(Photo by Warner Bros. Thumbnail: New Line, Vertical Entertainment /courtesy Everett Collection)
20 Movies To Watch If You Loved Inception
Ten years ago, Inception, the dream-team movie collaboration between Leonardo DiCaprio and Christopher Nolan, rode into theaters on a wave of hype and secrecy matching the director’s previous game-changer, The Dark Knight. The dizzying dream heist thriller floored audiences with its complex shots – a city collapsing on itself, along with the practical effects wizardry of rotating hallway brawls – and a densely, literally layered plot. It left audiences wanting more… and we’re here to help. If you’re looking for more movies like Inception, the two other Nolan films that hew most closely are 1999’s brain-splitter Memento, and 2006’s treacherous The Prestige. But you, esteemed Tomato-reader, already knew that, have seen ’em both – probably many times – and thus know the joys of a David-Bowie-as-Nikola-Tesla performance! We present, then, 20 more movies to watch if you loved Inception.
First, there’s Shutter Island, which has a lot of overlap with Inception, and not just because they star the same guy. They’re both slick, dark thrillers that question reality and perception. (See our list of 20 movies to watch if you loved Shutter Island, which has more Incept-y movies like Dark City and The Game.)
What makes a movie like Inception? The initial response is for some cracking sci-fi mind-f–kers. The number of these films has exploded since 2000, especially in the last decade: Think the space-time continuum-whacking Predestination, Primer, and Timecrimes. Movies like Mr. Nobody, The Congress, The Cell, Coherence, Time Lapse, and Enemy explore identity across multiple realities. Inception shares the most in the plot department with Satoshi Kon’s anime Paprika.
But the mood really started in the ’90s. An approaching new millennium felt like crossing a threshold into the unknown future, where technology, like Inception‘s mechanics to hijack dreams, brought limitless opportunities and dangers. The Truman Show, eXistenZ, Being John Malkovich, and The Thirteenth Floor explore this space. Earlier brain-hopping takes include adventure romp Dreamscape, and the absurdly violent Total Recall. Then there’s Rainer Werner Fassbinder, who was on simulated realities in the 1970s with World on a Wire, which Criterion has pressed for its original 3.5 hour cut.
Of course, Inception wouldn’t have resonated if it was all just sleight-of-hands and technical games; DiCaprio’s family drama provided a compelling emotional hook. Movies that have this same melancholic thread in complicated settings include Robin Williams afterlife fantasy/drama What Dreams May Come, and the existentially devastating Synecdoche, New York.
Adjusted Score: 31293%
Critics Consensus: Bad script and confusing plot undermine the movie's impressive visuals.
A man awakens to discover a bloody shirt in his house and his boss murdered the night before. Did he... [More]
Adjusted Score: 50311%
Critics Consensus: The Cell offers disturbing, stunning eye candy, but its visual pleasures are no match for a confused storyline that undermines the movie's inventive aesthetic.
"The Cell" takes a shocking, riveting mind trip into the dark and dangerous corridors of a serial killer's psyche --... [More]
Adjusted Score: 55397%
Critics Consensus: An insubstantial plot overshadows the beautiful, surreal scenery.
After Chris Nielsen (Robin Williams) dies in a car accident, he is guided through the afterlife by his spirit guide,... [More]
Adjusted Score: 67335%
Critics Consensus: Mr. Nobody's narrative tangles may bedevil as much as they entertain, but its big ambitions and absorbing visuals make for an intriguing addition to director Jaco Van Dormael's filmography.
In 2092 the last mortal human (Jared Leto) on Earth reflects on his long past and thinks about the lives... [More]
Adjusted Score: 75875%
Critics Consensus: Charlie Kaufman's ambitious directorial debut occasionally strains to connect, but ultimately provides fascinating insight into a writer's mind.
Life is looking pretty bleak for theater director Caden Cotard (Philip Seymour Hoffman). His wife and daughter have left him,... [More]
Adjusted Score: 77036%
Critics Consensus: It may not rank with Scorsese's best work, but Shutter Island's gleefully unapologetic genre thrills represent the director at his most unrestrained.
The implausible escape of a brilliant murderess brings U.S. Marshal Teddy Daniels (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his new partner (Mark Ruffalo)... [More]
Adjusted Score: 75733%
Critics Consensus: Thanks to a strong performance from Jake Gyllenhaal and smart direction from Denis Villeneuve, Enemy hits the mark as a tense, uncommonly adventurous thriller.
A mild-mannered college professor (Jake Gyllenhaal) discovers a look-alike actor and delves into the other man's private affairs.... [More]
Adjusted Score: 76416%
Critics Consensus: Dense, obtuse, but stimulating, Primer is a film for viewers ready for a cerebral challenge.
Intellectual engineers Aaron (Shane Carruth) and Abe (David Sullivan) build and sell error-checking technology with the help of their friends... [More]
Adjusted Score: 75930%
Critics Consensus: The Congress rises on the strength of Robin Wright's powerful performance, with enough ambitious storytelling and technical thrills to overcome its somewhat messy structure.
An aging actress (Robin Wright) agrees to preserve her digital likeness for a studio to use in any future films... [More]
Adjusted Score: 76805%
Critics Consensus: Gooey, slimy, grotesque fun.
Video game designer Allegra Geller (Jennifer Jason Leigh) has created a virtual reality game called eXistenZ. After a crazed fan... [More]
Adjusted Score: 80043%
Critics Consensus: Dreamscape mixes several genres -- horror, sci-fi, action -- and always maintains a sense of adventure and humor.
Selfish teen Alex Gardner (Dennis Quaid) is coerced into joining a government project in which psychics like him are trained... [More]
Adjusted Score: 62130%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Three friends discover a photo machine that shows pictures a day into the future. After they use it for personal... [More]
Adjusted Score: 87434%
Critics Consensus: Under Paul Verhoeven's frenetic direction, Total Recall is a fast-paced rush of violence, gore, and humor that never slacks.
Douglas Quaid (Arnold Schwarzenegger) is a bored construction worker in the year 2084 who dreams of visiting the colonized Mars.... [More]
Adjusted Score: 86969%
Critics Consensus: Fun genre fare with uncommon intelligence, Predestination serves as a better-than-average sci-fi adventure -- and offers a starmaking turn from Sarah Snook.
A temporal agent (Ethan Hawke) embarks on a final time-traveling assignment to prevent an elusive criminal from launching an attack... [More]
Adjusted Score: 87382%
Critics Consensus: Following its own brand of logic, Paprika is an eye-opening mind trip that is difficult to follow but never fails to dazzle.
Dr. Atsuko Chiba works as a scientist by day and, under the code name "Paprika," is a dream detective at... [More]
Adjusted Score: 90276%
Critics Consensus: A case study in less-is-more filmmaking, Coherence serves as a compelling low-budget calling card for debuting writer-director James Ward Byrkit.
Eight friends at a dinner party experience a troubling chain of events due to the malevolent influence of a passing... [More]
Adjusted Score: 90231%
Critics Consensus: Timecrimes is a low-budget thriller that's well-crafted and loaded with dark humor and bizarre twists.
Nacho Vigalondo's time-travel thriller opens with Hector spying on a beautiful woman undressing in the woods near his property. Investigating,... [More]
Adjusted Score: 99946%
Critics Consensus: Smart, funny, and highly original, Being John Malkovich supports its wild premise with skillful direction and a stellar ensemble cast.
In this quirky cult-favorite comedy, unemployed New York City puppeteer Craig Schwartz (John Cusack) reluctantly takes a temp job as... [More]
Adjusted Score: 101730%
Critics Consensus: A funny, tender, and thought-provoking film, The Truman Show is all the more noteworthy for its remarkably prescient vision of runaway celebrity culture and a nation with an insatiable thirst for the private details of ordinary lives.
He doesn't know it, but everything in Truman Burbank's (Jim Carrey) life is part of a massive TV set. Executive... [More]
This week on home video, we’ve got the second installment of the successfully rebooted Planet of the Apes franchise, a feelgood drama from Lasse Hallström, and a claustrophobic found-footage horror film to kick things off. Then, we’ve got a couple of Certified Fresh TV shows, a few indie flicks, a rerelease of a Holiday favorite on DVD, and a newly remastered classic starring Jimmy Stewart. Read on for details:
Also available this week:
The Congress (76 percent), starring Robin Wright and Harvey Keitel in a half-animated meta sci-fi drama about an aging actress who agrees to have her image digitally recreated so that she can continue starring in films.
Field of Lost Shoes, starring David Arquette and Lauren Holly in a drama about a group of teenagers who are recruited to fight in the Civil War.
A Charlie Brown Christmas (92 percent) is getting a new 50th Anniversary Deluxe Edition DVD release, which includes the TV special It’s Christmastime Again, Charlie Brown.
Season one of the Certified Fresh FX sci-fi series The Strain (87 percent), produced by Guillermo Del Toro, is available.
The first season of Comedy Central’s Certified Fresh Broad City (95 percent), starring Abbi Jacobsen and Ilana Glazer as a couple of slackers living in New York, is also available.
And finally, Frank Capra’s 1939 classic Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (94 percent), starring Jimmy Stewart as the titular idealist who’s tapped as an interim senator and attempts to take on his corrupt opponents, is getting a 4k remastered Blu-ray with several special features, including a booklet featuring a new essay on the film.
This week on streaming video, we’ve got a sequel to a popular thriller, a feelgood sports drama, a Certified Fresh sci-fi movie, a not so Fresh sci-fi movie, and the Sharknado sequel. In addition, Netflix has also added a couple of Woody Allen films, a beloved sci-fi spoof, an iconic romance from the 1980s, and more. Read on for details:
Also opening this week in limited release:
Starred Up, a British drama about an imprisoned teenager who attempts to change his life, is Certified Fresh at 98 percent.
Patema Inverted, an anime about a princess who escapes from her staid underground life, is at 89 percent.
Kundo: Age of the Rampant, a martial arts film about a group of bandits that rises up against the aristocracy, is at 86 percent.
The Notebook, a drama about 13-year-old twins abandoned in a small village who bear witness to the violence and hypocrisy around them, is at 75 percent.
The Congress, starring Robin Wright and Harvey Keitel in a half-animated, half-live-action fantasy about the movie business, is Certified Fresh at 73 percent.
Canopy, a World War II drama about a pilot who’s been shot down in enemy territory, is at 71 percent.
The Calling, starring Susan Sarandon and Topher Grace in a thriller about a serial killer who preys on the terminally ill, is at 64 percent.
Jamie Marks Is Dead, starring Cameron Monaghan and Liv Tyler in a drama about the ghost of a teenager who visits some of his old classmates, is at 63 percent.
Life of Crime, starring John Hawkes and Jennifer Aniston in a caper comedy about a man who refuses to pay the ransom for his kidnapped wife, is at 61 percent.
The Strange Color of Your Body’s Tears, a thriller about a man whose search for his missing wife leads to disturbing places, is at 45 percent.
Through a Lens Darkly: Black Photographers and the Emergence of a People, a documentary about how photography helped to shape African American culture, is at 45 percent.
Last Weekend, starring Patricia Clarkson in a comedy about a dysfunctional family that gathers at a summer cabin, is at 43 percent.
The Last Of Robin Hood, starring Kevin Kline and Dakota Fanning in a drama about the last years of Hollywood swashbuckler Errol Flynn, is at 38 percent.
The Damned, a horror film about a man who discovers a mysterious child in the basement of a remote hotel, is at 13 percent.