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15 Best Movies for Software Engineers to Watch

Updated November 25, 2017
9 min read

As the world continuously shifts towards technology and becomes more and more dependent on it, it is necessary to understand the role it plays in our society. That is something which films help us in doing. The culture of sci-fi films has been there for very long but those films used to be about aliens and all. It is only in this century that filmmakers have given attention to the concept of technology. The software industry has grown by heaps and bounds and the producers have taken advantage of that to do good business and earn loads of money. Now, these films have sort of separated themselves from others and created their own class.

As evident from films like ‘E.T.’, the vision has always been there but the new discoveries and the advent of high-tech computers have eased the process of filmmaking. And directors and producers alike have used this opportunity to explore new boundaries and touch new concepts such as engineering. A lot more movies are being made on geeks than one can imagine; it’s almost as if the geeks and nerds are the modern superheroes with the power of science. I know for a fact that software engineers are into films and watch them very often. And any tech-related films or films which involve even one scene of coding are like icing on the cake for them. Hence, no doubt, there are plenty of good films out there that can impress a normal software engineer. With all that said now, here’s is the list of best movies for software engineers. You can watch several of these software movies on Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon Prime.

15. Tron: Legacy (2010)

One can be certain that any film having video games will surely please a software engineer as long as it is good. And ‘Tron: Legacy’ is more than good. Sequel to the 1982 film ‘Tron’, it sends a guy named Sam into his father’s game to rescue him and bring him back from the virtual world. It is the classic case of a man getting trapped in his own game. But with good visual effects and story, ‘Tron: Legacy’ makes for a fun ride.

14. War Games (1983)

‘WarGames’ just shows the very common scenario where a young kid with good hacking skills causes a potential threat to the whole world. Here, high school student David Lightman unintentionally accesses a supercomputer which predicts the outcomes of a nuclear war. He creates a simulation which the supercomputer soon begins turning into reality and the hacker has to then battle the supercomputer to stop another World War from happening. An engaging screenplay along with good performances from the cast make the film worth watching

13. The Terminator (1984)

Although ‘The Terminator’ highlights the negative aspects of technology and how it can destroy humanity, the film still attracts the eyeballs of the geeks for its visualization of a post-apocalyptic future where the battle between the machines and the humans ensues. The machines send a terminator into the past to stop a human uprising from happening. Arnold Schwarzenegger looks absolutely cool here and he rides the whole franchise on his own shoulders. Over the years, his role has developed a cult following amongst the mass audience and this remains to be one of the most iconic tech movies ever made.

12. Live Free or Die Hard (2007)

The fourth instalment in the famous series, ‘Live Free or Die Hard’ takes the subject of cybercrime. John McClane comes back as he battles a bunch of cyber-terrorists trying to stop them from crippling the national infrastructure. The film is highly engaging with its action sequences and background score. Bruce Willis again owns the role and proves that nobody but him can ever do this role so well.

11. Primer (2004)

For all those who love the concept of time travel and wish for it to be possible in the future, ‘Primer’ is a visual treat. It tells the story of two entrepreneurs who conduct tech projects, studying anomalies in the time loop. This facilitates the accidental discovery of time travel. The movie so wonderfully shows the grit and determination of scientists to do successful research and make groundbreaking discoveries. From low budget to complex technical dialogue, director Shane Carruth keeps the film as true as possible, which is rare to see in a cinema.

10. Snowden (2016)

Cybersecurity has been a very interesting topic to discuss and ‘Snowden’ doesn’t miss out on raising many questions about it. Starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt in the titular role, it puts light on the many revelations made by Snowden in 2013 regarding USA’s surveillance program. The movie advances our knowledge on the subject and expresses the grave danger that cybersecurity has in our world. Considering that it contains a lot of information on the cyberlaw, software engineers are bound to like it.

9. 3 Idiots (2009)

I know that ‘3 Idiots’ doesn’t contain any coding but I am certain that it touches the heart of every engineer and makes him/her reminisce about his/her times as a student. While it speaks heavily of societal pressure on doing engineering and the objection to listening to our own hearts, it also shows some remarkable scientific inventions like the virus inverter. Aamir Khan beautifully portrays the character of Rancho and makes it a character to remember. One can’t forget the tense scene where a baby is delivered using a vacuum cleaner.

8. The Fifth Estate (2013)

There are so many valuable secrets being kept in the world and WikiLeaks reveals most of them. This film treads the journey of Julian Assange to founding WikiLeaks and the feud between him and its spokesperson Daniel Domscheit-Berg. At the time of its release, the film garnered praise for the performances of the cast including Benedict Cumberbatch and a detailed screenplay that covers almost all the aspects of the website. This is a film which should truly fancy the software engineers, and the nerds around the world.

7. The Imitation Game (2014)

Based on the life of Alan Turing, who is considered the father of theoretical computer science, ‘The Imitation Game’ attracts plenty of viewers for its intriguin content. It mostly centers on his efforts to decipher the Enigma messages during World War II. Benedict Cumberbatch gives one of his best performances in this film while the supporting cast does a good job too. The film is appreciated for its historical accuracy and its take on homosexuality. It is a film to watch by all means.

6. Her (2013)

The only romance film on this list, ‘Her’ explores the feelings of a young man as he falls in love with an intelligent operating system. Spike Jonze is a visionary director and delivers this sci-fi romance with perfection. Joaquin Phoenix is known to be a character actor and this film is a testament to his abilities. He displays every kind of emotion, with the most prominent being confusion. The film exactly assesses that aspect of Artificial Intelligence to which people grow too close to.

5. The Matrix (1999)

There is no doubt about the fact that software engineers love action. And when it comes to combining action and science, ‘The Matrix’ is the best example of it. It depicts a dystopian future where most humans are trapped in a simulation created by the machines. A computer programmer with extraordinary combat skills gets drawn into a rebellion between the remaining free humans and the machines. With a unique screenplay and mindblowing action sequences, it is a movie anyone would love to watch.

4. Iron Man (2008)

‘Iron Man’ runs on the common philosophy among the nerds to use the technology to attain physical strength. Here, a billionaire develops a metal flying superhero suit to battle his enemies. Robert Downey Jr. revived his acting career by portraying the billionaire Tony Stark in this film, which he does with his usual suave and awesomeness. Having many cool punchlines while delivering a punch on the world of comic book films, ‘Iron Man’ redefined the concept of superhero films. Special mention should go to Paul Bettany for being very quirky as his A.I. ‘Jarvis’.

3. Pirates of Silicon Valley (1999)

A film covering the infamous battle between the two computer giants of the world – Microsoft and Apple – in the 90s is a dream come true for any software engineer. Mostly, this film concentrates on the race between the two to come up with the first personal computer. Noah Wyle particularly impresses as the Apple CEO Steve Jobs. It is pointless to think of the number of actors who have portrayed Steve Jobs.

2. Steve Jobs (2015)

Directed by Danny Boyle of ‘127 Hours’ fame, ‘Steve Jobs’ depicts the life of the Apple founder. The director innovatively tells the story through Jobs’ three key products launched — Macintosh, NeXT Computer, and iMac. Michael Fassbender gave the most accurate portrayal of Jobs till date, showing his acting prowess while Kate Winslet impresses in the supporting role. One of the best films for all the techies to watch.

1. The Social Network (2010)

No. 1 is a bit too easy to guess but one can’t argue that ‘The Social Network’ is the best tech-film made ever. Telling the story of the most popular social networking site, ‘Facebook’, the film not only covers its inception but also how it affected the lives of its founders. Jesse Eisenberg is brilliant as the youngest billionaire in the world while Andrew Garfield and Justin Timberlake also deliver memorable performances. It is considered to be one of the greatest works of David Fincher, who takes a very different route with this one. This is a film made for software engineers who are waiting for their creative ideas to be unlocked.

Read More: Movies Like The Social Network

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