Charlie, a small-time crook working for his uncle, and his friend Johnny Boy, a riotous man bent on causing chaos wherever he goes. Suddenly, it's up to Charlie to keep his gambling pal out of trouble. This early gem showcases Scorsese's love for Italian-American culture through amazing writing and a stellar soundtrack. Couple that with the usage of hand-held cameras and you've got a grimy and realistic portrayal of mob life in New York very much unlike the more glamorized depictions of other gangster masterpieces.

  • Starring: Robert De Niro, Harvey Keitel, David Proval
  • Director: Martin Scorsese
  • Year: 1973
  • Runtime: 112 minutes
  • Rating: R
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 95%

18. Dog Day Afternoon

Based on a true story, "Dog Day Afternoon" offers a look at two men who botch a Brooklyn bank heist. A media circus forms outside while a stand-off with the police escalates, ultimately lasting 12 hours. This '70s classic is a fantastic look at society's obsession with criminals, long before true crime reigned supreme. Lumet effortlessly blends satire and tragedy, while the cinematography is drenched in golden hues, vividly representing a long and uncomfortable summer afternoon in New York.

17. Bonnie and Clyde

"Bonnie and Clyde" may be one of the most influential crime flicks ever, due to the violence it portrayed while the Hays Code still ruled supreme. Thanks to this Penn-directed classic, the Motion Picture Association of America's rating guidelines were established the following year, and are still in effect today. We watch our eponymous leads as they fall in love and go on a killing spree throughout America, engaging in petty crime and bank robberies. In addition to being genuinely thrilling, "Bonnie and Clyde" was also technically innovative for its time, and still serves up one of the greatest endings in film history.

  • Starring: Warren Beatty, Faye Dunaway, Michael J. Pollard
  • Director: Arthur Penn
  • Year: 1967
  • Runtime: 111 minutes
  • Rating: R
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 89%

16. Dirty Harry

One of Clint Eastwood's most iconic films, "Dirty Harry" sees him play the eponymous character, a rough-around-the-edges detective working to nab a deranged killer dubbed Scorpio. After an illegal search, Harry's case against Scorpio is kaput, leading him down a legally gray path to catch him once and for all. Eastwood, who first rose to prominence through war films and westerns, does a phenomenal job in his first contemporary movie role, cementing him as a Hollywood great. His calm disposition as the dedicated Harry makes him all that much more deadly.

  • Starring: Clint Eastwood, Harry Guardino, Reni Santoni
  • Director: Don Siegel
  • Year: 1971
  • Runtime: 102 minutes
  • Rating: R
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 88%

15. Se7en

Two detectives are tasked with investigating a series of violent murders based on the seven deadly sins in this taut thriller. The intelligent killer leads them on a journey of bloody discovery, which comes to a climax you'll never see coming. "Se7en" is bleak: The lighting is dark, the murders are stomach-churning, and the atmosphere is utterly depressing. The stars in this one are definitely the detectives; their moments of philosophical introspection offer a brief break to the horrors we watch unfold.

14. The Third Man

Postwar Vienna is a divided city ruled by shady government officials. When broke Holly Martins, a pulp writer, arrives to see his childhood friend Harry Lime, he finds him dead. Of course, Martins believes there's more to his friend's death than meets the eye, so he begins an investigation — only to be shooed away by everyone he meets. "The Third Man" contains some of the most iconic scenes in all of cinema, from a nail-biting sewer chase to Lime's own entrance. Welles is shown on camera for barely 10 minutes, yet that's just enough time for him to establish himself as one of cinema's most sophisticated and lethal characters.

  • Starring: Joseph Cotten, Alida Valli, Orson Welles
  • Director: Carol Reed
  • Year: 1949
  • Runtime: 108 minutes
  • Rating: NR
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 99%

13. The Shawshank Redemption

After Andy Dufresne's wife and her lover are both found dead, he's accused of a crime he didn't commit and subsequently serves a life sentence in Shawshank State Prison. Thanks to his work as a banker, he becomes an accountant for the prison's staff, silently working away while gaining the admiration of his fellow inmates. "The Shawshank Redemption" is a poignant film, examining despair, adversity, and hope. Freeman's work as Red (who offers up the film's voiceover narration) is fantastic: He observes Dufresne's heartbreaking attempts to endure both mental and physical torment with deeply-felt clarity and compassion.

  • Starring: Tim Robbins, Morgan Freeman, Bob Gunton
  • Director: Frank Darabont
  • Year: 1994
  • Runtime: 142 minutes
  • Rating: R
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 91%

12. Taxi Driver

Travis Bickle, a Vietnam War veteran with insomnia, works as a cab driver. As he drives through New York's seedy underbelly, he becomes consumed by the desire to help those in need. When he attempts to save a 12-year-old sex worker from a macabre life, however, we realize he's ultimately the one who needs saving. De Niro is an absolute tour de force in "Taxi Driver," taking the film's impressive script to the highest peaks of character building. A nod should be made to Jodie Foster as well, whose breakout role is a truly demanding one.

  • Starring: Robert De Niro, Jodie Foster, Albert Brooks
  • Director: Martin Scorsese
  • Year: 1976
  • Runtime: 114 minutes
  • Rating: R
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 96%

11. Rififi

Tony is a jewel thief freshly released from prison and dead-set on enacting revenge upon his ex-girlfriend, who has become romantically involved with a gangster and police informant. He starts preparing a team to rob a jewelry store, which expands to include an attempt to break into the shop's safe. Of course, things don't go according to plan. Pay attention to this stunning film's heist sequence: Void of any dialogue or music, we watch our thieves work in utter silence. It's a wonder of filmmaking that's spawned many imitators.

  • Starring: Jean Servais, Carl Möhner, Robert Manuel
  • Director: Jules Dassin
  • Year: 1955
  • Runtime: 115 minutes
  • Rating: NR
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 92%

10. Scarface

In this remake of the 1932 gangster classic, Tony Montana, a Cuban refugee, winds up building a violent cocaine empire. However, as paranoia settles into Montana's mind, his decline becomes inevitable. "Scarface" is a decadently violent 1980s epic. Unlike other famed gangster classics like "The Godfather," this movie features an antihero who has few redeeming qualities. Montana doesn't do much to make us sympathize with him, yet we just can't look away from his brutal destruction.

  • Starring: Al Pacino, Steven Bauer, Michelle Pfeiffer
  • Director: Brian De Palma
  • Year: 1983
  • Runtime: 170 minutes
  • Rating: R
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 81%

9. Pulp Fiction

Easily one of the most iconic and quotable crime flicks of the '90s, "Pulp Fiction" centers around three interconnecting tales: One about two hitmen working for their boss, one about a washed-up boxer and the aftermath of a fixed fight he partakes in, and one about a diner robbery. Through non-linear storytelling and overlapping plots, "Pulp Fiction" keeps audiences hooked. Its heart-stopping moments (literally) and snappy dialogue will have you howling along with these unforgettable antiheroes. Tarantino crammed countless nods to cult cinema into this popular caper, so be sure to keep your eyes peeled.

  • Starring: John Travolta, Samuel L. Jackson, Uma Thurman
  • Director: Quentin Tarantino
  • Year: 1994
  • Runtime: 154 minutes
  • Rating: R
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 92%

8. The Public Enemy

Tom Powers and his friend Matt Doyle grow up in the criminal underworld, first working as thieves, then bootleggers, and finally full-blown killers. However, once the men reach the top, they realize their personal lives are in shambles. They've bitten off more than they can chew in a truly disastrous way. Serving as a blueprint for many mob flicks that followed it, "The Public Enemy" is iconic in the truest sense of the phrase.

  • Starring: James Cagney, Jean Harlow, Edward Woods
  • Director: William A. Wellman
  • Year: 1931
  • Runtime: 83 minutes
  • Rating: NR
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 100%

7. The Maltese Falcon

San Francisco detective Sam Spade becomes embroiled in a mystery after the death of his partner. Things get even more complicated with the appearance of Joel Cairo, a man on the hunt for the jewel-encrusted Maltese Falcon. "The Maltese Falcon" is essential viewing for fans of film noir: This film is packed with mysterious characters fueled by greed and violence, all hiding their intentions while pursuing the same end goal. Bogart's performance as our lead private eye deserves an ovation. This tough-guy persona would go on to reemerge in cinematic classics such as "Casablanca."

  • Starring: Humphrey Bogart, Mary Astor, Peter Lorre
  • Director: John Huston
  • Year: 1941
  • Runtime: 101 minutes
  • Rating: NR
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 100%

6. In the Heat of the Night

Sidney Poitier stars as Virgil Tibbs, a Black detective who is suddenly arrested on suspicion of the murder of a wealthy industrialist in a small Mississippi town. After arresting police chief Gillespie grudgingly releases Tibbs, the pair joins forces to nab the real killer. "In the Heat of the Night" is an important film widely renowned for its portrayal of racism in rural America. This excellent piece of societal commentary is strengthened by the two leads, who form an unlikely friendship. It's both thought-provoking and an entertaining whodunit.

  • Starring: Sidney Poitier, Rod Steiger, Warren Oates
  • Director: Norman Jewison
  • Year: 1967
  • Runtime: 110 minutes
  • Rating: NR
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 95%

5. Goodfellas

Young Henry Hill progresses from running small errands for a local gang to becoming a full-blown mafioso. While the half-Italian criminal struggles to find his place within the group, he still enjoys the riches of his success. After a few mishaps, however, the bond these criminals share begins to unravel. "Goodfellas" does a brilliant job of humanizing mafiosos. Although we see just how much bloodshed and extortion dominate their lives, we also see their camaraderie, thanks in large part to Scorsese's excellent (and often humorous) screenplay.

4. Chinatown

When private eye J.J. "Jake" Gittes is hired by socialite Evelyn to spy on her purportedly cheating husband, little does he know he's about to get sucked into a grimy world of corruption, scandal, and double-crossing. "Chinatown" offers up a bit of a convoluted plot, but the journey is utterly fascinating, thanks in large part to Robert Towne's brilliant screenplay. A young Jack Nicholson shines as our lead, showing off the devilish grin and cynicism that became his trademarks. There's a reason "Chinatown" is a staple in the neo-noir genre: It's just plain great.

3. The Godfather

At its core, "The Godfather" is about the power struggles and loyalty that define family. In this first installment of the legendary trilogy, Don Corleone, an aging mafioso, clashes with the rest of his gang due to his wariness of pushing drugs. After barely surviving an assassination attempt — which sparks a gang war — his son, Michael, takes on the family business. "The Godfather" presents us with morally gray characters we sympathize with, due to Coppola's clever portrayal of their most intimate moments. One of the most influential films in American cinema, it's an absolute staple of the crime genre.

  • Starring: Marlon Brando, Al Pacino, James Caan
  • Director: Francis Ford Coppola
  • Year: 1972
  • Runtime: 175 minutes
  • Rating: R
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 97%

2. 12 Angry Men

"12 Angry Men" has a simple premise: 12 jury members are sent to deliberate over the murder trial of a teenager accused of killing his father. As the men enter the jury room (where almost the entire film is set), they think they'll be dealing with a clear-cut case — yet Juror 8 begins casting considerable doubt, causing conflict and tension to arise. For a film that came out in the '50s, "12 Angry Men" does an incredible job of addressing systemic racism in the American legal system. It's just as thoughtful, entertaining, and downright exciting as it was the day it debuted.

  • Starring: Martin Balsam, John Fiedler, Henry Fonda
  • Director: Sidney Lumet
  • Year: 1957
  • Runtime: 96 minutes
  • Rating: NR
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 100%

1. Rashomon

Widely considered one of the greatest movies ever made, "Rashomon" tells a dark story of murder and rape. In the aftermath of these terrible crimes, the film explores four eyewitnesses' varying recollections of what happened. "Rashomon" still stuns with its nonlinear storytelling and vibrant flashback sequences. So iconic is this film that it sparked the phrase "the 'Rashomon' effect," which denotes an event described in vastly different ways by multiple people. It's also inspired countless other movies, books, and TV shows. In short, it's a classic among classics everyone should see.

  • Starring: Toshirō Mifune, Machiko Kyō, Takashi Shimura
  • Director: Akira Kurosawa
  • Year: 1950
  • Runtime: 88 minutes
  • Rating: NR
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 98%