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01.09.2015by: Alex Maidy

Top 10 Big Screen Detectives of the 21st Century

INHERENT VICE opens today and showcases a very unusual detective in the form of Joaquin Phoenix as Doc Sportello. Paul Thomas Anderson's film will likely go down as a favorite for years to come and Sportello will join the ranks of the best movie detectives of all time. Here is our list of the best crime-solvers from just the past 15 years of film. See if your favorite made the cut. If we missed on, feel free to add it to the talk backs below.

#10 - Slevin Kelevra (LUCKY NUMBER SLEVIN)

An underappreciated flick, LUCKY NUMBER SLEVIN has an all-star cast that includes Ben Kingsley, Morgan Freeman, Bruce Willis, Lucy Liu, Stanley Tucci, and Josh Hartnett. The movie tries a little too hard to be a cross between a Quentin Tarantino movie and the Mel Gibson movie PAYBACK, but ultimately it is a funny and action-packed mystery.

#9 - Patrick Kenzie and Angie Gennaro (GONE BABY GONE)

Ben Affleck's feature directorial debut is a powerful thriller starring Casey Affleck and Michelle Monaghan as a pair of private investigators on the case of a missing child. While the Kenzie/Gennaro novel was part of a series, we only have the one film featuring the characters. But, if someone wanted to make another, I would love to see these two actors reprise their roles.

#8 - Lisbeth Salander (THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO)

She may be an outsider, a misfit, and not what you would expect, but Lisbeth Salander is a brilliant detective. Partnered up with Daniel Craig's Mikael Blomkvist, Lisbeth finds ways of using technology and her skills to solve the most heinous crimes. Both Noomi Rapace and Rooney Mara bring a unique take on the character to their respective films, but both are some of the most intriguing in recent years.

#7 - Sherlock Holmes (SHERLOCK HOLMES)

Personally, I prefer both of the small screen iterations of the character, but Robert Downey Jr brings a smarmy nature to his version of Holmes that is very entertaining to watch. Guy Ritchie's films may sacrifice the mystery and deduction for action and comedy, but it is still clearly the Sherlock Holmes we all know and love.

#6 - Dave Toschi (ZODIAC)

David Fincher's film is full of interesting and capable investigators ranging from Jake Gyllenhaal to Mark Ruffalo, but it is Ruffalo's performance that steals the movie. Based on the actual investigator into the Zodiac Killer case, Ruffalo is brilliant and relatable. This is a terrifying and haunting film and one of the best of Fincher's career.

#5 - Perry Van Shrike (KISS KISS BANG BANG)

A fan favorite and one of the films that helped lead Robert Downey Jr on the path to being IRON MAN, KISS KISS BANG BANG is really a showcase for Val Kilmer. The man known for TOP GUN and HEAT delivers one of his best roles as the gay cop who gives Downey shit as much as he takes it.

#4 - Brendan Frye (BRICK)

Rian Johnson's neo-noir thriller is set in the most unexpected place for an adult drama: a high school. Joseph Gordon-Levitt is solid as the main character investigating the disappearance of his girlfriend. Inspired by the pulp detective novels of the 1950s, BRICK is one of the best movies you probably have never seen.

#3 - John Anderton (MINORITY REPORT)

Steven Spielberg's scifi blockbuster was also one of the best studio detective movies in recent years. Tom Cruise knocks it out of the park as John Anderton who is investigating a murder that he himself is going to commit. Great action set-pieces bring this to to top of Spielberg and Cruise's respective filmographies.

#2 - Alonso Harris (TRAINING DAY)

Denzel Washington's Oscar winning portrayal may not be the best crime-solver on this list, but he definitely knows how to work the streets in his favor. While Ethan Hawke's character may be the one audiences can more easily identify with, Washington's work in the film drives home the harsh realities of what being a cop can do to you if you let it.

#1 - Nicholas Angel (HOT FUZZ)

Edgar Wright, Simon Pegg, and Nick Frost found a way to not only parody but pay homage to everything that makes cop movies so damn good. That, combined with one hell of a gory and insane mystery, gives us a movie chock full of memorable moments. At the center of it all is Pegg as Nicholas Angel, a badass cop and detective who puts two and two together and ranks as our favorite detective of the 21st century.

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10:40AM on 01/14/2015

Do you know who should have been in there?

Batman. Maybe the next iteration of the Dark Knight will actually show his detective skills so that he will qualify for this category next time around.
Batman. Maybe the next iteration of the Dark Knight will actually show his detective skills so that he will qualify for this category next time around.
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4:20PM on 01/09/2015
You have some good people on this list, but Slevin Kalevra and Alonso Harris. I'll give you Angel because he knew something was wrong, even if he was way off-base about what it was, but Slevin only pretended to be a detective, and Alonso is a detective in name only (though he does figure Hoyt out pretty quickly). I'd actually nominate Terrence McDonough (Nicolas Cage from Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans) because, as psycho as he was, when it got down to it, he had the goods as a
You have some good people on this list, but Slevin Kalevra and Alonso Harris. I'll give you Angel because he knew something was wrong, even if he was way off-base about what it was, but Slevin only pretended to be a detective, and Alonso is a detective in name only (though he does figure Hoyt out pretty quickly). I'd actually nominate Terrence McDonough (Nicolas Cage from Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans) because, as psycho as he was, when it got down to it, he had the goods as a detective.
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+0
3:48PM on 01/09/2015

Good One

Very Noir like movie...
Very Noir like movie...
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+1
3:45PM on 01/09/2015

UFFF This is a BAD LIST

Mother ? I Walk Amount The tombstones ? Memoirs of a Murder? come on.....
Mother ? I Walk Amount The tombstones ? Memoirs of a Murder? come on.....
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+0
3:42PM on 01/09/2015

ohhh man

no detective movie!!!
no detective movie!!!
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+1
3:39PM on 01/09/2015

No a Detective...

SPOILERS

a Hitman Movie.
SPOILERS

a Hitman Movie.
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1:41PM on 01/09/2015

BATMAN

how is Batman not #1 on this list? He's literally called the world's greatest detective. He really shows off detective skills in "The Dark Knight" if not so much the other two movies. He's my pick for best private detective of the 21st century
how is Batman not #1 on this list? He's literally called the world's greatest detective. He really shows off detective skills in "The Dark Knight" if not so much the other two movies. He's my pick for best private detective of the 21st century
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1:41PM on 01/09/2015
I absolutely LOVE this movie, but I kind of prefer Jake. I thought he did the better detective work out of the 2.
I absolutely LOVE this movie, but I kind of prefer Jake. I thought he did the better detective work out of the 2.
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1:39PM on 01/09/2015
as much as i love this movie, Angel is a sergeant, not a detective. Even as a detective, he didnt solve anything with deduction (as Bojac pointed out below). He's a kick-ass cop on the same level as John McClain, but not a detective.

as much as i love this movie, Angel is a sergeant, not a detective. Even as a detective, he didnt solve anything with deduction (as Bojac pointed out below). He's a kick-ass cop on the same level as John McClain, but not a detective.

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1:36PM on 01/09/2015
private detective. Washington's character was a payroll detective, working (officially) for the city. He wasn't private. Unless it's been to long since ive seen this movie and im missing something.

also, while he is officially a detective, he doesnt do much detecting in the movie. Its a great movie, but i dont think its right for this list. But thats just my opinion
private detective. Washington's character was a payroll detective, working (officially) for the city. He wasn't private. Unless it's been to long since ive seen this movie and im missing something.

also, while he is officially a detective, he doesnt do much detecting in the movie. Its a great movie, but i dont think its right for this list. But thats just my opinion
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1:30PM on 01/09/2015
idk if i agree with this one. While i agree that it is a fantastic movie that everyone should watch, i dont really think of slevin as a detective. Yes he acts like one throughout the movie, but there is a twist ending that makes me say he's not a detective.

I really dont wanna give away the twist here for anyone who hasnt seen it, but if you have seen it, you know what i mean.
idk if i agree with this one. While i agree that it is a fantastic movie that everyone should watch, i dont really think of slevin as a detective. Yes he acts like one throughout the movie, but there is a twist ending that makes me say he's not a detective.

I really dont wanna give away the twist here for anyone who hasnt seen it, but if you have seen it, you know what i mean.
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12:37PM on 01/09/2015

Everything about this is wrong.

Nicholas Angel was a terrible detective.
For one, he was never a detective, he was a Sergeant.
Two, ALL of his theories were wrong. It wasn't some grand conspiracy about the bypass, it was a bunch of people being offed for petty reasons to win the village of the year award.
He reeled in a big ol' red herring.
Nicholas Angel was a terrible detective.
For one, he was never a detective, he was a Sergeant.
Two, ALL of his theories were wrong. It wasn't some grand conspiracy about the bypass, it was a bunch of people being offed for petty reasons to win the village of the year award.
He reeled in a big ol' red herring.
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+0
12:01PM on 01/09/2015
A good list, and I agree on #1, but Minority Report's Anderton is also great. God, I love these movies!
A good list, and I agree on #1, but Minority Report's Anderton is also great. God, I love these movies!
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