10 Neo-Noir Films That Should Be Essential Viewing

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In the recently released Gemini, a young personal assistant (Lola Kirke) to a high profile actress (Zoe Kravitz) becomes the prime suspect when her boss is the victim of a heinous crime. In order to clear her name, she searches LA for answers to the mystery. Written and directed by Aaron Katz, this mystery thriller is the next great addition to the modern classic neo-noir genre.

Since originating in crime movies of the ’40s and ’50s, the style has evolved to become a aestheticized cinematic experience. Considering films like Gemini and the upcoming Under the Silver Lake, starring Andrew Garfield and Riley Keough, neo-noir continues to darken our screens with seductive screenwriting and visually striking directorial work.

Be sure to brush up on these essential neo-noir titles.

 

Chinatown (1974)

When LA private eye JJ Gittes (Jack Nicholson) is hired by a mysterious woman named Evelyn Mulwray to investigate her husband, he soon realizes she’s an imposter. Upon meeting the real Mrs. Mulwray (Faye Dunaway) and the death of her husband, he begins to unravel a web of deceit, corruption, and family secrets.

 


 

Blade Runner (1982)

Harrison Ford stars in one of his most iconic roles as Deckard, a futuristic hunter assigned with eliminating four escaped replicants. But before embarking on his mission, he falls in love with a replicant girl named Rachel (Sean Young).

 


 

The Grifters (1990)

Lily Dillon (Anjelica Huston) is a swindler for a dangerous bookie. Arriving in Los Angeles, she reunites with her son, Roy (John Cusack), a small-time con artist. His girlfriend, Myra (Annette Bening), is a grifter with her eyes set on a big con, which brings the three together for the job.

 


 

Pulp Fiction (1994)

Quentin Tarantino’s most iconic film comes in the form of three intertwining stories of a couple of hitmen (John Travolta and Samuel L Jackson), a gangster’s wife (Uma Thurman), and a boxer (Bruce Willis) on the run after refusing to throw a match.

 


 

LA Confidential (1997)

Guy Pearce plays Detective Lieutenant Edmund J Exley, a man hellbent on avenging his father’s death, driving him to solve a murder surrounded by corruption in Downtown LA during the early ’50s.

 


 

The Big Lebowski (1998)

When Jeff “The Dude” Lebowski (Jeff Bridges), a laidback burnout is roughed up by loan sharks, he discovers he shares a name with a millionaire whose wife owes money to some dangerous people. When she goes missing, the Dude falls into the dark underbelly of Los Angeles.

 


 

Mulholland Drive (2001)

David Lynch’s dark cinematic achievement remains one of the genre’s most riveting achievements. When a dark-haired woman (Laura Elena Harring) wakes up with no memory of who she is, Midwestern transplant Betty (Naomi Watts) helps her figure out her true identity.

 



Kiss Kiss Bang Bang 
(2005)

After accidentally landing in Hollywood, small-time crook-turned-actor Harry Lockhart (Robert Downey Jr) ends up entangled in a murderous conspiracy with his childhood sweetheart Harmony Lane (Michelle Monaghan) and private eye, Perry van Shrike (Val Kilmer).

 


 

Drive (2011)

Ryan Gosling stars as Driver, a Hollywood stuntman who moonlights as a getaway driver for criminals. When his neighbor’s (Carey Mulligan) husband gets out of jail, he enlists Driver’s help for a million-dollar heist with some dangerous characters.

 


 

Nightcrawler (2014)

Jake Gyllenhaal gives an eerie performance as Louis Bloom, a petty thief who stumbles into a new career, filming crime scenes for a local news station. After striking up a relationship with the news director (Rene Russo) hungry for ratings, he goes to unsettling lengths to capture the “money shot.”