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12 Mind-bending Movies You Must Watch if You Liked ‘Inception’


It’s almost been 11 years since Inception blew our minds with its plot twists, incredible ensemble cast, and superb cinematography. The film follows white-collar thief Dom Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio) who has designed a way to steal information from people’s subconscious. However, the constant battle of splitting time in both reality and the dream world is enough to drive anyone mad. As a result, Dom has lost those closest to him. Now, in order to finally see his family again, he has to pull off an impossible crime: plant someone else’s idea into his target’s subconscious mind.

Inception was a massive success immediately upon release. The film grossed over $828 million worldwide, was nominated for eight Academy Awards (winning Best Cinematography, Best Sound Editing, Best Sound Mixing, and Best Visual Effects), and has gone down as one of the best films of the 2010s.

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You can stream Inception on Amazon Prime Video. If you’ve already seen the film a million times (like we have), here are 12 other movies like Inception.

Movies like Inception: The Truman Show (1998)

If you’re looking for a film that is similar to Inception but perhaps a little more lighthearted, check out The Truman Show. The film follows Truman Burbank (Jim Carrey), a 28-year-old man whose entire life has—unbeknownst to him—been the subject of a live broadcast reality TV show.

The show’s creator and executive producer Cristof (Ed Harris) has carefully orchestrated everything in Truman’s life, including hiring an actress to play his wife (Laura Linney) as well as giving Truman certain phobias to ensure he’d never want to leave. However, after a stage light falls from the sky, Truman begins to suspect the world around him is not what it seems.

The Truman Show was a massive success, earning multiple Academy Award nominations. Additionally, the film’s themes of surveillance, religion, simulated reality, and reality television have been studied in various psychoanalysis journals.

Just like Inception’s Dom, Truman questions the reality of the world around him. Unfortunately for Truman, though, he doesn’t have a spinning top to know if he’s in a TV show or not.

Where to rent The Truman Show: Amazon

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Movies like Inception: Memento (2000)

Christopher Nolan has made a name for himself by creating some of the trippiest movies of the 21st century. Long before Christopher Nolan made the ultra-high-budget blockbuster Inception, he wrote and directed a small independent film that is equally as genius.

Memento tells the story of Leonard (Guy Pearce), a man with short-term memory loss who is tirelessly searching for the man who murdered his wife and caused his amnesia.

While Memento’s plot is pretty straightforward, its presentation is anything but that. The film is told by cutting back and forth between two sequences. The black and white sequence is told chronologically while a colored sequence is told in reverse chronological order. The two sequences blend together at the end of the film, forming one cohesive plot.

Memento’s groundbreaking film structure puts the audience right in Leonard’s shoes. Just like Leonard, as we watch each colored scene, we have no context as to what has happened before the scene began. If you like trying to decode Inception, you’ll have a blast with Memento.

Where to watch Memento: Amazon Prime Video

Movies like Inception: Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)

Screenwriter Charlie Kaufman is known for his deeply complex stories, and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind remains one of his very best.

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Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind follows the recently broken-up Joel (Jim Carrey) and Clementine (Kate Winslet). Following their separation, Clementine undergoes a procedure to erase Joel from her memory. Once Joel finds out, he does the same. However, as his memories of Clementine begin to be erased, Joel’s subconscious realizes he has made a huge mistake and attempts to fight off the procedure.

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind was praised by critics and fans alike. Charlie Kaufman won the Academy Award for Best Screenplay while Kate Winslet was nominated for Best Actress.

For a beautiful film about true love that evaluates the subconscious in an Inception-like way, check out Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.

Where to watch Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind: Amazon Prime Video

Movies like Inception: Primer (2004)

Primer is one of the most original and complex self-made films of all time. Shane Carruth is director, writer, producer, editor, composer, and lead actor of this 2004 film that had a budget of only $7,000. However, despite its tiny budget and small crew, Primer is an incredibly trippy film that every Inception fan should be jumping at the opportunity to see.

Primer follows a group of engineers (Shane Carruth, David Sullivan, Casey Gooden, and Anand Upadhyaya) who accidentally build a time machine capable of transporting people six hours into the past. What is initially a technological anomaly quickly becomes dangerous as the friends have clashing ambitions for the time machine’s use.

The film is lauded for its philosophical questions as well as its complex technical dialogue. Shane Carruth, who worked as an engineer before making Primer, purposefully chose not to dumb down the dialogue for audiences. As a result, the characters’ conversations about the physics behind the time machine are all scientifically plausible. Thus, Primer is one of the most realistic movies about time travel ever made.

If you want a movie to explode your mind even more than Inception, look no further than Primer.

Where to rent Primer: Amazon

Movies like Inception: The Prestige (2006)

Following the success of Batman Begins, Christopher Nolan returned to his roots of unreliable narrators and nonlinear storylines in The Prestige. The film follows two feuding magicians, Robert Angler (Hugh Jackman) and Alfred Borden (Christian Bale). Things get fatal as Robert and Alfred spend a lifetime attempting to one-up each other.

The most impressive aspect of The Prestige is its structure, which upon a rewatch is incredible foreshadowing. The film, which is about magicians, is structured like a magic trick. In the opening sequence, John Cutter (Michael Caine) explains that every magic trick consists of three parts: the pledge, the turn, and the prestige. During the pledge, the magician shows you something ordinary. During the turn, they make the ordinary object do something extraordinary, such as disappearing. However, the trick isn’t done yet; during the prestige, they bring the object back.

Simple, yet with Christopher Nolan’s magic filmmaking mojo, the audience spends the entire film trying to see how the director is going to pull off “the prestige.”

Where to rent The Prestige: Amazon

Movies like Inception: Paprika (2006)

No film is more like Inception than Paprika. Or, perhaps, no film is more like Paprika than Inception. The 2006 Japanese anime thriller follows Dr. Atsuko Chiba (Megumi Hayashibara), a psychiatrist who treats her patients through infiltrating their dreams under the alias “Paprika.” However, when her dream machine is stolen, Chiba must go to extensive lengths to stop the evil culprits’ various dream crimes.

From its plot, cinematography, characters, costume design, set pieces, and even entire scenes, Inception was influenced by Paprika in countless ways. Paprika is essential viewing for any Inception fan, as it was a major inspiration for the Christopher Nolan film.

Where to rent Paprika: Amazon

Movies like Inception: Shutter Island (2010)

A very trippy movie on Netflix is Martin Scorsese’s Shutter Island. As both Shutter Island and Inception were released the same year and star Leonardo Dicaprio, the two films received a lot of comparison with each other.

Shutter Island sees US Marshals Teddy Daniels (Leonardo Dicaprio) and Chuck Aule (Mark Ruffalo) arrive at Ashecliffe Hospital on the remote Shutter Island following the implausible escape of a murderess patient. Things are not what they seem, and Teddy is forced to confront his own demons if he wishes to ever leave the haunted island.

The film’s epic plot twist, mind-bending mystery, and open-ended conclusion make Shutter Island a perfect film to watch if you like Inception.

Where to watch Shutter Island: Netflix

Movies like Inception: Enemy (2013)

Denis Villeneuve’s first English language film is an absolute masterpiece. Enemy stars Jake Gyllenhaal in a dual role as an English teacher who discovers a stranger who looks identical to himself. Like Inception, the film’s careful direction doesn’t reveal information to the audience easily but instead forces the viewer to attempt to decode the meaning behind every frame.

Additionally, Enemy has received praise for its themes which require deep analysis and allow for the audience’s interpretations. This psychological thriller is a nice, low-key film to turn on when you want the emotional and intellectual punch of Inception without the big-budget influence and set pieces.

Where to rent Enemy: Amazon

Movies like Inception: Prisoners (2013)

Prisoners follows Keller Dover (Hugh Jackman) as he goes to extreme lengths to find his six-year-old daughter after she goes missing. Detective Loki (Jake Gyllenhaal) arrests the only lead, Alex Jones (Paul Dano), but soon discovers his IQ is too low to orchestrate a kidnapping and is forced to let him walk. With Detective Loki struggling to find another suspect, Keller decides to take things into his own hands.

Not sounding super like Inception? That’s okay, because unlike many of the films on this list, Prisoners isn’t here because of its mind-bending structure or dream-related plot. What makes Prisoners reminiscent of Inception is its final frame. Inception has the most talked-about ending since Planet of the Apes, but Prisoners is a close second. Both films include final frames that cut to black before resolving, allowing viewers to add their own interpretations.

Thus, if you’re looking for another film with a legendary ending that will have you and fellow moviegoers debating the entire car ride home, check out Prisoners.

Where to watch Prisoners: Hulu

Movies like Inception: Tenet (2020)

Christopher Nolan’s latest film is perhaps his most mind-bending movie to date. Tenet follows the Protagonist (John David Washington), a secret agent who is tasked with manipulating the flow of time in order to prevent the destruction of the world from a futuristic threat.

Tenet uses its timeline as a jump rope. During the film, the Protagonist and his handler Neil (Robert Pattinson) use a high-tech chamber to literally travel backward in time. However, unlike Back to the Future, Tenet characters don’t magically appear. If they wish to travel three days into the past, they must literally spend three days with all their movements operating in reverse.

Tenet is incredibly trippy, and it will take a while before everything clicks. But if you’re looking to take a step up from Inception, definitely check out this film.

Where to watch Tenet: HBO Max

Upcoming movies like Inception: Reminiscence (2021)

From Westworld co-creator and Christopher Nolan’s sister-in-law Lisa Joy comes Reminiscence. High-concept, mind-bending films must run in the family because Reminiscence is looking insanely good.

The film follows Nick Bannister (Hugh Jackman), a private investigator who offers clients the ability to relive lost memories. When his newfound love Mae (Rebecca Ferguson) mysteriously disappears after a client’s memories implicated her in a series of crimes, Nick must investigate past memories to predict where she might have gone.

The film’s trailer sparks a similar tone to Inception. Similarly, Reminiscence’s use of memories as a plot device is drawing comparisons to Inception’s dream sequences. Reminiscence is looking like the perfect summer blockbuster, and I can’t wait to check it out in a movie theater near me come August.

Watch Reminiscence in THEATERS and HBO MAX on August 20, 2021.

Upcoming movies like Inception: Dune (2021)

Denis Villeneuve’s upcoming epic sci-fi film Dune will definitely satisfy your Inception cravings come October. Dune stars an ensemble cast consisting of Timothée Chalamet, Rebecca Ferguson, Oscar Issac, Josh Brolin, Stellan Skarsgård, Dave Bautista, Jason Momoa, Javier Bordem, and Zendaya. Just off the A-list cast alone, Dune is reminding audiences of the star-studded Inception.

Based on the novel of the same name and set far in the future, Dune follows Leto (Oscar Isaac) as he takes his wife Jessica (Rebecca Ferguson) and son Paul (Timothée Chalamet) to the dangerous desert planet known as Dune in order to mine “the spice,” a drug that prolongs human life, elevates thought, and allows for ultra-high-speed travel. Things turn south, and Paul must lead the native tribes in a battle to control the desert planet.

Delayed from a 2020 release, Dune is perhaps the highest-anticipated sci-fi film since Inception’s historic run in 2010. Out of all of 2021’s new movie releases, I must say, Dune is on the top of my bucket list.

Watch Dune in theaters and on HBO MAX on October 1, 2021.

There you have it! 12 mind-bending movies like Inception that are available to watch today or that are coming to a movie theater near you this year. Tell us what you love about Inception and which of these films you like the most in the comments! And make sure to check out Reminiscence and Dune when they hit theaters and HBO Max later this year.

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