The business of depicting genius on screen has always attracted screenwriters, directors, actors and audiences alike. There is fertile dramatic ground in the notion that those born with a gift walk in the same world as the rest of us – and the friction and awe this causes plays a huge part in many of the films on this list. Here’s our look at some of the best Movie Geniuses.
Good Will Hunting
This is the film that introduced the world to Matt Damon and Ben Affleck. It earned the boys a Best Original Screenplay Oscar in 1998 and their transformation to Hollywood big shots is visible when their stunned looks of realisation gives way to youthful exuberance. It’s a treat to watch.
The film deals with the Becoming of Will Hunting, a janitor at a college whose innate genius for Mathematics leads him to the therapy room of that late, great Robin Williams’ Sean Maguire. It is there he learns how to master his gift, rather than let it dictate to him the rest of his life – and a whole lot more.
It’s a powerful film, full of vim and vigour and wise-assery which is entirely endearing. The gift of Will Hunting may be of help to anyone visiting live casinos online in the UK but there are many more lessons here for life and love.
The Theory of Everything
Another film about a genius – another Oscar. This time it’s Eddie Redmayne’s 2015 portrayal of Professor Stephen Hawking that won plaudits for its earnest depiction of life and love under the shadow of the physicist’s chronic disease.
Not to take anything away from Redmayne’s award-winning turn, but it is Felicity Jones who impresses the most with her performance as Jane Hawking. The stalwart determination of her care and compassion fuels much part of the film’s power, and gives it the vital human element if it didn’t impress the real life Jane Hawking.
The genius of pianist David Helfgott is the heart of Scott Hicks’ 1996 Oscar winner (yes – another one). It is the film that made Geoffrey Rush an international star and sold a million soundtrack albums. In keeping with the other films on this list so far the path of genius never runs smooth, and the harrowing treatment of Helfgott, and his subsequent painful recovery, makes for a tremendously uplifting film.
It is Rush’s incredible performance that swings it for many fans of the film, and there is no doubt that such a rich character, put through so much hardship and distress, is key. However it is when this pain that is channeled through the outstanding piano playing that the film comes to cathartic life.
Back to the Future
Oh yes – there’s no doubting that Doc Brown is a genius. Who else could envisage a time machine, build it, convince a kid to test drive, get shot by Libyan terrorists, be saved by said time-travelling kid, journey to the future to save said kid’s family, unleash a Trumpian Hell alternate past (present), go back in time to sort that out, then travel back further in the past, hook up with a school teacher and end up driving a time travelling locomotive to infinity and beyond?
The answer – no-one else.
Well – not all geniuses encounter terrible calamities due to their gift – some create them. And through the various iterations, Hannibal Lecter has attracted some fine acting talent with each new actor finding a new measure to the meticulous madness on display. And, yes – you were waiting for it – another Oscar winner… Anthony Hopkins and his co-star Jodie Foster both won Best Acting Oscars for their roles in Jonathan Demme’s 1992 film. Hopkins’ was all the more remarkable as his total screen time amounted to little over 16 minutes. Now that’s genius.