I love movies.  Chances are you do too otherwise you wouldn’t be reading this post, right? I love them because of their stories, their characters, the settings, the music…I love them because movies take me away to other places, other time zones, other people I may or may not know anything about and may not have ever imagined.

I also love movies because they open up my mind to new and often different ways of viewing the world, different and new ideas I may know absolutely know nothing about, different and new perspectives of seeing the world, experiences, other people, myself.  Of course, books, both fiction and nonfiction, do exactly the same.  Many of us expect books to teach us. We expect books to make us smarter.

How about expecting both books and movies to make us smarter.  Once we elevate our expectations of movies, chances are the movies we choose to see will make us smarter in ways we didn’t know possible.

Here are 8 movies that certainly made me smarter.  Perhaps these movies will have the same effect on you as well.  And, of course, this is just one list of movies that made me (and maybe you) smarter…there are many more movies that do the same thing.

  1.  Inside Out – I know, this is a kid’s movie but it’s a really good movie that you may have seen with your kids.  If none of you has seen it, you’ll all enjoy it.  This movie is about a young girl whose family moves to a new place and she’s forced to leave who and what she knows and to cultivate new friendships and new impressions.  This is a metaphor about what happens in our minds and hearts as we grow up and change.  The emotions that hold us together since we all have them (joy, fear, sadness, disgust and anger) are shown, discussed and acted upon.
  2. Limitless – This movie is about what happens to a someone who takes a fictitious nootropic drug (NRT).  Nootropic drugs enable the brain to fully utilize itself…no limitations, no checkpoints, no excuses.  Watching someone fully actualize their abilities/talents primes us in the audience to think smarter.
  3. The Imitation Game – This movie is about the father of modern computing, Alan Turing.  Turing set the groundwork for computers/Artificial Intelligence and celebrates creativity, ingenuity and thinking big.  Again, the runoff effect on the audience enhances us all.
  4. Memento – This story is about a guy who is incapable of forming new memories.  The analogy is Ground Hog Day.  The movie starts in the middle and goes backward in time again and again and again simply because the main character’s mind isn’t able to go forward.  Essentially, he’s stuck in time due to the severe trauma of his wife being killed. Because the story is told in non-linear narratives, the movie points to the importance of utilizing memory techniques.
  5. Good Will Hunting – This is an Oscar winning film for best original screenplay.  It tells the story of a young man, a genius, who works as a janitor at MIT and who solves an equation that the MIT students can’t solve. The center of the piece is that education can come from anywhere to anyone.  No stereotyping of people, places, ideas, and displays the pivotal role of emotions and relationships in our lives.
  6. Primer – This story is about two engineers who learn how to time travel.  Again, the narrative is non-linear and essentially forces the audience to consider implications of time travel, physics and multiple views of complex puzzles.
  7. A Beautiful Mind – Another Oscar winning film about John Nash, the genius who developed Game Theory.  Known as the Nash Equilibrium, economists use this game theory to work out how competing companies set prices, how governments design auctions, how groups sometimes make self defeating decisions.
  8. Pi – This movie is about forecasting and predicting in the midst of chaos.  Reflections on religion, mysticism, mathematics, universal relationships are all considered to be keys in being able to predict anything.  Bottom line, no one can always predict anything.

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