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16 Best Movies About Geniuses: Fictional and Real.

movies about geniuses
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Watching movies can inspire seeing what the human mind is capable of. We see how intelligence can be a gift and a curse through the genius main characters. While being a genius is seen as such an easy ticket, these movies can help illuminate the difficulties that brilliant minds often encounter internally, with close relationships, and in their communities. 

Today I rounded up the best 16 movies with genius main characters, both fictional and based on a true story. 

Little Man Tate (1991).

“Little Man Tate” follows the story of a 7-year-old genius. It shows the challenges of raising a child genius, showing how this child can be advanced intellectually but still just a 7-year-old. It is a rare glimpse at the asynchronous nature that child geniuses often have.

Jodie Foster plays Dede, Tate’s single mother. She struggles to balance both sides of her child and make the best choices for him. That is sure to hit close to home for any parent who has struggled with an advanced child. 


Gifted (2017).

“Gifted” is another show about a brilliant child. The child is a 7-year-old girl (Mary) with astounding mathematical abilities. Her single uncle (Frank), who is raising her, wants to give her a regular life, but her mathematical abilities cause too much attention. Soon her grandmother starts a custody battle that threatens to separate Frank and Mary. 

It is one of my favorite movies about gifted children.


Matilda (1996).

Matilda is a movie based on the book of the same name by Ronald Dahl. This story is about a gifted child raised by crass and cruel parents. She teaches herself to read and enrolls herself in school. In many ways, Matilda is the only adult in her home. However, she soon realizes she has developed telekinetic abilities that lead to hilarious and harrowing situations.  


Hidden Figures (2016).

“Hidden Figures” is based on the true story of the Black female mathematicians who were a cornerstone of NASA during the Space Race.

Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan, and Mary Jackson are the real-life geniuses the story follows. Their role in the space program is pivotal, yet they are still dealing with being segregated by race and sex. Without their insights and genius, the mission would have been a disaster, but instead, they launched John Glenn into orbit. 

Based on a true story.

Amadeus (1984).

This movie is about Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, a real-life genius composter in the late 1700s. The story revolves around the rivalry between Mozart and Antonio Salieri. The composers are about as opposite as they can get, Mozart living a wild, party lifestyle and Salieri being deeply religious and conservative. Still, Salieri is jealous of Mozart and plots against him. 

Based on a true story.

Good Will Hunting (1997).

You can’t have a list of movies featuring geniuses without discussing the multiple award-winning Good Will Hunting. Will Hunting is a mathematical genius who works as an MIT janitor. One day while cleaning the classrooms, he solves a graduate-level math problem. It puts him on the radar of Professor Lambeau, who wants to help him reach his potential.

My favorite part of this movie is that Robin Williams plays the therapist Will has to see after an altercation with the police.  


The Imitation Game (2014).

Based in 1939, “The Imitation Game” follows Alan Turing as he is recruited into MI6 and assigned to craft Nazi codes, including the uncrackable Enigma. This cast includes Benedict Cumberbatch and Kiera Knightley. The story also shines a light on the troubles of Alan’s private life.

This is a nail-biting and emotional true-life spy movie and one of the best movies about science geniuses.

Based on a true story.

The Theory of Everything (2014).

“The Theory of Everything” movie follows the life of real-life genius Steven Hawking as he falls in love with Jane Wilde and learns about his ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, also Lou Gehrig’s disease).

Doctors give him little hope for a normal or even a long life. With every excuse to give up, Hawkins instead goes on to make breakthrough after breakthrough in many studies, changing how the world is understood. This movie is a must-watch if you want to understand the background of one of the most brilliant minds of our time. 

Based on a true story.

October Sky (1999).

After seeing Sputnik crossing the sky, the son of a coal miner, Homer Hickman, becomes fascinated with aeronautics and rockets. The conflict arises between father and son, as Homer’s father, John, can’t understand his interest and wants his son to follow in his footsteps into the coal mines. But Homer starts building rockets with his friends. Because he sees his rockets as the ticket to a better future for himself.  

Based on a true story.

Queen of Katwe (2016).

You can find many genius-themed movies about chess players, but this one, in particular, is fantastic because it is about a girl of color from Uganda. Growing up in the slums, Phiona is a 10-year-old who learns how to play chess from a missionary Robert Katende.

She is a quick learner with a natural knack for the game and quickly becomes a top player. As she wins in competitions, she starts paving a way out of poverty for her family by playing chess. This movie is so great. You can catch it streaming on Disney+ now. 

Based on a true story.

Young Sherlock Holmes (1985).

I have a soft spot in my heart for Sherlock Holmes movies and shows, and this one is no exception.  

As you may have guessed, “Young Sherlock Holmes” is a story about the boy genius who would grow to be the World’s Greatest Detective. While this movie is not anywhere near canon to the original books, it is a fun look at what Sherlock and Watson may do together as child detectives, cutting class to solve crimes.  


A Beautiful Mind (2001).

In my opinion, this is one of the best films about geniuses in cinema history. John Nash receives the Nobel Prize in Economics and the Abel Prize (the highest honor in mathematics). Nash is the only person in history to win both of these awards. And also, he had schizophrenia.

When John was about thirty, the first symptoms appeared, and after three years of hallucinations, delusions, and paranoia, he received a divorce request from his wife, Alicia. But Nash was able to cope with his “demons” by willpower.

Twenty years of fighting the disease, the fear of losing intelligence due to drugs, clinics, psychiatrists, and, finally, a reunion with his wife, a speech on the stage of the Nobel Prize, the second wedding with Alicia, work at the university, research and death on the same day with the wife. It would be enough for three film biographies.

Based on a true story.

Pirates of Silicon Valley (1999).

It all started at the dawn of the eighties, in a small back room where two unknown programmers were inventing and fantasizing. First, they dreamed that someday the whole world would know about their projects, which seemed incredible then. Then, a few years later, dreams became a reality. Yesterday’s dreamers became billionaires, founding their empires, Jobs – Apple, and Gates – Microsoft.

Many complain that the film is embellished and not wholly accurate, but this movie is not about IT giants; the movie is about personalities.

Based on a true story.

Einstein and Eddington (2008).

In the spring of 1914, Europe was on the verge of the First World War, and at that time, not many people had heard of the German physicist Albert Einstein. Meanwhile, British astronomer Arthur Eddington realized that Einstein’s theories could open up new ways to understand time and space.

So, despite the threat of being declared traitors, the two men start a correspondence. An eclipse in Africa offers a chance to prove Einstein’s theories, and Eddington embarks on a journey that will forever change the understanding of the universe.

The collaboration of two geniuses is also played beautifully! Slightly strange Eddington and lover of women Einstein. Science is paramount, but geniuses are people too!

Based on a true story.

The legend of 1900 (1998).

On the first day of the 20th century, on the steamer Virginia, a baby was found in a box of lemons. The boy grew up and spent his whole life on a huge ocean liner between America and Europe, never once going ashore.

After magically learning to play the piano and entertaining the crowd by performing in a restaurant orchestra, he became a real virtuoso. Incredible stories are connected with him, and his life has turned into a beautiful legend.

This film is like a long and endlessly heartfelt campfire story told by a skilled storyteller.


Pi (1998).

The talented mathematician Max Cohen has been trying for many years to find and decipher the universal digital code according to which the prices of all stocks change.

As we get closer to the solution, the world around Max turns into a dark nightmare.

It is an intellectual, arthouse movie by Darren Aronofsky with beautiful soundtracks. The film was shot right on the streets of New York, without fencing and prior approval from the authorities, so someone from the film crew had to stand guard all the time to warn of the approach of the police. And the food for the entire film crew was prepared by Darren Aronofsky’s mother.

Interestingly, the film’s budget was only 60 thousand dollars. As a result, the picture was sold to Artisan Studios for 1 million dollars.

If you want to know more about art cinema, check out my blog post on what are arthouse movies.



While we like to think geniuses have the world at their fingertips and everything is smooth sailing for them, sometimes their genius leads to a significant conflict in their lives. 

I hope you liked my selection of movies with the genius main character. Did I cover your favorite film? Is there one you missed? 

Share this blog post if you enjoyed it. I would appreciate it! 

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  • Reply
    February 5, 2022 at 8:51 am

    Matilda and Hidden Figures, a few of my favorite movies! Glad they made the list.

  • Reply
    Ramil Hinolan
    February 5, 2022 at 3:11 pm

    I watched Matilda twice. I like plots that make the main character fights back in the end. Such a classic movie.

  • Reply
    February 6, 2022 at 12:26 am

    i love these movies, they’re so interesting to watch. i’ve watched the theory of everything and eddie redmayne’s an amazing actor 🙂

  • Reply
    February 6, 2022 at 10:54 am

    Good Will Hunting is one of my favourite all-time movies. I am so glad you included that in the list! And sadly, Robin the genius is no longer with us. What an amazing actor and person. So sad. Just shows, mental health issues must not be over looked. Great post by the way.

  • Reply
    February 6, 2022 at 8:20 pm

    Such an interesting list of movies. I have actually seen a bunch of these and they were very good. I’ll have to look into the others.

  • Reply
    Elizabeth O
    February 7, 2022 at 1:23 am

    I love these movies especially gifted. I watched it just a month ago and I can’t stop talking about it to my friends. I’d recommend it to everyone.

  • Reply
    February 7, 2022 at 6:09 pm

    Thanks for this list! i have something to watch over the weekend instead of doom scrolling Netflix just to find a good movie.

  • Reply
    Elise Ho
    February 7, 2022 at 9:22 pm

    Wow! You have certainly picked some winners here. I think I’ve seen about 75% of them.

  • Reply
    Ntensibe Edgar
    February 8, 2022 at 2:31 am

    Hhhhmmmm….it is lovely to find the Queen of Katwe here! It’s the only movie I’ve watched, on this entire list! I am adding them to my gallery.

  • Reply
    February 8, 2022 at 2:36 am

    am a movie lover, not just any movie but movies that meet this description, its definitely an amazing list i must say.

  • Reply
    February 8, 2022 at 4:31 am

    Oh I forgot about Good Will Hunting!! It was such a great movie, I haven’t seen it for years though! I may revisit.

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