(Photo by Warner Bros. Thumbnail: New Line, Vertical Entertainment /courtesy Everett Collection)

20 Movies To Watch If You Loved Inception

Ten years ago, Inception, the dream-team movie collaboration between Leonardo DiCaprio and Christopher Nolan, rode into theaters on a wave of hype and secrecy matching the director’s previous game-changer, The Dark Knight. The dizzying dream heist thriller floored audiences with its complex shots – a city collapsing on itself, along with the practical effects wizardry of rotating hallway brawls – and a densely, literally layered plot. It left audiences wanting more… and we’re here to help. If you’re looking for more movies like Inception, the two other Nolan films that hew most closely are 1999’s brain-splitter Memento, and 2006’s treacherous The Prestige. But you, esteemed Tomato-reader, already knew that, have seen ’em both – probably many times – and thus know the joys of a David-Bowie-as-Nikola-Tesla performance! We present, then, 20 more movies to watch if you loved Inception.

First, there’s Shutter Island, which has a lot of overlap with Inception, and not just because they star the same guy. They’re both slick, dark thrillers that question reality and perception. (See our list of 20 movies to watch if you loved Shutter Island, which has more Incept-y movies like Dark City and The Game.)

What makes a movie like Inception? The initial response is for some cracking sci-fi mind-f–kers. The number of these films has exploded since 2000, especially in the last decade: Think the space-time continuum-whacking Predestination, Primer, and Timecrimes. Movies like Mr. Nobody, The Congress, The Cell, Coherence, Time Lapse, and Enemy explore identity across multiple realities. Inception shares the most in the plot department with Satoshi Kon’s anime Paprika.

But the mood really started in the ’90s. An approaching new millennium felt like crossing a threshold into the unknown future, where technology, like Inception‘s mechanics to hijack dreams, brought limitless opportunities and dangers. The Truman Show, eXistenZ, Being John Malkovich, and The Thirteenth Floor explore this space. Earlier brain-hopping takes include adventure romp Dreamscape, and the absurdly violent Total Recall. Then there’s Rainer Werner Fassbinder, who was on simulated realities in the 1970s with World on a Wire, which Criterion has pressed for its original 3.5 hour cut.

Of course, Inception wouldn’t have resonated if it was all just sleight-of-hands and technical games; DiCaprio’s family drama provided a compelling emotional hook. Movies that have this same melancholic thread in complicated settings include Robin Williams afterlife fantasy/drama What Dreams May Come, and the existentially devastating Synecdoche, New York.

Adjusted Score: 31.232%
Critics Consensus: Bad script and confusing plot undermine the movie's impressive visuals.
Synopsis: Computer scientist Hammnod Fuller has discovered something extremely important. He's about to tell the discovery to his colleague, Douglas Hall,... [More]
Directed By: Josef Rusnak


The Cell (2000)

Adjusted Score: 50.858%
Critics Consensus: The Cell offers disturbing, stunning eye candy, but its visual pleasures are no match for a confused storyline that undermines the movie's inventive aesthetic.
Synopsis: Within the confines of an abandoned rural farmhouse, Carl Stargher, a psychologically disturbed killer has built The Cell, a glass-encased... [More]
Directed By: Tarsem Singh

Adjusted Score: 57.462%
Critics Consensus: An insubstantial plot overshadows the beautiful, surreal scenery.
Synopsis: Despite everything we have experienced and all we have seen, nothing can prepare us for the wonders of what lies... [More]
Directed By: Vincent Ward


Mr. Nobody (2013)

Adjusted Score: 68.338%
Critics Consensus: Mr. Nobody's narrative tangles may bedevil as much as they entertain, but its big ambitions and absorbing visuals make for an intriguing addition to director Jaco Van Dormael's filmography.
Synopsis: A young boy stands on a station platform. The train is about to leave. Should he go with his mother... [More]
Directed By: Jaco Van Dormael

Adjusted Score: 75.062%
Critics Consensus: Charlie Kaufman's ambitious directorial debut occasionally strains to connect, but ultimately provides fascinating insight into a writer's mind.
Synopsis: Theater director Caden Cotard is mounting a new play. His life catering to suburban blue-hairs at the local regional theater... [More]
Directed By: Charlie Kaufman


Shutter Island (2010)

Adjusted Score: 75.898%
Critics Consensus: It may not rank with Scorsese's best work, but Shutter Island's gleefully unapologetic genre thrills represent the director at his most unrestrained.
Synopsis: Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio team up for a fourth time for this adaptation of Shutter Island, a novel by... [More]
Directed By: Martin Scorsese


Enemy (2014)

Adjusted Score: 75.151%
Critics Consensus: Thanks to a strong performance from Jake Gyllenhaal and smart direction from Denis Villeneuve, Enemy hits the mark as a tense, uncommonly adventurous thriller.
Synopsis: Academy Award Nominee Jake Gyllenhaal reteams with his PRISONERS director, Academy Award Nominee Denis Villeneuve, in this sexy and hypnotically... [More]
Directed By: Denis Villeneuve


Primer (2004)

Adjusted Score: 76.223%
Critics Consensus: Dense, obtuse, but stimulating, Primer is a film for viewers ready for a cerebral challenge.
Synopsis: The debut feature from filmmaker Shane Carruth -- who wrote, directed, photographed, edited, scored, and stars -- Primer is a... [More]
Directed By: Shane Carruth


The Congress (2014)

Adjusted Score: 76.711%
Critics Consensus: The Congress rises on the strength of Robin Wright's powerful performance, with enough ambitious storytelling and technical thrills to overcome its somewhat messy structure.
Synopsis: More than two decades after catapulting to stardom with The Princess Bride, an aging actress (Robin Wright, playing a version... [More]
Directed By: Ari Folman


Existenz (1999)

Adjusted Score: 75.643%
Critics Consensus: Gooey, slimy, grotesque fun.
Synopsis: Set in the near-future, eXistenZ depicts a society in which game designers are worshipped as superstars and players can organically... [More]
Directed By: David Cronenberg


Dreamscape (1984)

Adjusted Score: 78.888%
Critics Consensus: Dreamscape mixes several genres -- horror, sci-fi, action -- and always maintains a sense of adventure and humor.
Synopsis: In an attempt to help people who experience recurring nightmares, a research program is using psychics to enter the patients'... [More]
Directed By: Joseph Ruben


Time Lapse (2015)

Adjusted Score: 59.526%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: TIME LAPSE explores the possibilities of time travel through a machine that is capable of taking pictures 24 hours into... [More]
Directed By: Bradley King


Total Recall (1990)

Adjusted Score: 85.86%
Critics Consensus: Under Paul Verhoeven's frenetic direction, Total Recall is a fast-paced rush of violence, gore, and humor that never slacks.
Synopsis: In Paul Verhoeven's wild sci-fi action movie Total Recall, Arnold Schwarzenegger plays a 21st-century construction worker who discovers that his... [More]
Directed By: Paul Verhoeven


Predestination (2015)

Adjusted Score: 86.621%
Critics Consensus: Fun genre fare with uncommon intelligence, Predestination serves as a better-than-average sci-fi adventure -- and offers a starmaking turn from Sarah Snook.
Synopsis: PREDESTINATION chronicles the life of a Temporal Agent (Ethan Hawke) sent on an intricate series of time-travel journeys designed to... [More]


Paprika (2006)

Adjusted Score: 86.512%
Critics Consensus: Following its own brand of logic, Paprika is an eye-opening mind trip that is difficult to follow but never fails to dazzle.
Synopsis: A machine allows therapists to enter patients' dreams. When it's stolen, all hell breaks loose, and only a woman therapist... [More]
Directed By: Satoshi Kon


Coherence (2014)

Adjusted Score: 90.875%
Critics Consensus: A case study in less-is-more filmmaking, Coherence serves as a compelling low-budget calling card for debuting writer-director James Ward Byrkit.
Synopsis: On the night of an astronomical anomaly, eight friends at a dinner party experience a troubling chain of reality bending... [More]
Directed By: James Ward Byrkit

Adjusted Score: 90.715%
Critics Consensus: Timecrimes is a low-budget thriller that's well-crafted and loaded with dark humor and bizarre twists.
Synopsis: An ordinary guy takes an extraordinary step through time in this science fiction thriller. Hector (Karra Elejalde) is spending a... [More]
Directed By: Nacho Vigalondo

Adjusted Score: 98.927%
Critics Consensus: Smart, funny, and highly original, Being John Malkovich supports its wild premise with skillful direction and a stellar ensemble cast.
Synopsis: Would you pay money to journey into the mind of the star of Con Air, The Killing Fields, and In... [More]
Directed By: Spike Jonze


The Truman Show (1998)

Adjusted Score: 102.407%
Critics Consensus: A funny, tender, and thought-provoking film, The Truman Show is all the more noteworthy for its remarkably prescient vision of runaway celebrity culture and a nation with an insatiable thirst for the private details of ordinary lives.
Synopsis: Jim Carrey gives a remarkable performance as a man learning that his entire life in a storybook coastal village has... [More]
Directed By: Peter Weir


World on a Wire (1973)

Adjusted Score: 102.153%
Critics Consensus: With World on a Wire, Fassbinder imprints his unmistakable mark on a science fiction mystery that, through fascinating philosophical discussions and deep psychological questions, presents a timely reflection on humanity.
Synopsis: A dystopic science-fiction epic, World on a Wire is German wunderkind Rainer Werner Fassbinder's gloriously cracked, boundlessly inventive take on... [More]
Directed By:

Tag Cloud

PBS Superheroe Sony Pictures AMC Opinion Star Wars boxoffice mutant Thanksgiving sitcom thriller Country composers Discovery Channel golden globes green book A24 television Anna Paquin Columbia Pictures Brie Larson emmy awards travel police drama Disney streaming service Amazon Prime SDCC Holidays films Polls and Games cancelled TV shows south america Dark Horse Comics Awards Tour Mary Tyler Moore Peacock elevated horror spy thriller Film Festival spain cults Cosplay Writers Guild of America news VICE Mindy Kaling Film TV Land CBS All Access President Netflix Black History Month Turner reboot 20th Century Fox dark critics BAFTA Food Network stand-up comedy 2020 diversity VH1 TV Apple TV Plus die hard National Geographic a nightmare on elm street quibi TCM Video Games ABC SXSW Podcast christmas movies The Arrangement children's TV MTV universal monsters San Diego Comic-Con Certified Fresh Box Office Pirates Premiere Dates 21st Century Fox franchise casting ratings Stephen King game show zero dark thirty worst movies Biopics 2019 Amazon TLC crime Toys directors VOD remakes Music hist Epix Comics on TV RT History CNN cooking Quiz adaptation Super Bowl TCA Awards E! Best and Worst TV renewals sequels facebook cancelled TV series Character Guide Crackle screenings what to watch dramedy SundanceTV Spring TV YouTube Premium best Fox News Martial Arts Set visit Apple Baby Yoda Red Carpet superhero GoT serial killer 007 Arrowverse cancelled television Nickelodeon Horror First Reviews docudrama sequel PaleyFest Sci-Fi Rom-Com Marvel Studios streaming disaster criterion romance Mudbound justice league Reality Competition Lucasfilm indie GLAAD Cannes cars USA chucky breaking bad based on movie Ovation 24 frames TBS Apple TV+ TruTV Awards festivals comiccon science fiction nature Britbox FX Hulu richard e. Grant Vudu CW Seed Mary poppins DGA child's play Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt war period drama batman Sundance TV documentary IFC Films Animation scary movies Fall TV movies ESPN Rocky video Avengers Sundance Now hollywood Disney Channel psycho foreign FX on Hulu The CW kids DC Comics toronto Marvel Television ITV Trailer obituary Photos parents HBO Go Crunchyroll Pop sag awards comedies Tarantino The Witch BET name the review Tubi cinemax Trivia BET Awards Extras Tumblr teaser APB crime thriller dceu History biography DC Universe Freeform PlayStation satire A&E Grammys laika Chilling Adventures of Sabrina BBC America Ellie Kemper Trophy Talk Shudder YouTube Red singing competition Creative Arts Emmys CMT Travel Channel comics renewed TV shows Valentine's Day LGBT aliens Teen anime New York Comic Con crossover DirecTV Mary Poppins Returns 2017 medical drama sports Star Trek slashers Reality Disney Plus Tomatazos Rock American Society of Cinematographers adventure Schedule space Superheroes Family blaxploitation BBC One X-Men TCA Winter 2020 mockumentary indiana jones See It Skip It independent Funimation dc blockbuster latino Interview politics dragons binge 45 NBC Syfy OWN natural history romantic comedy Pop TV Mystery Sneak Peek finale book Bravo Marvel tv talk YouTube harry potter Pride Month GIFs Kids & Family Calendar LGBTQ theme song jamie lee curtis spider-man strong female leads spanish language rotten Amazon Studios Holiday documentaries Television Critics Association BBC WGN concert First Look 2016 cops Logo technology psychological thriller Winter TV Song of Ice and Fire Classic Film nfl Chernobyl football FOX Turner Classic Movies Emmy Nominations scorecard 2015 worst Endgame stoner Comedy Oscars Watching Series doctor who The Purge TIFF toy story werewolf Ghostbusters Showtime NYCC TNT CBS HBO Lifetime The Walking Dead dogs Television Academy social media movie Summer venice versus Disney discovery RT21 Black Mirror Paramount Network Western Masterpiece screen actors guild Action IFC canceled transformers Warner Bros. Disney+ Disney Plus USA Network spinoff Pet Sematary Drama hispanic Esquire YA miniseries El Rey crime drama TCA WarnerMedia Heroines Captain marvel Cartoon Network 2018 Nat Geo stop motion 4/20 Paramount cartoon ghosts nbcuniversal Sundance game of thrones ABC Family Election Pixar Musical Acorn TV fast and furious animated Hallmark Spectrum Originals reviews witnail classics Amazon Prime Video revenge anthology 71st Emmy Awards zombies Christmas Starz series talk show cancelled vampires Infographic Walt Disney Pictures robots canceled TV shows rotten movies we love MCU DC streaming service Spike Academy Awards zombie Lionsgate Winners TCA 2017 Comic Book Rocketman Marathons comic Women's History Month E3 Lifetime Christmas movies unscripted Adult Swim Countdown 72 Emmy Awards all-time twilight Universal Hallmark Christmas movies mission: impossible Elton John Fantasy Hear Us Out award winner historical drama Binge Guide Nominations asian-american supernatural FXX OneApp festival joker Shondaland political drama Netflix Christmas movies Year in Review Musicals Emmys cats MSNBC free movies Comedy Central halloween true crime HBO Max video on demand