Movies tend to influence generations in the oddest and unexpected ways ever. Whether it’s about the storyline, character or main actors, some peices of Hollywood art really bend the rules and leave a mark on our minds. As a result, we are often left with an array of unimaginable, mind-boggling questions. Every once in a while filmmakers like to challenge their audience’s psyche by creating their films in a way that allows us to examine the philosophical ideas of human identity, science, consciousness and so on.
Without further ado, here are the 20 most mind-bending movies ever! Guess which one is my favorite.
20. Vanilla Sky (2001)
Tom Cruise plays David Aames, a man lost in his own dreams. But then again, his life basically is a dream; he’s young, successful and handsome. However, after a car accident with a jilted ex lover, his dreams soon turn into nightmares, as dreams often do, and shortly after his life becomes entwined with chaos.
19. Donnie Darko (2001)
The main character, Donnie Darko (Jake Gyllenhaal) suffers from sleep walking and delusions which include visions of a large bunny. The bunny named Frank manipulates Darko into committing different crimes and also informs Darko that the world is coming to an end, leaving him with intense dread and he eventually begins questioning if the events in his life are actually real or illusions.
18. Oldboy (2003)
Oldboy follows Dae-Su who is kidnapped, finds himself locked up in a make-shift prison and is confined there for 15 years. After enduring years of isolation and suicide attempts, he wakes up from a gas-induced coma on top of a tower box where he was originally captured. With no explanation as to why this has happened to him, he then proceeds to try and find the answers to all of his unanswered questions.
17. Identity (2003)
Unusual circumstances bring eleven people, strangers to each other outside of their respective “groups”, together and they end up stranded in an uninhabited Nevada motel on a stormy night. Soon bodies start turning up and things are not what they seem. One by one they begin to get killed, for no apparent reason.
16. The Number 23 (2007)
The movie follows Walter (Jim Carrey), and the events that lead up to his life becoming filled with paranoia. Walter convinces himself after reading a novel that the number 23 is haunting him and he soon begins to align similarities between the main character in the novel and his own life.
15. Dead Ringers (1988)
David Cronenberg’s Dead Ringers, is about twins Elliot and Beverly Mantle, both gynecologists. Being extremely close the two share everything and very few people can tell them apart; an arrangement they both use to their advantage, until Beverly falls for a patient and soon discovers there are things he doesn’t want to share with Elliot.
14. Cube (1997)
Cube is a sci-fi thriller about 6 strangers; a cop, a math whiz, a doctor, a building designer an escape master, and a disabled man, who are involuntarily placed in a dangerous and endless maze, trying to find their way out.
13. Moon (2009)
Moon tells the story of Sam Bell, the only resident of an automated lunar mining base whose sole task is to extract Helium-3 from lunar rocks that need to be shipped back to Earth. After an isolated three-year posting, Sam’s mind becomes unbalanced, leaving the audience to wonder if the events that are unraveling are actually happening, or simply a result of his now diluted mind.
12. The Believer (2001)
Inspired by real events, The Believer reveals the story of a young Jewish man who struggles with his beliefs. Ryan Gosling plays Danny, whose ideas about his religion lead him into a world of hatred and denial. Flashbacks shown through the movie allow us to see how he struggled with his early teachings of Judaism and his lack of understanding, which eventually leads him to become a race–hating skinhead.
11. Detachment (2011)
Detachment revolves around a cynic substitute teacher (played by Adrien Brody) who arrives at a dangerous school where he ends up connecting to some of the students and teachers on his latest assignment. The school is brutal, and is full of students that are prone to bullying each other, even their teachers.
10. Mulholland Dr. (2001)
A car crash leaves a woman an amnesiac, which brings on a catalyst of a hopeful search for clues and delivers shocking answers in a twisting adventure beyond dreams and reality. David Lynch‘s thriller takes off logically, but then moderately abandons logical coherence as dreamlike but realistic sequences are introduced into the plot.
9. The Machinist (2004)
The Machinist is about an industrial worker (Christian Bale), who suffers from insomnia and hasn’t slept in a year. This condition causes him to lose weight, and distorts his perception of reality.
8. 1984 (1984)
1984 takes place after The Atomic War and the world is now divided into three states in a futuristic society. Winston Smith is a bureaucrat, rewriting history in one of the departments, but one day he commits the crime of falling in love. Through this rebellion, he and his lover try to escape the clutches of big brother who hears and sees everything, but nobody can really escape, can they?
7. A Beautiful Mind (2001)
A Beautiful Mind is a biopic of John Forbes Nash Jr., a math genius who was able to solve problems that have perplexed some of the greatest minds. The film follows the story of how he overcame years of torment, battling schizophrenia and went on to win the Nobel Prize.
6. The Matrix (1999)
The story of The Matrix revolves around a man who lives two lives. By day he’s a typical computer programmer and by night, a hacker with the alias Neo. He ends up crossing paths with underground freedom fighters who help him understand that the reality he thinks he knows is actually more complex than he could ever imagine.
5. Fight Club (1999)
Edward Norton plays an average guy existing in a dead-end life who suffers from insomnia and is yearning for some kind of change in his life. He stumbles across soap maker, Tyler Durden (played by Brad Pitt) and they end up building an underground fight club that emerges into something much more.
4. Memento (2000)
Memento tells the story of Leonard Shelby, a man who lost his short-term memory due to a vicious assault in which his wife was raped and murdered. Despite his short-term memory loss he creates an odd system in hopes of finding his wife’s murderer.
3. 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
2001: A Space Odyssey questions politics, science, technology, evolution, the concept of “knowledge” itself, and what they all actually mean. The significance for humanity is mind-blowing, and the very fact that the aliens are never shown only adds to the colossal mystery.
2. Inception (2010)
Leonardo DiCaprio plays a world class criminal who enlists the help of a team of sleep experts in order for him to work his way into people’s subconscious and steal their most prized possessions. Now on his last assignment, he is faced with a massive dilemma when he discovers certain people have been trained to prevent their thoughts from being taken.
1. Jacob’s Ladder (1990)
A haunted Vietnam war veteran tries to unravel his past while suffering from an extreme form of dissociation. His days are filled with flashbacks of his first marriage, his dead son and his time in Vietnam. In order to discover his past, he must break down and understand reality from his own dreams and perceptions.