leadMost people watch movies to get out of their heads, but sometimes the best movies are those that take you further inside the mind. Christopher Nolan's amazing new movie, Inception, is one such film. The plot follows a troubled idea thief (Leonario DiCaprio) who, along with a team that includes a dream architect (Ellen Page), is hired to infiltrate a businessman's mind and implant an idea in it. And given the sterling cast and director, it's no surprise that Inception is, without question, one of the best movies that takes place in a character's mind. There are many more marvelous mind-fuck specials, though, so Complex is running down the finest 15. We're spoiling some of these movies simply by putting them on the list, but if you haven't yet seen them, you should probably just go ahead and blow your shit loose now. Speaking of which, put on some headgear, because your head is about to be asploded by the 15 best movies set in the mind...

15. VANILLA SKY (2001)

Director: Cameron Crowe
Synopsis: After a jealous ex-lover (Cameron Diaz) disfigures his face, a wealthy bachelor (Tom Cruise) restores his good looks and his life with help from a beautiful jumpoff (Penelope Cruz). Or does he? It turns out doctors couldn't repair his face—and dude's depression (and fugliness) drove friends and fuck buddies away, so he had himself cryonically suspended and everything he's been seeing has been part of a 150-year "lucid dream" drawn from his subconscious.

Complex says: Crowe's remake of the Spanish movie Abre Los Ojos (Open Your Eyes) is like life for many dudes: If you think you're as good-looking as we are, or that your chicks are as bad as ours are, you're dreaming.

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14. AKIRA KUROSAWA'S DREAMS (1990)

Director: Akira Kurosawa

Synopsis: The legendary Japanese director could title a film Akira Kurosawa's Dreams on some cock-stroking shit because he was a G, but it actually is a series of vignettes from dreams he had at various points during his life. Fox weddings, dancing dolls that embody fallen peach trees, and mutant humans with horns. Seems almost tame compared to the shit Japanese people think up with when they're awake.

Complex says: Don't all old Japanese men dream of sniffing schoolgirls' panties out of vending machines?

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13. THE FALL (2006)

Director: Tarsem Singh

Synopsis: A 1920s stuntman (Lee Pace), who may have paralyzed himself doing a stunt in his first movie, spins fantastic tales for a little girl in the hospital. Her vivid imagination brings the stories to life, casting people she encounters in real life as the heroes and villains. Sound sweet? We forgot to mention he's trying to win her trust so she'll get him a bottle of morphine pills to kill himself with. Sweet!

Complex says: Of all the awkward movies you could see about an borderline-creepy relationship between a grown man and a little girl, we guarantee this is the least likely to get you sent to prison and gang-raped.

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12. THE IMAGINARIUM OF DR. PARNASSUS (2009)

Director: Terry Gilliam

Synopsis: Theater owner Dr. Parnassus (Christopher Plummer), who once promised to give his daughter (Lily Cole) to the Devil, Mr. Nick (Tom Waits), on her 16th birthday in exchange for his own youth, tries to best him and save her by winning a soul-collecting contest. To do so, he uses a mirror that acts as a portal to his and other people's imaginations. Yeah, it baffles us too, but it makes a lot more sense if you sherm it out for the night. *singing* Looooove boooooooooat....

Complex says: Imagine Michael Jackson's "Man in the Mirror" x the "Leave Me Alone" music video, only without the subtext of little boys sipping wine at a sleepover hosted by a grown man alien.

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11. SHUTTER ISLAND (2010)

Director: Martin Scorsese

Synopsis: A U.S. Marshal (Leonardo DiCaprio) investigates a disappearance at a hospital for the criminally insane and starts seeing visions of his dead wife and other strange shit that makes him question his own sanity. And he should, because he's actually a former Marshal who went temporarily insane and killed his manic-depressive wife after she murdered their children. The "investigation" is just a fantasy that helps him avoid dealing with his unfathomable pain, so, you know, it's really nice of the role-playing hospital staff to snap him back to reality.

Complex says: Like we needed to see a movie to know Leo's crazy. He didn't put a ring on this.

CLICK NEXT TO SEE OUR TOP 10 MIND MOVIES...

 

10. THE CELL (2000)

Director: Tarsem Singh

Synopsis: To find clues that will help the FBI locate and save a captive woman, a child psychologist (Jennifer Lopez) uses a virtual reality device to enter the mind of a comatose serial killer (Vincent D'Onofrio). Eventually she invites him into her mind, which is, sadly, the closest we've come to seeing video of "Jenny from the block" giving brains.

Complex says: As with Singh's The Fall, this flick is full of beautiful visuals, not the least of which is J.Lo's glorious end table of an ass in the bodysuit one is "required" to wear to enter people's mind.

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9. A SCANNER DARKLY (2006)

Director: Richard Linklater

Synopsis: An undercover agent (Keanu Reeves) is sent to infiltrate a drug ring, only he does his job a little too well and gets hooked on the "D" himself (II)—so much so that he actually forgets he's a cop in the first place, until we learn that the cops wanted him to get addicted so he could in turn infiltrate a rehabilitation facility that's actually running the dope in the first place. With us still? 'Cause we ain't.

Complex says: To paraphrase Richard Pryor: It's not doing the drugs that's the problem; it's when you stop doing the drugs that the shit hits the fan (or the fire hits the hair, as the case may be). So as long as the dutchie's passed, we don't mind having absolutely no idea what the fuck is going on in this flick.

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8. ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND (2004)

Director: Michel Gondry

Synopsis: Boy (Jim Carrey) meets girl (Kate Winslet) on the Long Island Rail Road, they hit it off and ride off into the sunshine together (ha!), at which point they gradually learn that (you guessed it!) they're actually former lovers who, in the throes of a bad breakup, had their memories of each other erased by a shady company specializing in such wipings, all of which we learn through flashbacks from the guy's own memory, which...HOW THE HELL DOES THAT MAKE ANY FUCKING SENSE? *Pops aspirin, shuts laptop*

Complex says: Lacuna, Inc. sounds like an expensive and needlessly complicated way to lose a memory. Any time we want to forget something we simply consult the firm of Corona, Patron, Henny, and Coke, LLC.

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7. THE DIVING BELL AND THE BUTTERFLY (2007)

Director: Julian Schnabel

Synopsis: Onetime ELLE editor Jean-Dominique Bauby (Mathieu Amalric) suffers a stroke that paralyzes him from the neck down. Speechless and trapped in his own mind, he learns to communicate by blinking his one functioning eye as a speech therapist goes through the alphabet letter by letter, and thus writes his memoir. And this is a true story. What the fuck has your lazy ass done lately?

Complex says: We can only imagine how completely frustrating it would be to blink out "F-A-I-L" five minutes after somebody said some dumb shit.

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6. MULHOLLAND DRIVE (2001)

Director: David Lynch
Synopsis: A mysterious woman (Laura Elena Harring) survives a limo accident but loses her memory before meeting a wannabe actress (Naomi Watts) who promises to help her find her identity. Meanwhile, a Hollywood director (Justin Theroux) gets pressured to cast an unknown actress (Melissa George) in his new film, only to have his life crumble around him when he refuses. Along the way there's this crazy-scary bum hanging out behind a diner, a cowboy called The Cowboy, and a really weird dwarf with a funny voice. Then the first two chicks have sex and... yup, you heard right, the first two chicks have sex! And one of 'em's Naomi Watts.

Complex says: And to think, we used to have to sit through two-hour-plus art films to catch a little girl-on-girl action. You're wondering why Lynch has only made one feature since MD?

CLICK NEXT TO SEE OUR TOP 5 MIND MOVIES...

 

5. DREAMSCAPE (1984)

Director: Joseph Ruben

Synopsis: Shady government agents attempt to use a psychic (Dennis Quaid), who can project himself into people's subconscious while they dream, to assassinate the President. That is what you call the ultimate mind fuck.

Complex says: It's a good thing we can't will people dead like this or "ex-girlfriend" would have a completely different meaning.

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4. A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET (1984)

Director: Wes Craven

Synopsis: A long-dead child murderer with knives for fingers haunts the dreams of the children of the adults who killed him, killing them (the kids) in their dreams for having sex and plotting to kill him and other such transgressions, with a cleverly ambiguous ending perfectly suited to infinite (literally) sequels.

Complex says: Leave it to a bunch of killjoys to take Freddy's killing spree out of the dreams and into the realm of cold, hard statistics.

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3. JACOB'S LADDER (1990)

Director: Adrian Lyne

Synopsis: A Vietnam vet (Tim Robbins) experiences frightening hallucinations upon his return to civilian life. Is Jacob experiencing a severe case of post-traumatic stress disorder? Or are his bizarre visions the byproduct of some nefarious U.S. government plan to drug its soldiers into becoming battlefield savages? Take a wild guess, kiko.

Complex says: The moral, as always: Don't ever fucking go to war.

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2. INCEPTION (2010)

Director: Christopher Nolan

Synopsis: Led by Dom Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio), a team of dream-stealers—people who invade others' sleeping minds to swipe their most valuable secrets—embark on a new mission: inception. On the behalf of a corporate rival (Ken Watanabe), Dom and his crew plan to jump into the subconscious of a wealthy heir (Cillian Murphy) to implant the idea of breaking up his deceased father's empire. But will Dom's own personal dream-time demons fuck up everything? Wake up, ninja!

Complex says: We'll say this: If these guys were to ever dig deep into our subconscious, it would most definitely not be rated PG-13.

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1. THE MATRIX (1999)

Directors: Andrew and Laurence Wachowski

Synopsis: Evil machines have created an alternate reality where humans are stuck in a "matrix" while having their life force surreptitiously drained by said machines. Only if the humans break out of the dream world they can dodge bullets and shit, which seems kinda totally worth it.

Complex says: The Wachowski Bros. might have created their own alternate world of pacified, mindless humans—if only Matrix 2 and 3 didn't suck so bad.