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11 Movies Like "Joker" That Are Absolutely Brilliant

Rahul is a movie addict who can never get enough of good films. His all time favorites are Inception, 12 Angry Men, and Scarface.

movies-like-joker

Joker: A Controversial Masterpiece

Roaming the grim streets of Gotham City, there are people who seek individualism to avoid being lifeless copies of one another. Joker tells the story of one of these wandering souls. Joaquin Phoenix's Arthur Fleck is a struggling stand-up comedian with a history of mental illness. Manipulated and harassed by society, he chooses to express his anger by becoming Gotham’s most infamous villain.

What a performance by Joaquin Phoenix! On top of his on-screen magic, Hans Zimmer’s masterful score makes Joker a must-watch. If you've already seen this masterpiece, it's only fitting to look for more of the same. Here are 11 movies like Joker that are absolutely brilliant.

1. The Dark Knight

Even though The Dark Knight is one part of a trilogy, it’s the best of the bunch. Heath Ledger, who passed away during post-production, set a high standard for anyone playing the Joker in the future. Director Christopher Nolan elevated the superhero sub-genre with a blend of mature themes and a hint of darkness, good for a character like Batman, and great for a character like the Joker. Whenever Batman tries to control a situation, the Joker introduces chaos to make Batman's efforts futile. Joker wins, even when he loses.

2. Taxi Driver

Taxi Driver has long been one of my favorite films, capturing 1970s New York in all its sleazy, neon-lit glory. Robert De Niro is superb as Travis Bickle, a mentally ill, Vietnam war veteran who makes ends meet by working as a taxi driver at night. Meanwhile, he spends his days at porno theaters, wondering why New York has deteriorated into a cesspool of sinners. He's a disturbed loner with strong opinions about what's right and wrong with people.

One of his missions is to save Iris, played by a 12-year-old Jodie Foster. She's a teenage prostitute who he believes wants out of the profession, but is under the thumb of her pimp, Matthew "Sport" Higgins (Harvey Keitel). Maybe finding “noble causes" like these makes him believe that his life has some meaning, but is it really the case? Watch this surreal masterpiece to find out more.

3. Se7en

Director David Fincher's story takes place in a bleak and constantly raining city (never named), where urban decay and sleaze in all forms are rampant. Detective Lieutenant William Somerset (Morgan Freeman) is nearing retirement, but is tasked with breaking in his replacement, Detective David Mills (Brad Pitt), before he leaves.

Se7en appears to be a standard, cops-on-the-trail-of-a-killer story. But, as you descend into its merciless, brutal world, antagonized by John Doe (Kevin Spacey), a buddy cop movie transforms into a sinister psychological thriller about the seven deadly sins.

4. No Country For Old Men

Written and directed by the prolific Coen Brothers, No Country For Old Men is set in 1980s Texas. The story revolves around Llewelyn Moss (Josh Brolin) who comes across a satchel of two million dollars with some dead bodies guarding the prize. Of course, he takes advantage of the situation and runs off with it. But, it soon turns into the worst mistake of his life.

Javier Bardem’s portrayal of the cynical Anton Chigurh, relentlessly pursuing Moss, is brilliant; a performance for the ages. Though you might be wondering who the protagonist is and the point the movie is trying to make, the construction and pacing of the narrative immerses the viewer in the chase.

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5. The Silence of the Lambs

Hannibal Lecter might be the most memorable villain in movie history and nobody has managed to play the role better than the great Anthony Hopkins. Though fictional, Lecter leaves a lasting impression due to his unparalleled intelligence, sophistication, and sinister demeanor, along with his ability to get inside your head and play with your emotions. The movie is brilliantly written, so brace yourself for unexpected plot twists that take you on a horrific rollercoaster of fear and anxiety.

6. Logan

If there’s one Marvel superhero who deserves a spot on a list of Joker-esque characters, Logan/Wolverine would be it. Hugh Jackman portrayed Wolverine for over seventeen years, bowing out with his most powerful performance in Logan. Patrick Stewart delivers his last and most heartfelt performance as the beloved Charles Xavier.

This is not a traditional superhero movie, which is probably why people loved it so much. The movie combines elements of a western with the superhero genre to present the darkest days of a beloved character. Logan teaches us that even though superheroes hit rock bottom from time to time, what truly defines them is the ability to get back up and fight.

7. You Were Never Really Here

If you don't understand chronic depression and hopelessness, you might think this is a weird, artsy film directed by someone who doesn't know how to tell stories. You Were Never Really Here is more of a character study than a standard plot-driven movie. Director Lynne Ramsay avoids the usual genre tropes in favor of a more sensitive and nuanced affair.

Joaquin Phoenix as Joe is amazing, as usual. The way he can play soft in one scene and explode into violence the next is mind-blowing. If you want a typical thriller, you might want to pass on this one. But, if you have patience and keep an open mind, this may be one of the most thought-provoking experiences you’ll ever have.

8. The King Of Comedy

The movie that primarily inspired Joker, The King Of Comedy is one of the most unorthodox films on this list. It effortlessly comments on loneliness, living with the sense of being a “nobody,” celebrity worship, media madness, social acceptance, and popularity.

Robert De Niro is Rupert Pupkin, a delusional stand-up comedian who will stop at nothing to become famous. This is Martin Scorsese's ultimate criticism of celebrity culture and an essential watch for fans of Joker.

9. One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest

One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest is possibly the finest drama ever created, mixing righteous outrage and subtle comedy. It brilliantly illustrates the tyranny of authoritarian care, the scary institutionalization of social support systems, and how they can trap people into dependency whilst robbing them of their dignity and independence. The title implies that R.P. McMurphy (Jack Nicholson) is going to escape the mental hospital, but who escapes is less important than that they try, that they stand up for themselves. Sometimes in life you have to take risks to earn rewards.

10. American Psycho

Director Mary Harron's brutal satire is a thriller disguised as a dark comedy. It chronicles a narcissistic, self-obsessed, superficial Wall Street banker who likes Huey Lewis and murdering young women. Christian Bale is wonderful as Patrick Bateman, alternately menacing, irritating, and funny. Anybody who wants to go deeper into cinematic exploration should definitely consider this cult classic.

11. A Clockwork Orange

Stanley Kubrick's dystopian thriller is set in futuristic London and it addresses the conflict between freedom of choice and state control. Although extremely violent and the jargon imported from Anthony Burgess' book (Nadsat) can be difficult to understand, A Clockwork Orange is a must-watch. The cinematography is brilliant, Malcolm McDowell's acting is superb, and Wendy Carlos' electronic version of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony is haunting.

© 2022 Rahul Pandey

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