Math might not be on your list of complex subjects, but it makes for a good film genre. With this list of 15 Best Math Movies, we curated titles with different genres but still use math as a central plot.
We reviewed a few movies in the genre and chose the films with the most excellent reviews and positive reception. A mix of math with mystery, drama, and even horror; there is something for everyone.
1. Good Will Hunting (1997)
English 2h 6m IMDb
Gus Van Sant
Stars: Robin Williams, Matt Damon, Ben Affleck
Good Will Hunting might be at the top of the list regarding films with math as a central plot point. The coming-of-age film stars Matt Damon playing Will, a down to his luck young man with a strong talent for solving math problems. With the help of his new therapist, Will moves forward and finds a new path in his life.
Good Will Hunting is a moving tale between two men in the different stages of their lives. The film is a critical hit with stunning performances and excellent writing, even winning two Oscars.
2. A Beautiful Mind (2001)
English 2h 15m IMDb
Stars: Russell Crowe, Ed Harris, Jennifer Connelly
Mental illness is often depicted thru the medium of film, and A Beautiful Mind is not that different. The biographical movie tackles the life of Josh Nash, a Nobel Laureate, as he struggles to manage his career and the battle against schizophrenia. With the help of his wife, Nash must tackle the challenges life throws at him.
The movie’s reception is excellent critically and commercially, even earning six times its initial budget. It even won four Oscars and various other accolades and awards. Russell Crowe’s performance is also well received.
3. The Imitation Game (2014)
English, German 1h 54m IMDb
Stars: Benedict Cumberbatch, Keira Knightley, Matthew Goode
Benedict Cumberbatch is not a stranger to genius roles, as he stars in the hit tv series Sherlock Holmes. Fortunately, Cumberbatch brought on his excellent performance to the big screen. With excellent cinematography and cast, you are in for a seat-gripping ride.
The Imitation Game is a biographical recounting of Alan Turing’s life and career during WWII. With the threat of war, he must work with his fellow mathematicians to solve the code. As his personal life begins to turn into chaos, he must do everything to balance the two.
4. Moneyball (2011)
English 2h 13m IMDb
Stars: Brad Pitt, Robin Wright, Jonah Hill
Moneyball adds fun and baseball to the complex subject of math. The film stars Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill as they gather the best players to play in the baseball league. Fortunately, an incredible tool is a key to making the perfect team—a mathematic algorithm.
The film is a success with both critics and audiences. If you want a comedic look at a math movie with a side of sports, Moneyball is the perfect film for you.
5. Gifted (2017)
English 1h 41m IMDb
Stars: Chris Evans, Mckenna Grace, Lindsay Duncan
Gifted tackles the effects of being a mathematical genius at a young age and the challenges that come with it. It stars Chris Evans and Mckenna Grace as an uncle-niece tandem. This lovely family drama is an excellent option for everyone at every age.
The film follows the relationship between Frank and his niece Mary, who is under his custody. With Mary having an extraordinary talent for equations and solving, Frank must work around to provide her with the best life. With threats of separation from Frank’s mother, their friends must work to keep them together.
6. Stand and Deliver (1988)
English, Spanish 1h 43m IMDb
Stars: Edward James Olmos, Estelle Harris, Mark Phelan
Math can be quite hard regarding numbers, but add the letters to the mix, and you are in for a wild ride. Stand and Deliver tells a true-to-life story based on Jaime Escalante’s career, a teacher who inspires his student to study. Through his unconventional means of teaching, Escalante teaches his troubled student calculus.
The movie provides an excellent moving film that will inspire you. With an outstanding performance from the cast and a great story, Stand and Deliver is a perfect movie for anyone with math trouble.
7. Pi (1998)
English, Hebrew 1h 24m IMDb
Stars: Sean Gullette, Mark Margolis, Ben Shenkman
Math and horror-mystery might sound like they will not work together, but this film is here to prove that wrong. Pi is a certified cult classic film regarding horror and mystery. It’s teeming with artisan expression, much like many arthouse films.
The story follows a mathematician as he searches the system for the pattern throughout the universe. With his mathematical capabilities comes a string of hallucinations and blackouts. As companies began taking an interest in his research, he must face the horror and mystery of the numbers.
8. A Brief History of Time (1991)
English 1h 20m IMDb
Stars: Stephen Hawking, Isobel Hawking, Janet Humphrey
A Brief History of Time tackles the work and life of Stephen Hawking, one of the most known figures in science and math. With this documentary, you will not only know about Hawking but also discover his different mathematical prowess. Against his paralysis, he strives to push through.
Director Errol Morris serves the film with different clips from Hawking’s lecture and family footage. It’s the perfect material for teaching a class the inspirational story with a side of math equations and physics. Through the excellent cinematography and editing, it makes for an entertaining watch.
9. The Man Who Knew Infinity (2015)
English, Hindi, Tamil, French, Sanskrit 1h 48m IMDb
Stars: Dev Patel, Jeremy Irons, Malcolm Sinclair
Humbling and inspirational, The Man Who Knew Infinity tackles the life of one of the most famous Indian scholars. The film stars Dev Patel as Ramanujan, an Indian genius from an impoverished province in India. Through his knowledge, he gets into Cambridge with the help of his professor, Hardy.
This film will provide an excellent watch if you are interested in math figures and scholars. Although biopics take on liberties regarding history, it’s still an inspirational take on the famous mathematician.
10. Ramanujan (2014)
Tamil, English 2h 33m IMDb
Stars: Abhinay Vaddi, Suhasini, Kevin McGowan
Ramanujan is a biopic of the famous Indian mathematician Srinivasa Ramanujan. Even though there are already English adaptations to the man’s story, this 2014 version by Gnana Rajasekaran is a native one. It’s an Indian production and has Tamil as its primary language.
Set in the early 1900s, Ramanujan follows the titular character’s life, from his humble beginnings in India through his search for recognition throughout the continents. With excellent cinematography and cast, this is a great watch if you are interested in the life of a well-known mathematician.
11. A Brilliant Young Mind (2014)
English, Mandarin 1h 51m IMDb
Stars: Asa Butterfield, Rafe Spall, Sally Hawkins
Released initially as X+Y, the film follows the story of a young math prodigy. Like many young geniuses, Nathan has difficulty connecting to those around him. With a chance to join the Mathematics Olympiad, he discovers more than his talent for math.
The film is an excellent inspirational tale about human connection through the love of math. The film accurately interprets the competition with the inspiration coming from another real-life Math Olympiad. The film also received awards and accolades for the cast’s performance.
12. 21 (2008)
English 2h 3m IMDb
Stars: Jim Sturgess, Kate Bosworth, Kevin Spacey
Math geniuses cannot only be researchers or professors; they can also start a way to scam casinos out of their money. 21 tells inspired by a true story about six college students from MIT who trains to use math to win blackjacks. Through their combined genius, the team manages to steal millions from the different casinos in Las Vegas.
21 gives a more badass look into the lives of mathematicians. High with crime and drama, this film takes you on a heart-racing ride.
13. Fermat’s Room (2007)
Spanish 1h 29m IMDb
Luis Piedrahita, Rodrigo Sopeña
Stars: Alejo Sauras, Elena Ballesteros, Lluís Homar
Math is rarely used in suspenseful mystery-drama films. Fortunately, Fermat’s Room is here to give you just that. With everyone’s life on the line, they must solve the math before everything goes up in shambles.
The film revolves around the four mathematicians trapped in a room without knowing how and why they are there. By solving different math equations, they must find the answers to why they are in the slowly shrinking space and escape. Everything might be more connected than they know.
14. In Our Prime (2022)
Korean 1h 57m IMDb
Stars: Park Hae-joon, Dong-hwi Kim, Choi Min-sik
In Our Prime tackles the relationship between a troubled student and a janitor with a secretive past. The Korean film has received pretty good reviews since its release, especially with the director, Park Dong-Hoon, which is nominated for Best Director.
The story follows Ji-woo, an outcast with troubles in school. With the help of Hak-sung, a janitor with specific skills in mathematics, the two join forces and learn how to open up with each other. However, they are challenges waiting amidst their personal lives.
15. Shakuntala Devi (2020)
Hindi 2h 7m IMDb
Stars: Vidya Balan, Adi Chugh, Sanya Malhotra
Shakuntala Devi is a new addition to Amazon Prime’s long list of films. It details the biography of the titular character, also known as ‘The Human Computer,’ because of her excellent math knowledge. Not only does the film showcase her career, but it also shows her struggles as a mother.
Vidya Balan and Sanya Malhotra star as the mother and daughter tandem of the film. Like Indian culture, the film’s vibrance and colorful theme are apparent. An excellent film that tackles one of the modern Indian mathematicians, this film can provide an entertaining watch.
As you can read from these 15 Best Math Movies, there is much to offer in the subgenre. Whether you are interested in fictional tales or biopics, there is a film for you.