The much-anticipated Knives Out follow-up Glass Onion finally makes its way to Netflix this holiday weekend, following a one-week-only theatrical engagement in November. The sequel sees world-renowned detective (and Stephen Sondheim enthusiast) Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig) receiving a mysterious invitation to a private island. When he arrives, he finds that a group of colorful characters (including Kate Hudson in a caftan, Kathryn Hahn in a visor, and Janelle Monáe on a mission) have been brought together by a tech millionaire (Edward Norton) with rather murky intentions.
As tends to happen in these cases, secrets, grudges, and murder soon bubble up in the film, in which writer-director Rian Johnson pays homage to decades of classic whodunit lore in both film and literature. If Glass Onion whets your appetite for more stories filled with big ensembles, quirky detectives, red herrings, and seemingly endless motives for murder, we’ve collected 20 more of the best whodunit films you can watch right now, along with details on where you can find them.
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In 1926, world-renowned author Agatha Christie disappeared for 11 days. To this day, no one knows exactly where she was, what she was doing, or what happened to her during that time. This film imagines what she may have gotten herself up to for those nearly two weeks. And yes, you guessed it, it has to do with solving a murder of her own. While The Truth Of Murder doesn’t pretend to be factually accurate, it’s a fun historical fantasy that portrays the Queen of Crime leading a life filled with mystery, excitement, and danger.
Agatha And The Truth Of Murder is available to stream on PBS Masterpiece, and for rental via Vudu.
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Bad Times At The El Royale is neon-soaked and brimming with ’60s grooviness. This neo-noir thriller revolves around the whodunit staple of seemingly random strangers meeting at an isolated place, this time a hotel on the California-Nevada border. It has delicious casting choices like Cynthia Erivo as a runaway singer, Chris Hemsworth as a Charles Manson-like cult leader, and Jeff Bridges as a priest with a secret. The story is told in chapters, each from a different character’s point of view, which allows us to dive deep into why and how these people ended up here.
Bad Times At The El Royale is available for rental via Apple TV, Amazon Prime Video, Google Play, and YouTube TV.
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Knives Out was not Rian Johnson’s first venture into whodunit territory. Although Brick pulls more from classic noir narratives, it has at its center someone trying to uncover the mystery behind a death. Only instead of a mustachioed detective or a fedora-wearing private investigator, it’s a high school student (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) trying to find out what happened to his girlfriend. In the same way the Knives Out movies are stylized like classic parlor mysteries, Brick looks and sounds like a classic noir movie, an early sign of Johnson’s ability to both pay homage to and revitalize old genres.
Brick is available for rental via Apple TV, Amazon Prime Video, Google Play, and YouTube TV.
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One of the all-time classics of the genre, Clue not only brings the iconic characters, locations, and weapons of the beloved board game to life, but infuses them with a ridiculous sense of fun and satire. Starring a top-tier ensemble including Tim Curry, Christopher Lloyd, Lesley Ann Warren, and Madeline Kahn, the film has become a cult classic because of its rapid-fire gags and unforgettable quotes. Mimicking the many outcomes of the gameplay, it was even released in theaters with three different endings, all of which you can see in digital versions. Remember, communism was just a red herring.
Clue is available on Showtime and to DirecTV subscribers, and is available for rental via Apple TV, Amazon Prime Video, Google Play, and YouTube TV.
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Before there was enough champagne to fill the Nile, another group of suspects had taken the S.S. Karnak down the Egyptian river almost 45 years earlier. In 1978’s Death On The Nile, Peter Ustinov stars as detective Hercule Poirot alongside some Old Hollywood heavy-hitters: Mia Farrow, Angela Lansbury, Maggie Smith, and Bette Davis. In the 2022 remake, Kenneth Branagh directs and stars with Gal Gadot, Armie Hammer, and Annette Bening, among others. The former is more of a character drama than the action-oriented latter, but both embody the whodunit’s penchant for travel, exotic locations, and lifelong grudges.
Death On The Nile (1978) is available to stream on the Roku Channel, PlutoTV, and Amazon Freevee, and for rental via Apple TV, Amazon Prime Video, Google Play, and YouTube TV.
Death On The Nile (2022) is available to stream on Hulu, HBOMax, and to DirecTV subscribers, and for rental via Apple TV, Amazon Prime Video, Google Play, and YouTube TV.
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Whodunits are at their best when it’s just a handful of people fighting for survival and playing mind games with each other. In the 1982 gem Deathtrap, Michael Caine stars as a playwriting professor that becomes increasingly obsessed with, and jealous of, a student (Christopher Reeve, wearing tight-knit sweaters before Chris Evans ever did). So the professor naturally invites the student over with plans to murder him. What follows is two hours of biting dialogue and unexpected plot twists that play almost in real-time. It feels like watching two men tear each other apart on stage, literally and figuratively.
Deathtrap is available for rental via AppleTV, Amazon Prime Video, Google Play, and YouTube TV.
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The film that perhaps Glass Onion borrows the most from stylistically, Evil Under The Sun follows our favorite Belgian Hercule Poirot to a private island to investigate the disappearance of a diamond. But things turn deadly fast. If Death On The Nile evokes the feeling of going on a historical tour while on vacation, Evil Under The Sun replicates lounging by a pool all week. Starring Ustinov in his second go as Poirot, as well as Jane Birkin, Maggie Smith, and a stupendous Diana Rigg, it will make you want to account for every second of your next vacation.
Evil Under The Sun is available to stream on BritBox, and for rental via Apple TV, Amazon Prime Video, Google Play, and YouTube TV.
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In this Academy Award-winning film, legendary director Robert Altman (known for his big ensembles and balancing of multiple storylines) makes the perfect pairing with writer Julian Fellowes (creator of every TV period drama you’ve loved from Downton Abbey to The Gilded Age). Together, they tell the upstairs-downstairs story of an old English estate where the owner is suddenly murdered. Emotionally deeper, less focused on plot mechanics, and much more class-conscious than your typical whodunit, Gosford Park brings out the social satire so ingrained in the genre, with not a single bad performance in sight.
Gosford Park is available for rental via Apple TV, Amazon Prime Video, Google Play, and YouTube TV.
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Instead of a cozy and picturesque English village, Identity takes us to a downtrodden motel alongside a highway, where a group of strangers finds themselves trapped one night by a storm. As it goes in these stories, they start getting killed off one by one. But what is it that ties them all together? Or rather … who? With a cast that includes John Cusack, Ray Liotta, Amanda Peet, and Alfred Molina, the film is more of a psychological thriller that uses a whodunit premise to delve deep into the mind of a killer. Sometimes, quite literally.
Identity is available to stream on the Roku Channel, and for rental via Apple TV, Amazon Prime Video, Google Play, and YouTube TV.
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There have been many iconic detectives in the history of the genre. So what would happen if they were all forced to solve a murder together? In this comedy written by Neil Simon, a group of detectives that parody the likes of Hercule Poirot, Miss Marple, Nick and Nora Charles (discussed more below), and The Maltese Falcon’s Sam Spade are forced to come together to get out of a remote castle alive. The film spoofs classic tropes like hidden passageways, identity reveals, and the roles of the staff, and the opening credits alone(drawn by Charles Addams) are worth the price of that rental.
Murder By Death is available for rental via Apple TV, Amazon Prime Video, Google Play, and YouTube TV.
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Perhaps the quintessential Agatha Christie murder mystery, Murder On The Orient Express encapsulates everything that makes a good whodunit: a group of people trapped together in an exotic place, a victim that secretly connects them all, and a quirky detective gathering them to explain the motives in the final act. Sydney Lumet’s Oscar-winning 1974 take on the film remains a masterclass on how to shoot an ensemble and deliver heavy exposition, while Kenneth Branagh’s 2017 version kicked off the current whodunit renaissance. Its solution (no spoilers) is also one of the most iconic of the genre.
Murder on the Orient Express (1974) is available to stream on Fubo TV, and for rental via Apple TV, Amazon Prime Video, Google Play, and YouTube TV.
Murder on the Orient Express (2017) is available to stream on Fubo TV, and to DirecTV subscribers, and for rental via Apple TV, Amazon Prime Video, Google Play, and YouTube TV.
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There’s a natural connection between board games and whodunits. In both, a sense of quiet cleverness is needed to outsmart the circumstances, as well as the knowledge that you should never trust others, and that it can get really personal really fast. In 2019’s Ready Or Not, a new bride (Samara Weaving) spends a weekend at the estate of her new husband’s family, who are magnates of a board game empire. She soon realizes they have very particular traditions, and that she needs to outsmart them in order to get out alive. Blending the gears of a whodunit perfectly with horror, the film is smart, witty, and relentless.
Ready Or Not is available to stream on Fubo TV, and to DirecTV subscribers, and for rental via Apple TV, Amazon Prime Video, and YouTube TV.
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Many of Hitchcock’s films could have potentially made this list. After all, no one portrayed the tension and fear of being chased on screen like he did. In his one-take wonder Rope, two college friends commit a seemingly perfect crime and host a dinner to celebrate, when a reporter starts asking questions. The tension lies not in who did it (after all, that’s revealed in the opening), but rather in why they did it and whether they’ll get caught. The first in Hitchcock’s filmography to be shot in color, the story develops in real-time, with not a second given to the audience to breathe.
Rope is available for rental via Apple TV, Amazon Prime Video, Google Play, and YouTube TV.
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This film came and went without much pain or glory earlier in the fall, but it is a must-watch for devoted whodunit lovers, especially Agatha Christie fans. In the 1950s West End, a film director (Adrien Brody) is murdered after being hired to direct the adaptation of Christie’s hit play The Mousetrap. Two inspectors (Sam Rockwell and a brilliantly funny Saoirse Ronan) are put on the case, which slowly devolves into a meta-mystery about putting on a murder mystery. Filled with Easter eggs and meta-commentary about Christie’s work, it’s a whodunit distinctly by and for people who love them.
See How They Run is available to stream on HBOMax and for DirecTV subscribers, and for rental via Apple TV, Amazon Prime Video, Google Play, and YouTube TV.
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No list would be complete without the world’s most famous detective. Sherlock Holmes is the literary character that has been portrayed the most times in film and television (over 250 times!), so there’s plenty of media to choose from. However, 2009’s Sherlock Holmes took the iconic detective’s usually grounded cases and turned them into an action-packed epic about a serial killer that seemingly comes back from the dead. With Robert Downey Jr. in the title role and Jude Law as his faithful companion Dr. Watson, this movie proved that the smartest, most intuitive detective in literature could also be cool as hell.
Sherlock Holmes is available to stream on Netflix and HBO Max, and for rental via Apple TV, Amazon Prime Video, Google Play, and YouTube TV.
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The second entry in this list where Michael Caine stars in a two-character piece engaging in a battle of wits with another man. In Sleuth, a young man gets a strange proposal from his ex-lover’s husband. In the 1978 version (the final work of director Joseph L. Mankiewicz), Caine stars alongside acting legend Sir Laurence Olivier. In the 2007 remake (directed by whodunit aficionado Kenneth Branagh), Caine assumes the older role, with Jude Law taking over the younger part. With only two characters in both films, the story is a hotplate of tension, exploding monologues, and intricate plot twists.
Sleuth (1972) is unfortunately not available to stream or rent digitally at this time, but the DVD is available for purchase at Amazon.
Sleuth (2007) is available to stream for DirecTV subscribers, and for rental via Apple TV, Amazon Prime Video, Google Play, and YouTube TV.
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If Evil Under the Sun was the stylistic inspiration for Glass Onion, The Last Of Sheila was definitely its narrative muse. Written by the Mad Libs collaboration of the Stephen Sondheim and Anthony Perkins, the film follows a Hollywood producer who invites former collaborators for a weekend getaway on his yacht—with ulterior motives, of course. Based on the real-life scavenger hunts that Sondheim made his friends do on vacation, the film features his signature use of wordplay, reevaluation of facts, and (not so) underlying queer subtext. An absolute classic.
The Last Of Sheila is available to stream on the TCM Channel and for DirecTV subscribers, and for rental via Apple TV, Amazon Prime Video, Google Play, and YouTube TV.
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Before cementing her place in the whodunit canon as Jessica Fletcher in Murder, She Wrote, Angela Lansbury starred in this 1980 adaptation of the Agatha Christie classic as Miss Marple, the neighborhood gossip with surprisingly good detective skills. This film takes her to the set of a movie that’s shooting in her quaint village, and the lead actress (Elizabeth Taylor) who believes she’s the target of a killer. Starring the likes of Kim Novak, Tony Curtis, Rock Hudson, and Geraldine Chaplin, the film is a camp classic simply because of the pure cattiness that comes out of every actress’ mouth.
The Mirror Crack’d is available to stream on BritBox, and for rental via Apple TV, Amazon Prime Video, Google Play, and YouTube TV.
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The oldest movie in the list, The Thin Man is a pre-Code murder mystery comedy that showcases just how risky early Hollywood movies tended to get. Starring Myra Loy and William Powell as Nick and Nora Charles, an amateur detective couple investigating the involvement of a man in a murder case, the film stands out because of the palpable chemistry and charisma of the leads, and the fast-paced, witty dialogue of the script. The film was so successful that it spawned five sequels, and cemented Nick and Nora as two of the most beloved detectives in film.
The Thin Man is available to stream on HBOMax, and for rental via Apple TV, Amazon Prime Video, Google Play, and YouTube TV.
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The final Agatha Christie movie in this compilation, this film is not based on one of her novels, but one of her plays. Directed by Hollywood legend Billy Wilder, and starring Tyrone Power and Marlene Dietrich, Witness For The Prosecution follows the trial of a man accused of murder, and the confounding testimony that his wife gives against him. Part courtroom drama, part marital drama, and part murder mystery, the film pulls the rug out from under the audience on several occasions, and in the finest Agatha Christie fashion, saves its best twists for the final act.
Witness For The Prosecution is available to stream on Kanopy, and for rental via Apple TV, Amazon Prime Video, Google Play, and YouTube TV.
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