The Most Exhilarating Thrillers of the Last Decade

    These thrillers won't let you catch your breath.

    These thrilling flicks are a diverse bunch, yet they all have one thing in common: They won't let you catch your breath. From psychosexual nightmares to high-speed heists set to a killer soundtrack, strap yourselves in for the best thrillers released in the last 10 years. 

    Black Swan

    Photo Credit: Fox Searchlight

    This psychosexual thriller earned high praise when it was released in 2010. Nina (Natalie Portman) scores the lead role in an upcoming rendition of "Swan Lake." She's perfect as the pristine White Swan, yet the director is unconvinced that she can also play the dual role Black Swan—a sexy, powerful part that's far better-suited for fellow dancer Lily (played by Mila Kunis). Soon, the two are locked in a strange and destructive dance.

    Related: 11 Pulse-Pounding Thrillers You Can Watch Right Now 

    Nightcrawler

    Photo Credit: Bold Films

    Jake Gyllenhaal has never been more terrifying. Playing Louis Bloom, a freelance cameraman, Gyllenhaal’s entire body seems to have shifted to portray a man willing to do anything to get another paycheck. Nightcrawler is terrifying and exhilarating.

    Prisoners

    Photo Credit: Alcon Entertainment

    There’s something about Jake Gyllenhaal and thrillers. When Keller’s (Hugh Jackman) young daughter goes missing during a Thanksgiving dinner, Detective Loki (Gyllenhaal) is on the case—but his methods aren't assertive enough to satisfy Keller. Soon, both men are entangled in a battle for the girl’s life.

    The Handmaiden

    Photo Credit: Moho Film

    This South Korean thriller is perhaps the twistiest on this list. Based on Sarah Waters’s Fingersmith, the film follows Sook-hee, a young pickpocket who is asked by her old friend/conman, Count Fujiwara, to help him trick a wealthy young woman into marrying him. To say anything more would ruin the pleasure of getting lost in this narrative.

    Related: 8 Psychological Thriller Books That Will Torment You For Days 

    Side Effects

    Photo Credit: Endgame Entertainment

    This Soderbergh thriller has all of the style associated with the director, performances that wow, and, most importantly, a script that stands up to questioning. Rooney Mara plays Emily, a depressed young woman who accidentally stabs and kills her husband while sleepwalking. Acquitted by reason of insanity, Emily’s therapist, played by Jude Law, begins to question everything about her—her diagnoses, the medications she's taking, and her role in her husband’s death. 

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    Ex Machina

    Photo Credit: Universal Pictures International

    Caleb Smith (Domnhall Gleeson) wins a contest to visit the reclusive CEO of the tech company where he works. Once there, he meets Ava, a robot who has managed to pass the Turing test. CEO Nathan (Oscar Isaac) asks Caleb to help him decide if Ava has achieved true consciousness. Soon, Caleb discovers that he cannot trust anyone—not even Ava.

    Sicario

    Photo Credit: Lionsgate

    Agent Kate Macer (Emily Blunt) has been asked to join an elite Department of Justice task force to take down a senior drug cartel leader. It's not long, however, before the line that separates the task force and the cartel blurs. Can Mercer take down the cartel, or merely get out alive?

    In Bruges

    Photo Credit: Focus Features

    This black comedy thriller will have your heart pounding and your sides in stitches. Ray (Colin Farrell), a hitman-in-training, accidentally kills a young boy while shooting his main target. He and trainer Ken (Brandon Gleeson) are sent to Bruges to await their next orders. Soon, the partners turn against each other, and the whole city is pulled into their chaos. 

    Related: Europe’s Most Thrilling Crime Dramas—and Where to Stream Them 

    '71

    Photo Credit: Crab Apple Films

    This Irish thriller travels back to “The Troubles”, the decades in which Northern Ireland struggled to free itself from the United Kingdom. Often underrecognized outside of the British Isles, this violent time period left numerous victims in its wake. ’71 follows a young soldier through a particularly intense riot in Belfast in 1971. When he is separated from his platoon, the young man must force his way through the streets and back to his unit.

    Transsiberian

    Photo Credit: Filmax International

    Roy and Jessie (Woody Harrelson, Emily Mortimer) decide to take a train across Asia to Moscow after completing an intense missionary trip. They meet another couple on the train, to whom Jessie is initially stand-offish. However, Jessie is soon pulled into their orbit—and sucked in over her head.

    Martha Marcy May Marlene

    Photo Credit: Fox Searchlight

    This indie thriller is now considered a cult classic. Elizabeth Olsen stars as Martha, a young woman who has managed to escape from a cult led by Patrick (John Hawkes). Olsen’s performance as the shattered Martha takes this film from a basic drama to something deeper and more terrifying.

    Related: 9 Underrated Thriller Books 

    Hell or High Water

    Photo Credit: Film 44

    2016's Hell or High Water received instant praise for its present-day twist of the Western genre. The thriller stars Chris Pine, Jeff Bridges, and Ben Foster. Jeff Bridges’s lawman role garnered him high accolades, including a nomination for the Best Supporting Actor Oscar. 

    Baby Driver

    Photo Credit: TriStar Pictures

    This 2017 high-speed thriller is just plain fun. Baby Driver stars Ansel Elgort as Baby, a getaway driver for Doc, a criminal mastermind (Kevin Spacey). As always, Baby is on the hook for just one last gig when something goes wrong. Written and directed by Edgar Wright, Baby Driver is a love letter to both heist thrillers and killer soundtracks.

    Featured still of "Nightcrawler" via Bold Films

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