In 1958, Orson Welles' Touch of Evil hit theaters. It was dark, violent, deeply subversive, and ultimately the end of the noir movement that began in the early 40s. Across those nearly two decades, plenty of filmmakers (Welles, Billy Wilder, Jacques Tourneur, and many more) used the crime genre to plunge into humanity's darkness without violating the Hays Code. Then, in the late 50s, the light ceased seeping through those Venetian blinds. The noir was dead.

RELATED: Crime & No Punishment: 10 Criminal Characters Who Got Away With It

But not for long. The 1970s New Hollywood movement reinvigorated and re-imagined noir into a new genre, which was called -- you guessed it -- neo-noir. Since then, movie fans on Reddit (and across the world) have argued about the greatest neo-noirs of all time. These 10 films seem to get mentioned more than any others.

'Chinatown' (1974)


Let's get it out of the way up front. No neo-noir list would be complete without Chinatown. Robert Towne's screenplay is widely considered the greatest ever written and not just for its final line.

Towne's original script has all the elements of classic noir -- the down-on-his-luck P.I., the femme fatale, the insidious Los Angeles underworld. But Towne pushes further, pressing on the genre's bones until they break. Chinatownisn't just about a corrupted man or a crime or a case. It's about a city, a system, the wealth gap, the unthinkable things men do -- because they can and will. It's not just an essential neo-noir. It's a flat-out masterpiece.

'The Long Goodbye' (1973)

Image via United Artists

Just as essential though not as canonical is Robert Altman's 1973 The Long Goodbye, an adaption of Raymond Chandler's 1953 novel of the same title. The movie features Chandler's famous P.I. Philip Marlowe, but in many ways, the similarities stop there.

RELATED: How 'The Long Goodbye' Updates and Satirizes the Noir Genre

He called the detective "Rip Van Marlowe" and instructed Elliot Gould to play him as if he'd only recently woken up from a 20-year hibernation. Then, he infused his own cynicism in the story. He wanted the audience to see how violent and punishing the world could be. Today, it's considered a classic, thanks to Altman's vision, Leigh Brackett's script, Gould's nonchalance, and a haunting supporting performance from Sterling Hayden.

'Blade Runner' (1982)

Blade Runner - 1982

Neo-noir or neon-noir? Ridley Scott's adaptation of Philip K. Dick's novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep is a mainstay of any neo-noir list. Set in the distant, dystopian future of 2019, Blade Runner follows a hard-boiled detective (Harrison Ford) as he tracks down a gang of rogue androids.

Though set in the "future," the film may have been more influenced by Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett than by the sci-fi masters. The grime, the overcoats, the German expressionism, Ford's cynicism -- it all adds up to noir. But it's Dick and Scott's commentary on humanity's complicated relationship with technology that twists the genre and elevates it to an all-time neo-noir classic.

'Collateral' (2004)

Image via DreamWorks Pictures

Cab driver Max Durocher (Jamie Foxx) just wants to make enough money to open up a limo service. One night, he picks up Vincent (Tom Cruise) who offers him an exorbitant fee to drive him around town all night. There's just one little issue -- Vincent is an assassin.

Michael Mann's 2004 action film is one of the great depictions of L.A. (though not an entirely accurate representation of L.A. traffic). The steady pace creates a sense of complacency and then ever-nearing danger, as Vincent's brutality reveals itself. Soon, no moment and no person feels safe.

'Kiss Kiss Bang Bang' (2005)


Writer-Director Shane Black could've also placed The Nice Guys on this list, but ultimately, his 2005 feature debut makes it instead.

Possibly the funniest neo-noir ever made, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang stars Robert Downey JR. and Val Kilmer as a thief-turned-actor and a detective training him for his next role, respectively. But after finding a body in a trunk, the two become embroiled in a murder plot.

'Brick' (2005)

Joseph Gordon-Levitt in Brick

What if Philip Marlowe was in high school? That's about the long and short of it in Rian Johnson's 2005 debut feature Brick, which follows a young Joseph Gordon-Levitt as a teenager investigating his girlfriend's disappearance.

RELATED: 'The Batman': 10 Underrated Neo-Noir Films To Watch Next

Even in his first time out, Johnson showed early talent for placing the camera, redefining character archetypes, and writing killer dialogue. For example: "You better be sure you wanna know what you wanna know." And "Maybe I'll just sit here and bleed at you." It's understandable why so many people mention Brickas one of the great neo-noirs.

'Body Heat' (1981)

William Hurt and Kathleen Turner in Body Heat

In the 1944 noir classic Double Indemnity, a wife and her insurance agent lover concoct a plot to murder her husband and collect the insurance pay out. In 1981, writer-director Lawrence Kasdan presented his own take on the iconic story - Body Heat - with a touch more sex and a lot more sweat.

Kathleen Turner and William Hurt starred as the aforementioned lovers. But as their plan takes shape, so too does it also unravel. Such is the nature of crime in Kasdan's script: "Any time you try a decent crime, you got fifty ways you're gonna fuck up. If you think of twenty-five of them, then you're a genius - and you ain't no genius."

'Fargo' (1996)

Frances McDormand as Marge Gunderson in 'Fargo'

An ordinary man invents a criminal scheme to lift him out of the misery of his humdrum day-to-day. His sin isn't just his downfall though. It brings Hell down on everyone around him.

Many noirs follow that basic plot, but the Coen Brothers exploit it in their Best Picture-nominated film about a Minnesota car salesman who hires two criminals to kidnap his wife and hold her for ransom from his wealthy father-in-law. Obviously, the plan falls apart. Disaster ensues. And local police officer (Frances McDormand) is left to ask the salesman: "For what? For a little bit of money?"

'Mulholland Drive' (2001)

Little explanation is provided by David Lynch regarding the plot of 'Mulholland Drive'
Image via Universal Pictures

Another frequently mentioned neo-noir is David Lynch's 2001 film Mulholland Drive, which is almost impossible to describe in just a few short sentences.

RELATED: The 25 Best Thrillers of the 21st Century (So Far)

Many people consider MulhollandDrive Lynch's finest work, a complex portrait of dreams - those of the people who come to Hollywood, even those of people in general. It might not always make narrative sense, but it's not supposed to. It's the sweet drip of cynicism in a town that peddles false hope - the stuff dreams are made of.

'Oldboy' (2003)

Oldboy featured

Plenty of other neo-noirs could've been included -- Basic Instinct, L.A. Confidential, Seven, and so on. But to many, Park Chan-wook's Oldboy is a classic of the genre.

After being imprisoned for fifteen years, a recently released man goes on a mad hunt to get revenge on those who wronged him. But as noirs have shown audiences for years, vengeance has a price. A terribly high price.

NEXT: 10 Great Noir Films Made Outside The U.S.