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What are the best mind bending films?
Most of the answers here are not particularly about 21st century, I will list both 21st and 20th century one by one. First of all let me make this clear that movies can screw our minds through various ways, they need not only be the ones with twisted plot or weird endings. Mind screwing movies should also include the movies that made you think philosophically or captivate your mind through intense or disturbing emotional drama without any major plot twists :-
Movies that screw your mind through complex plots:
- Ex Machina (2015) – A young programmer is selected to participate in a breakthrough experiment in artificial intelligence by evaluating the human qualities of a breathtaking female A.I.
- Terminator Genisys (2015) – John Connor sends Kyle Reese back in time to protect Sarah Connor, but when he arrives in 1984, nothing is as he expected it to be.
- Project Almanac (2014) – A group of teens discover secret plans of a time machine, and construct one. However, things start to get out of control.
- Time Lapse (2014) – Three friends discover a mysterious machine that takes pictures 24hrs into the future and conspire to use it for personal gain, until disturbing and dangerous images begin to develop.
- Predestination (2014) – The life of a time-traveling Temporal Agent. On his final assignment, he must pursue the one criminal that has eluded him throughout time.
- Interstellar(2014) – A team of explorers travel through a wormhole in an attempt to find a potentially habitable planet that will sustain humanity.
- Gone Girl (2014) – With his wife’s disappearance having become the focus of an intense media circus, a man sees the spotlight turned on him when it’s suspected that he may not be innocent.
- Edge of Tomorrow (2014) – An officer finds himself caught in a time loop in a war with the alien race. His skills increase as he faces the same brutal combat scenarios, and his union with a Special Forces warrior gets him closer to defeating the enemy.
- Transcendence (2014) – A scientist’s drive for artificial intelligence, takes on dangerous implications when his consciousness is uploaded into one such program.
- X Men Days of Future Past (2014) – The X-Men send Wolverine to the past in a desperate effort to change history and prevent an event that results in doom for both humans and mutants.
- Frequencies (2013) – Are human conditions, actions, relationships determined by fate, free will, or a combination of both? At any rate, if it we cannot control it – should we care?
- Coherence (2013) – Strange things begin to happen when a group of friends gather for a dinner party on an evening when a comet is passing overhead.
- Under the Skin (2013) – A mysterious woman seduces lonely men in the evening hours in Scotland. Events lead her to begin a process of self-discovery.
- Lucia (2013) – A man suffering from insomnia is tricked into buying a drug, Lucia, that makes his desires come true in his dreams, blurring the line between fantasy and reality.
- Her (2013) – A lonely writer develops an unlikely relationship with his newly purchased operating system that’s designed to meet his every need.
- Trance (2013) – An art auctioneer who has become mixed up with a group of criminals partners with a hypnotherapist in order to recover a lost painting.
- Oblivion (2013) – A veteran assigned to extract Earth’s remaining resources begins to question what he knows about his mission and himself.
- Movie 43 (2013) – A series of interconnected short films follows a washed-up producer as he pitches insane story lines featuring some of the biggest stars in Hollywood.
- Safety Not Guaranteed (2012) –
- Looper (2012) – In 2074, when the mob wants to get rid of someone, the target is sent 30 years into the past, where a hired gun awaits. Someone like Joe, who one day learns the mob wants to ‘close the loop’ by transporting back Joe’s future self.
- Upstream Color (2013) – A man and woman are drawn together, entangled in the life cycle of an ageless organism. Identity becomes an illusion as they struggle to assemble the loose fragments of wrecked lives.
- Cloud Atlas (2012) – An exploration of how the actions of individual lives impact one another in the past, present and future, as one soul is shaped from a killer into a hero, and an act of kindness ripples across centuries to inspire a revolution.
- Now You See Me (2012) – An FBI agent and an Interpol detective track a team of illusionists who pull off bank heists during their performances and reward their audiences with the money.
- Beasts of the Southern Wild (2012) – Faced with both her hot-tempered father’s fading health and melting ice-caps that flood her ramshackle bayou community and unleash ancient aurochs, six-year-old Hushpuppy must learn the ways of courage and love.
- Source Code (2011) – An action thriller centered on a soldier who wakes up in the body of an unknown man and discovers he’s part of a mission to find the bomber of a Chicago commuter train.
- Melancholia (2011) – Two sisters find their already strained relationship challenged as a mysterious new planet threatens to collide with Earth.
- Headhunters (2011) – An accomplished headhunter risks everything to obtain a valuable painting owned by a former mercenary.
- Unknown (2011) – A man awakens from a coma, only to discover that someone has taken on his identity and that no one, (not even his wife), believes him. With the help of a young woman, he sets out to prove who he is.
- Awake (2011) TV series – Must watch – After a car accident takes the life of a family member, a police detective lives two alternating parallel lives, one with his wife and one with his son. Is one of his “realities” merely a dream?
- The Tree of Life (2011) – The story of a family in Waco Texas in 1956. The eldest son witnesses the loss of innocence and struggles with his parents’ conflicting philosophies.
- The Adjustment Bureau (2011) – The affair between a politician and a ballerina is affected by mysterious forces keeping the lovers apart.
- Sucker Punch (2011) – A young girl is institutionalized by her abusive stepfather. Retreating to an alternative reality as a coping strategy, she envisions a plan which will help her escape from the mental facility.
- Another Earth (2011) – On the night of the discovery of a duplicate planet in the solar system, an ambitious young student and an accomplished composer cross paths in a tragic accident.
- Shutter Island (2010) – Drama set in 1954, U.S. Marshal Teddy Daniels is investigating the disappearance of a murderess who escaped from a hospital for the criminally insane and is presumed to be hiding nearby.
- I Saw the Devil (2010) – When his pregnant fiancee becomes the latest victim of a serial killer, a secret agent blurs the line between good and evil in his pursuit of revenge.
- Confessions (2010) – A psychological thriller of a grieving mother turned cold-blooded avenger with a twisty master plan to pay back those who were responsible for her daughter’s death.
- TRON : Legacy (2010) – The son of a virtual world designer goes looking for his father and ends up inside the digital world that his father designed. He meets his father’s creation turned bad and a unique ally who was born inside the digital domain of The Grid.
- Inception (2010) – In a world where technology exists to enter the human mind through dream invasion, a highly skilled thief is given a final chance at redemption which involves executing his toughest job to date: Inception.
- Black Swan (2010) – A ballet dancer wins the lead in “Swan Lake” and is perfect for the role of the delicate White Swan – Princess Odette – but slowly loses her mind as she becomes more and more like Odile, the Black Swan.
- The Ghost Writer (2010) – A ghostwriter hired to complete the memoirs of a former British prime minister uncovers secrets that put his own life in jeopardy.
- Incendies (2010) – Twins journey to the Middle East to discover their family history, and fulfill their mother’s last wishes.
- Dogtooth (2009) –Three teenagers live isolated, without leaving their house, because their over-protective parents say they can only leave when their dogtooth falls out.
- Mr. Nobody (2009) – A tale that spans different time zones of the 20th and 21st centuries. fantasy, about life, death everything.
- Antichrist (2009) – A grieving couple retreat to their cabin in the woods, hoping to repair their broken hearts and troubled marriage. But nature takes its course and things go from bad to worse.
- Moon (2009) – Astronaut Sam Bell has a quintessentially personal encounter toward the end of his three-year stint on the Moon, where he, working alongside his computer, GERTY, sends back to Earth parcels of a resource that has helped diminish our planet’s power problems.
- Enter the Void (2009) – An American drug dealer living in Tokyo is betrayed by his best friend and killed in a drug deal gone bad. His soul, observing the repercussions of his death, seeks resurrection.
- Frequently asked questions about time travel (2009) – While drinking at their local pub, three social outcasts attempt to navigate a time-travel conundrum.
- Triangle (2009) – The story revolves around the passengers of a yachting trip in the Atlantic Ocean who, when struck by mysterious weather conditions, jump to another ship only to experience greater havoc on the open seas.
- Time Traveler’s Wife (2009) – A romantic drama about a Chicago librarian with a gene that causes him to involuntarily time travel, and the complications it creates for his marriage.
- Ink (2009) – A mysterious creature, know as Ink, steals a child’s soul in hopes of using it as a bargaining chip to join the Incubi – the group of supernatural beings responsible for creating nightmares. Must watch,one of the unique movie, a very different of its kind.
- Surrogates (2009) – Set in a futuristic world where humans live in isolation and interact through surrogate robots, a cop is forced to leave his home for the first time in years in order to investigate the murders of others’ surrogates.
- Law Abiding Citizen (2009) – A frustrated man decides to take justice into his own hands after a plea bargain sets one of his family’s killers free. He targets not only the killer but also the district attorney and others involved in the deal.
- Waltz with Bashir (2008) – An Israeli film director interviews fellow veterans of the 1982 invasion of Lebanon to reconstruct his own memories of his term of service in that conflict.
- Synecdoche, New York (2008) – A theatre director struggles with his work, and the women in his life, as he creates a life-size replica of New York City inside a warehouse as part of his new play.
- Timecrimes (2007) – A man accidentally gets into a time machine and travels back in time nearly an hour. Finding himself will be the first of a series of disasters of unforeseeable consequences. One of best in time travel Paradox, Amazing !
- The Man from the Earth (2007) – The movie begins with Professor John Oldman packing his belongings onto his truck, preparing to move to a new home. philosophical , must watch
- Unbreakable (2007) – A suspense thriller with supernatural overtones that revolves around a man who learns something extraordinary about himself after a devastating accident.
- Sunshine (2007) – A team of international astronauts are sent on a dangerous mission to reignite the dying Sun with a nuclear fission bomb in 2057.
- The Science of Sleep (2006) – A man entranced by his dreams and imagination is lovestruck with a French woman and feels he can show her his world.
- Ghost in the Shell: Solid State Society (2006) – A.D. 2034. It has been two years since Motoko Kusanagi left Section 9. Togusa is now the new leader of the team, that has considerably increased its appointed personnel.
- Paprika (2006) – When a machine that allows therapists to enter their patient’s dreams is stolen, all hell breaks loose. Only a young female therapist can stop it: Paprika.
- The Girl Who Leapt Through Time (2006) – A teenage girl finds that she has the ability to leap through time. With her newfound power, she tries to use it to her advantage, but soon finds that tampering with time can lead to some rather discomforting results.
- A Scanner Darkly (2006) – An undercover cop in a not-too-distant future becomes involved with a dangerous new drug and begins to lose his own identity as a result.
- The Prestige (2006) – The rivalry between two magicians is exacerbated when one of them performs the ultimate illusion.
- Day Watch (2006) – A man who serves in the war between the forces of Light and Dark comes into possession of a device that can restore life to Moscow, which was nearly destroyed by an apocalyptic event.
- Lucky Number Slevin (2006) – A case of mistaken identity lands Slevin into the middle of a war being plotted by two of the city’s most rival crime bosses: The Rabbi and The Boss. Slevin is under constant surveillance by relentless Detective Brikowski as well as the infamous assassin Goodkat and finds himself having to hatch his own ingenious plot to get them before they get him.
- The Illusionist (2006) – In turn-of-the-century Vienna, a magician uses his abilities to secure the love of a woman far above his social standing.
- The Fountain (2006) – Spanning over one thousand years, and three parallel stories, The Fountain is a story of love, death, spirituality, and the fragility of our existence in this world.
- Stranger than Fiction (2006) – An IRS auditor suddenly finds himself the subject of narration only he can hear: narration that begins to affect his entire life, from his work, to his love-interest, to his death.
- Pans Labyrinth (2006) – In the falangist Spain of 1944, the bookish young stepdaughter of a sadistic army officer escapes into an eerie but captivating fantasy world.
- The Jacket (2005) – A Gulf war veteran is wrongly sent to a mental institution for insane criminals, where he becomes the object of a Doctor’s experiments, and his life is completely affected by them.
- V for Vendetta (2005) – In a future British tyranny, a shadowy freedom fighter plots to overthrow it with the help of a young woman.
- Revolver (2005) – Gambler Jake Green enters into a game with potentially deadly consequences.
- Stay (2005) – This movie focuses on the attempts of a psychiatrist to prevent one of his patients from committing suicide while trying to maintain his own grip on reality. you may’ve never seen anything like it, need to watch twice
- The Butterfly Effect (2004) – A young man blocks out harmful memories of significant events of his life. As he grows up, he finds a way to remember these lost memories and a supernatural way to alter his life. Must watch !
- Ghost in the Shell Innocence (2004) – In the year 2032, Batô, a cyborg detective for the anti-terrorist unit Public Security Section 9, investigates the case of a female robot–one created solely for sexual pleasure–who slaughtered her owner.
- Night Watch (2004) – A fantasy-thriller set in present-day Moscow where the respective forces that control daytime and nighttime do battle.
- Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind (2004) – A couple undergo a procedure to erase each other from their memories when their relationship turns sour, but it is only through the process of loss that they discover what they had to begin with.
- Primer (2004) – Four friends/fledgling entrepreneurs, knowing that there’s something bigger and more innovative than the different error-checking devices they’ve built, wrestle over their new invention.
- The Machinist (2004) – An industrial worker who hasn’t slept in a year begins to doubt his own sanity.
- The Matrix Reloaded (2003) – Neo and the rebel leaders estimate that they have 72 hours until 250,000 probes discover Zion and destroy it and its inhabitants. During this, Neo must decide how he can save Trinity from a dark fate in his dreams.
- The Animatrix (2003) – The Animatrix is a collection of several animated short films, detailing the backstory of the “Matrix” universe, and the original war between man and machines which led to the creation of the Matrix.
- A Tale Of Two Sisters (2003) – A family is haunted by the tragedies of deaths within the family. (you won’t get this movie in first watch, you have to watch it twice and google for its explanation to appreciate the quality of this true psychological drama).
- The Matrix Revolutions (2003) – The human city of Zion defends itself against the massive invasion of the machines as Neo fights to end the war at another front while also opposing the rogue Agent Smith.
- Paycheck (2003) – What seemed like a breezy idea for an engineer to net him millions of dollars, leaves him on the run for his life and piecing together why he’s being chased.
- Oldboy (2003) – After being kidnapped and imprisoned for 15 years, Oh Dae-Su is released, only to find that he must find his captor in 5 days. (2nd movie of vengeance trilogy, watch other also)
- Mystic river (2003) – With a childhood tragedy that overshadowed their lives, three men are reunited by circumstance when one loses a daughter.
- Identity (2003) – Stranded at a desolate Nevada motel during a nasty rainstorm, ten strangers become acquainted with each other when they realize that they’re being killed off one by one.
- Equilibrium (2002) – In a Fascist future where all forms of feeling are illegal, a man in charge of enforcing the law rises to overthrow the system.
- Solaris (2002) – A troubled psychologist is sent to investigate the crew of an isolated research station orbiting a bizarre planet.
- Hero (2002) – A defense officer, Nameless, was summoned by the King of Qin regarding his success of terminating three warriors.
- Minority Report (2002) – In a future where a special police unit is able to arrest murderers before they commit their crimes, an officer from that unit is himself accused of a future murder.
- Cypher (2002) – An unsuspecting, disenchanted man finds himself working as a spy in the dangerous, high-stakes world of corporate espionage. Quickly getting way over-his-head, he teams up with a mysterious femme fatale.
- Adaptation (2002) – A lovelorn screenwriter becomes desperate as he tries and fails to adapt The Orchid Thief by Susan Orlean for the screen.
- A Beautiful Mind (2001) – After a brilliant but asocial mathematician accepts secret work in cryptography, his life takes a turn to the nightmarish.
- Das Experiment (2001) – For two weeks, 20 male participants are hired to play prisoners and guards in a prison. The “prisoners” have to follow seemingly mild rules, and the “guards” are told to retain order without using physical violence.
- Donnie Darko (2001) – A troubled teenager is plagued by visions of a large bunny rabbit that manipulates him to commit a series of crimes, after narrowly escaping a bizarre accident.
- Mulholland Dr. (2001) – After a car wreck on the winding Mulholland Drive renders a woman amnesic, she and a perky Hollywood-hopeful search for clues and answers across Los Angeles in a twisting venture beyond dreams and reality. Must watch !
- Vanilla sky (2001) – A successful publisher finds his life taking a turn for the surreal after a car accident with a jaded lover.
- K-pax (2001) – Prot is a patient at a mental hospital who claims to be from a far away Planet. His psychiatrist tries to help him, only to begin to doubt his own explanations.
- Waking life (2001) – A man shuffles through a dream meeting various people and discussing the meanings and purposes of the universe.
- Final Destination (2000) – After a teenager has a terrifying vision of him and his friends dying in a plane crash, he prevents the accident only to have Death hunt them down, one by one. (all its 5 parts)
- Memento (2000) – A man, suffering from short-term memory loss, uses notes and tattoos to hunt for the man he thinks killed his wife.
- Frequency (2000) An accidental cross-time radio link connects father and son across 30 years. The son tries to save his father’s life, but then must fix the consequences.
- American Psycho (2000) – A wealthy New York investment banking executive hides his alternate psychopathic ego from his co-workers and friends as he escalates deeper into his illogical, gratuitous fantasies.
Movies that screw your mind through simple yet thought provoking plots:
- Contact (1997)
- Into the Wild (2007)
- Never Let me Go (2010)
- Midnight in Paris (2013)
- Mary and Max (2009)
- Rahomon (1950)
- Before Trilogy (1995, 2004, 2013)
- The Mist (2007)
- If only (2004)
- The invention of lying (209)
- They Live (1988)
- Monty Python series
- Run Lola Run (2002)
- Shallow Grave (1994)
- Millions (2002)
- Pleasantville (1998)
Now Some Really Good Old Mind-F*****g Classics:
- Alejandro Jodorowsky’s Movies – probably the weirdest possible shit you will ever see in movies. The Holy Mountain (1973), El Topo (1970), Santa Sangre (1989) etc. Watch these at your own risk.
- Andrei Tarkovsky’s Movies: Stalker (1979), Solaris (1972), Nostalghia (1983), The Mirror (1975), Andrei Rublev (1966) etc. [Philosophical Mind Twisting]
- Ingmar Bergman’s Movies: Persona (1966), Wild Strawberries (1957), The Seventh Seal (1957), Fanny och Alexander (1982), Faith Trilogy etc. [Emotional Mind Twisting]
- David Lynch’s Movies: Lost Highway (1997), Blue Velvet (1986), Eraserhead (1977), Mulholland Dr. (2001), Inland Empire (2006) etc.
- Alfred Hitchcock’s Classics: Psycho (1960), Vertigo (1958), North by Northwest (1959), Spellbound (1945), Rear Window (1958), Strangers on a Train (1951), Rope (1948), Dial M for Murder (1955) etc. [Suspense Mind Twisting]
- Some other popular ones: Fight Club (1999), The Matrix (1999), Twelve Monkeys (1995), Being John Malkovich (1999), The Truman Show (1998), The Sixth Sense (1999), The Usual Suspects (1995), etc.
- Some lesser known ones: Wings of Desire (1987), Gattaca (1997), 8 1/2 (1963), Following (1998), The Game (1999), Primal Fear (1996), Arlington Road (1999), Total Recall (1990), The city of lost children (1995), Videodrome (1983), The Quiet Earth (1985), Pi (1998), Conspiracy Theory (1997), Face/Off (1997), Brazil (1985), Repulsion (1965).
- Directors: There are some great directors who make movies that most of the times screw our minds. start following them and and their movies. They are:
- Andrei Tarkovsky
- Ingmar Bergman
- David Lynch
- Alejandro Jodorowsky
- Lars Von Trier
- Spike Jonze
- David Cronenberg
- Alfred Hitchcock
- Shane Carruth
- Terry Gilliam
- Richard Linklater
- Stanley Kubrick
- Darren Aronofsky
- Roman Polanski
- Terrence Malick
- Jean-Pierre Jeunet
- Fedrico Fellini
- Luis Buñuel
All these were restricted to the ones which I Know, If you want more refer to the link below :
PS: I will keep on updating this list from time to time making it better and your suggestions are always welcome.