Movies That Make You Smarter: Look And Listen!

Movies that make you smarter can entertain.  They move us emotionally and spiritually, make us laugh, or cry.  It can provoke thought.  There have been so many times when people have experienced something, an inkling of something from watching a movie that enlightens.  So…..

They improve and motivate us!!

Especially if a remarkable story about triumph in the face of adversity is based upon actual happenings.  I’ve experienced this.  That is why I’ve included these thought provoking movies that make you smarter and even (I believe) more assertive below.  The human race has survived by passing knowledge, so why too can’t movies be a vehicle to do this?  These are mine, hopefully now they’re yours.

A List of the Top 10 Movies that Make You Smarter


  1. The Last Castle

Directed by Rod Lurie.  Starring Robert Redford, Mark Ruffalo, Delroy Lindo, James Gandolfini, Clifton Collins, Jr. and Robin Wright.

Plot: A three-star U.S army general is sentenced to ten years inside a military prison for disobey a direct order from the President that results in the deaths of eight men.  While inside he condemns the methods used by the harsh commandant and takes action to have him removed.

Why? Robert Redford portraying a Lieutenant General is an absolute boss.  I always come back to watching this movie whenever I’m feeling a bit disillusioned with life.  There is something about the knowledge, presence and authority in his scenes that give me a boost in motivation to become smarter.


2.   Margin Call

Directed by J. C. Chandor.  Starring Zachary Quinto, Penn Badgley, Stanley Tucci, Paul Bettany, Kevin Spacey, Simon Baker, Demi Moore and Jeremy Irons.

Plot: Details of the inner workings of an investment firm are ruthlessly scary in this film about the days leading up to the Global Financial Crisis.  A company must decide what to do when they discover an investment that could potentially bring them to the brink of ruin.  However, unloading this investment into the marketplace may have far worse consequences.

Why? The word on everybody’s mind, all the time is money.  This movie is about nothing else.  Movies based on Wall Street are about nothing else.  And, nothing else motivates people more in life than money.  Yes, people do follow their dreams and passion as motivation.  However, the thought of incredible wealth and success is always in someone’s thoughts somewhere.  How does one acquire riches and prosperity?  They’re usually investment bankers, lawyers, surgeons and entrepreneurs, they’re smart.  This film makes you smarter by giving you the biggest incentive of all, cash money.


  1. Skyfall

Directed by Sam Mendes.  Starring Daniel Craig, Judi Dench, Naomi Harris, Javier Bardem, Ralph Fiennes, Albert Finney and Ben Whishaw.

Plot: James “007” Bond is mistaken for being killed in action and seemingly retires being an operative in Her Majesty’s Secret Service.  When MI6 headquarters is attacked and several agents are killed though, he returns to find the perpetrator and protect his boss, M.

Why? Not too many characters have the sophistication and suave of James Bond.  On top of that, there are not too many actors that can play Bond, especially like how Daniel Craig can.  This movie can make you smarter by yourself wanting to be Bond, like how Daniel Craig does it.  Like a proper lethal, resourceful and astute secret agent with some seductive femme fatale courting you around.


  1. Dead Poets Society

Directed by Peter Weir.  Starring Robin Williams, Ethan Hawke, Josh Charles and Robert Sean Leonard.

Plot: An unconventional teacher at a prestigious boys’ school great effects his students’ lives.  They begin the Dead Poets Society which entails reading poetry to one another off campus grounds in a secluded cave.  This club positively affects the boys’ life decisions, much to the chagrin of the school and their parents.

Why? If you’ve seen this feature film then you can understand why it has been included in this list.  Dead Poets Society is a two hour lesson about a life should be valued and appreciated, which most of us don’t.  Myself the guiltiest.  To keep things short though, if you only take one thing away from this movie.  Then this is it “Carpe Diem”.  Those two little words have had an enormous impact on my life, I need a little reminder every once in a while to shake me out of apathy.  I do that by watching Robin Williams deliver his famous line “Carpe, carpe diem boys, make your life extraordinary”.


  1. Moneyball

Directed by Bennett Miller.  Starring Brad Pitt, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Jonah Hill, Chris Pratt and Robin Wright.

Plot: The true story of about the General Manager of the Oakland Athletics Billy Beane.  After again losing valuable players at the end of a season to clubs with more money, Beane trials a new method of playing baseball using sabermetrics.  A move seen by everybody as career ending.

Why? This is one of my most favorite movies that make you smarter by teaching me to never listen to the naysayers.  Belief in oneself is so critical that I don’t know what else rivals it in importance.  If everybody believes in you and you don’t believe in yourself, forget it, you don’t stand a chance.  What’s worse I think, is when you’re the only person who believes in yourself and no one else does.  That hurts.  And, that is what this movie illustrates.  The man this movie is about, didn’t listen to what everyone else.  Within ten years they made a movie about him and had Brad Pitt portray him.  Goes to show.


  1. The Recruit

Directed by Roger Donaldson.  Starring Colin Farrell, Al Pacino, Gabriel Macht and Bridget Moynahan.

Plot: A young man is recruited by the Central Intelligence Agency and is sent to the training facility known as “The Farm”.  He quickly develops a relationship with a female recruit who is not all she seems.

Why? I must have a preoccupation with secret agents.  First Skyfall (MI6), now this movie (CIA).  I guess I respect the elitist nature such a line of employment demands.  They only select the very best and make those exclusive few even better.  This movie has a spot on this list because of a quote said by the recruiter (Al Pacino) to his trainee “You’re a young man looking for a father.  You’re both highly motivated, you’re both highly independent.”  This line slapped me in the face like a sledgehammer.  I wanted to be highly motivated and highly independent.  I bet you can name more smart people who are lazy than stupid people who are motivated.  If you have motivation, you’re doing things, you’re learning.  Become motivated.


  1. Lucy

Directed by Luc Besson.  Starring Scarlett Johansson and Morgan Freeman.

Plot: A naïve woman in Taipei is forced to smuggle drugs out of the country.  That is until she is beaten by one of the gangsters holding her and the drugs hidden in her stomach split and leak.  The drug turns out to able to allow humans to use more than 10% their brains.  Ultimately she becomes a force to be reckoned with.

Why? Limitless with Bradley Cooper was similar to this.  I know with Limitless, I loved the concept of swallowing a pill for intelligence.  With Lucy, again there is a magic drug that unlocks the potential hidden within us.  After watching Limitless I went searching for such a weapon.  I found nothing like what is portrayed in both Limitless and Lucy but I did find something.  This brain enhancing class of supplements are known as nootropics. 


  1. Sherlock Holmes & Sherlock Holmes: Game of Shadows

Both directed by Guy Ritchie.  Starring Robert Downey, Jr., Jude Law, Eddie Marsan, Mark Strong (1), Kelly Reilly, Rachel McAdams, Noomi Rapace (2), Stephen Fry (2) and Jarred Harris (2)

Plot: Both of these movies are brilliant.  The first movie introduces us to Sherlock Holmes and Dr. John Watson and they take on a Member of the British Parliament who has supposed mystical powers.  The second film has Holmes and Watson team up again but this time to take on Professor Moriaty, Holmes’ opposite in intent but equal in brilliance.

Why? Ever wanted Sherlock Holmes’ genius?  I have.  I wasn’t born a genius but I’m going to be brilliant.  There something about watching greatness and talking to smart people that rubs off.  It’s said that it’s very significant the top five people who you spend the most time with.  You’re the average of these people, the more time you spend with someone, the more they influence you.  If you socialise and speak with intelligent people, it is going to promote your own intelligence.


  1. The Departed

Directed by Martin Scorsese.  Starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Mark Wahlberg, Martin Sheen, Alec Baldwin, Anthony Anderson, Jack Nicholson, Ray Winstone, Matt Damon, James Badge Dale and Vera Farmiga.

Plot: Two Massachusetts State Police recruits are unknowingly pitted against each other.  One is rat and one is a mole.

Why? The Departed made the cut because of the female lead Dr. Madolyn Madden played by Vera Farmiga.  I’d have put a ring on it.  I hate to break it to some people but rare beauties with brains very rarely go for guys who are clueless.  The Departed encouraged me to get smarter to increase my chances of finding a wife with the smarts.  Or, I suppose become really funny but I have more chance of becoming a brain surgeon.  So I’ll stick to the books.


  1. The Imitation Game

Directed by Morten Tyldum.  Starring Benedict Cumberbatch, Kiera Knightley, Rory Kinnear, Matthew Goode and Mark Strong.

Plot: The astonishing true story of a brilliant English mathematican and codebreaker who during WWII broke the famous Nazi code “Enigma” and helped win the war for the Allies.

Why? Finally, this movie made me smarter because it was a condensed history lesson.  It also increased my IQ because it set the bar for me.  The man in this story used his talents.  He ended a world war.  I woke up, I’m not using my talents to their full potential.  Are you?


What Do You Think?

These are some of my movies that boost intelligence.  I also have some others here.  If I haven’t included movies that effect you in the same way.  What are they? 

What are the movies that make YOU smarter?  List them below and I’ll send you my gratitude. 

Cheers for reading anyhow.  MCM’s Rohan.


The Character:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart played by Tom Hulce

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Skyfall Starring Daniel Craig as James Bond in the Movies that Make You Smarter

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