(Photo by Niko Tavernise / © Warner Bros. / courtesy Everett Collection)

20 Movies To Watch If You Loved Joker

Joker: The highest-grossing R-rated movie ever at over $1 billion in worldwide box office, and also the most nominated movie at the 2020 Oscars. Not bad for a comic-book flick from the man who gave us three Hangovers. If you’re looking for more movies like Joker, the obvious place to start would be its direct influences: The Robert De Niro and Martin Scorsese psychotic joints, Taxi Driver and The King of Comedy. Throw in ’90s Cape Fear for a full triumvirate.

As you’re undoubtedly aware, Joker was not universally beloved by critics as far as Joaquin Phoenix vigilantism flicks go (though those who loved it, loved it). For that, turn to Lynne Ramsay’s Certified Fresh You Were Never Really Here, where Phoenix plays a fearless hired gun who tracks down missing girls at any cost. And if you like your lawless justice even grubbier, go with the Charles Bronson action classic Death Wish, or the churning slow burn of Sam Peckinpah’s Straw Dogs.

Beyond Scorsese, Joker director Todd Phillips has cited post-Vietnam War ’70s cinema in general as an influence, and that decade had no shortage of man-against-the-system stories. Look upon One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Dog Day Afternoon, and Network for proof.

Network also serves (and so does Dog Day honestly) as an indictment of media, a major and pervasive presence in Joker. Nightcrawler, Natural Born Killers, and Christine (not the one about the scary car) are the ones to watch if that’s where your interest in Joker lies.

Or if you’re just interested in seeing psychotic breakdowns, or breakdowns of psychosis, the medium of movies have long been a playground for the disturbed. American Psycho, Entertainment, and One Hour Photo go for the jugular, while The Vanishing, Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer, and Man Bites Dog truly try to get under your skin with their clinical explorations of madness.

Of course, Joker is still a story torn from the pages of DC Comics and in that vein we recommend checking out Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker. It’s got Mark Hamill reprising his signature villain role, animated at his most intensely violent. (Ah, if only The Killing Joke adaptation were good!)

And as for our suggestion of UHF, “Weird Al” Yankovic’s foray into film spoofery… Imagine a world where Arthur Fleck actually achieved success in his professional ambitions. What would that look like? We think it’d be a little zany, a little weird, a little something like what the clown prince of music offers in his 1989 cult classic.

#20
#20
Adjusted Score: 50.045%
Critics Consensus: Natural Born Killers explodes off the screen with style, but its satire is too blunt to offer any fresh insight into celebrity or crime -- pummeling the audience with depravity until the effect becomes deadening.
Synopsis: A frenetic, bloody look at mass murder and the mass media, director Oliver Stone's extremely controversial film divided critics and... [More]
Directed By: Oliver Stone

#19

UHF (1989)
64%

#19
Adjusted Score: 65.263%
Critics Consensus: UHF is bizarre, freewheeling, and spotty, though its anarchic spirit cannot be denied.
Synopsis: When a desperate UHF station gives the seriously odd George the job of manager, he proves to be a programming... [More]
Directed By: Jay Levey

#18

Death Wish (1974)
68%

#18
Adjusted Score: 70.576%
Critics Consensus: Death Wish is undeniably exploitation fare -- and also undeniably effective.
Synopsis: In this explosive story of revenge and urban violence, Charles Bronson plays Paul Kersey, a bleeding-heart liberal who has a... [More]
Directed By: Michael Winner

#17

American Psycho (2000)
69%

#17
Adjusted Score: 74.26%
Critics Consensus: If it falls short of the deadly satire of Bret Easton Ellis's novel, American Psycho still finds its own blend of horror and humor, thanks in part to a fittingly creepy performance by Christian Bale.
Synopsis: Patrick Bateman (Christian Bale) is a Wall Street yuppie, obsessed with success, status and style, with a stunning fiancée (Reese... [More]
Directed By: Mary Harron

#16

Man Bites Dog (1992)
74%

#16
Adjusted Score: 74.642%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Man Bites Dog is a Belgian faux-documentary and high-concept satire of media violence which follows the lethal exploits of Benoit... [More]

#15

Cape Fear (1991)
74%

#15
Adjusted Score: 77.376%
Critics Consensus: Smart and stylish, Cape Fear is a gleefully mainstream shocker from Martin Scorsese, with a terrifying Robert De Niro peformance.
Synopsis: A remake of the 1962 version, this nail-biting and brutal thriller tells the story of a vengeful ex-con who sets... [More]
Directed By: Martin Scorsese

#14

One Hour Photo (2002)
82%

#14
Adjusted Score: 87.651%
Critics Consensus: Robin Williams is very effective in this creepy, well-shot thriller.
Synopsis: Funnyman Robin Williams steps out of character in this tense, low-key thriller that marked the feature-film directorial debut of music... [More]
Directed By: Mark Romanek

#13

Entertainment (2015)
83%

#13
Adjusted Score: 84.248%
Critics Consensus: As brilliantly and uncomfortably confrontational as its protagonist, Entertainment is a boundary-blurring exercise in cinematic misanthropy that more than lives up to its title.
Synopsis: A broken, aging comedian tours the California desert, lost in a cycle of third-rate venues, novelty tourist attractions, and vain... [More]
Directed By: Rick Alverson

#12

Straw Dogs (1971)
83%

#12
Adjusted Score: 87.19%
Critics Consensus: A violent, provocative meditation on manhood, Straw Dogs is viscerally impactful -- and decidedly not for the squeamish.
Synopsis: Sam Peckinpah examines the instinctual capacity for violence in his controversial 1971 film, loosely based on the novel The Siege... [More]
Directed By: Sam Peckinpah

#11
Adjusted Score: 92.649%
Critics Consensus: Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer is an effective, chilling profile of a killer that is sure to shock and disturb.
Synopsis: Although the title makes Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer seem like a cut-rate slasher flick, the movie is actually... [More]
Directed By: John McNaughton

#10

Christine (2016)
88%

#10
Adjusted Score: 92.324%
Critics Consensus: Rising on the strength of Rebecca Hall's gripping performance, Christine offers an empathetic look at its subject's public career and painful private life.
Synopsis: Rebecca Hall stars in director Antonio Campos' third feature film, CHRISTINE, the story of a woman who finds herself caught... [More]
Directed By: Antonio Campos

#9
#9
Adjusted Score: 94.404%
Critics Consensus: Largely misunderstood upon its release, The King of Comedy today looks eerily prescient, and features a fine performance by Robert DeNiro as a strangely sympathetic psychopath.
Synopsis: Martin Scorsese's satirical comedy/drama caustically explores the lengths to which a nobody will go to be as famous as his... [More]
Directed By: Martin Scorsese

#8
Adjusted Score: 100.839%
Critics Consensus: Bracingly elevated by a typically committed lead performance from Joaquin Phoenix, You Were Never Really Here confirms writer-director Lynne Ramsay as one of modern cinema's most unique -- and uncompromising -- voices.
Synopsis: A traumatized veteran, unafraid of violence, tracks down missing girls for a living. When a job spins out of control,... [More]
Directed By: Lynne Ramsay

#7
Adjusted Score: 41.774%
Critics Consensus: This feature length entry in the Batman Beyond mythos sends off the Mark Hamill-voiced Joker in thrilling fashion, hitting the same caped crusading peaks of the original series.
Synopsis: The young protégé of one of the world's greatest superheroes has his first encounter with an old nemesis in this... [More]
Directed By: Curt Geda, Paul Dini

#6

Network (1976)
91%

#6
Adjusted Score: 98.3%
Critics Consensus: Driven by populist fury and elevated by strong direction, powerful acting, and an intelligent script, Network's searing satire of ratings-driven news remains sadly relevant more than four decades later.
Synopsis: When anchorman Howard Beale is forced to retire his 25-year post because of his age, he announces to his viewers... [More]
Directed By: Sidney Lumet

#5
Adjusted Score: 102.811%
Critics Consensus: The onscreen battle between Jack Nicholson and Louise Fletcher serves as a personal microcosm of the culture wars of the 1970s -- and testament to the director's vision that the film retains its power more than three decades later.
Synopsis: With an insane asylum standing in for everyday society, Milos Forman's 1975 film adaptation of Ken Kesey's novel is a... [More]
Directed By: Milos Forman

#4
#4
Adjusted Score: 100.519%
Critics Consensus: Framed by great work from director Sidney Lumet and fueled by a gripping performance from Al Pacino, Dog Day Afternoon offers a finely detailed snapshot of people in crisis with tension-soaked drama shaded in black humor.
Synopsis: Based on a true 1972 story, Sidney Lumet's 1975 drama chronicles a unique bank robbery on a hot summer afternoon... [More]
Directed By: Sidney Lumet

#3

Nightcrawler (2014)
95%

#3
Adjusted Score: 105.912%
Critics Consensus: Restless, visually sleek, and powered by a lithe star performance from Jake Gyllenhaal, Nightcrawler offers dark, thought-provoking thrills.
Synopsis: NIGHTCRAWLER is a pulse-pounding thriller set in the nocturnal underbelly of contemporary Los Angeles. Jake Gyllenhaal stars as Lou Bloom,... [More]
Directed By: Dan Gilroy

#2

Taxi Driver (1976)
96%

#2
Adjusted Score: 106.229%
Critics Consensus: A must-see film for movie lovers, this Martin Scorsese masterpiece is as hard-hitting as it is compelling, with Robert De Niro at his best.
Synopsis: "All the animals come out at night" -- and one of them is a cabby about to snap. In Martin... [More]
Directed By: Martin Scorsese

#1
Adjusted Score: 101.114%
Critics Consensus: A clinical, maddening descent into the mind of a serial killer and a slowly unraveling hero, culminating with one of the scariest endings of all time.
Synopsis: Based on Time Krabbe's The Golden Egg, The Vanishing is a deeply disturbing psychological thriller about a young man's search... [More]
Directed By: George Sluizer

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