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Top 10 Movies About Geniuses That Will Inspire You

Rahul is a movie addict who can never get enough of good films. His all time favorites are Inception, 12 Angry Men, and Scarface.


What Are Some of The Best Movies About Geniuses?

Let's be honest, all of us at one point of time have thought ourselves to be geniuses.

It’s an exhilarating feeling to discover that you are capable of thinking and doing things many people cannot do. However, even though most of us are left to contend with flashes of inspiration and temporary moments of brilliance, being a real genius is much more than that.

Some of the more famous ones will be recognized in the fields of science and arts, but genius does manifest in many ways and across a very broad spectrum. In this list, we'll be looking at ten such people, both real and imagined, who will force you to look at the world in a different light. Here are the top 10 movies about geniuses that will inspire you.

10 Films About Geniuses

  1. Limitless (2011)
  2. The Theory of Everything (2014)
  3. Hidden Figures (2016)
  4. Queen of Katwe (2016)
  5. Rain Man (1988)
  6. A Beautiful Mind (2001)
  7. 3 Idiots (2009)
  8. The Social Network (2010)
  9. Catch Me if You Can (2002)
  10. Sherlock Holmes (2009)

1. Limitless

The superpower of being able to think and act like a genius is something we all wish in our lives. When Limitless came out in 2011, the whole world immediately fell in love with it, mainly because the premise was so relatable.

The story follows the life of Eddie Mora – a struggling writer whose life is in shambles. He is unemployed, work on his book is going nowhere, and his girlfriend has just left him. Looking to drown his sorrows in something a little more cerebral than alcohol, he is introduced to a drug called NZT-48 - something that's going to change his entire life.

While on NZT, Eddie finds that not only is he able to perfectly remember anything he has ever read, seen or heard, but all his inhibitions are laid to the side, improving his social skills and general outlook on life. Eddie utilizes the drug to not only finish his book but to also turn his life around drastically by becoming a wealthy investor.

Starring Bradley Cooper, Abbie Cornish, and Robert De Niro, Limitless takes our collective fantasies of unlocking the full potential of our brain to our benefit (much like geniuses do in specific fields of endeavor) and plays it out on the big screen. Unfortunately, NZT does not exist in real life, so all we can do is live vicariously through the life of Eddie Mora.


2. The Theory of Everything (2014)

One of the most tragic moments of 2018 was when the world received news of the death of the renowned English theoretical physicist, cosmologist, and writer, Stephen Hawking. The modern-day genius was regarded by many as a leading voice in the scientific community. Despite suffering from the debilitating Lou Gehrig’s disease, he managed to live for over fifty years, turning himself into a global and pop culture icon with his signature voice generation machine and wheelchair.

Before he passed, however, the biography of his life titled The Theory of Everything was released. Starring Eddie Redmayne, the flick tells the story of a young Hawking, detailing the timeline from his years as a student at Cambridge, where he met and fell in love with Jane Wilde (played by Felicity Jones), an Arts student, to being diagnosed with his motor neuron disease.

For the most part, the film focuses on the relationship between Hawking and Wilde. The Theory of Everything is even more impactful when you discover it was primarily based on accounts written by Jane Wilde herself, bringing to the screen a part of the physicist's life many had never known before. If you're looking for some of the best movies ever made about geniuses, The Theory of Everything will not disappoint you.


3. Hidden Figures (2016)

Set in an era of racial segregation and diminished women's rights, Hidden Figures stands out as an opus to all the gifted African American females of that era who were never really given their due.

The film follows the story of three women who work at NASA, which was divisive on grounds of race and gender at the time. It is hard enough that they are women, and their complexion makes it even more difficult for their abilities to shine through as they are not even given a second thought. Their talents go overlooked until pressure from the successful Soviet space launch leaves the space program scrambling for more able hands to come on board and actualize their ambitions for space travel.

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One of these women, Katherine Johnson (played by Taraji P. Henson), is assigned to assist the Space Task Group as a human-computer because of her superior skills in analytic geometry. Another in the form of Mary Jackson is assigned to the space heat shield design team where she also makes her mark intellectually in an instant.

Finally, Dorothy Vaughn, who becomes a supervisor after teaching herself to understand how to use IBM computers, is assigned with the task of computing complex equations. Based on the true stories of each of these three women, Hidden Figures is a beautiful film with gorgeous cinematography, great acting, and a powerful storyline to boot.


4. Queen of Katwe (2016)

When it comes to genius, its manifestations are as diverse as the people who are blessed with the ability. Queen of Katwe is a prime example of this fact. Set in Uganda, the film follows the story of a young girl named Phiona who struggles to survive in abject poverty with her family.

As fate would have it, however, her paths cross with a man named Robert Katende who teaches children how to play soccer and chess. Robert invites Phiona to learn how to play chess, and this is where Phiona’s life changes forever. Fascinated and intrigued by the game, Phiona quickly becomes adept at chess, dominating at national levels before finally leading her team to the international Chess Olympics in Russia.

The film is based on the real-life story of Phiona Mutesi. Starring Madina Nalwanga, David Oyelowo, and Lupita Nyong’o, Queen of Katwe is a movie not only about a genius but also about the triumph of the human spirit even when faced with insurmountable odds.


5. Rain Man (1988)

When it comes to movies about geniuses, no movie has penetrated pop culture as much as the 1988 classic, Rain Man. The introduction of Raymond Babbit (played by Dustin Hoffman) – an autistic man with savant syndrome to the world, had everyone looking at autism differently.

This comedy-drama follows the story of Raymond’s brother, Charlie Babbit (played by Tom Cruise), who discovers that his recently deceased father left everything to his brother. This comes as a huge shock and surprise to Charlie who up until then had no idea of the existence of his brother.

When he finds out that Raymond had been committed to a mental institution, Charlie decides to check Raymond out of the facility and take him home with him. Luckily, the two brothers connect on the journey and discover things about themselves that ultimately change their lives.

Rain Man is undoubtedly one of the best movies about geniuses ever made. It is an absolutely stellar watch.


6. A Beautiful Mind (2001)

Being a genius has its own perks. However, one doesn’t have to have autism to realize that sometimes, being a genius comes with its own debilitating drawbacks.

Starring Russell Crowe, A Beautiful Mind tells a story based on the life of John Forbes Nash Jr. Arriving at Princeton University, the budding mathematical prodigy is under tremendous pressure to succeed as he seeks to discover his original mathematical idea. Cracks in his psyche begin to manifest as viewers are introduced to glimpses of the manic schizophrenia which will plague him later in his life. What follows is a sequence of events that ultimately turn his genius mind into his prison.

A Beautiful Mind went on to garner critical acclaim and won several awards and nominations that acknowledged the directing, acting, and soundscape.


7. 3 Idiots (2009)

Sometimes, genius can be manifested in something as simple as a worldview, and 3 Idiots brings this idea to life quite adeptly. The film tells the tale of three friends named Farhan, Raju, and Rancho, who meet each other while attending a prestigious engineering college in Delhi, India.

Each of them has their motivations for attending college. Farhan sees college as a way to appease his demanding father, while Raju looks at the final degree as a means to help lift his family out of poverty. Rancho, on the other hand, genuinely enjoys learning and quickly establishes himself as a controversial albeit likable character with his outlandish ideas that actually work.

What follows is the indoctrination of Farhan, Raju, and ultimately everyone else by Rancho on how to view life differently. The movie is a treacherous ride where you're bound to feel every spectrum of emotions throughout the journey.

3 Idiots touch upon serious issues like abject poverty and suicide among Indian students. It went on to garner international acclaim, grossing over ninety-million dollars worldwide. Fun fact; the movie includes real inventions created by real Indian geniuses, coming full circle in its marriage of fact and fiction.


8. The Social Network (2010)

By now, we all know the story of Facebook. A genius Harvard student named Mark Zuckerberg creates a social network for his campus that ends up becoming a global platform for socializing and connecting with people.

In all the excitement about the new age of technology, however, some stories painting the complete picture of how things happened are lost, or worse, swept under the carpet. The Social Network tries to fill in the gaps we don’t know about.

Starring Jesse Eisenberg in the lead role, The Social Network follows the perfect storm of events leading up to Mark Zuckerberg’s creation of the social network behemoth we all know now. It tells the story of the girl who rejected him and filled him with anger - something he successfully channeled into his passion.

It also focuses on the Winklevoss twins who later claimed he stole the idea from them. The story also puts some light on the relationship between Zuckerberg and his one-time best friend Eduardo Saverin - the relationship which was so essential to the creation of the company.

They say history is told by the victors. Considering Mark Zuckerberg came out as one of the richest men in the world, he is still viewed by many as the digital messiah. However, The Social Network paints a telling picture of the mind and psyche of this genius of the digital age. One can only say that with the recent allegations plaguing Facebook, the story of this genius might not be over just yet.


9. Catch Me If You Can (2002)

Another outlier for the genius category albeit this time, for nefarious purposes. Then again, who says all geniuses have to use their powers for good?

Catch Me If You Can features Leonardo DiCaprio playing the role of Frank Abagnale. Frank is a con man who successfully posed as a pilot, a physician, a lawyer, and a prison officer on several occasions, netting him millions of dollars and making him the most successful con man in American history, all before he was nineteen.

Directed by Steven Spielberg, the film focuses on the efforts of an FBI agent named Hanratty who has sworn to apprehend the teenager, but Abagnale proves supremely elusive, always one step ahead of Hanratty and his machinations.

The film is loosely based on the real-life of Frank Abagnale who was every bit as outrageous as his on-screen portrayal. Abagnale is currently known to have turned his genius to more legitimate ventures and heads his own financial fraud consultancy company. Catch Me If You Can was well received, with critics praising DiCaprio and Tom Hanks’ performances.


10. Sherlock Holmes (2009)

When speaking of geniuses, it’s elementary [my dear Watson] to mention the greatest detective who ever lived. Well, not really. Sherlock Holmes is a fictional character created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. However, so great has the character’s influence been on pop culture that it's hard to find any other character who can match the title of “World’s greatest detective."

In 2009, Guy Ritchie, aided with the acting skills of Robert Downey Jr and Jude Law, sought to bring the classic character to life in the eponymous film, Sherlock Holmes. The film follows Holmes and his trusty partner, Watson, as they conduct one of their famed investigations. The subject this time is a serial killing ritualist, who seems to have returned from the dead to resume his killing spree.

Sherlock Holmes was met with worldwide applause, paving the way for another sequel about the English detective whose genius powers of deduction have made his legend immortal.

Did I miss out on any other good movies about geniuses? Let me know in the comments section.


Rahul Pandey (author) from Delhi, India on June 25, 2020:

Perhaps I would. What do you think the title should be? And what kind of movies/shows would you like to be included in the list?

Jodian Patterson from Jamaica on June 03, 2020:

A few of these i haven't watched yet, but i loved A Beautiful Mind, it has that something. The most favorite for me of any genius movie or series is to evaluate how the higher an IQ is for a genius, the lower the EQ and I like to see how they deal with that. Do a genius series with, The Good Doctor, Scorpion and The Big Bang Theory. I would like to hear your thoughts.

Umesh Chandra Bhatt from Kharghar, Navi Mumbai, India on February 05, 2020:

Good compilation. Nice reviews. Thanks.

Louise Powles from Norfolk, England on December 29, 2019:

There's some good films listed here. I've seen "The Theory of Everything." I really enjoyed that film.

Purvi from India on December 29, 2019:

Wow! It's a great article. I saw only "3 idiots". But I like story of all movies. You narrate it very well. I also like real stories and in this article, you describe also about real-life stories.

Great! Rahul, Keep it up

Thanks for sharing this article.

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