Best Crime Movies

WTOP Film Critic Jason Fraley ranks the best crime movies of all time in the gallery below.

Not seeing your favorite movie? It’s probably in a different genre! Check out the full list here.

30. ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’ (2013) – Martin Scorsese

Leonardo DiCaprio and Jonah Hill starred in Scorsese’s ode to Wall Street excess that introduced Margot Robbie and featured a chest-pounding cameo by Matthew McConaughey.

29. ‘Glengarry Glen Ross’ (1992) – James Foley

David Mamet’s play adaptation of real estate crooks starred Al Pacino, Ed Harris, Jack Lemmon and Kevin Spacey, but it was Alec Baldwin who stole the show with lines like “ABC: Always Be Closing” and “Coffee is for closers!”

28. ‘True Romance’ (1993) – Tony Scott

Christian Slater and Patricia Arquette are immortal as Clarence and Alabama in Tony Scott’s ultra-violent treatment of a Tarantino script starring Dennis Hopper, Christopher Walken and James Gandolfini.

27. ‘Pink Flamingos’ (1972) – John Waters

John Waters’ kitschy brand of “trash cinema” is certainly not for everybody, but Divine remains an LGBT touchstone as the notorious Baltimore criminal Babs Johnson.

26. ‘Amores Perros’ (2000) – Alejandro G. Iñárritu

Before winning back-to-back directing Oscars for “Birdman” and “The Revenant,” Iñárritu broke through with this hyper-cinema crime tale of dog-fighting and dog lovers whose title loosely translates to “love’s a bitch.”

25. ‘In Cold Blood’ (1967) – Richard Brooks

Raindrop shadows form symbolic teardrops on the suspects’ faces in this flashback-filled adaptation of Truman Capote’s true-crime novel.

24. ‘Snatch’ (2000) – Guy Ritchie

After his breakthrough “Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels,” Guy Ritchie delivered his best work with Jason Statham, Brad Pitt and Benicio Del Toro.

23. ‘The Italian Job’ (1967) – Peter Collinson

Decades before Mark Wahlberg and Charlize Theron, Michael Caine led the British original with a high-octane gold heist that ended in a literal cliffhanger.

22. ‘Run Lola Run’ (1998) – Tom Tykwer

Tom Tykwer masters the ticking clock as a botched money delivery leaves Lola 20 minutes to come up with 100,000 Deutschmarks.

21. ‘Hell or High Water’ (2016) – David McKenzie

Jeff Bridges pursued bank robbers Chris Pine and Ben Foster in a Taylor Sheridan script that asked, “What don’t you want?”

20. ‘Heat’ (1995) – Michael Mann

After parallel action in “The Godfather: Part II,” Al Pacino and Robert DeNiro appeared in the same scene for the first time.

19. ‘Shaft’ (1973) – Gordon Parks 

In a “blaxploitation” era of “Sweet Sweetback,” “Superfly,” “Foxy Brown” and “Dolemite,” none was more iconic than “Shaft,” as Richard Roundtree strutted to Isaac Hayes’ title track.

18. ‘Bullitt’ (1968) – Peter Yates

Steve McQueen practically invented Hollywood chase sequences cruising San Francisco in his 1968 Mustang GT.

17. ‘Serpico’ (1973) – Sidney Lumet

Al Pacino was magnificent as beatnik plainclothes cop Frank Serpico, who exposes graft in the New York Police Department.

16. ‘Training Day’ (2001) – Antoine Fuqua

“King Kong” had nothing on Denzel Washington, who won his second Oscar as corrupt cop Alonzo Harris training new LAPD recruit Ethan Hawke.

15. ‘La Haine’ (1995) – Mathieu Kassovitz

This riveting French crime flick follows 24 hours in the lives of three young men in the suburbs the day after a violent riot.

14. ‘Wall Street’ (1987) – Oliver Stone

Michael Douglas’ corrupt Gordon Gekko takes young stockbroker Charlie Sheen under his wing, teaching him, “Greed is good.”

13. ‘Pickpocket’ (1959) – Robert Bresson

Not a shot is wasted in Bresson’s intimate look at petty crime as a thief is released from jail and resorts to pickpocketing after his mother’s death.

12. ‘Crimes and Misdemeanors’ (1989) – Woody Allen

Martin Landau plots to kill his mistress (Anjelica Huston), building to an existential bar conversation and a touching final wedding montage.

11. ‘Ocean’s Eleven’ (1960/2001) – Lewis Milestone / Steven Soderbergh

George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon and Julia Roberts bested the Rat Pack with a heist remake better than the 1960 original.

10. ‘American Hustle’ (2011) – David O. Russell

Christian Bale and Amy Adams con Jersey politician Jeremy Renner to ELO’s “10538 Overture,” but will J-Law blow their cover to investigator Bradley Cooper?

9. ‘The Sting’ (1973) – George Roy Hill

After “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid,” Robert Redford and Paul Newman reunited as a pair of 1930s con-men outfoxing Robert Shaw in this nose-thumbing Best Picture caper.

8. ‘Fight Club’ (1999) – David Fincher

Brad Pitt’s Tyler Durden told us “do not talk about Fight Club,” but we couldn’t help it after Edward Norton’s shocking climax.

7. ‘Dirty Harry’ (1971) – Don Siegel

Clint Eastwood’s vigilante cop asked criminals, “Do you feel lucky, punk?” then dared them to “Go ahead, make my day.”

6. ‘City of God’ (2002) – Fernando Meirelles & Katia Lund

This Brazilian masterpiece did for Rio de Janeiro what “The Wire” did for Baltimore’s streets, both arriving the same year.

5. ‘The French Connection’ (1971) – William Friedkin

Gene Hackman saw a career role as Popeye Doyle, pursuing a drug kingpin under an elevated train in the best chase scene of all time.

4. ‘No Country for Old Men’ (2007) – Coen Brothers

Tommy Lee Jones pursued Javier Bardem’s terrifying villain in the Coen Brothers’ Best Picture treatise on modern-day crime.

3. ‘Dog Day Afternoon’ (1975) – Sidney Lumet

“Attica! Attica!” Al Pacino and his accomplice John Cazale hold a bank hostage in a true-crime case of Stockholm Syndrome.

2. ‘Taxi Driver’ (1976) – Martin Scorsese

Martin Scorsese exposed the danger of alienation as Robert DeNiro’s Travis Bickle gazed into the mirror to deliver his iconic improvised line: “You talkin’ to me?”

1. ‘Fargo’ (1996) – Coen Brothers

Pregnant cop Frances McDormand locked up William H. Macy’s shifty car salesman in this crime masterpiece with snowy atmosphere and imitable accents.

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Jason Fraley

Hailed by The Washington Post for “his savantlike ability to name every Best Picture winner in history," Jason Fraley began at WTOP as Morning Drive Writer in 2008, film critic in 2011 and Entertainment Editor in 2014, providing daily arts coverage on-air and online.

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