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Great Movies About Precocious Children 

Ranker Film
Updated July 10, 2019 547 votes 87 voters 3.7k views 27 items

List Rules Films from any genre that feature a very special, precocious, even magical child as the protagonist. Please, no Harry Potter movies.

Kids who are wise beyond their years are some of the most compelling individuals to watch on screen. The best movies about precocious child characters feature intelligent young people dealing with adult situations as best as they can. This is a list of the top magical child movies including everything from E.T. The Extra Terrestrial to To Kill a Mockingbird to Hook.

What films will you find on this list of special child movies? Fans of thrillers might vote The Sixth Sense up to the top. Cole Sear's (Haley Joel Osment) precocious nature makes it difficult for him to relate to children his own age. That, and the fact that he sees dead people. Stand By Me is another good film with young characters who have to grow up fast. Like many of Wes Anderson's films, Moonrise Kingdom features an intelligent young man who refuses to follow the rules. Other good movies on this top precocious kids film list include Where the Wild Things Are, Hugo, and Finding Neverland.

Do you have a favorite film with a precocious character? Vote the best movie up to number one on this list and please add any features that are missing.

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1
The Sixth Sense is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list Great Movies About Precocious Children
Bruce Willis, Mischa Barton, Haley Joel Osment

Released: 1999

Directed by: M. Night Shyamalan

The Sixth Sense is a 1999 American supernatural thriller film written and directed by M. Night Shyamalan. The film tells the story of Cole Sear (Haley Joel Osment), a troubled, isolated boy who ...more

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2
To Kill a Mockingbird is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list Great Movies About Precocious Children
Robert Duvall, Gregory Peck, William Windom

Released: 1962

Directed by: Robert Mulligan

To Kill a Mockingbird is a 1962 American drama film directed by Robert Mulligan. The screenplay by Horton Foote was based on the 1960 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel of the same name by Harper Lee. ...more

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3
Matilda is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list Great Movies About Precocious Children
Danny DeVito, Mara Wilson, Paul Reubens

Released: 1996

Directed by: Danny DeVito

Matilda is a 1996 American fantasy comedy children's film directed and narrated by Danny DeVito. The screenplay by Nicholas Kazan and Robin Swicord is based on Roald Dahl's novel of the same ...more

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4
E.T. the Extra-Terrestri... is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list Great Movies About Precocious Children
Drew Barrymore, Erika Eleniak, Debra Winger

Released: 1982

Directed by: Steven Spielberg

E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial is a 1982 American science fiction-family film co-produced and directed by Steven Spielberg and written by Melissa Mathison, featuring special effects by Carlo ...more

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5
Stand by Me is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list Great Movies About Precocious Children
Kiefer Sutherland, Corey Feldman, John Cusack

Released: 1986

Directed by: Rob Reiner

Stand by Me is a 1986 American coming of age comedy-drama adventure film directed by Rob Reiner and starring Wil Wheaton, River Phoenix, Corey Feldman and Jerry O'Connell. Based on the novella ...more

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6
Léon: The Profess... is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list Great Movies About Precocious Children
Natalie Portman, Gary Oldman, Jean Reno

Released: 1994

Directed by: Luc Besson

Léon: The Professional is a 1994 English-language French action thriller film written and directed by Luc Besson. The film stars Jean Reno and Gary Oldman, and features the film debut of ...more

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7
Moonrise Kingdom is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list Great Movies About Precocious Children
Bruce Willis, Bill Murray, Edward Norton

Released: 2012

Directed by: Wes Anderson

Moonrise Kingdom is a 2012 American film directed by Wes Anderson, written by Anderson and Roman Coppola. Described as an "eccentric pubescent love story", it features newcomers Jared ...more

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8
Paper Moon is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list Great Movies About Precocious Children
Tatum O'Neal, Randy Quaid, Madeline Kahn

Released: 1973

Directed by: Peter Bogdanovich

Paper Moon is a 1973 American comedy-drama film directed by Peter Bogdanovich and released by Paramount Pictures. Screenwriter Alvin Sargent adapted the script from the novel Addie Pray by Joe ...more

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9
Searching for Bobby Fisc... is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list Great Movies About Precocious Children
Ben Kingsley, William H. Macy, Laurence Fishburne

Released: 1993

Directed by: Steven Zaillian

Searching for Bobby Fischer, released in the United Kingdom as Innocent Moves, is a 1993 American drama film written and directed by Steven Zaillian. The film was his directorial debut, and ...more

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10
I Am Sam is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list Great Movies About Precocious Children
Sean Penn, Dakota Fanning, Michelle Pfeiffer

Released: 2001

Directed by: Jessie Nelson

I Am Sam is a 2001 American drama film directed by Jessie Nelson. A mentally handicapped man (Sean Penn) fights for custody of his 7-year-old daughter (Dakota Fanning) and in the process teaches ...more

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11
AI is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list Great Movies About Precocious Children
Haley Joel Osment, Jude Law, Frances O'Connor
AI is a computer virus which infects .EXE files. The virus is loaded into memory by executing an infected program and then effects the computer's run time operation and corrupts program or ...more
12
Beasts of the Southern W... is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list Great Movies About Precocious Children
Quvenzhané Wallis, Jay Oliver, Henry D. Coleman

Released: 2012

Directed by: Benh Zeitlin

Beasts of the Southern Wild is a 2012 American fantasy drama film directed by Benh Zeitlin and adapted by Zeitlin and Lucy Alibar from Alibar's one-act play Juicy and Delicious. After playing at ...more
13
Little Man Tate is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list Great Movies About Precocious Children
Little Man Tate Jodie Foster, Harry Connick, Jr.

Released: 1991

Directed by: Jodie Foster

Little Man Tate is a 1991 drama film directed by and starring Jodie Foster. The film marked her directorial debut. It tells the story of a seven-year-old child prodigy, Fred Tate, who struggles ...more

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14
Little Miss Sunshine is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list Great Movies About Precocious Children
Kristen Gamble Monday added Steve Carell, Bryan Cranston, Toni Collette

Released: 2006

Directed by: Valerie Faris, Jonathan Dayton

Little Miss Sunshine is a 2006 American comedy-drama road film and the directorial film debut of the husband-wife team of Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris. The screenplay was written by ...more

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15
Hugo is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list Great Movies About Precocious Children
Jude Law, Chloë Grace Moretz, Christopher Lee

Released: 2011

Directed by: Martin Scorsese

Hugo is a 2011 American 3D historical adventure drama film directed and co-produced by Martin Scorsese and adapted for the screen by John Logan. Based on Brian Selznick's novel The Invention of ...more

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16
Finding Neverland is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list Great Movies About Precocious Children
Johnny Depp, Kate Winslet, Dustin Hoffman

Released: 2004

Directed by: Marc Forster

Finding Neverland may refer to: Finding Neverland (film), 2004 semi-biographical film about playwright J. M. Barrie Finding Neverland (soundtrack), soundtrack of the film Finding Neverland ...more

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17
Radio Flyer is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list Great Movies About Precocious Children
Tom Hanks, Elijah Wood, Adam Baldwin

Released: 1992

Directed by: Richard Donner, David M. Evans

Radio Flyer is a 1992 drama-fantasy film from Columbia Pictures. It is a Stonebridge Entertainment Production in association with Donner/Shuler-Donner Productions. The film, directed by Richard ...more

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18
The Royal Tenenbaums is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list Great Movies About Precocious Children
GustavoMorales added Gwyneth Paltrow, Alec Baldwin, Bill Murray

Released: 2001

Directed by: Wes Anderson

The Royal Tenenbaums is a 2001 American comedy-drama film directed by Wes Anderson and co-written with Owen Wilson. The film stars Gene Hackman, Anjelica Huston, Bill Murray, Gwyneth Paltrow, ...more

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19
Hook is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list Great Movies About Precocious Children
Gwyneth Paltrow, Julia Roberts, Robin Williams

Released: 1991

Directed by: Steven Spielberg

Hook is a 1991 American fantasy adventure film directed by Steven Spielberg, based on Peter and Wendy by J. M. Barrie. When Captain Hook (Dustin Hoffman) kidnaps his children, an adult Peter Pan ...more

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20
Where the Wild Things Ar... is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list Great Movies About Precocious Children
Mark Ruffalo, Forest Whitaker, James Gandolfini

Released: 2009

Directed by: Spike Jonze

Where the Wild Things Are is a 2009 fantasy drama film directed by Spike Jonze. Written by Jonze and Dave Eggers, it is adapted from Maurice Sendak's 1963 children's book of the same name. It ...more

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21
Empire of the Sun is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list Great Movies About Precocious Children
Christian Bale, Ben Stiller, John Malkovich

Released: 1987

Directed by: Steven Spielberg

Empire of the Sun is a 1987 American coming of age film based on J. G. Ballard's semi-autobiographical novel of the same name. Steven Spielberg directed the film, which stars Christian Bale, ...more

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22
Boyhood is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list Great Movies About Precocious Children
Ethan Hawke, Patricia Arquette, Ellar Coltrane

Released: 2014

Directed by: Richard Linklater

Boyhood is a 2014 American independent coming-of-age drama film, written and directed by Richard Linklater, and starring Patricia Arquette, Ellar Coltrane, Lorelei Linklater, and Ethan Hawke. ...more

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23
Midnight Special is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list Great Movies About Precocious Children
Kirsten Dunst, Michael Shannon, Joel Edgerton

Released: 2015

Directed by: Jeff Nichols

Midnight Special is an upcoming American science fiction film written and directed by Jeff Nichols. The film stars Adam Driver, Michael Shannon, Kirsten Dunst, and Joel Edgerton. It is Nichols' ...more

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24
Alice in Wonderland is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list Great Movies About Precocious Children
Johnny Depp, Anne Hathaway, Helena Bonham Carter

Released: 2010

Directed by: Tim Burton

Alice in Wonderland is a 2010 British-American live action and computer animated adventure fantasy film directed by Tim Burton and written by Linda Woolverton. Released by Walt Disney Pictures, ...more

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25
The Impossible is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list Great Movies About Precocious Children
emilybarlow1999 added Naomi Watts, Ewan McGregor, Geraldine Chaplin

Released: 2012

Directed by: Juan Antonio Bayona

The Impossible is a 2012 drama film directed by Juan Antonio Bayona and written by Sergio G. Sánchez. It is based on the experience of María Belón and her family. The cast ...more