Being a genius or gifted individual is, in many ways, pretty awesome. At the very least, you can excel in your courses (as a student) or at work (as an employee) with minimal effort and never break a sweat.
But when a movie features a genius or gifted individual, you can be sure you’ll be in for a ride—whether it’s a comedy centered on a nerd, a mystery featuring an intuitive investigator, or even a thriller about someone whose high IQ grants special powers.
With a bit of creativity, the narrative possibilities are endless when supermind characters are involved. Here are some of our favorite movies about geniuses and gifted people.
8. Lucy (2014)
The premise of Lucy rises from the common myth that humans only use 10 percent of their brain capacity. This movie asks the question: what would happen if someone could use all of their brain power?
Of course, that’s not exactly how the human brain works—and Lucy received a lot of critical backlash for its unsound scientific foundation. But if you can look past that, it’s not a terrible movie at all.
Lucy stars Scarlett Johansson as the titular female lead who’s involved in a drug trafficking scheme. The drugs are sewn into her stomach, and an accident causes them to rupture… which ends up giving her heightened mental abilities that unlock her brain’s full potential.
Using her newfound powers, which include telekinesis and supreme focus, she can even see the wavelengths used by cellular phones. Another film with a similar plot to Lucy is Limitless, which also involves drug-induced mental enhancement.
7. Animal World (2018)
Animal World is a Chinese movie that features a rock-paper-scissors game with a twist.
Everyone is given 12 cards to play a game, and they must use up all of their cards while making sure they have 3 stars by the end of the game. The cards consist of rock, paper, and scissors. Stars are gained if you win against someone, while stars are lost if you lose.
Using his deep analytical skills, Zheng Kaisi is able to deduce strategies and formulate plans of attack. But even as he makes his way through the game, unexpected events and social uprisings interfere.
6. Matilda (1996)
Matilda revolves around the story of a little girl named Matilda who lives with her cruel family.
Though she really wants to go to school, her parents are always against it—so instead she’s stuck at Crunchem Hall Primary School. With Miss Trunchbull around, her school life grows full of challenges that seem nightmarish for young ones like her.
This movie stirred up mixed emotions in us: tension, comedy, drama, and so much more as the cast are all subjected to the disciplinary methods of Miss Trunchbull.
One of the most interesting parts of this movie is when Mathilda learns to control her extraordinary gift of telekinesis, which she uses to make Miss Trunchbull run away from the school.
5. Bad Genius (2017)
If you were extremely good at academics, would you use your genius to cheat for the sake of your friends? Would you do it if you were offered the right amount of money?
Bad Genius is a famous Thai movie revolving around the story of an academic girl genius and the challenges brought upon her throughout the film, which lead to a lot of suspense and thrills.
Lynn is a top secondary student who was accepted as a scholar because of her academic achievements. At one point, she shows her genius by using piano patterns as codes to relay answers during an exam, which goes unnoticed by the teacher.
Eventually, Lynn starts to accept money for her services, which leads to a grand plot: cheating for an international standardized university admission test, where she uses all kinds of factors—including timezones and barcodes—to reap cash from many clients.
But despite her genius, the plans don’t always go accordingly. And when they slip up, thrills await just around the corner.
4. Hidden Figures (2016)
Hidden Figures is the story of three black women who work at NASA as engineers and mathematicians. In this movie, they restored the nation’s confidence during the 1960s, which was a time of racial and gender inequality in a society full of discrimination.
These women are responsible for one of history’s greatest operations during the Space Race, which launched astronaut John Glenn into orbit, such is their genius. Yet they have to deal with racial and gender discrimination at work every day.
Despite this obstacle, they are the ones who are assigned to calculate the momentous launch of John into orbit and guarantee his safe return, earning them the respect of the team.
3. Little Man Tate (1991)
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Raising a genius kid as a single mother is a hard job, which the movie Little Man Tate explores, placing emphasis on the environmental factors that hinder his normal life. Fred, the son of Dede, who shows indications of being a genius, is somehow isolated in the community.
Fred joins a school of gifted individuals, participates in contests, and even starts studying quantum physics. With all those things done to adapt to his environment, at the end of the day, a mother who nurtures his son emotionally is all he needs.
2. Gifted (2017)
Gifted is the story of Mary, a young genius girl who’s bored with the basic math problems given to her by her teacher. Because of her mathematical ability, which she inherited from her late mother, the principal suggests enrolling her in a school for gifted kids—which her uncle turns down.
The story also centers on other elements, like the fight over Mary’s guardianship, Mary’s innocence, and the characters’ own ideas of how Mary should live her life—either as a math genius who can solve nearly impossible equations, or as a kid like everyone else her age.
1. Taare Zameen Par (2007)
Taare Zameen Par (which translates to Like Stars on Earth) is a dramatic movie about Ishaan Awsthi, an eight-year-old boy who suffers from dyslexia. He has trouble recognizing letters, and instead sees the letters come to life and even jump out from their pages.
Because his condition is unknown to his teachers and family, they just think that he doesn’t like school. But at some point, his teacher notices the boy’s special needs and starts attending to him, giving him special lessons to overcome his dyslexia.
Though we can see that Ishaan is just learning his letters and numbers, the movie features more than that: his gift of art, which is expressed through paintings and flipbook animations.