Inception

(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.

#20
#20
Adjusted Score: 31208%
Critics Consensus: Bad script and confusing plot undermine the movie's impressive visuals.
Synopsis: A man awakens to discover a bloody shirt in his house and his boss murdered the night before. Did he... [More]
Directed By: Josef Rusnak

#19

The Cell (2000)
45%

#19
Adjusted Score: 50026%
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.
Synopsis: "The Cell" takes a shocking, riveting mind trip into the dark and dangerous corridors of a serial killer's psyche --... [More]
Directed By: Tarsem Singh

#18
#18
Adjusted Score: 55143%
Critics Consensus: An insubstantial plot overshadows the beautiful, surreal scenery.
Synopsis: After Chris Nielsen (Robin Williams) dies in a car accident, he is guided through the afterlife by his spirit guide,... [More]
Directed By: Vincent Ward

#17

Mr. Nobody (2009)
68%

#17
Adjusted Score: 67409%
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.
Synopsis: In 2092 the last mortal human (Jared Leto) on Earth reflects on his long past and thinks about the lives... [More]
Directed By: Jaco Van Dormael

#16
#16
Adjusted Score: 77200%
Critics Consensus: Charlie Kaufman's ambitious directorial debut occasionally strains to connect, but ultimately provides fascinating insight into a writer's mind.
Synopsis: Life is looking pretty bleak for theater director Caden Cotard (Philip Seymour Hoffman). His wife and daughter have left him,... [More]
Directed By: Charlie Kaufman

#15

Shutter Island (2010)
68%

#15
Adjusted Score: 77568%
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.
Synopsis: The implausible escape of a brilliant murderess brings U.S. Marshal Teddy Daniels (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his new partner (Mark Ruffalo)... [More]
Directed By: Martin Scorsese

#14

Enemy (2013)
71%

#14
Adjusted Score: 75858%
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.
Synopsis: A mild-mannered college professor (Jake Gyllenhaal) discovers a look-alike actor and delves into the other man's private affairs.... [More]
Directed By: Denis Villeneuve

#13

Primer (2004)
73%

#13
Adjusted Score: 77020%
Critics Consensus: Dense, obtuse, but stimulating, Primer is a film for viewers ready for a cerebral challenge.
Synopsis: Intellectual engineers Aaron (Shane Carruth) and Abe (David Sullivan) build and sell error-checking technology with the help of their friends... [More]
Directed By: Shane Carruth

#12

The Congress (2013)
73%

#12
Adjusted Score: 76983%
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.
Synopsis: An aging actress (Robin Wright) agrees to preserve her digital likeness for a studio to use in any future films... [More]
Directed By: Ari Folman

#11

eXistenZ (1999)
74%

#11
Adjusted Score: 76710%
Critics Consensus: Gooey, slimy, grotesque fun.
Synopsis: Video game designer Allegra Geller (Jennifer Jason Leigh) has created a virtual reality game called eXistenZ. After a crazed fan... [More]
Directed By: David Cronenberg

#10

Dreamscape (1984)
79%

#10
Adjusted Score: 78596%
Critics Consensus: Dreamscape mixes several genres -- horror, sci-fi, action -- and always maintains a sense of adventure and humor.
Synopsis: Selfish teen Alex Gardner (Dennis Quaid) is coerced into joining a government project in which psychics like him are trained... [More]
Directed By: Joseph Ruben

#9

Time Lapse (2014)
78%

#9
Adjusted Score: 63387%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Three friends discover a photo machine that shows pictures a day into the future. After they use it for personal... [More]
Directed By: Bradley King

#8

Total Recall (1990)
82%

#8
Adjusted Score: 87042%
Critics Consensus: Under Paul Verhoeven's frenetic direction, Total Recall is a fast-paced rush of violence, gore, and humor that never slacks.
Synopsis: Douglas Quaid (Arnold Schwarzenegger) is a bored construction worker in the year 2084 who dreams of visiting the colonized Mars.... [More]
Directed By: Paul Verhoeven

#7

Predestination (2014)
84%

#7
Adjusted Score: 87120%
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.
Synopsis: A temporal agent (Ethan Hawke) embarks on a final time-traveling assignment to prevent an elusive criminal from launching an attack... [More]

#6

Paprika (2006)
85%

#6
Adjusted Score: 88983%
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.
Synopsis: Dr. Atsuko Chiba works as a scientist by day and, under the code name "Paprika," is a dream detective at... [More]
Directed By: Satoshi Kon

#5

Coherence (2013)
88%

#5
Adjusted Score: 90368%
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.
Synopsis: Eight friends at a dinner party experience a troubling chain of events due to the malevolent influence of a passing... [More]
Directed By: James Ward Byrkit

#4

Timecrimes (2007)
90%

#4
Adjusted Score: 92321%
Critics Consensus: Timecrimes is a low-budget thriller that's well-crafted and loaded with dark humor and bizarre twists.
Synopsis: Nacho Vigalondo's time-travel thriller opens with Hector spying on a beautiful woman undressing in the woods near his property. Investigating,... [More]
Directed By: Nacho Vigalondo

#3
#3
Adjusted Score: 98667%
Critics Consensus: Smart, funny, and highly original, Being John Malkovich supports its wild premise with skillful direction and a stellar ensemble cast.
Synopsis: In this quirky cult-favorite comedy, unemployed New York City puppeteer Craig Schwartz (John Cusack) reluctantly takes a temp job as... [More]
Directed By: Spike Jonze

#2

The Truman Show (1998)
95%

#2
Adjusted Score: 101164%
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.
Synopsis: He doesn't know it, but everything in Truman Burbank's (Jim Carrey) life is part of a massive TV set. Executive... [More]
Directed By: Peter Weir

#1

()

#1

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:

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

91%

If you were as disappointed by Tim Burton’s 2001 Planet of the Apes reboot as half the critics were, then 2011’s Rise of the Planet of the Apes probably went a long way toward making you feel better about the future of the franchise. Thanks to glowing reviews and a smartly told origin story, we got part two of the reinvigorated series this year with Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, which finds the human race fighting to survive in the aftermath of a “simian flu” that has wiped out much of humanity while Ceasar (a mo-capped Andy Serkis) and his tribe of intelligent apes flourished in the meantime. Jason Clarke represents a community of San Francisco survivors in search of a power source located in ape territory, and though Ceasar sees benefit in maintaining peace with the humans, an angry chimpanzee named Koba challenges his authority and seeks to eradicate the human threat. Critics raved yet again, sending Dawn to a Certified Fresh 91 percent Tomatometer score in recognition of the film’s intelligent, ambitious, and surprisingly emotional script, as well as its skillful use of immersive visual effects. The Blu-ray comes with a number of featurettes, including a look at the production design, the community of apes, the special effects, and an interview with Andy Serkis, among other things.

The Hundred-Foot Journey

68%

Lasse Hallström has proven in the past that he can make schmaltzy stories work, and though The Hundred-Foot Journey isn’t quite the equivalent of cinematic haute cuisine, critics still thought it was fairly hearty. The film tells the story of Hassan (Manish Dayal), a young Indian ex-pat chef living in France whose family opens an Indian restaurant across the street from a classical French restaurant run by the fierce, calculating Madame Mallory (Helen Mirren). As a feud ensues between the two, Hassan falls for Mme Mallory’s sous chef Marguerite (Charlotte Le Bon), and soon Mme Mallory herself begins to see Hassan’s potential as a fine chef. This is familiar narrative territory — even for Hallström, who helmed the thematically similar Chocolat — but Helen Mirren is a joy to watch, and Hallström knows what he’s doing, so critics awarded it a 67 percent on the Tomatometer. Special features include an interview with producers Steven Spielberg and Oprah Winfrey discussing what drew them to the project, a look at the production design and the transition process from page to screen, and, as a nice little culinary bonus, a little how-to video recipe for coconut chicken.

As Above, So Below

27%

Being trapped underground can be a frightening experience in and of itself, but being trapped underground in the catacombs? You’d think that would add an extra level of freakout to the proceedings. Not so, say the critics, at least not in the case of As Above, So Below, the Paris-set chiller by director/screenwriter duo the Dowdle brothers, who remade the Spanish zombie flick [REC] as Quarantine. As Above follows a group of intrepid explorers who venture into the catacombs of Paris in search of a legendary alchemical catalyst and stumble upon inexplicable supernatural forces. As Above, So Below begins intriguingly enough despite its found footage trappings, say critics, but like many other subpar horror films, it devolves into a barrage of genre clichés executed with little panache. Special features on the release include just one making-of doc.

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:

The Congress

73%

Robin Wright and Harvey Keitel star in this half-animated, half-live-action, all Certified Fresh fantasy about the movie business.

Available now on: Amazon, iTunes, Vudu

Million Dollar Arm

64%

Jon Hamm stars as J.B. Bernstein, a sports agent whose clientele is short on major league stars. So he travels to India and holds a contest to find two strong-armed cricket bowlers who have the stuff to become big league pitchers.

Available now on: Amazon, iTunes, Vudu

The Purge: Anarchy

57%

Like its predecessor, The Purge takes place during a 12-hour stretch during which all laws are suspended and criminals run wild; this time, a grizzled cop (Frank Grillo) defends several law-abiding citizens while seeking to avenge the death of his son.

Available now on: iTunes, Vudu

Sharknado 2: The Second One

61%

Yep, they made a sequel to Sharknado. Nope, it’s not quite as good.

Available now on: Amazon, iTunes, Vudu

Earth to Echo

50%

A group of kids discover a small, adorable, owl-like robot from another planet; together, our heroes embark on a coming-of-age journey to return Echo to his home planet and save their hometown in the process.

Available now on: Amazon, iTunes, Vudu

Galaxy Quest

90%

Tim Allen and Sigourney Weaver star in this loving homage to classic sci-fi films; when they’re mistaken by aliens for real heroes, the cast of a popular space TV show is forced to contend with a cosmic threat.

Available now on: Netflix

Bananas

83%

In this early comedy from Woody Allen, a neurotic New Yorker inadvertently becomes the leader of a South American country, and hilarity ensues.

Available now on: Netflix

Big Ass Spider!

78%

This throwback to creature features of old is the story of two guys trying to stop a huge arachnid from destroying Los Angeles.

Available now on: Netflix

Alice

71%

Mia Farrow, Joe Mantegna, William Hurt, June Squibb, and a whole bunch of other notable thespians team up for this magical realist dramedy from Woody Allen.

Available now on: Netflix

Dirty Dancing

69%

Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey star in this dance-tastic drama that ushered several mini-generations of teen girls into adulthood.

Available now on: Netflix

Documented

75%

This documentary chronicles the tale of Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Jose Antonio Vargas, who admitted to being an undocumented immigrant in a New York Times Magazine essay in 2011.

Available now on: Netflix

14 Blades

69%

Donnie Yen stars in this period martial arts film about an assassin who goes on the run after being betrayed by his men.

Available now on: Netflix

Carrie

50%

Chloe Grace Moretz stars as the title character, a teenage outcast with a demanding mom and telekinetic powers. Will the snobby kids at Carrie’s school learn not to mess with her?

Available now on: Netflix

The Originals: Season One

Joseph Morgan, Daniel Gilles, and Claire Holt star in this Vampire Diaries spinoff, about New Orleans’ original vampire family.

Available now on: Netflix

This week at the movies, we’ve got a spy on the run (The November Man, starring Pierce Brosnan and Olga Kurylenko), some haunted explorers (As Above/So Below, starring Perdita Weeks and Ben Feldman/), and four supernatural elimination specialists (Ghostbusters, starring Bill Murray and Dan Aykroyd). What do the critics have to say?

The November Man

36%

Pierce Brosnan is best known for his stint as cinema’s greatest spy, James Bond. He plays a different sort of espionage agent in The November Man; unfortunately, critics say that while the film is slick and competently made, it suffers from convoluted plotting and middling dialogue. Brosnan stars as Peter Devereaux, an ex-CIA agent who’s lured out of retirement to protect an important witness. However, Devereaux quickly discovers that everyone’s out to get him. The pundits say that Brosnan is strong as a thoughtful, haunted protagonist, but The November Man is largely a generic spy thriller that’s weighted down by an overloaded narrative. (Check out this week’s Total Recall, in which we count down Brosnan’s best-reviewed films.)

As Above/So Below

27%

What better place to set a horror movie than the catacombs beneath Paris, where the bones of millions of souls are part of an intricate series of dark tunnels? Critics say As Above/So Below occasionally takes full advantage of its chilling locale, but its characters aren’t particularly well-developed. It’s the story of three adventure seekers on a quest to find a mythical artifact. When they venture into the catacombs, however, they’re forced to confront horrors both tangible and psychological. The pundits say As Above/So Below is atmospheric and occasionally spooky, but it lacks the weight and urgency necessary to be a true head-trip.

Ghostbusters

97%

If there’s something strange in your neighborhood, who you gonna call? Yes, that’s right: Ghostbusters, one of the most beloved comedies of the 1980s is back in theaters in celebration of its 30th anniversary. Critics found it to be a sublime blend of witty banter and inspired special effects, and it’s barely dated a lick since its original release.

Also opening this week in limited release: