7 Films About Scientific Geniuses in Love
The Theory of Everything, a film about astrophysicist Stephen Hawking, has been garnering praise from the critics ever since it made its debut late last year. While Hawking is famous for his groundbreaking work in physics and astronomy, this film focuses on his relationship with his former wife Jane Wilde Hawking, rather than his scientific achievements. Starring Eddie Redmayne as Stephen Hawking and Felicity Jones as his devoted wife, The Theory of Everything tells the story of the couple’s evolving relationship as they struggle to cope with a motor neuron disease that is increasingly impairing Hawking’s physical abilities.
The film — which has already won two Golden Globes — is currently up for Academy Awards in five categories, including Best Picture; Best Actor in a Leading Role; Best Actress in a Leading Role; Best Writing, Adapted Screenplay; and Best Music, Original Score. The Theory of Everything also currently has an 79% “Certified Fresh” rating from the critics at Rotten Tomatoes. The Guardian’s film critic Catherine Shoard praised Redmayne and Jones’s performances and called The Theory of Everything “a film to leave you reeling but cheered, too. It’s about battling love, as well as illness. A universal story, extracted from a unique one.”
While there’s no question that the story of Hawking’s life is indeed unique, it should be noted that there are many other films that feature a similar blend of scientific genius and love story. If you enjoyed The Theory of Everything, here are seven other films you may want to see that also feature love stories involving real or fictional scientific geniuses.
A Beautiful Mind (2001)
Like The Theory of Everything, A Beautiful Mind tells the story of a real genius who is afflicted with a serious condition. The genius portrayed in A Beautiful Mind is John Nash (Russell Crowe), a mathematics prodigy who won the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences despite his struggles with mental illness. In the film, Nash learns to manage his paranoid schizophrenia with the help of his devoted wife Alicia (Jennifer Connelly), who continues to support him despite his occasional delusional episodes. In this sense, the story of A Beautiful Mind is ultimately about two people in love, rather than about one creative genius.
A Beautiful Mind received positive reviews from most critics and went on to win four Academy Awards, including a Best Actress in a Supporting Role Oscar for Jennifer Connelly and a Best Director Oscar for Ron Howard. The critics at Rotten Tomatoes gave A Beautiful Mind a 75% “Certified Fresh” rating and called it “both a moving love story and a revealing look at mental illness.”
Renowned scientist Albert Einstein (Walter Matthau) plays a matchmaker in this romantic comedy directed by Fred Schepisi. In the film, auto mechanic Ed Walters (Tim Robbins) falls for a talented mathematics doctoral candidate (Meg Ryan) that just happens to be Albert Einstein’s niece. After deciding that Ed would be a far better match for his niece than her current fiancé, Einstein helps the scientist and the mechanic discover their love for each other.
Although I.Q. received mixed reviews and was only a modest box office success, many critics hailed Matthau’s portrayal of Einstein as a mischievous and fun-loving genius. The film currently has a 46% approval rating from the critics at Rotten Tomatoes.
The Imitation Game (2014)
The Imitation Game is a historical drama film about Alan Turing, a brilliant mathematician and a pioneering computer scientist who is best known for helping crack Nazi Germany’s Enigma code during World War II. The film stars Benedict Cumberbatch as Turing, while Keira Knightley costars as Joan Clarke, a fellow mathematician and code-breaker. While the film focuses mostly on Turing’s career as a code-breaker for the British government, it also covers his eventual conviction for gross indecency under the country’s anti-homosexual laws. In this sense, The Imitation Game is also a love story, albeit one with a tragic ending.
Like The Theory of Everything, The Imitation Game has already garnered multiple film awards honors, including eight Oscar nominations. The Imitation Game currently has an 90% “Certified Fresh” approval rating from the critics at Rotten Tomatoes.
Like A Beautiful Mind, Proof also features a love story that intertwines scientific genius with mental illness. In the film, a young mathematician named Catherine (Gwyneth Paltrow) must deal with the recent death of her beloved mathematician father (Anthony Hopkins), as well as her own fears that she may have inherited his mental illness. Catherine’s life is further complicated when she becomes romantically involved with Hal (Jake Gyllenhaal), one of her father’s former graduate students who is convinced that the renowned mathematician may have left some undiscovered works behind.
While Proof was only a modest box office success, the film was positively received by most critics. Proof currently has a respectable 62% approval rating from the critics at Rotten Tomatoes who said the film “intelligently tackles the territory between madness and genius.”
Good Will Hunting (1997)
This Academy Award-winning film may be the most well-known movie about a scientific genius who falls in love. In the film, Will Hunting (Matt Damon) works as a janitor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. After anonymously solving a difficult math problem left on a chalkboard by a professor, Hunting is hailed as a genius. However, his deep seated emotional problems threaten to sabotage his study of mathematics, as well as his budding romance with Harvard student Skylar (Minnie Driver).
Good Will Hunting was well received by the critics and the film went on to win two Academy Awards, including a Best Actor in a Supporting Role Oscar for Robin Williams, who played Hunting’s therapist in the film. The film has maintained its status over the years and currently has a 97% “Certified Fresh” approval rating from the critics at Rotten Tomatoes.
Nobel Prize-winning physicist Richard Feynman is the subject of this film that stars Matthew Broderick as Feynman and Patricia Arquette as Arline Greenbaum. While the film covers Feynman’s early childhood and work on the U.S. government’s top-secret atomic bomb project, its primary focus is on the physicist’s relationship with his high school sweetheart and first wife Arline. Tragically, Arline falls sick with tuberculosis soon after they are married and dies in New Mexico where Feynman had moved to work on the Manhattan Project at the Los Alamos National Laboratory.
Jennifer Connelly once again plays the wife of a renowned scientist in this biographical drama film about Charles Darwin. In the film, Charles Darwin’s (Paul Bettany) relationship with his wife Emma (Connelly) begins to deteriorate following the tragic death of their daughter Annie. Their marriage is further strained by Darwin’s attempts to complete his seminal work On the Origin of Species, because it includes ideas that contradict Emma’s religious beliefs. Meanwhile, Darwin is haunted by visions of his dead daughter who urges him to complete his book.
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