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The Best Movies That Are Pretty Smart, Too

Updated August 19, 2020 89.7k votes 6.1k voters 76.3k views77 items

List RulesVote up the best intelligent movies, or those that are smart, clever, etc.

No matter what kind of movies you're into, we can all agree intelligent movies can be a nice change of pace. Regardless of genre, these types of movies give us moviegoers more than simple entertainment—they make us think, opening our eyes to things we may not have previously considered. Simply put, smart and clever movies can evoke emotion within viewers and actually have something to take away once the credits roll. In most other cases, we're simply captivated for a couple hours before turning the TV off or leaving the theater and moving on to something else.

Whether a movie incorporates social commentary or offers perspective different than most of our own, intelligent movies stand the test of time and often go down as the greatest movies of all time. From intelligent sci-fi films to thought-provoking dramas, there's a smart movie out there for everyone, and then some. For instance, consider the mind-bending Inception or the ever-interesting Matrix, not to mention classics like Forrest Gump and Alien. These movies don't just bring sheer entertainment to the silver screen, but they also make us think—maybe even more than we'd like to. Regardless, the intelligent movies to follow cover a broad range of genres and subjects, and ultimately add to the entire experience.

If you're feeling smart and want to test your intelligence, check out some of the popular films below. Of course, also be sure to vote up the best intelligent movies, vote others down, and add your own choices to the list. And if you like these movies, check out our list of great movies about smart people.

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  • 1
    Forrest Gump
    3,502
    1,019

    Forrest Gump

    Tom Hanks, Sally Field

    Released1994

    Directed byRobert Zemeckis

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  • 2
    The Shawshank Redemption
    3,870
    1,187

    The Shawshank Redemption

    Morgan Freeman, Rita Hayworth

    Released1994

    Directed byFrank Darabont

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  • 3
    The Green Mile
    2,948
    902

    The Green Mile

    Tom Hanks, Gary Sinise

    Released1999

    Directed byFrank Darabont

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  • 4
    Saving Private Ryan
    2,022
    691

    Saving Private Ryan

    Tom Hanks, Matt Damon

    Released1998

    Directed bySteven Spielberg

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  • 5
    Good Will Hunting
    2,165
    1,013

    Good Will Hunting

    Ben Affleck, Robin Williams

    Released1997

    Directed byGus Van Sant

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  • 6
    One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
    1,584
    776

    One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

    Jack Nicholson, Danny DeVito

    Released1975

    Directed byMiloš Forman

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  • 7
    The Sixth Sense
    1,932
    1,019

    The Sixth Sense

    Bruce Willis, Mischa Barton

    Released1999

    Directed byM. Night Shyamalan

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  • 8
    The Usual Suspects
    1,571
    854

    The Usual Suspects

    Kevin Spacey, Benicio del Toro

    Released1994

    Directed byBryan Singer

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  • 9
    The Departed
    1,207
    661

    The Departed

    Leonardo DiCaprio, Jack Nicholson

    Released2006

    Directed byMartin Scorsese

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  • 10
    A Beautiful Mind
    1,393
    771

    A Beautiful Mind

    Jennifer Connelly, Russell Crowe

    Released2001

    Directed byRon Howard

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  • 11
    Fight Club
    1,814
    1,040

    Fight Club

    Brad Pitt, Jared Leto

    Released1999

    Directed byDavid Fincher

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  • 12
    The Matrix
    1,817
    1,056

    The Matrix

    Keanu Reeves, Hugo Weaving

    Released1999

    Directed byAndy Wachowski, Lana Wachowski

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  • 13
    Gladiator
    1,234
    712

    Gladiator

    Russell Crowe, Joaquin Phoenix

    Released2000

    Directed byRidley Scott

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  • 14
    Back to the Future
    855
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    Back to the Future

    Michael J. Fox, Christopher Lloyd

    Released1985

    Directed byRobert Zemeckis

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  • 15
    Groundhog Day
    1,348
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    Groundhog Day

    Bill Murray, Andie MacDowell

    Released1993

    Directed byHarold Ramis

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  • 16
    Toy Story
    655
    392

    Toy Story

    Tom Hanks, Tim Allen

    Released1995

    Directed byJohn Lasseter

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  • 17
    The Martian
    1,040
    662

    The Martian

    Matt Damon, Jessica Chastain

    Released2015

    Directed byRidley Scott

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    #306 of 553 The Greatest Epic Movies Ever Made#2 of 35 The Best Movies About Astronauts & Realistic Space Travel

  • 18
    Inception
    1,514
    994

    Inception

    Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hardy

    Released2010

    Directed byChristopher Nolan

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  • 19
    The Imitation Game
    1,026
    673

    The Imitation Game

    Keira Knightley, Benedict Cumberbatch

    Released2014

    Directed byMorten Tyldum

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  • 20
    The Dark Knight
    1,170
    784

    The Dark Knight

    Christian Bale, Michael Caine

    Released2008

    Directed byChristopher Nolan

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  • 21
    Alien
    861
    568

    Alien

    Sigourney Weaver, John Hurt

    Released1979

    Directed byRidley Scott

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  • 22
    The Truman Show
    1,084
    757

    The Truman Show

    Jim Carrey, Paul Giamatti

    Released1998

    Directed byPeter Weir

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  • 23
    Rear Window
    390
    245

    Rear Window

    Grace Kelly, James Stewart

    Released1954

    Directed byAlfred Hitchcock

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  • 24
    Platoon
    512
    338

    Platoon

    Johnny Depp, Charlie Sheen

    Released1986

    Directed byOliver Stone

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  • 25
    Shutter Island
    1,214
    869

    Shutter Island

    Leonardo DiCaprio, Michelle Williams

    Released2010

    Directed byMartin Scorsese

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