Best crime movies sometimes show more than the life of a criminal, but also the struggles and the difficulties they face, while some other times it shows the side of the police chasing them.
Crime in movies, or movies about criminals gives you the perspective side of how some people live on the edge.
If you have ever considered living on the edge, then criminal movies might come just in handy. It is a joke, do not consider it, no, really don’t! 😂
So, in this piece, I have compiled the best crime movies, thriller crime movies, crime drama movies, well in general any films that are in the crime genre. If best thriller movies or horror films are your things, OnReplayTV lists plenty of them.
Bonnie and Clyde (1967)
Director: Arthur Penn
Writers: David Newman, Robert Benton
Stars: Warren Beatty, Faye Dunaway, Michael J. Pollard
Bonnie and Clyde were a real American criminal couple in the 1930s who robbed banks with their gang around the Central United States.
It is only fair we start the best crime movies article with this crime movie that is based on true events which became one of a kind cultural phenomenon.
Movies about criminals should probably not gain this much popularity or fame. Except this crime film went ahead to become the kind of crime movie that gets referenced in our modern pop culture like they were the heroes of that age.
The best crime movies to this day still try to make a movie that is based on the truth so that they can be as successful as this couple.
The Godfather (1972)
Director: Francis Ford Coppola
Writers: Mario Puzo (screenplay by), Francis Ford Coppola (screenplay by)
Stars: Marlon Brando, Al Pacino, James Caan
Crime movies like Godfather are what make me love movies in the first place. This is not simply one of the best crime movies of all time, but also the best movie ever made.
Everything about the movie is so well depicted and fits the theme of crime movies in such an astounding way that it is almost impossible to point out what makes this movie incredible
The cast is what you would expect from the 70s best movies, the adaptation of the screenplay is something that you cannot still expect anyone else to do better.
If there was one crime movie to show you like the best crime movies of all time, it would certainly be Godfather.
Director: Martin Scorsese
Writers: Nicholas Pileggi (book), Nicholas Pileggi (screenplay)
Stars: Robert De Niro, Ray Liotta, Joe Pesci
The staged documentary movie with characters breaking the fourth wall might be popular now but it was in the 90s that it first took root and became mainstream in crime movies, movies about criminals, true crime movies, and surely in the best crime movies.
The best movies of that time usually featured mafia as the main driving force of crime in movies. However, not from the point of view of a character that is at the bottom of the command line, or like hierarchy.
Martins Scorsese crime drama movies have always been great and this one is the testament to it.
Director: Michael Mann
Writer: Michael Mann
Stars: Al Pacino, Robert De Niro, Val Kilmer
The 90s are filled with crime movies with De Niro and Al Pacino and this movie has them both, which is why it is one of the best crime movies of all time.
Also, remember we said some of the movies feature the side of the detectives or the police force chasing the criminals?
Heat is just that and more than just a crime movie, it is about the legacy of a criminal and the detective.
Who could portray that better than Al Pacino.
Pulp Fiction (1994)
Director: Quentin Tarantino
Writers: Quentin Tarantino (stories), Roger Avary (stories)
Stars: John Travolta, Uma Thurman, Samuel L. Jackson
Speaking of the incredible cast in the best crime movies, Pulp Fictions is full of them. But the two main characters played by John Travolta and Samuel L, Jackson are but all-time favorites of mine and ones that upped the performances bar way high for not only crime movies but for movies in general.
Tarantino’s original screenplay and its style of filming make this movie not just the best crime movies, but one of the best movies to watch in general.
Comedy in crime movies has been tried just about a million times before in the movies, however not like it was in Tarantino’s pulp fiction it just does it in a unique and the best way possible.
Knives Out (2019)
Director: Rian Johnson
Writer: Rian Johnson
Stars: Daniel Craig, Chris Evans, Ana de Armas
Our very own Ryan Johnson finally did it, after probably messing up a few franchises, movies about criminals, thriller crime movies, and including Star Wars, it was long-awaited that he proved why he kept getting to direct those big blockbuster movies without much of a true credit.
The best crime movie in 2019 is also one of the best directed and written crime movies of the year. It might not be ones’ traditional crime movie, regardless it is about detectives chasing criminals which makes it a good candidate for this movie genre.
Apart from stellar performances, the thing I love the most is the characters portrayed in this crime movie. They are so 3-dimensional and their actions make so much sense in the end that even though there is a bad persona you understand why he did what he did. That to me is the art of storytelling in moviemaking which is why this is one of the best crime movies of all time.
Director: Todd Phillips
Writers: Todd Phillips, Scott Silver
Stars: Joaquin Phoenix, Robert De Niro, Zazie Beetz
As we were talking about three-dimensional characters Joker has but this got so right.
Best crime movies or crime movies sometimes forget to show that even your antagonist is a human and has needs and wants or reason for why he commits the crime in movies.
Joker utilized all of the technical knowledge learned throughout history to make the best crime movies. If you have watched Alita, there is a part where she saves a dog.
The actual term for this is “save the cat” it is one of the things Hollywood movies, crime movies, true crime movies, thriller crime movies, crime drama movies do a lot to connect with the audience and get them rooting for the main hero.
Joker utilizes the same technique in a bit different way, and its called “kick the dog”. You probably know what it means now.
In Alita’s case, you cannot help but love the character, in Joker’s you cannot help but feel sympathy.
If you hire one of the best actors in existence today, then you have the formula to make whatever crazy, immoral or stupid crap you want to make, or to make the best crime movies but the audience will still love you for it.
That is exactly why I love movies, or moviemaking in general, even though it is manipulative at times, the best movies or the best crime movies never fail to show the perspective of the criminal in such a mundane and sympathetic way.
No Country For Old Men (2007)
Directors: Ethan Coen, Joel Coen
Writers: Joel Coen (screenplay), Ethan Coen (screenplay)
Stars: Tommy Lee Jones, Javier Bardem, Josh Brolin
The thriller crime movie explores the idea of finding a million dollars, however in no ordinary way. It is not in simple crime movies, the criminal movies explore it through a psychological approach which makes it unique and one of the best crime movies.
Naming some of its awards or the cast might get some people excited enough to consider watching this crime film.
However, saying that it is a gritty and raw evocation of the western genre thriller crime movie in such a way that has never been accomplished before and still to this day, should get everyone intrigued and interested to at least check out one of the best crime movies of all time.
The Usual Suspects (1995)
Director: Bryan Singer
Writer: Christopher McQuarrie
Stars: Kevin Spacey, Gabriel Byrne, Chazz Palminteri
It’s this time when I quote lines from the best movies on our list. The quote of the best crime movies is taken from The Usual Suspects.
Kevin Spacey character:
Keyser Soze, says he does not believe in God, but he is afraid of him.
And I believe in God, and the only thing that scares me is Keyser Soze.
This is again one of the best crime movies lines that proves how much a good writer Christopher Mcquarrie is proven by winning the Oscars for best original screenplay.
The writing could be outstanding and original and unique all that, if you don’t have the right cast to deliver it to the audience it is merely a movie let alone the best crime movie.
Kevin Spacey’s performance is just one of a kind, and one of those kinds when you start to wonder if there is something wrong with Spacey or if he is a true criminal of some sort.
Black Mass (2015)
Director: Scott Cooper
Writers: Mark Mallouk (screenplay), Jez Butterworth (screenplay)
Stars: Johnny Depp, Benedict Cumberbatch, Dakota Johnson
Speaking of the role of performances in the best crime movies, Black Mass has got itself one of the best actors: Johnny Depp.
The attention to detail even to the minor details like having the main character speak with the Boston accent because the role he portrays is supposed to be Bostonian is one of the aspects of a crime movie which makes it one of the best crime movies of 2015.
It is a true crime movie noir with a thriller crime movie feel that never got the praise it deserved except by the audiences.
Crime films but need only recognition from the audience as the crime in movies usually unrelatable with the majority of viewers.
American Hustle (2015)
Director: David O. Russell
Writers: Eric Warren Singer, David O. Russell
Stars: Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Bradley Cooper
Previous movies I was talking about the performances of protagonists in crime movies. American Hustle has but a whole ensemble of them, making this crimes movie feel like its a love story.
Usually, movies about criminals do not have this many hot and handsome characters, but crime in movies do not have the requirements to feature all that.
American Hustle utilizes good looking actors with intelligent storytelling to become one of the best crime movies.
City of God (2002)
Directors: Fernando Meirelles, Kátia Lund (co-director)
Writers: Paulo Lins (novel), Bráulio Mantovani (screenplay)
Stars: Alexandre Rodrigues, Leandro Firmino, Matheus Nachtergaele
The list of best crime movies would not be complete without this incredible Brazilian crime drama movie that documents one of the most criminal counties of Rio de Janeiro.
Crime movies with realistic feel are hard to come by, especially ones that have drama and aesthetic raw feel to it.
As the name suggests it is more than one of those crime drama movies with romance included, it explores the lives of that neighborhood and how much struggles they face on a day to day basis yet still occupy hope like it’s the last that matters.
This is yet the best crime movie which comes outside Hollywood but is as good as any Hollywood crime movies.
The Irishman (2019)
Director: Martin Scorsese
Writers: Steven Zaillian (screenplay), Charles Brandt (book)
Stars: Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, Joe Pesci
Let me conclude the list with the best crime movies of the 21st century. Even though this crime mafia movie is of this century its actors have been known for their criminal movies for a long time now.
It features Al Pacino, De Niro, Joe Pesci, all those actors that have been in movies about criminals more than enough times to show their talent.
By the way, did I mention it was directed by Martin Scorsese? This gives this crime mafia movie it’s one of kind credibility.
Although there are so many similarities in style compared to movies like Raging Bull, Goodfellas, Mean Streets, it can only be concluded that Scorsese by now knows exactly what to and not to do in crime movies to make the picture exceptional.
You do not necessarily need to have Al Pacino to make the best crime movies, nor it is necessary to feature the lives of either side of criminal movies.
As we have learned, the best crime movies could be anything from solving and committing a crime to exploring personalities, three-dimensional characters, and of course crime in movies in fantasy worlds to crime movies based on true events.
Best crime movies have it all and in as much masterful way as any of the best movie genres should.