Screen shot from the trailer of Inception
10. Black Swan
Using the ballet "Swan Lake" as a backdrop, this film intensely brings to life the reality that performers can often lose their selves when performing. Directed by Darren Aronofsky (Requiem for a Dream, The Wrestler), Nina Sayers (Natalie Portman) is a dancer who earns the role of the White Swan and Black Swan. This is Sayers' first lead role.
She is often tense and on edge. Her director (Vincent Cassel) pushes her and seems to be playing her against another girl who could steal the part from Sayers at any moment. What unfolds is a taut psychological thriller, one big metaphorical fantasy that gets up under your skin.
9. The Ghost Writer
Roman Polanski directed this political thriller, which tells the story of a Ghost Writer (Ewan McGregor) who is hired to redact the memoirs of British politician Adam Lang (Pierce Brosnan). He becomes embroiled in a scandal over how far he was willing to go to develop a special relationship between the UK and the U.S. The Ghost Writer is in a fortress that is heavily protected and the memoirs are kept under lock-and-key.
As the Ghost becomes more and more aware of the sensitive information in the memoirs he is redacting, the Ghost finds himself in more and more danger (one could ask if The Ghost would have been compelled to send the text of the memoirs to WikiLeaks).
This is one smart thriller that really doesn't rely on violence to tell the story. It's a classic controlled plot that moves forward with good pace and delivers.