There’s no better time than the depths of winter to find new ways to keep the ol’ brain a-working. (Versus freezing or shutting down in despair.) One fun tactic is to watch a murder-mystery and see if you can figure out whodunit!
Here are 6 movies that’ll keep you guessing:
Knives Out – New to the Box and Redbox On Demand, this Oscar-nominated murder-mystery written and directed by Rian Johnson is packed with stars … and social commentary. Daniel Craig plays Benoit Blanc, a private detective who someone anonymously hired to investigate a wealthy family’s patriarch apparent suicide. Clearly foul play is suspected, and soon family members (Jamie Lee Curtis, Don Johnson, Chris Evans, Toni Collette, Michael Shannon and more) begin to turn on each other and — as the saying goes — the plot thickens. The team behind this surprise box-office hit already has plans for a sequel … and maybe even an entire franchise built around Craig’s character!
Murder on the Orient Express (x 2!) – Agatha Christie’s 1934 mystery novel about a suspicious death on an upscale trans-European train brought us not one, but two excellent adaptations. First we have the 1974 original from director Sidney Lumet, which you should watch for Ingrid Berman’s Oscar-winning performance alone. (But it also features several A-listers from Hollywood’s golden age like Vanessa Redgrave, Lauren Bacall and Sean Connery). Then came an equally star-studded remake in 2017 with Johnny Depp, Kenneth Branagh, Daisy Ridley and Michelle Pfeiffer, among others. All aboard for twists, turns and surprises!
Identity – I saw this 2003 thriller years ago and still get unnerved just thinking about it. It’s a loose adaptation of another famous Agatha Christie mystery — And Then There Were None — and in it, John Cusack plays one of ten strangers who are stranded at a hotel overnight. When the captive guests start being killed off one by one, it’s clear that someone in their midst is the perpetrator. But can they figure it out before it’s too late?
Gosford Park – This Best Picture contender (nominated for 7 Academy Awards in total) may be nearly two decades old, but it definitely stands the test of time. It revolves around a group of haughty Brits and an American movie producer who find themselves suspects in a murder investigation after someone is offed during their dinner party. You’ll be racking your brain to figure out who did it as the film pieces together the evening’s events from the perspectives of both the guests and the servants who were present that night. It’s yet another celeb-filled cast … but perhaps the coolest trivia tidbit about this movie is that it served as the inspiration for the hit TV series Downton Abbey, which was originally envisioned as a Gosford Park spinoff!
Scream – This last one on my list is technically a horror film (with a heavy dose of satire), but since I was actually brave enough to watch it back in 1996 I’m still going to categorize it as a whodunit, as it revolves entirely around a California sheriff (David Arquette) trying to figure out who’s running around town in a scary Ghostface mask, murdering people. Though it’s a quintessential ‘90s film through and through, there’s still something timeless about its groundbreaking and sarcastic take on slasher flicks. And I was never able to figure out who Ghostface was on my own before the big reveal at the end!
What are some of your favorite mystery films?