Most Mind-Bending Movies Ever Made

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The Matrix


Even though Matrix Reloaded and Revolution were disappointing to say the least, one cannot make a list about the most mind-bending movies of all time without including the Wachowski siblings’ seminal sci-fi epic The Matrix. It’s almost an ode to the world’s of philosophers, futurists, and sci-fi nerds alike.

The Matrix, in the literal sense, is film designed to mess with your mind. The essential plot of the film is that the 1999-world we believe to be real is actually a grand façade created by these malevolent sentient machines to keep humans in a concentrated cyber world while they harness our bodies for fuel to keep up their campaign for total global domination.

Simply watching the green code flow down your screen is enough to confuse even the most confident of moviegoers, but watch it enough and you’ll understand the basis of the Wachowskis’ goal to bring your attention to yet another possibility of human extinction via man-made machines.

Shutter Island


I’m sure I’m not the only one who think this, but Leonard DiCaprio deserved an Oscar for his performance in Martin Scorsese’s Shutter Island. In this movie, DiCaprio plays a U.S. Marshall who goes to Shutter Island–a mental psychiatric facility for the worst of the criminally insane (something like American Horror Story Asylum–with his partner Mark Ruffalo to investigate the supposed disappearance of one of the patients. Throughout this journey to find the missing patient, DiCaprio comes to terms that he in fact might be a patient on the island; and all of this was some elaborate plan to get him to admit it to himself. But in the end, he believes he’s being kept against his will.

In this mind-bending masterpiece the audience must ask themselves is, “Is he really insane?”

The Fountain


A truly inspirational film about life, love, death, and acceptance of the inevitable desp
ite any and all extreme measures one will take to change the outcome of any circumstance. Darren Aronofsky blends the worlds of science fiction, fantasy, and religion in The Fountain; about a man, Thomas, is separated into three eras with three different lives: 16th century Spain during the inquisitions in which Thomas is a soldier; the present day in which he is a scientist; and the 26th century in which he is an astronaut.

In all three lives, Thomas is hell bent on discovering the cure to his wife’s illness before she succumbs to her impending death. As his journey comes to an end, he finally grasps the idea that is life and its harsh finale, death.

Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind

Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind 1

Charlie Kaufman and Michel Gondry created a sci-fi romantic film that bends the hearts and minds of anyone who watches Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. As the protagonist, Joel Barish, tries to erase all the memories of his ex-girlfriend from his mind after she erases all her memories of him from her mind, we are shown a world in which memories of the two collide and are re-experienced as they disappear into pure nothingness in this mind-bending multi-layered world that is the mind.



Though Christopher Nolan is known for his Dark Knight trilogy and the mind-bending Freudian concept that is Inception, Memento is still one of his greatest works that tends to go overlooked. In this, Guy Pearce plays Leonard Shelby, a man who was shot and then proceeded to lose the ability to store short term memories; so he goes about his life writing notes to himself through tattoos and pictures.

Viewers are shown the constant struggle of Shelby to find the man who murdered his wife and forced that chaotic lifestyle of his that is amnesia. To witness this, Nolan and his brother treat audiences with the mind-boggling concept of reverse chronological order that is not-so-surprisingly enough to baffle viewers from the get-go.

No matter how many times I see this movie, I am still in awe of the geniuses the Nolan brothers are to come up with such a mind-bending plot only to surprise viewers time and time again.

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  • Cinemark

    What about the Granddaddy of mind-bending films: 2001

  • Ryan

    You forgot Stay and Donnie Darko

  • Milla

    Donnie Darko for sure should be on this list

  • Milla

    or Fight Club!

  • Dev

    A Beautiful Mind. C’mon

  • Ghazi

    The worst part is that Dennis Lehane who actually wrote Shutter Island gets no recognition

  • http://www.facebook.com/christopher.patterson2 Chris Shadowfinder Patterson

    Mind bend try ( Existence ) CLASSIC and ( John Dies at the end ) for me the others I understood but these 2 gave me a headache.

    • http://www.facebook.com/SmithingChick Sharon Smith

      I’m glad I wasn’t the only one thinking Existenz.

    • BertyFromDK

      I think Videodrome is in the same vein as eXistenz – both are by Cronenberg, after all.

  • NillaWafer


  • ScouseBot23

    “But in the end, he believes he’s being kept against his will.” (Shutter Island)…This isn’t what happens, the therapy ended up working as he realised he killed his wife but he didn’t want to live knowing that he did. That’s why he says, “Which would be worse–to live as a monster? Or to die as a good man?”, at the end before getting up and (of his own freewill, without anybody helping him) walking towards his own lobotomy…which is why Mark Ruffalo reacts the way he does….it makes the film less “Inception-like” as it’s not as open-ended but it makes it that much more depressing…brilliant film, and if DiCaprio didn’t have his problems with the academy, he would have won for this for sure (and best supporting for Django; NOT EVEN NOMINATED?!?!)…especially for the lake house scene…Chills…

    • Indranil Chatterjee


  • Yoric

    Mulholland Drive?

  • Colin

    Also left out here: Jacob’s Ladder. A truly mind-bending and excellent film.

    • Kerry Coulter Crooks

      I was thinking the same thing. Jacob’s Ladder is one of my favourites. At the end you go “Oooooohhhhhh” and then you watch it again.

  • Glen Smith

    Have to say some of these movies are the weirdest i have ever seen. Certain ones i stopped halfway as i thought they were a load of crap.

  • George A. Christie

    In the Mouth of Madness, Repulsion, Identity, Donnie Darko, eXistenz, Antichrist, The Holy Mountain, all better options than most on this list.

  • thathang3

    What a stupid list. Inception and The Prestige are hardly mind bending. They are not intelligent at all, it’s basically Nolan with too much budget. The author seems only to be watching the same directors. Lazy!

    What a about Mulholland Drive, Dark City, Brazil, 1984, Solyaris (the Russian version especially)… Ah damn there are many great examples.

  • Cam

    Excellent list. I would’ve also added identity and existenz, and what the bleep do we know. That last one had me reeling for days.

  • Quatro vonDue 9

    I thought the title was 10 most mind bending movies “ever” made, not the 10 most mind bending blockbusters made in the last decade.. Some of my favorite movies there, don’t get me wrong, but lying to your readers because you are to fucking lazy to do you homework?! You suck!

    • JJS

      Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? Classic Burton & Taylor and definitely mind blowing!

      • shellyannb

        One of the greatest films ever made

  • muckymuckman

    I’d have put A Tale of Two Sisters and Identity in there

  • Neela Bannerji

    I agree with every one of your choices. probably would have switched out Secret Window for Donnie Darko, but still, pretty spot on.

  • Solgazer

    The Fountains main protagonist only exists in two time periods: the present day and his own future. The sequences set in 16th century Spain were extracts from the book his partner was writing.

    • F S

      If you look closely, you’ll notice that the present Tom always wakes up after a future sequence or falls asleep before one (at least that’s how I remember it).
      He is rather experiencing the same story three times: once in the book, once in reality and in his dreams he continues his search for eternal life.
      That’s only my interpretation, naturally.

  • Krish

    Butterfly effect!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Rahul

    I think 1408 was more mind-bending than The Prestige…

  • BlueScorpion

    Where’s Mulholland Drive? Or anything by Lynch, for that matter. Instead, we have Secret Window, which is just another horror-drama with a multiple-personality twist. C’mon, seriously!

  • bete

    Folks!!! totally forgot triangle made by Christopher Smith, and starring Melissa George- an amazing mind bender…

  • John Meighan

    None of these are massively mind blowing

  • Robert Henrycinq

    Any of you saw movies made before the 90’s ?

  • Brandon Karp

    donnie darko

  • Maria Christensen

    The Adjustment Bureau

  • NZ04

    Primer and Pi should be on this list

  • john

    I see people have mentioned identity which really surprised me more than some of these movies but for mind blowing I always think Arlington road was one I never really saw the ending coming. Even though it’s supposed to be a drama I think the way it ends makes it a real life horror movie because you can see it happening.

  • kinnaner

    I am amazed no one has mentioned Vanilla Sky

  • Dan

    Fight Club ? wiii…

  • Matt M.

    Mansoor, I loved your selection and comments of mind bending movies. Keep it up!

  • Logan Q Sideburns

    This is very Hollywood centric. What about Last Year At Marienbad? Cache? 8 1/2?

  • CassandraG

    I’m really surprised that no one mentioned The Mist. Or anything by M. Night Shyamalan.

  • laura

    Donnie Darko what a piece of crap!!!!

  • http://underdeepwater.com xkliber

    You also forgot “Dark City”, “The Thirteenth Floor”, “What Dreams May Come” (a wonderfull one with Robin Williams), “The Time Traveler’s Wife”, “The Butterfly Effect”, “Exitenz”, “Donnie Darko” (already mentionned in other comments below) and some others quite great. ;-)

  • Charly Wostenberg

    Kill list

    • Charly Wostenberg

      It will make u angry and then you will think it’s awesome

  • Godspell66

    I agree with Donnie Darko, but I’m surprised noone mentioned 12 Monkeys.

  • Hugo Emanuel Melo

    The Prestige, Memento and Secret Window mindbending? Their good, sure, but mindbending? Hell no. Films like “Mulholland Drive”, “Erasurehead”, “Lost Highway”, “The Innocents”, “The Naked Lunch”, “A Tale of Two Sisters”, “Polanski’s “The Tenent”, “Jacob’s Ladder” would be good examples of mindbending movies. As for more recent films I could mention just at the top of my head “Berberian Sound Studio” (a seriously underated film) and “Enemy”. I gotta say this list leaves much to be desired.

  • Sayan Chattaraj

    “Enter the void”… http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1191111/

  • Piyush Jain

    what about “cast away”
    and “the purssuit of happiness”

  • pieter rodgers

    everybody has their own list of goodies.. 2001, donny darkO, etc.. should´ve been up there on the list.. but alas, I didn´t make it.. so we will have to make due without these wonderfull cinematic treats..

  • pedro

    He is forgotten the first of the whole list: Alejandro Amenabar’s Abre los ojos which was later remade as Vanilla sky. Almenabar also made the others, but i would quallify that as a surprising ghost Story more than a mind-bending one.

  • Thor

    equilibrium and donnie darko

  • Ruben

    one true mind bending film: Mulholland Drive…

  • FS

    I didn’t know that only American films can be “mind-bending”.

  • Harry Nuggets

    A truly puzzling one, delivered on less of a budget that most of these probably spent on the catering for their overpaid stars is Uncle Boonmee.

  • Jeroen Cokelaere

    Christopher Nolan is overrated.

  • tiabanana

    they missed “the caller”

  • kiko

    Mr. Nobody!!!!

  • Larrylongballs

    A list of mind bending films and no David Lynch, David Cronenberg or Shane Carruth.
    Sorry to say it Nerdacy….. this is a terrible list of mostly try hard and clunky mainstream films.

  • Fjorg Vanderplög

    Cloud Atlas was terrible!
    The story and plot is good and all but the movie was just AWFUL!

  • mike

    Clockwork Orange? Brazil? Psycho? 12 Monkeys? Sixth Sense?