The Top 10 Movies About Science

Movies that deal directly with science can be hard to come by. Fortunately for science lovers, there's a small group of certified classics, each of which takes on a challenging topic, from the perils of atomic weapons ("Dr. Strangelove") to the ethics of animal testing ("Project X") to the dangers of microorganisms ("The Andromeda Strain").

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Weird Science

Weird Science movie still
Hulton Archive / Getty Images

This John Hughes classic from 1985 tells the story of two teenagers' attempt to make a virtual girl using a computer. The science may not be strictly accurate, but the movie stands out for its sheer entertainment value.

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Dr. Strangelove, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb

Sellers & Hayden in 'Dr. Strangelove'
Columbia TriStar / Getty Images

Stanley Kubrick's 1964 dark comedy about the perils of the atomic bomb features Peter Sellers in three different roles, along with George C. Scott and Sterling Hayden. There's also a subplot about fluoridation. The film is certain to entertain science nerds with a bleak sense of humor.

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Real Genius

Real Genius movie still
Michael Ochs Archives / Getty Images

This 1985 sci-fi comedy stars Val Kilmer as a science whiz kid who develops a chemical laser. In 2009, an episode of MythBusters explored the question of whether the film's final scene—which involves laser-popped popcorn—is scientifically accurate. (Spoiler: it's not.)

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The Atomic Cafe

The Atomic Cafe movie poster

Libra Films 

This documentary is a collection of archival clips from the dawning of the Atomic Age. The U.S. government propaganda makes for some interesting black humor.

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The Absent-Minded Professor

Flying Jalopy above an Air Force jet
Photoshot / Getty Images

Robert Stevenson's 1961 comedy starring Fred MacMurray is a Disney classic and much better than the remake "Flubber." In 2003, the film was re-released in a digitally colorized version, though the black-and-white version is still available online.

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The Andromeda Strain

'The Andromeda Strain' movie still
Michael Ochs Archives / Getty Images

Based on the book by Michael Crichton, this 1971 thriller concerns the outbreak of a deadly microorganism in the American Southwest. There is a lot more science to this film than any other on this list, with the exception of "The Atomic Cafe."

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Love Potion #9

Sandra Bullock and Tate Donovan in movie scene

20th Century Fox

This 1992 romantic comedy actually features main characters who are chemists. There isn't any serious science, but the film, featuring a young Sandra Bullock, is silly and sweet and great fun.

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Prince of Darkness

Prince of Darkness movie poster

Universal Pictures

John Carpenter's 1987 horror flick looks at the science of evil, as a priest invites a physics professor to examine a cylinder containing a strange green substance. Although the film explores the supernatural, it also contains actual science. Poorly reviewed when it was first released, "Prince of Darkness" is now a cult classic.

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Project X

Helen Hunt and Matthew Broderick walk together

Time & Life Pictures / Getty Images 

Jonathan Kaplan's 1987 movie takes a look at the ethical considerations of animal experimentation. Matthew Broderick delivers an excellent performance as an Airman assigned to keep watch over a chimpanzee that can communicate in sign language.

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The Manhattan Project

four men sit around a table
Scientists of the real-life Manhattan Project.

Hulton Deutsch / Getty Images 

This sci-fi thriller from 1986 features John Lithgow as a nuclear scientist hired by the U.S. government to work on a top-secret project in upstate New York. Trouble ensues after a teenager breaks into the lab and steals some of the scientist's plutonium. The film was written and directed by Marshall Brickman, who won an Oscar in 1977 for co-writing "Annie Hall."

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Helmenstine, Anne Marie, Ph.D. "The Top 10 Movies About Science." ThoughtCo, Aug. 28, 2020, Helmenstine, Anne Marie, Ph.D. (2020, August 28). The Top 10 Movies About Science. Retrieved from Helmenstine, Anne Marie, Ph.D. "The Top 10 Movies About Science." ThoughtCo. (accessed June 9, 2023).