A Beautiful Mind
John Nash has not had the most favorable University life, but his ability to keenly observe and understand the connection of things around him has allowed him to write the "Nash Equilibrium" which is basically a new perspective on governing dynamics. His brilliance quickly brings him to the attention of MIT and the government itself. Recruited by the Pentagon to help decrypt the communication codes of the government's enemies, he finds himself enjoying not only the challenges of the job, but the special treatment as well. However, it is not too long until he starts uncovering clues and codes hidden where they shouldn't be, an Nash must uncover the truth about what is happening around him.
Hands down, this is our favorite Russell Crowe film, and is one of the best films that talk about how hard it is for 'geniuses' to live, grow, or thrive in society. Now, one major disclaimer: while this film portrays the life of Economics Nobel Laureate John Nash, it does so with absolute and almost total creative license. While the real Nash lived quite a colorful life, the filmmakers chose to deliver a story that was easier to adapt to the film medium. So in terms of historical accuracy (and also, proper science), this film scores pretty low. Though as a good enjoyable film, A Beautiful Mind is nothing short of spirited, stupendous, and sublime.
Good Will Hunting
The film follows the plight of Will Hunting, a janitor for MIT who also happens to be a genius and as well as eidetic memory. When University professor Lambeau leaves a challenge for his maths graduate students, he chances upon Will solving it. This brings Will to Lambeau's attention, who feels like the young man is wasting his life being a janitor despite being very intelligent. While Lambeau tries his best to help him, Will struggles with his own difficult personality.
One of the earlier Damon-Affleck films, Good Will Hunting is a very well-received movie. And it is not surprising at all. The script is well written, it has great pacing, and the acting is superb. Story-wise, this film is not really the most innovative thing out there; the main plot is somewhat predictable and dry. However, it is the acting and the way that each moment seems to be so self-contained that the film manages to keep viewers happily entertained for the most parts. Sure, some genius janitor with perfect memory sounds like to ideal an underdog, but the characters are all portrayed and written with such flair that the movie makes you want to believe anything that happens.
The Imitation Game
The Imitation is a fictional retelling of the life of Alan Turing -particularly during the period in which he worked on the Enigma breaking machine, Victory. As a mathematical genius, Turing was very hard to relate to, and his abrasive personality stood in the way of him making friends. However, his skill and intellect necessitated his participation in one of the most important tasks during the war: completing the enigma machine that would help the Allies solve the decrypted codes of the enemies (Hollywood really has a thing for number-counting geniuses breaking encryptions).
Obviously, the film takes a lot of liberties with telling Turing's tale (which some historians and purists would find offending), but it does land all the most important points: that Turing had a very troubled social life, that he contributed greatly to the success of the Enigma breaking machine (wrongly called Christopher in the film), and lastly, that he was a homosexual and encountered problems because of it (it was a less accepting era). Despite some of the criticism's regarding the film's historical accuracy or even the downplaying of the issue of gender, The Imitation Game is still a wonderful and enjoyable movie to watch.
Life of Pi
This movie follows the story of a young Indian man who calls himself Pi (short for Piscene). Pi's family owns a zoo, however, his father eventually decides to sell the zoo and move to the west. For the trip, they board the same ship that transports their zoo animals, however the ship is suddenly caught in a storm. Pi manages to find his way towards a life boat, however, when he boards it, he finds that there are no human survivors, just a hyena, a zebra, an orangutan, and a Bengal tiger. Now Pi must find a way to survive being stranded in the middle of the sea surrounded by a volatile group of wild animals.
Despite the Pi in the title, this film borders more on the science of philosophy than it deals with math. There are a lot of symbolisms in the movie, as well as some rather intense moments between Pi and the tiger. And much of the film is lauded and acclaimed for its visual style. Unlike the other films above, Life of Pi is not as smart or as clever (though it does have an interesting twist at the end), but what earns it a spot on the list is the fact that it is quite well loved by the general public, and is, in some ways, more famous that the other films.
Wrapping Up: Intelligent Contenders
Intelligence - be it street smart or academic excellence through vigorous study of complex maths books based on theory and numerics, is just one part of human existence for the more logically inclined. And such is the reason why geniuses are not always as successful -or happy, as one would assume them to be. There is a burden and a challenge to living the kinds of lives that they live. If you enjoyed the films above and are looking for more, we suggest trying out The Theory of Everything (which focuses on the life story of Stephen Hawking), and Pawn Sacrifice (chess champion Bobby Fischer). Like the movies mentioned above, these two are amazing films that delve into the lives of people whose minds reached out to far beyond the known horizons of human understanding.