Child prodigies and geniuses have always been a topic of human interest. Gifted with immense talent and ability, their lives are often used as a material for movies and other media. Oftentimes tumultuous and full of hardships, their lives are an interesting story to observe given the patterns that seem to emerge.
Here are 10 of the best movies about geniuses ranked and reviewed for you.
10 Best Movies About Geniuses
The Man Who Knew Infinity (2016)
Based on the true story of Indian mathematician Srinivasa Ramanujan, The Man Who Knew Infinity details the genius’ meteoric rise from clerk to an internationally-acclaimed mathematician. He is portrayed by Dev Patel in the film.
Here, we get to see the struggles he faces as he leaves home to study in Cambridge where he inadvertently suffers against racism. The film also details his sudden demise at the young age of 32 after losing a battle with tuberculosis.
The Theory of Everything (2014)
Here’s another movie based on a real-life genius. This time it’s renowned physicist Stephen Hawking we get to see in the award-winning film The Theory of Everything (2014).
In the film, we see Hawking’s inspiring battle against a motor neuron disease which threatens his abilities to work and function in life. The film primarily focuses on Hawking’s relationship with his wife, Jane, who he meets as a student at Cambridge University. It chronicles their courtship, marriage, and life together highlighting both their trials and successes.
The Imitation Game (2014)
The Imitation Game (2014) is a biographical drama film about the life of British mathematician and war hero Alan Turing starring Benedict Cumberbatch in an incredible performance as the film’s lead.
The film primarily focuses on the events surrounding Turing’s famous success in deciphering the German Enigma machine which proved to be vital to the defeat of the Nazis during World War II. The film received praise from both critics and audiences for it’s complex and layered portrayal of Turing and his legacy as a gay man. It also won an award for best-adapted screenplay at the Oscars.
Some geniuses, unfortunately, passed away without being recognized. The artist Seraphine Louis is one of them. Her story is told in the film Seraphine (2008).
Spending most of her life working as a maid, she managed to create intricate and unique paintings which would only gain her recognition after her death. And if that isn’t enough, her early successes led to a mental breakdown which resulted in her spending her final years of life in a mental asylum.
A Beautiful Mind (2002)
Here we have another film about a mathematical genius. This time it’s the real-life story John Forbes Nash Jr., a disturbed mathematical prodigy who sits on the verge of madness and genius, as portrayed in the film A Beautiful Mind (2002).
In a career-defining performance, Russell Crowe takes on the role of Nash and excellently portrays his battle with the mental illness schizophrenia which greatly affected his career, discoveries and personal life.
The film was well-received upon its original run in theaters even winning the Best Picture Award at the Academy Awards the year of its release.
Finding Forrester (2000)
Director Gus Van Sant’s Finding Forrester (2000) takes cues from his other better-known film about a prodigy finding a mentor Good Will Hunting.
In Finding Forrester, we see Jamal Wallace, a young black basketball star who also happens to be a talented writer, meet a mentor in the form of a reclusive writer William Forrester believed to have been based on famous real-life writer JD Salinger.
Eventually, the strange pair develop a deep relationship with each other with Forrester providing guidance for Jamal as he navigates through his life.
Good Will Hunting (1997)
Speaking of Good Will Hunting.
Featuring one of Robin Williams’ best performances as a therapist and mentor to a mathematical prodigy played by Matt Damon, the film is one of director Gus Van Sant’s best works.
Filled with fantastic scenes portraying the joy of being with friends and the bittersweetness of goodbyes, this drama film is a fantastic watch that will show you what amazing things the world will bring you should you open up yourself to it.
Another warning to the dangers of extreme talent, Shine (1996) tells the real-life story of Australian music prodigy David Helfgott who suffers from a mental breakdown at a young age after succumbing to the extreme pressure that his friends and family put on him.
But the film ends on a positive note. After several years in a mental institution, Helfgott is shown to be able to redeem himself and make a comeback as a pianist in one of the most triumphant scenes in film history.
Searching for Bobby Fischer (1993)
Searching for Bobby Fischer (1993) is another film warning us of the consequences of genius. It depicts a real-life chess prodigy Joshua Waitzkin who follows in the footsteps of the famous chess grandmaster Bobby Fischer.
The film shows the stark difference between the two geniuses: Joshua who’s nurtured by his parents and mentors and Fischer who serves as a warning of how success may lead to the loss of personal relationships. It also presents Joshua’s struggle between his two mentors who have different coaching approaches.
Of course, how could we forget this award-winning biographical film about music’s most famous prodigy?
In Amadeus (1984), we see the rise of the child prodigy Amadeus Mozart through the eyes of his lesser musical rival Antonio Salieri. The film portrays the genius of Mozart along with his numerous flaws proving that one of the genius’ worst enemies is himself (and a devious rival in the case of this film).
Although criticized for being historically inaccurate, the film is a great study on the nature of genius and its ‘undeserved randomness’.
How about you? What’s your favorite movie about geniuses? Did you find it on our list? Tell us in the comment section below.