# 20 Films About Math, Mathematicians, and Math Geniuses

- Author: Noreen Niazi
- Last Updated on: December 30, 2023

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ToggleMathematics is not given much importance in cinema as compared to more visually appealing subjects. Nevertheless, there is a kind of movies that includes mathematical theories, mathematicians Lives and the elegance of numbers in an exciting and elaborating manner. Mathematics is for everybody. Mathematics can be complex, difficult and boring, but in this course, we explore its beauty and brilliance through 20 films.

## 1. A Beautiful Mind (2001)

A Beautiful Mind” by Ron Howard is an amazing movie that tells the story of Nobel laureate John Nash. The movie shows us not only the difficulties that Nash faced with schizophrenia but also his outstanding contribution to the theory of games. The film was released in 2001 and it won four Academy Awards, including Best Picture. This helped increase the popularity of game theory among the general public.

## 2. The Imitation Game (2014)

Benedict Cumberbatch plays the part of Alan Turing in the movie “The Imitation Game.” Through his character, he highlights the significance of Turing’s contribution to cracking the Enigma code during WWII. The biopic on Alan Turing’s contributions in the field of computer science and AI was really well portrayed in the movie. It earned a lot of praise from critics and even won an Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay.

## 3. Hidden Figures (2016)

The movie “Hidden Figures” portrays the extraordinary achievements of three African-American women mathematicians, namely Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan, and Mary Jackson. These women made groundbreaking contributions at NASA during the height of the space race. The movie was quite enlightening, it portrays the hardships faced by women because of their race and gender while doing spaceexploration. The film also demonstrated the importance of mathematics in space exploration, which I found fascinating.

## 4. Good Will Hunting (1997)

Matt Damon and Robin Williams star in “Good Will Hunting,” where the story is all about the untapped talent of a self-taught janitor who has a special affinity for math. The film was made by Damon and Ben Affleck and it talks about mentorship, self-discovery and how education can help us transform. The movie got two Oscars, one for the best screenplay.

## 5. The movie ‘The Man Who Knows Infinity’ is a science fiction film released in 2015.

The movie “The Man Who Knew Infinity” is about a cute Indian math-genius, Srinivasa Ramanujan, and he is portrayed by Dev Patel and Jeremy Irons. The movie explores the life of Ramanujan starting from his childhood in India until he arrives at Cambridge University, where his extraordinary ideas gave a new foundation to the field of mathematics.

## 6. Pi (1998)

Aronofsky’s debut movie Pi, is basically about a mathematician who is fixated with discovering patterns within the stock market. To do that, he went crazy and started utilizing pi as his ultimate mathematical tool. This thriller identifies the edge between intelligence and insanity, intriguing the audience through its exclusive plot and representation.

## 7. Fermat’s Room (2007)

We have to write a paper on the book “Fermat’s Room, ” a Spanish thriller that blends math and suspense. This movie is about a bunch of math geniuses who are trying to solve a mystery in a small room, the twist is that the room is shrinking which makes the problem even more challenging!

## 8. Money ball (2011)

When I thought about Moneyball, I initially thought it was just a baseball movie. However, as I watched it, I came to realize it’s very much about the implementation of sabermetrics, a method of statistical analysis for baseball data, into MLB teams. This adaptation of Michael Lewis’s book shows the strength of data and statistical analysis in the field of sports.

## 9. Proof (2005)

The movie “Proof” features Gwyneth Paltrow as the offspring of a genius mathematician, Anthony Hopkins. The film is all about how genius people suffer from mental illnesses and face challenges in their journey to recognition in the field of mathematics.

## 10. The Oxford Murders (2008)

The movie “The Oxford Murders” blends genres of mystery and math as a professor works with a student to solve a string of murders using numerical evidence. The movie is not only a thriller but also an intellectual ride. It highlights mathematical concepts such as logic and probability, adding depth to the plot.

## 11. Stand and Deliver (1988)

This movie is all about the life transformation of students under the guidance of a mathematics teacher named Jaime Escalante, living in a disadvantaged neighborhood. In my opinion, Edward James Olmos gives an extraordinary portrayal in the movie, and the movie showcases how great mathematics teaching can be, which leads to numerous awards11.

## 12. Travelling Salesman (2012)

The article “Travelling Salesman” discusses the topic of cryptography and specifically focuses on the P vs NP problem, which is an unsolved issue in computer science. The movie tells an exciting story about a team of math people who have to figure out a code that could impact our world!

## 13. Gifted (2017)

In the movie Gifted, Chris Evans plays the role of an uncle who raises his niece, who is very talented in math. The movie focuses on issues such as the duty of being a family member and the struggles of highly talented individuals when growing up normally.

## 14. Flatland: The Film (2007)

Based on Edwin A. Abbott’s classic novella, “Flatland: The movie provides a unique point of view on geometry and dimensions. The 2D animation movie is a great resource for students who want to learn math in a fun and engaging way.

## 15. x + y (2014)

“x + y” is a movie released in the U.S. under the title “A Brilliant Young Mind” and is about a boy who is a math whiz and has autism and takes part in the International Mathematical Olympiad competition. The film highlights the problems of individuals with autism and their supportive friends and romantic interests.

## 16. The Zero Theorem (2013)

The movie “The Zero Theorem” which was directed by Terry Gilliam is set in a dystopian world where existentialism and mathematical theories are explored in depth. The movie has Christoph Waltz as its lead actor and it discusses the search for significance in a world that is highly interconnected and based on technology.

## 17. Donald in Mathmagic Land (1959)

This classic Disney movie ‘Donald in Mathmagic Land’ has an animated style that aims to teach people about the amazing universe of mathematics. Donal Duck embarks on a whimsical journey, encounters mathematical concepts in art, nature, and everyday life.

## 18. A Brilliant Mind (2014)

The movie “A Brilliant Mind” talks about the life and job of Grigori Perelman who was a mathematician with quirks and won the Fields Medal. Perelman is a mathematician who is renowned for his ability to solve the Poincaré conjecture. However, his private life adds an air of mystery to him, making him even more mysterious.18.

## 19. N Is a Number: What is a portrait of Paul Erdős? (1993)

This is a very interesting documentary about the life of Hungarian mathematician, Paul Erdős. He was an extremely productive person in mathematics, and he made contributions to several branches of math, but he did not have a permanent home, but still managed to work with a lot of mathematicians in various institutions. The book “N Is a Number” gives us insight into Erdős’s unique character and the great impact he had on mathematics.

## 20. The Story of 1 (2005)

The number one has a lot of history and meaning and this documentary explores all about it The films takes the students across different cultures and civilizations, and it highlights the importance of the number 20.

## FAQs:

**Q1: Well, do you think these films can be understood by a student who is not good in math?**

**A1:** Absolutely! These films are mainly targeted towards people who are interested in the movies but also want to learn something about math. Math textbooks usually combine dry concepts with interesting stories.

**Q2: Which movie gives us the most precise depiction of a mathematician’s life?**

**A2: **The movie “A Beautiful Mind” (2001) is highly appreciated for its depiction of John Nash’s life story. It portraies the accurate portrayal of his mental health issues and the theoretical contributions he made.

**Q3: I am unsure whether there are any documentaries included or if they are mainly fictional films.**

**A3:** Yes, documentaries are included too so that we can get a better understanding of mathematicians and their contributions. The documentaries are “A Brilliant Mind” (2014) and “N Is a Number: A Portrait of Paul Erdős” (1993).

**Q4: Do these films inspire an interest in mathematics into those individuals who are not interested in mathematics?**

**A4:** Absolutely. Many of these films make math more interesting and fun, which can ignite an interest in math even among those who do not think math is their thing.

**Q5: Can we watch these films in any order we want, or do we have to follow a specific sequence?**

**A5:** Individually, these movies showcase a variety of mathematical ideas and narratives. You can explore the topics according to your own interest or you can focus on the topics which fascinate you the most.

## 20 Films About Math, Mathematicians, and Math Geniuses

- A Beautiful Mind (2001)
- The Imitation Game (2014)
- Hidden Figures (2016)
- Good Will Hunting (1997)
- The Man Who Knew Infinity (2015)
- Pi (1998)
- Fermat’s Room (2007)
- Moneyball (2011)
- Proof (2005)
- The Oxford Murders (2008)
- Stand and Deliver (1988)
- Travelling Salesman (2012)
- Gifted (2017)
- Flatland: The Film (2007)
- x + y (2014)
- The Zero Theorem (2013)
- Donald in Mathmagic Land (1959)
- A Brilliant Mind (2014)
- N Is a Number: A Portrait of Paul Erdős (1993)
- The Story of 1 (2005)