conspiracy theory movies

The Best Conspiracy Theory Movies

From 'Wag the Dog' to 'Eyes Wide Shut,' we've got all the best conspiracy theory movies on this list for your next movie binge.


Avital Oehler

Pop Culture

Posted on Apr 7, 2024   Updated on Apr 7, 2024, 2:26 pm CDT

Conspiracy theories spread 10 times faster than real news on Social Media, and according to the World Health Organization, we are in an Infodemic

In an effort to do our part to preserve our democracy, we are giving you conspiracy theory movies to binge-watch instead of going down the Alex Jones rabbit hole. 

Though there are plenty of series that tackle this subject, in this list, we are solely sticking to movies. We’ve got government conspiracies, conspiracies surrounding the wealthy elite, Corporate conspiracies, and brainwashing conspiracies.  

With no further ado, here is our list, in no particular order, of the 9 essential conspiracy theory movies.

Absolute Power (1997) 

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What is a master thief to do when, in the midst of robbing the home of the elite, he witnesses the president of the United States murdering his mistress? In this psychological thriller, Clint Eastwood takes us on a wild ride of deep-state conspiracies that go all the way to the top, and makes us question: who really holds the absolute power?

This movie made it on our list because we love the star-studded cast featuring Ed Harris, Laura Linney, and Judy Davis. But we especially love Gene Hackman as President-turned-bad-guy. 

Eyes Wide Shut (1999) 

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After a wife confesses she has had fantasies about other men, a doctor to the wealthy enters the world of the 1 percent, tumbling down a rabbit hole of sexcapades and masquerades, where women exist solely in the service of powerful men. 

The plot of Eyes Wide Shut is based on Dream Story, a 1926 novella by Arthur Schnitzler. And while Kubrick altered the plot to fit modern times, the internal struggles the doctor goes through as he contends with his wife’s explosive confession remain consistent. 

We love this movie for our list because it’s Kubrick’s last film. It’s also the last time Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman shared the screen. Beyond that, this film sends us on a philosophical exploration of how the elite perceive the lower classes, and in particular women, as mere things to be exploited and used.  

Three Days at the Condor (1975) 

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Joe Turner’s world turns upside down in this political thriller when he discovers all of his co-workers have been murdered. As the days progress, Joe learns that everyone he trusts is trying to kill him. But why? And who is behind all of this? All we can say is the level of conspiracy runs so deep that our protagonist can’t even trust the person delivering his mail. 

This film made it to our list because it captures the post-Watergate government paranoia perfectly, thanks, in part, to master director Sydney Pollack. In this film, there is never a comfortable moment for Joe, and therefore, for us, keeping us steadily on our toes from the beginning to the bitter end. 

All the President’s Men (1976) 

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Speaking of Watergate and Redford, no list of conspiracy theory movies is complete without All the President’s Men. In this crafty thriller, Washington Post reporters Carl Berstein, played by Dustin Hoffman and Bob Woodward, played by Robert Redford, uncover the plot of the Watergate debacle. 

We love this whirlwind thriller not only because it was based on true events, but also because the real-life journalists, Bernstein and Woodward, were involved in the writing of the script, grounding the film in reality as much as Hollywood would allow. Also, this film is where we first learn the pseudonym Deep Throat, and that is just an American classic. And lastly, Watergate is the gate from which all other gates have emerged, like Russiagate, Emailgate, and who can forget Envelopegate

The Manchurian Candidate (1962 and 2004)

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We got brainwashing, we got mind control, and we got rogue agents, making the Manchurian Candidate (either version) the epitome of a conspiracy theory movie. While in the original, starring Frank Sinatra, the communists are the bad guys – this was the height of the Cold War after all; in the Denzel Washington version of the early 2000s, a corporation is behind the evil plot. Either way, both main characters have to figure out who can be turned into an assassin at a flip of a switch. 

This film made it on our list because it speaks directly to what is at the heart of conspiracy theories—the fear of being a puppet in service of some nefarious puppeteer, without any control to stopping oneself.   

While we are partial to the Sinatra version, as it retains some level of satire, we do love the Denzel redo, so we leave it in your trusty hands to figure out which one you should watch first. 

JFK (1991)

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While there are many (truly too many) series and films that cover the assassination of John F. Kennedy, this one starring Kevin Costner and directed by Oliver Stone, who is a noted Conspiracy Theorist, is by far our favorite. It features an enormous cast, and goes through the evidence with such a fine tooth comb that by the end of the film, we think that whatever Jim Garrison found must be the truth. In actuality, the claims made in the film have since been debunked, but we must admit that the film’s execution is pitch-perfect and very very titillating. 

This movie is an absolute must for our list because it explores in great detail and with some of the best cast the mother of all conspiracies. Even 60 years on, we are still totally obsessed with figuring out what exactly went down on that sunny afternoon in Dealey Plaza. 

Wag the Dog (1997)

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This one is for the Hollywood-drinks-baby-blood conspiracy crowd, which by the way, has anti-Semitic roots. In this political satire, a duo of government operatives with the help of a Hollywood producer have to fabricate a war in order to distract the public from a Presidential sex scandal that happens mere weeks before an election. 

This movie made it to our list because it brings much-needed comedy to the often humorless genre of conspiracy theory movies, and it even has prophetic undertones, as it inadvertently predicted Monicagate, which blew up publicly just a year after the film came out. 

Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982) 

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The only conspiracy theory film on our list that also belongs to the horror genre is Halloween III: Season of the Witch. The third installment in the Halloween franchise is a complete departure from the previous two, with a whole new cast of characters. In this film, a conspiracy is underway by a deranged mask maker who is planning a Halloween massacre by using an old Celtic ritual.  

While the movie originally got plenty of negative reviews, later re-evalutions dubbed it a standalone cult film and we totally agree. As much as we love Jamie Lee Curtis, we secretly wish that John Carpenter had continued taking the franchise in this wacky direction, rather than going back to jump scares and Michael Myers. 

Conspiracy Theory (1997)

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The last movie on our list truly epitomizes the genre, and we love every cheesy, unhinged moment of it. Jerry Fletcher, played by Mel Gibson pre-downfall, is an ultra-paranoid conspiracy theorist, who believes everything around him, including the street water pipes, is a plot against him. But in order to save himself, he must find which of the many theories he believes in is the one that is going to get him. 

We love this movie because it goes through a laundry list of conspiracy theories, and it does so while keeping the humor very much alive. Notable actors in this movie include Julia Roberts, who plays a lawyer that wonders whether Jerry is totally insane or is truly uncovering a real threat; and Sir Patrick Stewart as Dr. Jonas, a psychiatrist working for the CIA.  

We know there are plenty more conspiracy theory movies we didn’t name in our list, so tell us which ones we missed in the comments on YouTube. Also, if you are inclined to arrange these films in a particular order, perhaps based on something you saw on a QAnon message board, connecting Julia Roberts to Robert Redford because of an orange t-shirt Julia once wore, we would love to see that. 

And if you’re hungry for more conspiracy content, check out Mikael Thalen’s column, One Dumb Conspiracy.

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*First Published: Apr 7, 2024, 2:25 pm CDT