Top Movies Engineers Will Love
What kind of movies appeal to engineers? That’s a good question. You have to think about what kind of people engineers (generally) are – problem solvers, innovators, logical thinkers, action takers. Then it becomes pretty obvious. We like films about engineering. Maybe some maths. Sci-fi elements perhaps? And of course, plenty of good old-fashioned action.
Below is quite a diverse list of films, including some choices from the 2018 Oscars, ranging from thought-provoking to emotionally moving to the downright ridiculous - we couldn't skip Armageddon could we?! If you’re an engineer, chances are you’ll get at least something out of each one. So, what are you waiting for? Grab some popcorn (we recommend sweet), pull up your favourite chair and enjoy! For these hours of procrastination, you really are welcome, it has been our pleasure doing the research!
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1. Dunkirk (2017)
Spitfires. Destroyers. Fishing boats. Tugs. Lots of iconic images of military hardware and vintage transport vehicles on display, as the backdrop to a tale of courage, persistence and resilience in the face of the enemy. The wonderful Oscar-nominated cinematography makes this Christopher Nolan epic a must-see for engineers - those sweeping set pieces are really not to be missed!
2. The Shape of Water (2018)
While Guillermo del Toro's Oscar-winning film is at its heart a Beauty and the Beast style fable, it is set in a steampunk-themed, cold-war era laboratory which inhabits the amphibious "beast" for janitor Elisa (Sally Hawkins) to fall in love with. The engineering that goes into the storyline aside, it is also a masterful piece of technological filmmaking, a real visual feast.
3. Armageddon (1998)
This is one of my guilty pleasures. I love it. The implausible plot. The heavy machinery. The dodgy science. Bruce Willis’s pre-baldness (but rapidly receding) frown. If you haven’t seen it, it’s about a ragtag group of heavy drilling experts, commissioned by the government to land on an asteroid heading for earth, drill to its core and plant a nuclear bomb to destroy it. Enough said.
4. The Fly (1986)
Jeff Goldblum (who doesn't love him?) plays an eccentric inventor who engineers a teleportation machine in this sci-fi classic. Without giving a spoiler, it goes a bit wrong, I'll let you guess how... Creepy, compelling and intellectually stimulating it's clear to see why this became a cult classic. It’s great for engineers as you can smugly think ‘I’d never be so stupid’… or would you…
5. Minority Report (2002)
This is a cracking sci-fi movie that envisions a hi-tech future. Based on a Philip K Dick short story (the brain behind Blade Runner, The Adjustment Bureau and Total Recall to name but a few), it tells the tale of a police chief in charge of psychic technology that predicts murders before they happen, allowing the capture and arrest of would-be culprits. Great until he’s accused of the future murder of a man he’s never even met. This movie is Tom Cruise at his running-away-from-baddies best, and, given it's Dick creation, the storyline is also satisfyingly smart and sophisticated.
6. A.I. Artificial Intelligence (2001)
A touching and thought-provoking movie about an engineer who adopts a robotic boy that he has created with the ability to love. Directed by the ever-great Steven Spielberg, it raises interesting questions about the ethics of A.I. and how the lines may easily become blurred between robots and humans. In all seriousness, these are questions that are becoming increasingly pressing as technology advances so rapidly - questions we really should be discussing more than we are.
7. Apollo 13 (1995)
Houston we have a problem. A wonderfully tense movie about the problems encountered by the lunar mission Apollo 13. A tale of engineers, technicians, scientists and astronauts trying to work their way through a fight for survival. A good reminder of why teamwork is essential to solving technical problems. Plus its just a terrific film.
8. Alien/Aliens (1979, 1986)
Marines in space. With lots of weaponry. And terrifying aliens. This is all you need for a tense, thrilling couple of hours. Engineers will love the industrial feel, especially of the titular Alien/s who look like man-made machines, the action and the gripping plot. The films also boast Ridley Scott and James Cameron as their respective directors - two titans of modern day cinema. If you haven’t seen them, go watch them now, both are absolute classics and revolutionised the sci-fi horror genre.
9. The Imitation Game (2015)
Alan Turing, along with a team of engineers, builds a machine that cracks the Enigma code and ultimately helps save millions of lives in world war two. With the underlying prejudice and discrimination he faces, this is a human tale as well as a great mathematical and engineering one. In the lead, Benedict Cumberbatch delivers a hugely commendable performance, filled with great sensitivity and emotion, really making it a must-see.
10. The Martian (2017)
Ok, so he’s not an engineer, he’s a botanist. But Mark Watney, played superbly by Matt Damon, steps up to the plate to become the engineer of all engineers, uttering the line “I’m going to have to science the s**t out of this”. I mean come on, what engineer hasn’t said that at some time or another?! All joking aside, this is a gripping tale of a man, on his own, using his wits and engineering know-how to stay alive.