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52 Movies That Are So Clever They'll Have You Thinking For Days

All these films will stay with you long after they've finished playing.

We asked members of the BuzzFeed Community to tell us what movies actually make them think, you know, the ones that stay in your head for days long after they've finished. Here are some of their best answers.

1. Requiem for a Dream (2000)

Artisan Entertainment

"It shows in graphic detail the harshness of addiction and the lengths that people will go to in order to get a kick. At the same time is forces you, well, forced me, to evaluate the relationship with my parents and how I often take them for granted. It also shows us how even the most sensible and respectable people can change just like that. I’ve seen this film many times and each time it sticks with me for days afterwards. A brilliant piece of cinema."

Submitted by murrays4e7b54973.

"Such an intense movie. It shows in graphic and unflinching detail the dangers of addiction and forces you to stop and examine what you have in life. Definitely one of the most memorable films I’ve seen."

Submitted by kezzygill.

2. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)

Focus Features

"I think about it a lot and I find the premise is easily transferred to all relationships in life. The heartache of losing someone or even the opposite, of hating someone and wanting to erase them from your minds? Really relatable, and Joel's regret of his choice to erase Clementine? All really heart-wrenching."

Submitted by James Robert, Facebook.

"OK, this is so cheesy but my husband and I were going through an awful time, really bad. I watched Eternal Sunshine and it was just like a light came on. I knew then and there I'd spend all my days making memories with my one good and bad and I didn't want it any other way. [We've] been together 19 years and married [for] 12 [now], I still get butterflies."

Submitted by Manda Rose Blair, Facebook.

3. Predestination (2014)

Pinnacle Films

"Thought about it for ages then forced others to watch it just so I could discuss it all with them. The multi-layers of WTF still roll around my head now."

Submitted by Natasha Field, Facebook.

"It will mindfuck you."

Submitted by alisyadriana.

4. Being John Malkovich (1999)

USA Films

"Spike Jonze’s Being John Malkovich is the ultimate headfuck…and probably the most original film ever made."

Submitted by joachimz.

5. Life of Pi (2012)

20th Century Fox

"This one really made me think. I mean, the ending – the cryptic ending – about the animals on the boat… I guess it was just left open for the viewer to interpret. Idk. That movie made me think about life differently and how I would act if I were in that position."

Submitted by Pooingpony.

6. Donnie Darko (2001)

Newmarket Films

"Seriously, BuzzFeed, Donnie Darko is my all-time favourite film. It's not just the music or the way it’s filmed, it’s the feeling you get from watching it. It’s impacted on me so much, I’m thinking about getting my first tattoo in homage to this film."

Submitted by alicep4f5640555.

"Donnie Darko and Ender's Game are two movies that I can constantly watch and they still raise new questions. ... Donnie's forced to choose between himself and his loved ones, while Ender's unknowingly forced to choose between his race and another. They really force you to think about morals and idea of playing god."

Submitted by Nubia Jade Brice, Facebook.

7. Contagion (2011)

Warner Bros. Pictures

"It won’t be bombs that wipe us out, it’ll be a disease."

Submitted by y48ad3d274.

8. The Karate Kid (2010)

Columbia Pictures

"It's essentially the story of a child being bullied and standing up to him. Very relatable for so many people. Also, the scene with Mr Han and the car speaks volumes about beating yourself up over your mistakes and learning to move past them and grow as a person. Beautifully made and a story well-told. :)"

Submitted by Lucy Thorpe, Facebook.

9. Equilibrium (2002)

Miramax Films

"In this film, most people find the regime normal and think think they have freedom and are safe. This is a total illusion created by propaganda. This makes me wonder if my own sense of freedom and safety is an illusion and how much propaganda is used in my country."

Submitted by tessaderoon1964.

10. Interstellar (2014)

Warner Bros. Pictures

"Interstellar makes you realise how insignificant our planet is in the universe, and how exciting and terrifying the universe is. The physics behind it all is true which makes this movie even more powerful. Despite possibly being hard to follow at some points, it all makes sense in the end. The cinematography and visual effects are stunning, and combined with Hans Zimmer’s score makes for a very visually satisfying and emotional movie!"

Submitted by holly007.

11. The Truman Show (1998)

Paramount Pictures

"The Truman Show was the last film that made me think. Not only is it fantastic but it ponders the question whether we are being watched and how realistic it reflects on modern society through the paparazzi and reality shows like Big Brother and [Keeping Up With] the Kardashians."

Submitted by Niall Hassett, Facebook.

"The first time I watched that film I was convinced my life wasn’t real. It made me question everything. Pretty much messed with my head!"

Submitted by kyliematthews88.

12. Exam (2009)

Bedlam Productions

"Considering there are only nine actors and it's shot in a single room, it's one of the best-crafted, best-acted films I've ever seen. 'Eight candidates enter a room to secure a highly sought-after job with a prestigious company.' My life was changed. Seriously. It's right up there with Shutter Island, Inception, and Shawshank Redemption. Maybe even better."

Submitted by Freya Teesdale, Facebook.

13. The Matrix (1999)

Warner Bros.

"It made me ask myself questions like: What is reality? Is everything destined? Does luck exist? Do things happen randomly or do they always mean something or happen for a reason?"

Submitted by tessaderoon1964.

14. Looper (2012)

TriStar Pictures

"There is one part where a man's body is falling apart, literally, that messes with your mind."

Submitted by alexn4b0c82857.

15. Ex Machina (2015)

Universal Pictures

"Ex Machina explores the boundaries of human and artificial intelligence through an intimate Turing test. It will really melt your brain and make you think for days about metaphysical philosophical questions."

Submitted by Siri Skotvedt, Facebook.

"This has to be the only movie where I have not predicted the ending, and how the ending happened really fucked me over. It really does make you think about what makes a human, human."

Submitted by chibaby612.

16. Breaking the Waves (1996)

Argus Film Produktie

"A film I can never forget. As someone who has a habit of being nice too often, highlighting the perils of selflessness is haunting! I'm not sure I can watch it again."

Submitted by Tracy Morter, Facebook.

17. Metropolis (1927)

Paramount Pictures

"Fritz Lang’s Metropolis is still the ultimate film about class struggle and the need for mediation and compromise in society. For a silent film it is incredibly harrowing, thought-provoking, and suggestively sexual. A huge inspiration for many music videos, notably by Madonna and Lady Gaga."

Submitted by joachimz.

18. V for Vendetta (2006)

Warner Bros. Pictures

"It’s all about a right-wing government controlling the British population via fear, and a vigilante called V’s fight to expose it all. It makes you think, because there’s so many parallels with what is actually going on in British society today."

Submitted by clairedorym.

"V for Vendetta. Especially in today’s political climate, it makes you think about your place in society and what you will stand for…or against."

Submitted by courtneeeyj.

19. Eden Lake (2008)

The Weinstein Company

"I haven’t been the same since."

Submitted by alexn4b0c82857.

20. Cloud Atlas (2012)

Warner Bros. Pictures

"Cloud Atlas was perfection!!! A wonderful message about unity and seeing similarities rather than differences, and the score is just too good. It's like it's too good. That film is a slightly more hopeful and lovely visual companion to the book."

Submitted by Emily E.M. Crawford, Facebook.

21. Never Let Me Go (2010)

Fox Searchlight Pictures

"Never Let Me Go is a fantastic film. It makes you question the realities of existence and your approach to loving someone in your life. Very moving, I absolutely recommend."

Submitted by lizziem4c5e1947d.

22. The Prestige (2006)

Warner Bros. Pictures

"The Prestige by Christopher Nolan. About magicians in the late 1800s/early 1900s. The non-linear narrative and plot makes you want to work out what's happening before it's all revealed – definitely a film you don't want to take your eyes off."

Submitted by caitlinbott.

"The Prestige fucked me up long after I finished watching it – I had to rewatch the ending three times to actually realise what the hell was going on. I mean, it’s an excellent film (hello, Christian Bale and Hugh Jackman – it’s bound to be awesome) but I totally didn’t expect that ending…"

Submitted by eliseeharveyy.

23. Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? (1962)

Warner Bros. Pictures

"Even though It is obvious that Jane is unstable and jealous, this movie is heartbreaking because you are watching a woman who could never grow up. The only thing that is helping her get through life is drinking heavily and dreaming these crazy fantasies of when she becomes a star again. She is stuck in the present and is realising that her career is long over, and she has no idea how to move forward."

Submitted by leonharris18.

24. Memento (2000)

Summit Entertainment

"It’s so crazy. A mystery thriller about a man who suffers from short-term memory loss. But the movie alternates between colour and black-and-white sequences, and the black-and-white proceed in chronological order and the colour go to reverse chronological order. It puts you in the shoes of the main character so you never know any more than he does and you really have to focus to know what the heck is going on. (It’s really good though.)"

Submitted by katieh49136638a.

25. Performance (1970)

Warner Bros.

"It's full of conflicting surreal images about gender and sex, power and submission. The way it combated and challenged the gender inequality of the '60s (much of which is still prominent now) through magical realism and body swapping camera tricks is just amazing. Plus it’s grounded in one of the best London gangster tales told in film, lampooning subtly the homoerotic tendencies of those Kray-like men. Not to mention Mick Jagger, James Fox, and Jorge Luis Borges all rolled into one. That film makes me question new things with every watch!"

Submitted by m4b1f251fc.

26. The Social Network (2010)

Columbia Pictures

"I've only ever seen it once, but it has stuck with me since that one viewing, and I continually keep wondering about how one person could change the world so quickly (Facebook really did take the world by storm)."

Submitted by Becky Martin, Facebook.

27. Gone Baby Gone (2007)

Miramax Films

"I don’t want to spoil the ending but I was really torn on who was right at the end. I thought about it for days after seeing it."

Submitted by Ohhitscarly.

28. Possession (1981)


"It’s not exactly a horror film, or a suspense film, or a psychological thriller. It’s one of the most moving (yes, I mean that) and visceral portrayals of the last stages of a relationship. It says a lot about mental illness, as well, and throughout the film the ominous presence of the Berlin Wall adds a political dimension to the film. I discover new layers to this film every time I watch it."

Submitted by study.

29. Perfume: The Story of a Murderer (2006)

DreamWorks Pictures

"Ben Whishaw is amazing, and it also features Dustin Hoffman, Alan Rickman, and Rachel Hurd-Wood. It's an incredibly interesting concept and the visual artistry is strikingly gorgeous."

Submitted by Julie Gear, Facebook.

30. Girl, Interrupted (1999)

Columbia Pictures

"A film that is so close to today’s mental health issues. For me I could relate to this film a lot."

Submitted by sarahb4f5574bd7.

31. Pan's Labyrinth (2006)


"Absolutely amazing movie and however you interpret the ending it’s still extremely powerful!"

Submitted by t44b54bc68.

32. The Beach (2000)

20th Century Fox

"It explores the depth of the human mind and the concept of paradise, and how it is unattainable. Richard (Leo DiCaprio) slowly unravels and becomes detached from society whilst living in a supposed utopia, until he is barely recognisable in his hysteria. It's fantastic and also Leo is damn fine."

Submitted by Charlotte Farrar, Facebook.

33. Thirteen (2003)

Fox Searchlight Pictures

"Nikki Reed as Evie made me realise that maybe all those popular girls in school were fighting just as many, if not more demons, than the troubled, weird kids. It's beautiful, but at the same time heart-wrenching and brutally honest. Holly Hunter's performance is also something to behold."

Submitted by Lauren Parsons Jones, Facebook.

34. Amélie (2001)

UGC-Fox Distribution

"Watching it always makes me contemplate about what it would be like to see the world through someone else’s perspective and how even the smallest decisions can have huge impacts on our lives. Existential, yet refreshing."

Submitted by claudsab.

35. Before I Go to Sleep (2014)

20th Century Fox

"The thought of waking up and forgetting everything every day scared the crap out of me."

Submitted by beccal48e89b7ff.

36. The Fountain (2006)

20th Century Fox

"It really made me think about death and how I view it and how I’ll deal with it if ever I had foreknowledge of it. It truly is a heartbreaking film, but also one of hope and although I’m not religious I took a certain spirituality away from the film."

Submitted by MattyAlf.

37. American Beauty (1999)

DreamWorks Pictures

"Even though it could be argued that this movie is a bit of a downer, I still find the evolution of Kevin Spacey's character compelling, sad, and also hilarious throughout. Each time I watch this film I'm left feeling moved and reminded to really live my life and not just let it sail by."

Submitted by James Robert, Facebook.

38. Being There (1979)

United Artists

"It is a relatively unknown film, but it was so clever. How could a character who has spent his life isolated from the world navigate so well when he had to? And the Jesus metaphor at the end was extremely thought-provoking."

Submitted by Erin Sanders, Facebook.

39. Inception (2010)

Warner Bros. Pictures

"Because, really, where the hell's Leo at the ending? Still dreaming or what?"

Submitted by Annisa Rahma Bachrie, Facebook.

"Aside from the beautiful cinematography and the haunting soundtrack, the 'waiting for a train' quote has always really stuck with me – the only thing that matters is being with the people you love."

Submitted by jacquesk3.

40. The Skin I Live In (2011)

Warners España

"It's in Spanish so be prepared for subtitles if you aren't fluent, but it's one of the most incredible mindfuck movies I've ever seen. I watched it high the first time and couldn't sleep that night, I kept replaying it over and over again and spent hours on the internet reading everything I could get my hands on about it. It's not my favourite movie of all time, but I consider it the best film I've ever seen. Not to mention it's quite possibly Antonio Banderas's best role to date."

Submitted by Emily Brouwer, Facebook.

41. Eat Pray Love (2010)

Columbia Pictures

"I watched it when I was completely lost about what to do in pursuing my future goals. I was at complete breaking point with mental health and being in a place I couldn't find my way out of. But somehow watching Julia Roberts explore all the emotions of being alone and being OK with that gave me the guts to cancel the negativity in my life and explore the world in which we don't allow ourselves to see. Still one of my favourite films, it kinda also saved me."

Submitted by Paige Stainsby, Facebook.

42. 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)


"Not only does the film have incredible cinematography and direction, but it also has a great story and the ending is just a total mindfuck which left me thinking about it for days."

Submitted by Clear1996.

43. The Virgin Suicides (1999)

Paramount Classics

"In a somber way, it always reminds me of the fragility of life, in the same way that American Beauty does. It makes me value the little things a lot more and view my life in a much more open way."

Submitted by arewethereyeti.

44. We Need to Talk About Kevin (2011)

Oscilloscope Laboratories

"It addresses the age-old question of nature versus nurture, as you try and figure out if Kevin’s mum despises him because he is evil, or if he is evil because his mum despises him. Because it doesn’t pick a definite side, it leaves you thinking about it for weeks after viewing it. The book is even better."

Submitted by jellyment.

45. Natural Born Killers (1994)

Warner Bros.

"Just so awesome. Really makes you think about the media's influence and also the minds of these killers."

Submitted by CoralFang.

46. Gone Girl (2014)

20th Century Fox

"Gone Girl stuck with me for quite a while. I hadn’t read the book so I had no idea what was going to happen, which made it better."

Submitted by D75.

47. Shutter Island (2010)

Paramount Pictures

"I had to watch that movie more than I watched Inception. It's the only movie where I actually researched and tried to figure out what the ending meant. I recommend it to any living person. I never am surprised by the endings of movies but this just raised my expectations for movies even further. Leo was amazing in this one."

Submitted by fatimahfghazig.

48. The Usual Suspects (1995)

Gramercy Pictures

"The Usual Suspects and its amazing twist had me amazed for days."

Submitted by marthaj4b4ecca41.

49. Silver Linings Playbook (2012)

The Weinstein Company

"It portrays mental illness in a raw and hauntingly beautiful way that leaves you thinking about it for days. It’s accurate and acted brilliantly. It gives an insight into the minds and thoughts of so-called 'crazy' people and shows that they are capable of love just like the rest of us."

Submitted by elizabetha435bf178d.

50. Where the Wild Things Are (2009)

Warner Bros. Pictures

"This film made me think about how much of a rollercoaster our emotions are as children and how our imaginations are a means to escape the reality of these feelings."

Submitted by ellalucyrosem.

51. Room (2015)


"It makes you appreciate the little things in life, especially as it is from the POV of a 5-year-old boy."

Submitted by l4d17ebbd0.

52. The Butterfly Effect (2004)

New Line Cinema

"It’s just crazy to think that by doing one thing different, it could take your life down a completely different path. Makes me sit and wonder 'what if...'"

Submitted by ashleynffcw.

Note: Submissions have been edited for length and/or clarity.

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