1. The MatrixIMDb Rating: 8.7 Not surprisingly, the Matrix tops the list of the most popular computer science-themed movies. A huge number of teenagers became interested in programming just because of this movie. It tells the story of Neo (stars Keanu Reeves), a computer hacker who follows a stranger into an underworld and finds out that the world he knows is actually “an elaborate deception of an evil cyber-intelligence.” The movie depicted the concept of loop and recursion, which did a great service for programmers.
2. The Imitation GameIMDb Rating: 8.0 The Imitation Game is another masterpiece launched 15 years later, in 2014. It’s a dramatic true-story-based movie about the Turing Machine (usually referred to as the computer prototype) and its genius inventor Alan Turing (Benedict Cumberbatch). The mathematic scientist managed to create the computer in his attempt to crack the German Enigma code during World War II. It’s believed that Alan Turing’s creation was pivotal in saving lives and shortening the war. This movie really shows the tremendous progress in human history and inspires programmers for new tech breakthroughs.
3. HackersIMDb Rating: 6.2 Let’s go back to the 90s tech world when the Internet was not as popular as today. The movie, released in 1995, shows a group of high school “geeks” using their programming skills for corporate extortion (they were blamed for creating a virus that could capsize five oil tankers). It has a great plot with nicely-built characters and good acting. Plus, if you’re an Angelina Jolie fan, this is a must-watch movie for you.
4. The Internet’s Own Boy: The Story of Aaron SwartIMDb Rating: 8.0 It’s a fascinating documentary film released in 2014, which also recounts the story of one hacker, Aaron Swartz. As a programming prodigy and information activist, he was a co-developer of technologies such as Creative Commons, RSS, and web.py for Python. Also, Aaron Swartz co-founded Reddit. The story involves lots of coding lingo and, unfortunately, a dramatic end - the protagonist died by suicide at age 26. Sorry for the spoiler.
5. Pirates of Silicon ValleyIMDb Rating: 7.2 It’s an American biographical drama released back in 1999. It tells how Microsoft and Apple started, revealsthe true stories of Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Ridley Scott, and Bill Gates in the 70s-90s. Tech enthusiasts who want to know how personal computers were “born” should definitely watch this fun biographical film.
6. Silicon ValleyIMDb Rating: 8.5 Yet, if you’d like to watch something more “fresh”, then the Silicon Valley comedy TV series is definitely worth your attention. The series is a parody of Silicon Valley culture, which focuses on a programmer who founds a promising startup and then struggles to maintain it while competing with larger companies. Much fun is guaranteed. The series consists of 53 episodes (2014-2019)
7. 12 MonkeysIMDb Rating: 8.0 12 Monkeys is an old-school blockbuster released in 1995, starring Bruce Willis, Brad Pitt, and Madeleine Stowe. The movie depicts a story about the world ravaged by a man-made disease “escaped” from a computer-controlled facility. Willis’s character is sent back in time to collect information about that virus and save humanity. Will he succeed? We bet you know the answer.
8. The Social NetworkIMDb Rating: 7.7 Who hasn’t heard about the Social Network? It’s a great movie that tells the controversial story of Mark Zuckerberg, the creator of Facebook, who got in legal trouble on the grounds of intellectual property theft. Although the programming part in the movie is rather small, the Social Network is really thrilling because of the various ups and downs Mark Zuckerberg had to face. Inspirational? Yes, of course!
9. Source CodeIMDb Rating: 7.5 The name of this movie already screams programming. A soldier (stars Jake Gyllenhaal) wakes up in the body of an unfamiliar person using his programming capabilities. Being a part of a government experiment, a soldier has to find the terrorist on a commuter train. Then the storyline gets more and more exciting…
10. Who Am I: No System is SafeIMDb Rating: 7.5 The European cinematography managed to get pretty close to Hollywood with its crime drama “Who Am I: Kein System ist sicher” released in 2014. Nevertheless, the movie still boasts European vibes and charm. It involves lots of IoT and computer interaction with city structures. It’s a very dynamic action movie about hacking and coding.
11. We Are Legion: The Story of the HacktivistsIMDb Rating: 7.3 As the name implies, it’s one more movie about hackers, about their complex culture and history. Dated back in 2012, the movie focuses on the early hacktivist groups known as Anonymous. Here, you will even see interviews with prisoners waiting for the trial for committed cybercrimes.
12. Steve JobsIMDb Rating: 7.2 This movie is a biographical drama that saw the world in 2015, four years after Steve Job’s death. The film is mostly about Steve Jobs's backstage preparation before launching iconic products like IMac, NeXT Cube, and Mac. Played by Michael Fassbender and written by Aaron Sorkin, this biography piece won’t leave anyone indifferent.
13. Startup.comIMDb Rating: 7.2 It’s a very realistic startup journey, which will be particularly valuable for those who don’t have serious business experience under their belt. The movie depicts tech startup entrepreneurship from A to Z. It also speculates what may happen if you lack wisdom and maturity.
14. TRON and TRON LegacyIMDb Rating: 6.8/6.8 TRON is a must-see for programmers and testers. It’s a 1982 classic action-adventure movie that portrays a programmer who has got sucked into the digital world. The main hero uses his amazing programming skills to find his way back into the real world. Considering the fact that TRON was launched in 1982, the special effects used in the movie are still very worthwhile. Do we need to say that it’s very retro too? TRON Legacy is a 2010 sequel to TRON. This time, when the main hero disappears inside the computer world, his son comes to his rescue. This is an incredible product of imagination and good execution. And we’re happy to announce that the "Tron 3", the follow-up to "Tron: Legacy", will be released in 2025. And… it will star Oscar-winning actor Jared Leto as the main hero. We hope this selection has inspired you to include some great computer science films in your next movie night. However, to make you even more excited about computer science, we would like to give you some extra info on how it can impact movies.
Interesting FactsComputers are the backbone of modern movies, and here are some ways how they are involved in film production:
We edit movies on computers. Nowadays, films are extensively being edited on a computer, and computer science professionals are the ones who create comprehensive editing programs.
We animate movies on computers. The majority of modern cinematography masterpieces use 3D computer-generated animation. And the popularity of 3D movies shows no signs of decreasing anytime soon.
We produce special effects for movies on computers. Almost any movie uses animated special effects now, be it an explosion, a rocket soaring through space, or a Spiderman climbing a skyscraper.
Coding knowledge helps with troubleshooting. If something is going wrong technically with the computers in the movie production, professional coders are the ones who can fix the issue.