11th Apr2014

Top 5: Conspiracy Thrillers

by Phil Wheat


Conspiracy films can captivate an audience in surprising ways, and Hollywood has a long tradition of bringing these theories to life. In the upcoming film Pioneer, director Erik Skjoldbjærg explores a real life Norwegian big oil cover-up that includes murder, extortion, and diving in the North Sea.

In celebration of Pioneer‘s release today, we are counting down six of the best conspiracy thrillers.

5. Shutter Island (2010)

Perhaps better known for violent-gangster films than conspiracy theories, Martin Scorsese teamed up with Leonardo DiCaprio for the fourth time to stunning effects. Using conspiracy-theory tropes unapologetically, Shutter Island turns the genre on its head and questions the nature of conspiracy theorists within our society.

4. The Insider (1999)

Focused solely on their shareholders, corporations will often go to morally extreme lengths to maximize profits. There is perhaps no better instance of this than within the cigarette industry, where companies denied the harmful effects of cigarettes for years, even in the face of mountains of evidence contrary to their claims. Based on real world events, The Insider explores Jeffrey Wigand’s decision to release condemning information about his former company, and the moral battle that ensued within the 60 Minutes office.

3. Z (1969)

This anti-fascist political thriller proved that sometimes fact is scarier than fiction. Set in cold-war era Greece, Z examines the real life murder of activist Gregorios Lambrakis, and the political leaders who ordered his execution. At the time, Z exposed government hypocrisy and cover-ups that continue today in many supposed free nations around the world.

2. JFK (1991)

Using the real-life assassination of President Kennedy as a backdrop, JFK mixes in a splash of speculative fiction to compelling effects. Whether or not the film’s facts hold up under intense scrutiny, JFK is an electric thriller, and its release reaffirmed Oliver Stone as a master of controversy.

1. All the President’s Men (1976)

Championing the ever-relevant need for a free press, All the President’s Men retells the Watergate scandal from the perspective of the journalists who uncovered it. Based on perhaps the largest scandal in the United State’s political history, All the President’s Men set off a wave of government conspiracy thrillers, and is a must watch for any conspiracy theory junkie.

Pioneer is released across the UK from today.


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