Here are 9 Movies That Make Math Look Cool


Whether you lived for math class or avoided it at all costs, there is no denying that it takes a special kind of mind. Although many movies feature a physically strong lead, sometimes we can relate to the intelligent but underestimated minds who feature in movies about math. Thankfully movies like Hidden Figures and Good Will Hunting allow us to appreciate numbers without hours of homework. Here are movies that make math nerds look like superheroes and calculus look cool, to help you get your numbers fix.

9 Proof

Three Mathematicians argue over the late geniuses workbook

After her father’s death, Catherine (Gwyneth Paltrow) reconciles with the loss of her late father and the mental disorder he had during his final days. An aspiring mathematician (Jake Gyllenhaal) enters Catherine’s life determined to solve the mystery of her father’s last mathematical proof. Proof is an emotional drama and mathematical mystery that gives viewers the chance to dive deep into theoretical equations and Catherine’s troubled past. Catherine’s relationships and drama breathes life and interest into the otherwise plain mathematics. This movie is perfect for anyone who enjoys working on a slow puzzle.

Related: Math Has Determined the Most Important Game of Thrones Character

8 21

An MIT student crunches some serious numbers at his part-time job in 21.
Sony Pictures Releasing

21 turns math into an exhilarating and seductive movie about gambling addiction. Unable to afford his tuition at MIT, Jim joins in with a group of students who count cards to make money at the blackjack tables. The math in this movie is definitely not the most academic on this list. But if viewers don’t look at the plot with as much rigor as the main characters watch the cards, the film will take its viewers on a suspenseful thrill ride through Las Vegas. Although many math movies revolve around a stereotypical awkward genius, this film’s mathematicians are almost as cool and sexy as James Bond.

7 The Man Who Knew Infinity

A pessimistic professor and his eager young student walk together
Warner Bros.

In The Man Who Knew Infinity, a man from India goes to England to publish his mathematical discoveries. However, once he arrives he finds difficulties within England’s formal education system, the standards of the math community, and racial prejudices. Dev Patel (The Green Knight) puts everything in his life on the line for the sake of mathematical progress. This film widens the viewer’s understanding of social dilemmas and gives them a respect for the history of mathematics. Even if we can’t understand all the arithmetic, we can be grateful for the determination and sacrifice of those who make today’s technology and discoveries possible.

6 Stand and Deliver

A group of high school students stand with their teacher in Stand and Deliver
Warner Bros.

In this classic, Jaime Escalante teaches the underestimated students in his class calculus in an effort to help them pass the exam. The students and their teacher fight a battle on two fronts as they grapple with the course’s academic rigor and the social scrutiny from their society. This inspiring story won six Independent Spirit Awards, including the best screenplay and best feature. Many mentor-student movies still draw from the pattern established by this film. Stand and Deliver shows the power of learning and the positive influence it can have on even the roughest personalities, and features great performances from Lou Diamond Phillips and Edward James Olmos celebrating Hispanic culture.

5 Good Will Hunting

Matt Damon works on a mathematical equation in Good Will Hunting

In Good Will Hunting, Will Hunting (Mat Damon) is a gifted mathematician from a blue-collar background who works as a school janitor. His life lacks direction until a professor notices his gift for mathematics, but requires Will to meet with a psychologist (in an Oscar-winning Robin Williams performance). The heartwarming film was nominated for nine Academy Awards because of its all-star cast and emotional story. By the end of the movie, viewers will want to push their own academic limits along with Will.

4 The Imitation Game

The team of code-breakers crowds around Benedict Cumberbatch
The Weinstein Company

If Benedict Cumberbatch starring as an egotistical genius saving the world sounds familiar to you, you’ve probably seen a lot of his work. Cumberbatch knocks this role out of the park, as usual, alongside the brilliant acting of Keira Knightly. The Imitation Game captures the time’s unique social pressures against the war-ridden backdrop. The film follows the life of Alan Turing as he attempts to crate the world’s first computer in order to decode soviet messages during WWII. This true story highlights the real-life superpower mathematicians possess, and the way mathematics can alter history.

Related: Benedict Cumberbatch Says Doctor Strange 2 Will Match Spider-Man: No Way Home Success

3 A Beautiful Mind

Russel Crowe stands in front of an equations filled chalkboard in A Beautiful Mind
Universal Pictures

Ron Howard’s film A Beautiful Mind visually depicts the beauty of mathematics better than any other movie on this list. Loosely based on the life of John Nash, this movie follows the story of a brilliant mathematician who struggles with devastating schizophrenia. Despite his social awkwardness, Nash goes on to make some of the most important mathematical discoveries in history and teach the young minds of the future. The excitement of Nash’s revelations paired with the emotional drama of the Best Picture winner creates a narrative about mathematical discoveries that is sure to captivate all audiences.

2 Hidden Figures

The Calculators at NASA crunch some numbers and talk business in Hidden Figures
20th Century Fox

Hidden Figures not only celebrates the power of mathematical genius but also celebrates women. Three women working for NASA during the ’60s struggle to overcome racial and gender prejudices at the height of the space race. Their talents have a lasting impact on the space program and for anyone struggling to fit in. With an all-star cast and a toe-tapping soundtrack this movie is sure to entertain anyone who watches is. We love this movie for its headstrong and intelligent characters, but also for the credit it gives to the number crunchers behind some of the nation’s greatest achievements.

1 Moneyball

Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill talk at a baseball field in Moneyball
Sony Pictures Releasing

Brad Pitt stars in Moneyball as the man who used math to change baseball recruiting and analytics forever. Billy Beane and Peter Brand statistically prove that players who get on base can carry their teams to more wins, even if the other players are stronger in most other aspects of the game. Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill play off of each other spectacularly in this film. Watching the duo’s witty dialogue is almost like watching a sport by itself. The film’s comedic timing, emotional performances, slick direction, and glorification of America’s favorite sport make it one of the best movies about math. The character’s absolute confidence in the raw calculations, even over his own common sense, is inspiring to any math lover.

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