7 best movies like Inception to watch online

Inception (2010)
(Image credit: Melissa Moseley)

Inception is one of the best brain-bending movies of all time. It stars Leonardo DiCaprio in top form as Dom Cobb, a thief who can get into people’s dreams. It doesn’t take long for the audience to begin questioning what is real and what is not.

Director Christoper Nolan uses this premise to combines thrilling drama with high emotion and amazing dream sequences. Then there's Inception's puzzling ending that still provokes conversation today. 

So, for everyone who needs something similar to watch, we've got the seven best movies like Inception that you can watch right now online.

Shutter Island (2010)

(L, R) Leonardo DiCaprio (as Teddy) and Michelle Williams (as Dolores) holding each other in Shutter Island

(Image credit: Paramount Pictures / Pictorial Press Ltd / Alamy Stock Photo)

Ashecliffe Hospital on Shutter Island, run by Dr John Cawley (Ben Kingsley), houses some of the most dangerous and criminally insane people on the planet. Panic sets in when Rachel Solando (Emily Mortimer/Patricia Clarkson), one of the patients,

Federal marshal “Teddy" Daniels (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his partner Chuck Aules (Mark Ruffalo) are sent to investigate. However, as Teddy spends time in the institution it becomes more and more unclear what he's actually doing there.

This psychological thriller is dark and disconcerting, the type of film that stays with you long after you have finished it. If you were impressed by DiCaprio’s tortured performance in Inception, you will appreciate him in Shutter Island too.

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Drama
Rotten Tomatoes: 69%
Stars: Leonardo DiCaprio, Mark Ruffalo, Ben Kingsley, Max von Sydow, Michelle Williams, Emily Mortimer, Patricia Clarkson
Director: Martin Scorsese
Stream it on Paramount Plus with Showtime in the US and Netflix in the UK.

Memento (2000)

Guy Pearce as Leonard holding a polaroid photo in Memento

(Image credit: Newmarket film / Pictorial Press Ltd / Alamy Stock Photo)

Following a brutal attack which included the rape and murder of his wife, Leonard (Guy Pearce) finds himself unable to make new memories. Abandoned by the police, he is determined to hunt down one of the attackers who escaped and avenge his late wife. At the same time, he develops a somewhat intense relationship with bartender Natalie (Carrie-Anne Moss) which does little to improve his well-being.

Memento (another Nolan film) provides some of his signature mind-bending tendencies, as well as his novel cinematography. Over the course of the film, which is told out of sequence, it draws you into one broken man’s attempt to find justice and revenge. How far would any of us go?

Genre: Mystery, Thriller
Rotten Tomatoes: 93%
Stars: Guy Pearce, Carrie-Ann Moss, Joe Pantoliano, Mark Boone Junior, Stephen Tobolowsky
Director: Christopher Nolan
Stream for free on Hoopla and Kanopy in the US, or on Netflix in the UK.

Fight Club (1999)

Brad Pitt and Edward Norton in Fight Club

(Image credit: Pictorial Press Ltd / Alamy Stock Photo)

Thanks to his boring, unfulfilling job, an office drone (Ed Norton) who specializes in car recalls cannot sleep. To get some kind of support, he joins various groups that support everything but insomnia. 

One night, he finds someone completely different: soap salesman Tyler Durden (Brad Pitt) on a business trip. This leads him to join an underground fight club, the first rule of which is… don’t talk about the fight club. Things escalate and get increasingly violent from there as The Narrator tries to find meaning in his life.

Fight Club was both controversial and groundbreaking at the time it was released. Norton, Pitt and Helena Bonham-Carter deliver strong performances, while the film's moody and bleak vibe is enhanced by its dark humor. 

Genre: Mystery, Thriller
Rotten Tomatoes: 79%
Stars: Brad Pitt, Ed Norton, Helena Bonham Carter
Director: David Fincher
Buy or rent on Amazon in the US and Disney Plus in the UK.

Interstellar (2014)

(L to R) Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway and David Gyasi in space suits in Interstellar

(Image credit: Paramount Pictures / Pictorial Press Ltd / Alamy Stock Photo)

Former NASA pilot Joseph “Coop” Cooper (Matthew McConaughey) has turned to a quieter life as a farmer… until he finds a gravitational disturbance in his daughter’s bedroom. His former colleagues encourage him to don his space suit once again and travel to a new planet in order to give the human race a second chance. To do so, he has to make the heartbreaking decision to leave his family. 

Like Inception, Interstellar is as much about a man’s determination to return to his family as it is about his wider mission. The emotion of the journey, and your desperation for Coop to get back home safely, keep you engaged in what is a long watch. 

Genre: Mystery, Thriller
Rotten Tomatoes: 73%
Stars: Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Jessica Chastain, Mackenzie Foy
Director: Christopher Nolan
Stream it on Paramount Plus and Amazon Prime Video in the US

Paprika (2006)

Megumi Hayashibara as Paprika, the alter ego of Doctor Atsuko Chiba, in Paprika.

(Image credit: Sony via YouTube)

The DC Mini machine (no relation to the comics or movies) allows psychologists to see peoples’ dreams. However, it is not quite finished and would be very dangerous in the wrong hands ... which happens immediately. 

The animation in Paprika is beautiful and it cuts seamlessly between real-life and dream sequences until it is difficult to tell which is which. It is utterly absorbing. Not only is this film for fans of Inception, but it is also a great entry point into the world of anime.

Genre: Sci-fi, Action, Adventure, Anime
Rotten Tomatoes: 85%
Stars: Megumi Hayashibara, Cindy Robinson, Tōru Furuya, Yuri Lowenthal, Tōru Emori, Michael Forest
Director: Satoshi Kon
Buy or rent on Amazon in the US

Being John Malkovich (1999)

(L to R) Catherine Keener as Maxine and John Cusack as Craig outside of an elevator in a too-short hallway that forces them to crouch in Being John Malkovich

(Image credit: United Archives GmbH / Alamy Stock Photo)

Whilst doing his boring job as a file clerk, Craig Schwartz (John Cusack) finds a secret door that leads him into the head of actor John Malkovich. After his own strange time inside the head of the actor, he decides to collaborate with office crush Maxine (Catherine Keener) to sell the experience for profit. Chaos ensues as the pair seek to profit and the actor tries to regain control.

This dark fantasy comedy has really stood the test of time and remains as popular as ever. It's both fun and a bit disturbing at the same time, with an all-star cast that features Cameron Diaz and, yes,  Charlie Sheen. 

Genre: Comedy
Rotten Tomatoes: 94%
Stars: John Cusack, Cameron Diaz, Catherine Keener, John Malkovich
Director: Eric Bress, J. Mackye Gruber
Buy or rent on Amazon in the US

The Butterfly Effect (2004)

Ashton Kutcher as Evan in The Butterfly Effect

(Image credit: United Archives GmbH / Alamy Stock Photo)

If a butterfly flaps its wings can it trigger an effect somewhere across the planet? That element of chaos theory is the premise for this film. Evan Treborn (Ashton Kutcher) learns that he can travel back in time and find out what happened during the blackouts he suffered when he was younger. However, doing so can change the course of events. This is particularly significant with incidents around his college love Kayleigh (Amy Smart). Can Evan save her from her fate, and is this better for everyone else?

Like Inception, The Butterfly Effect is full of haunting, dream-like sequences. The film received mixed reviews upon release, but the premise is interesting and Kutcher’s performance is compelling as his character contends with ongoing trauma and learning how to use his gift.

Genre: Mystery, Thriller
Rotten Tomatoes: 34%
Stars: Ashton Kutcher, Amy Smart, Eric Stoltz
Director: Eric Bress, J. Mackye Gruber
Buy or rent on Amazon in the US and Amazon Prime Video in the UK

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Charlotte Henry

Charlotte Henry is a journalist who has covered all things tech and media for a number of years for various publications. She reported in-depth as tech companies became media companies and vice versa. In her newsletter, The Addition, she focuses on the ever-changing streaming ecosystem as the likes of Netflix, Apple TV+ and Disney+ fight for supremacy. Charlotte is also a close follower of sport (she’s a Spurs fan…) watching everything from Premier League football to Major League Baseball. Charlotte’s first book “Not Buying It: The Facts Behind Fake News” was published in 2019. Away from work, she can often be found at heavy metal concerts and festivals.