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Top 10 Movies About Conspiracy Theories

Sometimes it feels like the real world these days is more paranoid and surreal than anything on the big screen. But, the idea of conspiracy theories in government and other power structures has long been an element since the creation of movies. With that in mind, here is our ranking of the ten best movies featuring vast conspiracy theories. From science fiction to horror, religious institutions to governments, this list includes them all. But, if you think we missed something, let us know in the comments below.

JFK

Oliver Stone is a real life conspiracy theorist. As crazy as he may be, Stone had his beliefs reinforced when the popularity of JFK actually forced the United States government to reopen a commission to investigate the assassination of John F. Kennedy. Since then, Stone's work has been hit or miss, but he hit his peak with this epic drama starring everyone from Kevin Costner and Kevin Bacon to Tommy Lee Jones and Gary Oldman. Believe the theories or not, this movie brought one of the most enduring conspiracies of all time to the mainstream and reinvigorated the paranoia in us all.

CONSPIRACY THEORY

This film was heavily marketed as the collaboration of Julia Roberts and Mel Gibson on the big screen for the first time, but the reunion between LETHAL WEAPON director Richard Donner and Gibson is what makes this movie so good. From a script by Brian Helgeland, CONSPIRACY THEORY encapsulates all of the paranoia on this list and asks what if the person who we thought was crazy was actually correct? Featuring a great villain turn from Patrick Stewart, this is the most underrated film on this list.

ALL THE PRESIDENT'S MEN

Robert Redford again graces this ranking, but this time in a very different film. ALL THE PRESIDENT'S MEN, based on the true events surrounding the Watergate scandal, is possibly the scariest movie on this list. Everything in this movie actually happened and helped spark theories that have impacted every political scandal in the United States since. Plus, if not for this movie, we may never have gotten Deep Throat (the porno or the X-Files character).

THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE

An absolute classic, John Frankenheimer's 1962 thriller was remade four decades later with Denzel Washington, but the original is still supreme. With Frank Sinatra, Laurence Harvey, Janet Leigh and an absolutely evil Angela Lansbury, THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE was the paranoid thriller of all paranoid thrillers. At the height of the Cold War, I am sure this movie made things worse for some people rather than better. Do yourself a favor and rewatch this one and see how prescient it is for today's political climate.

CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER

Possibly the single best film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, this movie is more than a superhero film. Taking inspiration from other films on this list, Joe and Anthony Russo crafted a taut conspiracy thriller in the confines of a comic book film. It works wonders and brought Hydra back into the MCU in an unexpected way. Plus, Robert Redford!

THREE DAYS OF THE CONDOR

Recently remade as a TV series over on Audience Network, the classic thriller stars Robert Redford and Faye Dunaway in what was a cross between PATRIOT GAMES and the BOURNE franchise. Redford plays the titular CIA analyst codenamed Condor who finds all of his coworkers murdered and goes on the run to clear his name. All of the action comes on the heels of a conspiracy being unearthed and made for one of the most exciting films of the 1970s.

THEY LIVE

John Carptenter's film about sunglasses that allow Roddy Piper to see the true alien nature of those in power may seen a bit on the nose, but it works really well. Aside from the epic fight scene, the entire concept and visualization of what the real world looks like remains an enduringly chilling "what if". If you don't pretend you see OBEY signs every time you put on your sunglasses, you need to see this movie.

SPOTLIGHT

Winner of Best Picture, and deservedly so, Tom McCarthy's drama about the cover-up of sexual abuse by priests is one of the most gut-wrenching dramas of recent years. The far reaching power of the Catholic Church is almost as frightening as that of some political-centered theories on this list. With a stellar cast led by Michael Keaton and Mark Ruffalo, SPOTLIGHT is a worthy entry on this list.

THE X-FILES

Alright a cultural phenomenon on TV, THE X-FILES made the jump to the big screen in 1998 with a large scale film that condensed the epic conspiracy theories about a government sanctioned alien invasion into a single two hour movie. While it may not have been as good as some had hoped, it still works as a taut action movie two decades later and still reminds me of a time when I thought there really could be a shady cabal of old, white men preparing for the end of days.

THE PARALLAX VIEW

The second of three films about paranoia from director Alan J Pakula, THE PARALLAX VIEW is the only one not to be nominated for an Academy Award. Starring Warren Beatty, the film follows a reporter who investigates the untimely death of a former lover who had a theory that the murder of a Presidential candidate atop the Space Needle in Seattle was part of a larger conspiracy. It turns out to be true and the ensuing thriller is one of the best of all time. Met with mediocre reception upon initial release, THE PARALLAX VIEW has since become a cult favorite.

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