18 Most Thought provoking Movies That Make You Think

When it comes to this, there are so many thought-provoking movies that will make you think. I won’t mention the most well-known, but you think I listed various genres and types like Dramas, thrillers, sports, horror, and even sci-fi movies.

These thought-provoking films can help people in their own lives. They inspire us to engage with society, make serious concerns, and are more effective at representing the nature of humanity and aiding people in taking on a new outlook.

Thought-provoking words differ from people’s thoughts because not all people’s sentiments are the same. People think in different ways, even you and me. Imagine that you and I are watching a film together; you feel and think differently than I do.

Some film concepts are so deep that they stick with the audience for years. For example, I watched “A Beautiful Mind” long ago, which is still refreshed in my mind. On the other hand, when I honestly don’t remember some movies I recently watched. So I think you also have some excellent films that make sense. Sometimes, watching movies makes us more inspirational.

Read more: Meaningful Movies About Life.

There may be spoilers in my words.

Here is the list of movies that will make you think.

1. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975)

One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest (1975) movie poster
Source: United Artists

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest is an excellent reflection that often ends in sadness. A touching story about kindness that will melt your heart and the ideal package of sentimental, funny, and thought-provoking.

The outstanding performance of Jack Nicholson I believe Nicholson delivered his best performance, but many argue that “The Shining” is his most notable work. But for me, this one is impressive. The supporting cast is amazed by their range of emotions, even though they are not professional actors.

The movie will make you laugh at the well-timed, equally confusing moments and make you rethink all you thought.

People compare this to “The Shawshank Redemption.” However, I am opposed to it because it is of a different genre and ends differently than “The Shawshank Redemption.”

This movie had a message; people did not usually get it. It indicates that you could have aspirations that seem crazy or impossible. You should try things to find your potential, even if you fail. The factor is that your activities might motivate others to follow in your footsteps.

Milos Forman directed the film, and it is based on Ken Kesey’sbook. It has an excellent rating from all critics and is in the IMDB Top 50.

2. The Imitation Game (2014)

Benedict Cumberbatch as Alan Turing in The Imitation Game (2014)
Source: The Weinstein Company

The film is for people who wish to learn about the characters that have changed the World and whose abilities far exceed those of most people.

Don’t expect from this film any big blasts, fight scenes, battle scenes, or thrilling ends that make you eagerly anticipate an upcoming movie.

This is based on an inspirational story about Alan Turing. He is a gift to the World, but tradition ignores him. I’m glad to see a film that does some justice to Turing’s life and respects what he’s done for the World that only a few people have ever done. Losing him to the World at such an early age is a massive loss.

If we think he had lived for a long time, what other things would he have? 🤔 

The world needs a mind like that, but the old culture did not give to chance for him.

After watching this film, I realized that Benedict Cumberbatch is most likely the best actor for these pretty strange roles. Keira Knightley, Charles Dance, and Mark Strong had great looks for their supporting roles.

Hey, you know how this movie used real World War II stuff to highlight several key subplots. I recommend this film to anyone who wants to know about Alan Turing, the codebreaker who saved thousands of lives.

3. The Matrix (1999)

Keanu Reeves in The Matrix (1999)
Source: Warner Bros

I’m a massive fan of the “Matrix” film series. Completely changed how visual effects were used in the film. That significantly turned the face of the film world. 

This story still stands out as one of innovative thinking with robust visual effects. It is a very complex theory, and the film makes us question our perception of reality. The idea behind the movie is that if a view is created to look so realistic, how can we know that humans are not in a simulation?

That will make us think.

The Wachowskis pulled last for the whole matrix theory with writing and directions. Some of the Wachowskis’ inspirations for the movie’s concepts were “Simulacra and Simulation” by French philosopher Jean Baudrillard.

Many of the sequences in the Matrix’s computer world have a green hue, and all of the ones in real life have a blue tint. Read exciting facts about The Matrix.

This film is jam-packed with action and fights in two worlds. It won four academy awards for editing, sound, and visual effects. Keanu Reeves, Carrie Moss, Fishburne, and Hugo Weaving play the film’s leading characters. 

I know you already know about this movie, so I’m not gonna into detail about it. If you’re puzzled, read this explanation I found while searching.

4. The Prestige (2006)

Christian Bale in The Prestige (2006)
Source: Warner Bros

The Prestige is my personal favorite Christopher Nolan film. It is a mash-up of sci-fi stuff, puzzles, and thrilling with a twist.

Outstanding performances from Scarlett Johansson, Michael Caine, Christian Bale, and Hugh Jackman. Many of Nolan’s films, such as Memento, Inception, and Tenet, are questioning to follow upon first watching. However, this one is not overly complicated but does include advanced concepts like Quantum theory.

The story focuses on two magicians named Robert and Borden. The friendship becomes a tough competition, resulting in a life-long fight for dominance. Christian Bale and Hugh Jackman have outstanding performances, as do Michael Caine and Scarlett Johansson.

You can learn various magic tricks and the concepts of magic by watching this film. Can also learn how to convince an audience that something is happening and how to sense their views. As Nikola Tesla showed in this scenario, we can say this about something science.

So there is no need for further discussion. Watch this masterpiece. You will leave thinking about it and enjoying it as much as I did.

5. Good Will Hunting (1997)

Good Will Hunting (1997) film poster
Source: Miramax

Good Will Hunting is, without a doubt, one of the most iconic films in cinematic history. This a great example of a thought-provoking movie.

The main character in the film is Will Hunting (Matt Damon), a math genius who can answer any question. When he has an internal meltdown, he intends the advice of doctor Sean Maguireto (Robin Williams), who helps him recover.

The entire film is shot in warm tones to balance the deeper scope. Features funny scenes, uplifting ones, and even romantic sequences. 

Relates to one of the exciting varieties to watch because it concerns human relationships, emotions, childhood trauma, and nearly everything else. Robust storyline development, genuine human expressions, and dialogue will stick in your mind for a long time. Related movies about hope.

This one has received positive feedback from critics and audiences alike. Everyone must see this film at least once in their lives. So it will make you think. 

6. The Green Mile (1999)

Featuring Michael Clarke Duncan and tom hank in The Green Mile (1999 )
Source: Warner Bros

The Green Mile is a famous film based on Stephen King’s novel. Directed by Frank Darabont, the man behind “The Shawshank Redemption.” Featuring Michael Duncan, David Morse, Hanks, Michael Jeter, and more supporting roles.

The story follows Paul (Tom Hanks), the prison’s chief officer, who meets John (Michael), a prisoner suspected of killing two girls. When he finds that John has a rare skill, his life changes a lot. And that’s enough; no need to spoil it.

This film tries to deliver meaning like “don’t judge someone without insight into their story.” What a great movie, with so many profound ideas and concepts.

The concept and development perfectly match relevant details, making the whole thing exciting and thought-provoking. Both Duncan and Tom provide heartfelt performances. The cinematography and music have done an excellent job.

The Green Mile is a must-see film if you want to understand how to create and write a balanced story. You’ll undoubtedly cry while watching this film.

7. Rain Man (1988)

Tom Cruise and Dustin Hoffman in  Rain Man (1988)
Source: MGM

The Rain Man movie is directed by Barry Levinson and stars Tom Cruise and Dustin Hoffman in stellar performances.

Tom Cruise portrays Charlie Babbitt as a quick-witted, arrogant guy. Since being separated from his brother as a child, he has lately found. He didn’t seem to realize he had a brother all these years and worried about sharing properties equally. But his brother is not average; he suffers from some mental illnesses.

The story isn’t about the belongings, but about two brothers reconnecting and thinking up for the missed time.

It’s a good thing feeling, a perfect viewing of human nature, hanging more than. Has many touching and thought-provoking stuff, but the ending will leave you wordless. These are pretty touching and say a lot. Explore how disordered minds see the world by using the creative potential of visual and audio and story.

If you enjoy uplifting films, you will welcome this one.

8. Arrival (2016)

Adams performs as Dr. Louise Banks.
Source: Paramount

Arrival is a sci-fi movie by Denis Villeneuve. He has directed several works that regularly provoke thought. Examples Enemy 2013, Prisoners 2013.

In the film, Amy Adams performs as Dr. Louise Banks. US military hired her as a translator to communicate with alien species that have arrived in 12 locations worldwide. However, they need help to express their purpose. Louise Banks finds a key fact trying a conversion, but Humans and aliens cannot chat because they do not see time in the exact degree.

Yes, that is enough; to continue would mean giving away the plot.

Arrival thrives, and films with better cultural intentions regularly need help. It makes use of the skill of filmmaking to confuse our perception of time and space. It creates an attractive unity between history’s garbled and puzzling mess and the unknown future.

So this is a terrific sci-fi thriller movie for everybody to watch, and the concept is different from other alien movies. Hard to comprehend the plot, and you will need to watch the movie again to fully understand its significance.

You won’t get the action movie you were hoping for. In keeping with Villeneuve’s style, the film prompts you to think about a few themes.

9. The Blind Side (2009)

The Blind Side movie poster
Source: Warner Bros

The Blind Side movie is based on the book “The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game” by Michael Lewis. Sandra Bullock and all the other stars did an incredible job.

The story included some chapters of the life story of American football player Michael Oher. This started to feel like I was following someone else’s life because of the character development.

You might think, “Yeah, another sports movie.” “This isn’t just another sports movie. It accurately describes real-life situations in a motion picture tone. Represents someone’s experiences and reveals poverty as children touch. That is honest and uplifting, inspired by a real story, which makes it even better.

This movie will make you think and encourage you to become a better person. There are a couple of shudder lines, which don’t make much difference. Indicates that the future is exceptionally bright using one’s talents. No matter how challenging life is, your hope should keep you moving forward; anything can change tomorrow. 

John Lee Hancock is a talented filmmaker who used part of the footage from this stuff. He also directed biographical movies, including The Rookie, The Founder, The Highwaymen, Saving Mr. Banks, and many movies that make you think.

10. Requiem for a Dream (2000)

Requiem For A Dream (2000)
Source: Lionsgate

Requiem for a Dream is another psychological film by Darren Aronofsky.
The story is about the lives of four eager people getting destroyed little by little because of their drug addiction.

A must-see masterpiece, but it is sorrowful and impressive. Not as easy to watch as most others; it’s dark and unsettling in a realistic way. Stresses everything divided and normalized in society, such as pharma, privacy, people’s choices, and a lack of focus on one another.

I haven’t before seen such a thought-provoking drug movie.

The film’s four main characters are attractive; Jennifer Connelly gave an outstanding performance. Jared Leto and Ellen Burstyn were also excellent. Moreover, the script and direction are clever, and the background music inspires the audience’s thoughts and feelings.

You feel unhappiness just by watching the tragic emotions throughout the whole film. Hardly realistic that drugs can destroy your mental and physical life.

I wasn’t a fan during the first part of the movie; the strategy seemed somewhat out of place, and everything started to make sense. I think it would be good to show this movie in high schools. “No, it would be useful to see all mankind.”

11. Gran Torino (2008)

Clint Eastwood in Gran Torino (2008)
Source: Warner Bros

Gran Torino is a classic Clint Eastwood movie played by himself. It is a profound narrative of a thin thriller and brings characters to life with excellent musical scores. Also, has a sensible plotline with hilarious moments and standard cultural theory with everyone else being the same; we are all in the same class.

I wouldn’t say the film is a masterpiece; the movie is not much activity, but a heartfelt film from actor and director Clint Eastwood. 

How something began or ended up going has significance and is as accurate in the real world as in fiction. It delights you and motivates you to behave morally and prudently. This shows that the American Dream takes effort and love to retain. 

Clint Eastwood puts you through heartbreak at the end as you watch a Gran Torino movie that will make you think. Eastwood is a genuine legend in the film industry. His tone is easily recognizable in every leading role he has played. 

Here are some notable works as a director, actor, and producer. 👇

  • Escape from Alcatraz
  • Unforgiven
  • Mystic River
  • A Million Dollar Baby
  • Invictus
  • Changeling

Gran Torino received positive feedback, and the movie is included in IMDb’s top 250. Related: Movies About Loneliness.

12. Blood Diamond (2006)

Djimon Hounsou and DiCaprio in Blood Diamond (2006)
Source: Warner Bros

Blood Diamond is a war-action/thriller film directed by Edward Zwick. Although DiCaprio is in the lead role, I am surprised that this movie is not widely popular.

The film focuses on things based on people’s experiences in Sierra Leone during the civil war. Djimon Hounsou did an incredible job playing Solomon Vandy. DiCaprio does an attractive image of the mindset of the African white guy, trapped between violence, racism, and greed, with traces of humanity thrown in for good measure.

This film is outstanding in every way, such as the movement, scenery, diamond industry fraud, child soldiers’ use, and civil war in conflict zones.

It opened views in many ways and revealed a closed gate, leading to rethinking several thought-provoking truths. It doesn’t complicate or deepen concepts but highlights several questions about people and brutes in wartime.

This is a truly heartwarming story. Don’t second-guess; watch this.

13. Mother (2017)

Jennifer Lawrence in mother 2017 movie
Source: Paramount

“Mother” is a different, thought-provoking movie by Darren Aronofsky. Some people may not find it stunning because it is difficult to watch. 

It is a psychological thriller with a unique style and film that makes you think. Most horror films these days seem to be so dull and predictable. But Mother tends to be a gory horror without classic storylines involving ghosts or typical jump scares. 

People who live according to their desires will use anyone else who gets in their way for control. It’s like someone simply entering your soul, carrying it to roll. This one is not a masterpiece, but fantastic acting from the cast, particularly Jennifer Lawrence. 

Darrin Aronofsky did a fantastic job of symbolically presenting Mother as the world’s spirit and the house as the world and expressing a highly complex message. 

Aronofsky has some different directing styles with some psychological touch. Here are some examples. 👇

  • Black Swan
  • The Fountain
  • Requiem for a Dream
  • Noah
  • The Wrestler

However, it isn’t for everyone; watch this movie to see things in other ways.

Related: Movies About Psychopaths

14. The Founder (2016)

Michel Kenton as Ray Kroc
Source: The Weinstein Company

A beautiful movie with excellent performances with the story of McDonald’s. It catches you from beginning to end. I didn’t know much about McDonald’s background before watching this movie. However, I looked up stuff about McDonald’s after watching this movie. 

It shows vision and entrepreneurship in the property market rather than in the burger industry. The storyline has a lesson to teach everyone. It can present as a case study in industry colleges and universities.

Michel Kenton does a magnificent job of portraying the lead character. He brings the character’s liveliness of characteristics and sentiments along with him. However, the unfortunate end will make you think of Ray Kroc as the villain.

Nick Offerman as Richard McDonald and John Carroll as Maurice McDonald give their best. 

It’s a stunning shot and a well-acted film. The storyline is terrific, flows smoothly, and reminds me a little of The Social Network but not the same storyline.

15. What’s Eating Gilbert Grape (1993)

Johnny Depp and Leonardo DiCaprio in what eating gilbert grape 1993
Source: Myriad

What’s Eating Gilbert Grape is a coming-of-age movie directed by Lasse Hallstrom.

It is a humble story about real-life pain and suffering. A young guy carries too much responsibility and does his job to care for his family. Sometimes sad and hilarious at other times, just like in daily life. However, these actual life experiences leave you feeling shattered a thousand times.

Perhaps this film isn’t perfect and lacks much cinematography, and there aren’t vibrant tunes. It was realistic and filled with much spontaneous dramatics.

There are many stunning settings, such as the sunset environment. The characters, soundtrack, background elements, and direction are all impressive.

The acting skills of Johnny Depp and Leonardo DiCaprio set the stage for this true classic. Both give authentic images, showing that there is more to come. Leo is nominated for the best supporting role at the Academy.

16. Wonder (2017)

Wonder is about a young boy called Auggie who was born with a physical deformity. At first, it seems to be another feel-good film about a youngster facing considerable challenges and difficulties. He is trying to achieve success in life with the help of his friends and relatives.

But what set this movie apart was when it began to explore other characters’ perspectives on Auggie’s life and provided explanations for some of their behavior.

And that deepened this film, goes beyond the surface, showing people seem happy on the outside but break in inside. That is what makes this film so great.

Auggie, played by Jacob Tremblay, evokes emotional responses and offers an excellent sensitivity value. Owen Wilson, Julia Roberts, and Noah Jupe are also good here.

The film hits all the proper emotional themes as much thought-provoking stuff. It imparts many life lessons in such a fundamental way that it hits people deeply. Showing the widely held view that youth are the brightest people to learn about the human condition.

You will satisfy if you watch it!

17. Coherence (2013)

Coherence (2013)
Source: Oscilloscope

Coherence is a low-budget underrated sci-fi movie, and an example is how to make a decent movie with a mid-realist strategy with a lower budget and a small cast.

James Ward Byrkit’s directorial debut has no well-known cast or quality camera work. The time frame is given attention to the mind-blowing quantum theory. The story’s development of the overall aspirational idea of multiple realities has made promising advances.

It makes an attractive world but also a nightmare for the mind. Most of the conversation is innovative and provides an impressive fantastic concept with complicated ideas and a subtle statement about the nature of humanity.

The storyline never lost attention, and each section left a slight craving for the thrilling event that could come next. It was strange in its nonlinear storytelling. Good acting, screenplay, direction, and visual tactics create a scary movie with an oddly emotional climax.

18. Gattaca (1997)

Movies That Make You Think
Source: Sony Pictures

Gattaca is another work by Andrew Niccol with writing and direction. Ethan Hawke and Uma Thurman give their best performances with supporting actors.

This science fiction movie gives us a globe where someone is judged by their perfection with a unique vision that someone not accepted in culture attempts to upend. It is a fantastic tale about overcoming challenges and the irrepressible human spirit with various thought-provoking aspects. This will likely happen in the future with technological improvements.

That potential to question the audience in every way possible while not explaining much about the world makes you feel strange.

When people hear the phrase “typical science fiction movie,” they often imagine aliens, space travel, superheroes, or other futuristic events.

Nevertheless, this film is primarily an explication of concepts with little movement. Achieved good reviews from all critics and audience review sites like Letterboxd.

Read more: Best Parallel Universe Movies.

Other Thought-provoking movies

There are many thought-provoking movies I still need to list, most of which you have probably already watched. Here is some other well-known film that makes you think.

  • Fight Club – 1999
  • Monsters University – 2013
  • The Hunt – 2012
  • Interstellar – 2014
  • Zootopia – 2016
  • Groundhog Day – 1993
  • Parasite – 2019
  • Mr. Nobody – 2009
  • Primer – 2004
  • Upgrade – 2018
  • Crash – 2004
  • Cloud Atlas – 2012
  • Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind – 2004
  • Her – 2013
  • Donnie Darko – 2001
  • Black Swan – 2010
  • Dallas Buyers’ Club – 2013
  • A Beautiful Mind – 2001
  • Source Code – 2011
  • The Theory of Everything – 2014

Etc and etc. and etc. There are countless.

If you have something, drop me a line. 👇

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Techexplains Team

Techexplains Team

We are a team of digital marketing experts with years of experience in website builders. CRM tools, project management software helping businesses of all sizes achieve their marketing goals. We are writing about benefits of using SaaS for businesses, and sharing our top picks for the best tools currently available on the market. Whether you are a small business owner looking to streamline your marketing efforts or a larger enterprise seeking to improve your marketing efficiency, we hope that you will find this useful and informative.