I love the movies. If I could, I would watch one every single day. I’m also a bit of a movie snob. I like films that surprise me or make me think. And while I don’t seek out movies that feature math, some of the best movies out there do. Here are a few of them.
Good Will Hunting (1997)
Written by Ben Affleck and Matt Damon, Goodwill Hunting won the Oscar for Best Writing, Screenplay. Damon plays Will Hunting, an MIT janitor and math prodigy. Psychologist Sean Maguire (Robin Williams) finally breaks through Hunting’s defenses, helping him to leave his past behind.
If you’re looking for something surreal, Pi is it. Filmed in moody black and white, the movie follows mathematical genius, Max (Sean Gullette) , as he searches for patterns in mathematics. At the same time, he’s being pursued by two groups who want his results: a powerful Wall Street firm and a Hasidic cabalistic sect.
A Beautiful Mind (2001)
Based on the true story of Nobel Prize winner, John Nash, A Beautiful Mind won four Oscars, including Best Picture. Nash (Russell Crowe) is a brilliant mathematician, who has troubling relationships with a former college roommate, a young girl and a Department of Defense agent.
As her successful mathematician father, Robert (Anthony Hopkins) descends into madness, Catherine (Gwyneth Paltrow) begins to question her own sanity and mathematical abilities. Proof is based on the Pulitzer Prize winning play by David Auburn.
The ultimate answer to the question, “When am I ever going to use this stuff?” Moneyball tells the true story of Billy Beane, the Oakland A’s beleaguered manager, played by Brad Pitt. Given a tiny budget for salaries, Beane games the recruiting system, using a sophisticated statistical analysis program. His methods ultimately change the way all baseball teams build their rosters. Jonah Hill plays Peter Brand, the brains behind the plan.
The Imitation Game (2014)
Based on the life of one of them most fascinating mathematicians in history, The Imitation Game is the most recent math-centric films to hit theaters. Alan Turing (Benedict Cumberbatch) is the great mind who broke the Nazi’s enigma code, ultimately shortening the war by several years and saving thousands of lives.
With a list like this, you might think that Hollywood is has a great relationship with math. Never fear, this mashup tells the truth. Like much of the rest of society, the movies and television hate or are scared of math. Take a look.
What is your favorite movie or television program about math? What do you think of the movies I’ve listed? Post your comments below!