There's a peculiar feeling that comes with being tricked by a movie. It's a mixture of feeling confused, taken advantage of and at least a little dumb, but there's a sense of appreciation for a well-told story, for being challenged a little bit, taken aback. The films that leave viewers feeling this way are part of an elite bunch. We've compiled a list of our 10 favorites—and, for contrast's sake, a list of five movies whose twists fell short. (Here's something else that comes as no surprise: This list contains spoilers!)
Movie: The Usual Suspects (1995)Movie: The Crying Game
Director: Bryan Singer
The twist: Verbal is Keyser Soze.
Why it's awesome: For a minute, it seems like Keyser and Dean are one and the same, which would have been a decent enough twist. Throwing Verbal into the mix made it that much better.
Director: Neil Jordan Movie: Psycho
The twist: Dil is a man.
Why it's awesome: There's plenty of excitement in the film already, but this twist introduces themes of sex, gender and sexuality that add a fresh, human element that most thrillers lack.
Director: Alfred HitchcockMovie: Fight Club
The twist: Norman Bates is the killer, and his mother is living inside him as an alternate personality.
Why it's awesome: Norman seems so sure of his mother's existence that audiences can't help but be convinced as well—until the film dissolves into a Freudian field day.
Director: David Fincher
The twist: The narrator and Tyler Durden are the same person.
Why it's awesome: It comes out of nowhere, like a good twist should. More than that, it gives us all hope that there is a rather attractive, absolutely fearless badass inside of each of us, just dying to get out.
Movie: The Sixth Sense (1999)
Director: M. Night Shyamalan
The twist: Dr. Crowe, the psychologist treating the child who sees dead people, is dead.
Why it's awesome: The clues—for example, the color red was used whenever the worlds of the living and the dead were coming together—were so subtle that even if particularly attentive viewers picked up on them, they probably wouldn't be able to figure out their significance. Unlike some of Shyamalan's other films (see below), all tracks were covered meticulously; southpaw Bruce Willis apparently even learned to write with his right hand so audiences wouldn't notice his missing wedding ring.