A shocking twist ending is a great way to end a film with a bang but great twists aren’t confined to just the ends of films. The best plot twists catch us off guard, recontextualizing everything we just watched and rewarding subsequent rewatches. There will, of course, be major spoilers to follow, this is your SPOILER WARNING! Without further ado, join us in counting down the 20 best plot twist movies of all time.

Best Plot Twist Movies

20. Murder on the Orient Express (1974)

Plot Twist Movies  •  Murder on the Orient Express

After our hero Hercule Poirot has interview every suspect upon the Orient Express train, he arrives at the surprisingly conclusion that the murder wasn’t carried out by any individual, but rather by each and every suspect. A group murder!
 
No list of the best plot twist movies would be considered complete without an entry for the queen of the murder mystery, Agatha Christie. The murder mystery genre is an inherently twisty one and Christie is no stranger to the plot twist. For our money, Murder on the Orient Express is her at her twistiest! 

70%
twist quality
80%
film quality
80%
twist originality
71.25%
OVERALL SCORE
  • The cast
  • The score
  • Lumet’s direction
  • Could use trimming
  • N/A
  • N/A

Plot Twist Movies

Conclusion

For a modern update on this type of murder mystery, instead of checking out the 2017 remake, consider checking out Rian Johnson’s Knives Out instead.

BEST MOVIE TWISTS OF ALL TIME

19. Saw (2004)

Movies with Twist Endings  •  Saw

The man who you at first suspect of being the killer is just another pawn in Jigsaw’s game. That’s a small-scale, warmup twist, but the major twist is yet to come. The dead body that has been lying in the center of the room for the entire film is more than meets the eye. As the game draws to a close, Jigsaw rises from the pool of blood, hiding in plain sight and masterminding the entire time.

This excellent twist set a precedent that the rest of the Saw franchise would attempt to duplicate or one-up with each new entry. The results became increasingly mixed as the series trended toward the more convoluted, never besting the twist from the original film.
70%
twist quality
65%
film quality
75%
twist originality
71.25%
OVERALL SCORE
  • Fresh scenario
  • Creatively executed
  • Worldbuilding
  • Haphazard editing
  • Undercranked shots
  • Ugly color grading

BEST PLOT TWIST MOVIES

Conclusion

The sharp decline of the Saw franchise makes it easy to forget how good the first film really was.

Best Movie Twists of All Time

18. The Others (2001)

Plot Twist Movies  •  The Others

The Others is a twist on the entire ghost movie formula. What at first seems to be a standard ghost film with good performances, compelling lighting, and well-executed scares, it turns out to be an inversion of the exact type of film you thought you were watching. The main characters are revealed to be ghosts themselves in the film’s shocking final plot twist.

80%
twist quality
75%
film quality
85%
twist originality
71.25%
OVERALL SCORE
  • Nicole Kidman
  • Fresh take on Ghosts
  • Great scares
  • Slow moving
  • Not enough scares
  • N/A

Best Movies with a Twist

Conclusion

A solidly crafted film elevated to new heights through its inventive twist on the genre.

BEST PLOT TWIST MOVIES

17. Parasite (2019)

Bong Joon-ho’s mastery of genre and tone  •  Subscribe on YouTube

Now we reach our first entry that doesn’t have a plot twist at the end but rather in the middle. At the precise mid-point of the film, Parasite undergoes a total genre shift as the housekeeper’s secret, a mystery staircase, and an in-hiding husband are all revealed, sending the plot in a completely unexpected direction. This is an excellent example of peripeteia.

Be sure to watch our video essay and read through our blog post to understand how Bong Joon-ho crafted and executed this mid-point twist.
75%
twist quality
90%
film quality
80%
twist originality
71.25%
OVERALL SCORE
  • Tight script
  • Excellent acting
  • Immaculately assembled
  • N/A
  • N/A
  • N/A

BEST PLOT TWIST MOVIES

Conclusion

If you want more twisty Bong Joon-ho goodness, then check out his film Mother for another excellent plot twist.

MOVIES WITH GREAT TWISTS

16. Arrival (2016)

How Denis Villeneuve Balances Fear and Intrigue  •  Subscribe on YouTube

Arrival’s plot twist is somewhat unique in that it comes as less of a narrative revelation, and more of a structural one. The twist in Arrival is in the reveal of its non-linearity. What we had thought were flashbacks scattered throughout the film, were in actuality glimpses of the future. This twist alters our understanding of the main characters and our very perception of the concept of time — fascinating stuff.

If you love Arrival and want to read more about Denis Villeneuve's first sci-fi foray, be sure to read our Arrival analysis: balancing fear with intrigue.

85%
twist quality
75%
film quality
90%
twist originality
71.25%
OVERALL SCORE
  • Production design
  • Sound design
  • Tonal balance
  • Renner is flat
  • N/A
  • N/A

PLOT TWIST MOVIES

Conclusion

One of the only “structural twists” out there, Arrival is inventive in more ways than one.

BEST MOVIES WITH A TWIST

15. The Handmaiden (2016)

Plot Twist Movies  •  The Handmaiden

Whereas one plot twist is enough for most films, The Handmaiden has about three, and each one is excellent. Every time you think you have a handle on The Handmaiden’s plot, the ground shifts underneath you and the entire narrative changes as a new ripple is revealed. Allegiances are altered, context and motivations change, double-crosses become triple-crosses, and Park Chan-wook navigates all of these twists with a sure and steady hand.

85%
twist quality
85%
film quality
80%
twist originality
71.25%
OVERALL SCORE
  • Performances
  • Script
  • Stylish direction
  • Long runtime
  • N/A
  • N/A

MOVIES WITH BIGGEST PLOT TWISTS

Conclusion

Not content with just one plot twist, The Handmaiden keeps throwing plot twists at you right to the end.

BEST PLOT TWIST MOVIES

14. Primal Fear (1996)

Movies with Twist Endings  •  Primal Fear

Primal Fear follows Richard Gere as an attorney fighting, at first, for the freedom of a man he believes to be innocent, then for his case to be ruled “not guilty by reason of insanity” after realizing his client is suffering from dissociative identity disorder. But, here comes the twist, the split personality is nothing more than a ruse. The man truly is guilty and is faking a split personality to get off with a lighter sentencing. 

80%
twist quality
65%
film quality
80%
twist originality
71.25%
OVERALL SCORE
  • Edward Norton
  • Laura Linney
  • The twist!
  • Bland protagonist
  • Scenes without Norton
  • N/A

BEST PLOT TWIST MOVIES

Conclusion

Edward Norton gives a fantastic performance in the role of the dissociative-identity disorder faking psychopath and is the reason this film has a loyal following.

BEST MOVIE TWISTS OF ALL TIME

13. A Tale of Two Sisters (2003)

Movies With Great Plot Twists  •  A Tale of Two Sisters

Coming out of South Korea from director Kim Jee-woon, A Tale of Two Sisters contains a familiar but extremely well-executed plot twist. The titular “two sisters” are actually just one sister, with the other having died before the events of the film. An extra wrinkle thrown in sees the one sister not just projecting as both sisters, but also as their cold-hearted stepmother as well.

70%
twist quality
80%
film quality
70%
twist originality
71.25%
OVERALL SCORE
  • Cinematography
  • Color palette
  • Inventive mise en scene
  • Predictable plot
  • Light on scares
  • N/A

PLOT TWIST MOVIES

Conclusion

The 2014 German horror film Goodnight Mommy’s plot is essentially a carbon copy of A Tale of Two Sisters. Be sure to watch the originator if you’ve only seen the copycat.

MOVIES WITH GREAT TWISTS

12. The Prestige (2006)

Movies with Great Plot Twists  •  The Prestige

The Prestige contains not one but two excellent plot twists, perfectly appropriate given the subject matter of the film. As Michael Caine explains of magic tricks, you have the pledge, the turn, and finally the prestige. In the film, the pledge is the setup of the plot in motion, the turn is the initial plot twist: the teleportation trick is secretly executed by creating clones that then must be killed. And finally, the prestige is the second twist: the rival magician is secretly two brothers sharing one life.

85%
twist quality
80%
film quality
80%
twist originality
71.25%
OVERALL SCORE
  • Screenplay
  • Highly rewatchable
  • David-Freaking-Bowie
  • N/A
  • N/A
  • N/A

BEST MOVIES WITH A TWIST

Conclusion

The Prestige sees a tight, twisty script brought to life through Christopher Nolan’s immaculate direction. 

BEST PLOT TWIST MOVIES

11. Once Upon a Time... in Hollywood (2019)

How Tarantino Directs Suspense  •  Subscribe on YouTube

While the vast majority of plot twists take a turn for the dark, Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood is the inverse. You spend the entire film dreading the events you know will follow based on your outsider knowledge of the Manson killings… then Tarantino pulls the rug out from underneath you.

Instead of a morbid recreation of a real-life tragedy, Tarantino instead presents his revisionist version of events, a gleefully gory takedown of the Manson followers before they can execute the dastardly deeds they intended to.

If you want more Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood goodness, then be sure to watch our video essay above and read through our breakdown of the Spahn Ranch sequence.

75%
twist quality
85%
film quality
100%
twist originality
71.25%
OVERALL SCORE
  • Massively cathartic
  • Pitt and DiCaprio
  • Tarantino style
  • Less effective on rewatch
  • N/A
  • N/A

BEST PLOT TWIST MOVIES

Conclusion

Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood’s twist might not make you rethink everything you just watched but it does subvert morbid expectations in the best way possible.

BEST MOVIES WITH A TWIST

10. Oldboy (2003)

Movies with Twist Endings  •  Oldboy

Park Chan-wook’s Oldboy is an incredible film all around and the twist at the end is shocking in a manner perfectly suited to this particular film. The film actually plays a trick on you by making you think you’ve already gotten the plot twist: that the villain was sleeping with his sister who then killed herself after being exposed by the protagonist many years ago. But then the real twist comes rushing at you, that our protagonist has now been tricked and manipulated into sleeping with his own daughter, mirroring the past.

80%
twist quality
100%
film quality
90%
twist originality
71.25%
OVERALL SCORE
  • Choi Min-sik
  • Park Chan-wook’s direction
  • Hammer fight
  • N/A
  • N/A
  • N/A

BEST MOVIES WITH A TWIST

Conclusion

Be sure to watch the original Oldboy from South Korea, not the abysmal American remake.

Movies with Great Twists

9. Shutter Island (2010)

Movies with Best Plot Twists  •  Shutter Island

Shutter Island presents itself from the beginning as an off-kilter thriller where you cannot trust your eyes and where nothing is as simple as it first seems, and yet, the film still manages to catch you off guard with a grade-A twist ending.

Our protagonist being a patient of the mental hospital rather than a detective investigating it, and him being the killer he’s convinced himself he’s trying to catch, combine into a memorable twist that recontextualizes every single scene in the film before capping off with a perfectly ambiguous ending.

80%
twist quality
90%
film quality
70%
twist originality
71.25%
OVERALL SCORE
  • Performances
  • Sense of mania
  • Visuals
  • N/A
  • N/A
  • N/A

PLOT TWIST MOVIES

Conclusion

Adapted from Dennis Lehane’s novel, Martin Scorsese brings Shutter Island to life.

Best Movies with a Twist

8. Soylent Green (1973)

Movies with Best Plot Twists  •  Soylent Green

The plot twist in Soylent Green has miraculously transcended the film it lives within. Through numerous pop cultural references, many people who have never seen Soylent Green will undoubtedly recognize the line “Soylent Green is people!” Not many plot twists become a standalone phrase embedded in the zeitgeist while the film itself is not.

90%
twist quality
80%
film quality
90%
twist originality
71.25%
OVERALL SCORE
  • Dystopian world
  • Charlton Heston
  • Iconic twist
  • Some cheesiness
  • N/A
  • N/A

MOVIES WITH BIGGEST PLOT TWISTS

Conclusion

Beyond having a famous twist, Soylent Green is a good film as well. It presents a compelling dystopian future and entails plenty of tense buildup before the big reveal.

BEST PLOT TWIST MOVIES

7. Gone Girl (2014)

Top Plot Twist Movies  •  Gone Girl

The twist that made Gone Girl a sensation in the book industry hits just as hard in film form. Our everyman protagonist is under suspicion of killing his wife. We’re too busy questioning whether he did it or if someone else did it to consider the possibility of her being a sociopath and faking the whole thing in order to frame him and ruin his life for cheating on her. This is another example of a mid-point twist working fabulously in place of a twist ending.

95%
twist quality
90%
film quality
90%
twist originality
71.25%
OVERALL SCORE
  • Excellent script
  • Fincher’s direction
  • Twist execution
  • Affleck is overshadowed
  • N/A
  • N/A

MOVIES WITH HUGE PLOT TWISTS

Conclusion

If you loved the Gone Girl film and wanted to know a bit more about what happened after the credits rolled, then check out Gillian Flynn’s source novel which continues a fair bit beyond the end of the film.

BEST MOVIES WITH A TWIST

6. Planet of the Apes (1968)

Top Plot Twist Movies  •  Planet of the Apes

One of cinema’s most iconic images comes from the twist ending of Planet of the Apes. This plot twist is special in its brevity; it can be conveyed in just a single shot. The startling image of the statue of liberty buried in the sand provides all of the information needed to understand the ramifications of this plot twist.

90%
twist quality
80%
film quality
90%
twist originality
71.25%
OVERALL SCORE
  • Grand sci-fi vision
  • Iconic imagery
  • Strong writing
  • Uncanny valley masks
  • Heston hams it up
  • N/A

BEST PLOT TWIST MOVIES

Conclusion

The iconic statue of liberty in the sand was actually not included in the original Planet of the Apes novel. There is some debate over who conceived of this iconic image, with most sources suggesting that it originated from the creative mind of Twilight Zone creator Rod Serling.

MOVIES WITH GREAT TWISTS

5. Memento (2000)

Movies with Twist Endings  •  Memento

Memento has one major twist ending but to consider this the film’s only twist would be doing it a disservice. Memento is like a great, big ball of twists that you spend the entire film unraveling. Each new scene feels like a twist following the proceeding one. The nature of this non-chronological film’s structure means that the plot plays out through constant reveals where every single scene recontextualizes the one that came before it.

95%
twist quality
95%
film quality
95%
twist originality
71.25%
OVERALL SCORE
  • Narrative structure
  • Performances
  • Highly rewatchable
  • N/A
  • N/A
  • N/A

MOVIES WITH BIGGEST PLOT TWISTS

Conclusion

The final twist is excellent but the entire film is so full of twists that it’s impossible to isolate just one without taking in the bigger picture.

BEST PLOT TWIST MOVIES

4. The Sixth Sense (1999)

Best Movie Twists of All Time  •  The Sixth Sense

It’s no twist that an M. Night Shyamalan movie would be making an appearance on this list. Often called the “master of the twist ending,” M. Night Shyamalan has delivered more twists across his career than most directors but the crown jewel of his twists remains his 1999 classic The Sixth Sense.

These days, it’s hard to go into The Sixth Sense without already knowing the twist. Bruce Willis’ Dr. Crowe is a ghost throughout the whole film, but at the time, audiences were stunned, and anyone getting the chance to see the film un-spoiled will likely have the same reaction.

90%
twist quality
85%
film quality
90%
twist originality
71.25%
OVERALL SCORE
  • Performances
  • The twist
  • N/A
  • Cheesy moments
  • Ineffective scares
  • N/A

Movies with Biggest Plot Twists

Conclusion

Do you prefer one of M. Night Shyamalan’s other twist endings? He certainly has enough to pick from.

BEST MOVIES WITH A TWIST

3. Fight Club (1999)

Plot Twist Movies  •  Fight Club

Fight Club’s iconic twist is one that has been copied and mimicked time and time again and, to be fair, Fight Club wasn’t even the first film to execute this particular type of twist but it does do it better than almost any other. There are so many little hints, clues, and subliminal messages of the truth before the big reveal that Brad Pitt and Edward Norton are both, in fact, playing the same character of Tyler Durdin.

100%
twist quality
100%
film quality
80%
twist originality
71.25%
OVERALL SCORE
  • Creative, layered writing
  • Fincher’s style
  • The cast
  • N/A
  • N/A
  • N/A

MOVIES WITH HUGE PLOT TWISTS

Conclusion

The split personality/imaginary character trope has been done to death these days, but Fight Club stands above all the imitators.

BEST PLOT TWIST MOVIES

2. The Usual Suspects (1995)

Movies with Twist Endings  •  The Usual Suspects

The Oscar-winning screenplay for The Usual Suspects from Christopher McQuarrie is tight and inventive from beginning to end, but especially the end. Wow, that ending. Beyond just being one of the best twist endings, The Usual Suspects stands amongst the best movie endings, period. The reveal that the meek Verbal Kint is secretly the criminal mastermind we’ve been hearing about the entire film, Keyser Soze, is perfectly executed.

100%
twist quality
90%
film quality
100%
twist originality
71.25%
OVERALL SCORE
  • Good mystery
  • Stylish script
  • Execution of the twist
  • Kevin Spacey factor
  • N/A
  • N/A

Movies with Huge Plot Twists

Conclusion

The Usual Suspects is a film built entirely around building up to this twist ending and making it as impactful as possible.

BEST PLOT TWIST MOVIES

1. Psycho (1960)

Best Twist Ending Movies  •  Psycho

The reason why we said Fight Club executed the split personality twist better than almost any other film, is because Psycho did it first, and did it the best. Psycho’s twist ending is undyingly iconic, not least of all because of Anthony Perkins’ mesmerizing performance and Alfred Hitchcock’s pitch-perfect direction. Psycho actually contains two twists, the former of which is overshadowed by the latter and somewhat lost with age. The film’s protagonist being murdered before the halfway point is a shocking twist in its own right, before the definitive twist ending is even in sight.

100%
twist quality
100%
film quality
100%
twist originality
71.25%
OVERALL SCORE
  • Performances
  • Hitchcock’s tension
  • Iconic scenes
  • N/A
  • N/A
  • N/A

Best Plot Twist Movies

Conclusion

Psycho is the original twist ending of this dark nature and still the best of its kind. No one does it better than Hitch.

UP NEXT

The Best Gangster Movies of All Time

Keep on counting down with our list of the best gangster films ever made. From the classics to the contemporaries, we ranked them all. See what our top picks for the best gangster movies of all time.

Up Next: Best Gangster Movies →
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