You know the memes about how Hollywood sees coding vs reality? I think these jokes are becoming sort of obsolete because everybody is starting to have a pretty good idea about coding. This is great.

Nevertheless, you can still enjoy numerous Hollywood classics with amazing acting or visual effects.

We prepared a pretty complete list that consist of many cool films.

Primary list includes films directly related to coding with scenes, plot, background, main characters etc.

Majority of them are also very inspirational movies. While some has incredible Hollywoodesque scenes that impress others are based on true stories that really inspire.

Here goes the list with no specific order:

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Primary List (Directly Coding Related)

1- Swordfish (2001) – Great Hollywood action flick

Director Dominic Sena, also being a cinematographer did a pretty good job directing this famous Hollywood flick. Besides an iconic hacking scene, it has a cast which consists of major stars like John Travolta, Hugh Jackman, Halle Berry who are all doing a phenomenal job playing their characters. If you’re looking for an action movie with a hacker main character this is your movie.

2- The Social Network (2010) – Entrepreneurship and Ivy Ways

This is a great movie trying to paint a picture of Facebook’s early stage development process. Although Mark Zuckerberg low key mentioned his discontent with the main character scripted after Mark’s real life experiences with Facebook, Jesse Eisenberg is absolutely slaying it with his performance in this movie. Andrew Garfield and Justin Timberlake are delivering their supportive roles quite well as well and overall we have a moving and inspirational movie with lots of references to coding, algorithms, a major, high-growth tech startup, Ivy League environment and Venture Capital experience of the founder(s). Inspirational? Yes!

Hugh Jackman, Halle Berry and John Travolta are absolutely killing it in this successful Hollywood production: Swordfish

3- The Internet’s Own Boy : The Story of Aaron Swart (2014) – Coding, tech and cyber-activism

A young Brooklynite Aaron Swartz lived a phenomenally accomplished life as a programmer who also co-founded Reddit. But, before everything he was a heavyweight cyber-activist first. He co-developed technologies like Creative Commons, RSS and web.py for Python.

In this high quality documentary you can expect a breathtaking story that involves lots of coding lingo and unfortunately a tragic end.

The Internet’s Own Boy also is a reminder on the importance of taking care of ourselves mentally and physically and also maybe the importance of having a good support system through meaningful, loving human connections. These can be common struggles in many high performance professions including coding and tech.

4- Who Am I : No System is Safe (2014)From Germany with Love

Original name: Who Am I – Kein System ist sicher is probably as Hollywood as a European movie gets. Having said that it’s still different and preserves its European vibes.

It involves lots of IoT, city infrastructure and computer interaction with city structures that surround us everyday and does a great job raising one’s awareness in that sense.

Baran bo Odar did a great job directing the movie with nice cinematography and cast, consisting of Tom Schilling, Elyas M’Barek, Wotan Wilke Möhring, delivers a very strong performance as well. It’s an action flick about hacking and coding so don’t expect a true story or a highly realistic documentary.

5- Hackers (1995) – 90s Throwback computer-action flick

Anyone who knows a thing or two about computers today will cringe to the computer scenes of this movie with fake GUI. However, Hackers manages to do a great job at the movie side of things. It has a great plot, characters build nicely and acting is pretty good.

Hackers also feels a bit like traveling in time especially when computer geeks in the movie are overly excited about 28.8Kbps Macs. Additionally, Hackers has nice Retro undertones from time to time and if you’re an Angelina Jolie fan it’s probably a must-watch as she delivers a fine performance at the early stages of her acting career.

You’re guaranteed to enjoy the film and experience great nostalgia if and only if you don’t over-analyze the computer scenes.

6- The Imitation Game (2014) – A true-story about the first modern computers

Wow! A realistic and dramatic true-story based film about the Turing Machine which is usually referred as the first modern computer design? Yes, please.

It doesn’t hurt anybody that Benedict Cumberbatch delivers a superb acting performance playing Alan Turing.

Only in a couple of years, Alan Turing’s work was followed by the invention of electro-mechanical computers which employed light-bulb-like vacuum tubes instead of modern-day transistors and were eventually replaced by fully electric computers as mechanical limitations were quickly recognized.

You can see a lot about this tremendous progress in human history that led us to the tech eco-system we’re living in today. 

7- Tron Legacy (2010)Gaming & Sci-Fi Legendary

Tron is kind of a cult movie. The Big Lebowski star Jeff Bridges really shows off his acting skills in this movie. In the end we have a computer fantasy that involves so much production dedication that it actually feels like a real story. This is an amazing product of imagination, film and good execution.

Do we need to mention that it’s very retro too?

For the first piece of the sequel you can check out the 1982 production where Jeff Bridges plays a computer programmer who then movies into the virtual world. And we’re happy to announce that a pretty sound Tron 3 is in the making as a Disney production and it will also star Oscar winning actor Jared Leto. There is no official announcement about the expected debut for this film yet.

8- Antitrust (2011)A Very Entertaining Programmer / Cryber-Scandal Movie

In this movie, a successful computer programmer’s life experience with a troubling employer is brought to the screen. A very entertaining movie with programmer main characters.

Again, you’ll need to be able to look beyond the fake GUI and not cringe. That’s the punishment of a coder that actually understands how computers work and you should be happy for that! And maybe one day, directors will nail computer programming and GUI scenes.

The Net is full of scenes with computers and GUI and it's actually not that bad. Very cool Hollywood cast including Sandra Bullock make it pretty enjoyable too.

9- Blackhat (2015)Cybercrime action flick

Pretty cool action movie starring Chris Hemsworth. Adventure extends through various cool locations in the world from LA to Chicago to Far Asia. It seems entertaining to say the least.

10- Pirates of Silicon Valley (2001) How Microsoft and Apple Started

This is a very entertaining movie based on true stories of Microsoft and Apple and their founders: Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Ridley Scott and Bill Gates.

It’s fun, it’s relatable, it’s real and it’s biographical.

11- War Games (1983) – Young programmer messes up, will WW3 break out?

This is a cool and entertaining movie and if you like old movies and if you are into coding you might really enjoy this 80s throwback.

12-Startup.com (2001) – A very realistic startup journey

This is a tremendously valuable documentary for everyone but especially those who don’t have serious life and business experience under their belt.

According to some surveys 80%+ new businesses fail. And that includes mainly traditional business ideas. When you isolate startups and innovative ideas the number goes even higher.

A tech startup entrepreneurship hype can be observed in real time from its ground zero point to the end in this movie and there is so much to learn from attitude to lack of wisdom and maturity.

We hear and see so much about success stories but I believe humans actually truly learn from failure and that’s something we usually fail to observe and study.

Especially, if you’re a business major, MBA, Finance student, tech student with lots of hype or even a seasoned business person that’s considering to try something new, you might really benefit from watching this production.

Having said that, film making aspect of this film is pretty catastrophic. So, you win some you lose some, but it’s to be watched for other reasons than cinematography. 

Revolution OS is very inspirational from the open source coding perspective. Plenty of interviews with experts of CS community help you pick up their intelligent minds.

13- Revolution OS (2001) Operating System and Philosophy

This documentary has a really cool story with lots of entertaining elements. It offers lots of knowledge about Open Source movement and really broadens one’s horizons about software and computers.

If you’re into Operating Systems or Open Source it really is a must-watch production.

14- The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (2011)Coolest hacker ever?

This is a very successful and high-quality movie from director David Fincher. Daniel Craig and Rooney Mara truly excels in their acting as well and what we have in the end is a classic movie that’s very watchable.

It’s not very educative or realistic but it’s very cool to watch. 

Rooney Mara plays the tatted up (hence the name) punk computer hacker tremendously well.

Finally The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo is based on the book with the same name which was adapter from the original Swedish novel.

You can stream it for free on TUBI’s The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo here.

15- TPB AFK (2013)Documentary About the Internet and The Pirate Bay

This documentary about The Pirate Bay and main characters behind it is absolutely awesome. There is so much to learn about the internet and so many new perspectives not just about the internet’s development in time but also tech and personal triumphs and defeats.

Definitely recommended to every techy person.

16- The Net (1995) – Beautiful and Naive Programmer

Alright, we’re in the Hollywood territory again. First let me say this is a fantastic Hollywood thriller that’s aging well just like its main star Sandra Bullock.

Sandra Bullock does a great job playing the young, beautiful and highly talented computer scientist. It’s also really cool to see somewhat realistic scenes in such a main-stream production in the 90s and social naivete and awkwardness of the computer nerd played by Sandra Bullock is probably something lots of individuals from our audience can relate with.

Very fun and exciting. Still watchable as a 90s throwback.

The Net is full of scenes with computers and GUI and it's actually not that bad. Very cool Hollywood cast including Sandra Bullock make it pretty enjoyable too.

17- Jobs (2013) – Life Story of Steve Jobs

Ashton Kutcher delivers an outstanding performance from emotional range to mannerism to looks. Some say its his career’s highlight as far as acting goes. This unforgettable performance makes the movie watching-worthy although most people will agree that there is more intellectual juice in the Pirates of Silicon Valley in this list, despite its age.

Also, again there is lots of pain, failure and sacrifice very successfully portrayed in this film. Lots of people don’t like to see that but for the wise and trained mind there is a lot to learn and appreciate in hardship and struggle.

From major league entrepreneurship perspective this is a pretty noteworthy movie though it might be too honest and maybe dull for some.

Also the film ends in 1996. That’s how they decided to do it and that’s why it’s so much more about a young entrepreneur’s struggles leading up to the Ipod’s launch which re-vitalized Apple big time and was ensued by groundbreaking products Iphone and Ipad.

18- Steve Jobs (2015) – Behind the scenes of 3 iconic Steve Jobs product launches

A great biography production where Steve Jobs is again very successfully played by Michael Fassbender and directed by Oscar winning director Danny Boyle who also directed Slumdog Millionaire, Trainspotting and 28 Days Later.

It’s also interesting to see that the man who wrote The Social Network and The West Wing, Aaron Sorkin wrote Steve Jobs. Aaron Sorking was also friends with Steve Jobs and this movie focuses on Steve Jobs backstage preparation and mannerism before the launch of products like IMac, NeXT Cube and Mac.

Also if you like Seth Rogen, you will enjoy his Steve Wozniak performance.

So, Steve Jobs focuses on a very short period of time unlike Jobs which focuses on 

19- Indie Game: The Movie (2012)Video Game Industry

Very cool documentary about the journey of indie game developers. You get to see many aspects of game development and if you’re interested in this field this is probably a must-watch. Luckily, this production also delivers from the film perspective. Lots of great shots and fantastic story-telling combined it makes a very pleasant watch in the game development niche.

20- Operator (2016)A very original take on a programmer’s social struggles

A very unique Indie flick that touches a very sad and dramatic side of humans and particularly programmers under the comedy genre.

This film modern and so unique and plays with the Artificial Intelligence topic brilliantly. Main characters are played by Martin Starr, Mae Whitman, Nat Faxon who really aced their performances too.

Overall a must watch for anyone who understands programming and who is wishing to watch a very original drama.

You can watch Operator for free on the free TV and movies platform TUBI’s Operator page here.

Playing character Emily, Mae Whitman absolutely slayed it in the Indie movie Operator (2016)

21- Enigma (2001)Great Cryptography Drama

Enigma is a hybrid movie between fiction and true story of WWII code decryption aspect of German Enigma codes. There are lots of intellectually satisfying scenes about the inner workings of the Enigma Machine (which is used to crack the enigma code).

It’s truly inspiring to observe the story of these first generation computers in history.

Also the film succeeds in maintaining a war tension through intellectual work without all the bombs and guns. One can’t help but realize war takes place at all levels of civil society and not only in the field.

22- Takedown (2000) – Story of hacker Kevin Mitnick

This very interesting movie about successful computer hacker Kevin Mitnick and the story of his capturing is very entertaining to watch. However there are more interesting things about it. Kevin Mitnick sues the production based on inaccuracy and false portrayal and ends up settling the lawsuit with the production company who never got to launch the film in the USA.

It’s a very enjoyable and realistic movie but yes, inaccuracy is almost inevitable when weeks and months and sometimes even years and decades of tedious computer work is involved.

A shot of the famous Hollywood Hills sign, Mount Lee, Hollywood

23- Codegirl (2015)Change coming with technology

This documentary about young girls bringing change and improvement to their communities through coding, tech and app development is very real and inspirational.

It’s also culturally rich as the stories of young entrepreneurs span from New England towns of the USA all the way to East Europe and Brazil.

You can also watch it for free on TUBI TV at this link.

24- Appiness (2018) – App development related Canadian startup comedy

This is another cool movie with Indie Vibes from Canada. Protagonist of the movie decides to develop an app and claim riches with his startup after losing his job. And a series of events starts developing as the film is rolling. Watch Eric’s tech adventure with his cool friends here on TUBI TV for free if you like.

It’s a very enjoyable and realistic movie but yes, inaccuracy is almost inevitable when weeks and months and sometimes even years and decades of tedious computer work is involved.

TV Series (Directly Coding Related)

1- Mr Robot

2- Silicon Valley

3- IT Crowd

4- Code Monkeys

Code Monkeys is an interesting and creative concept of TV Series.

AI and Singularity (Special Edition)

1- Ex Machina

2- Her

3- Moon

4- Demon seed

5- Archive

Developments in the contemporary and secluded house of Ex-Machina CS genius

Honorary Mentions (Masterpieces w/ various themes)

There are also masterpieces that deal with data or computer programming in different ways. But, they usually revolve around a larger theme that’s dramatic or philosophical. So, coding or computers are not the first thing that comes to mind yet they were too cool to pass:

  • Cypher
  • Matrix
  • Terminator
  • Chappie
  • Sneakers
  • I-Robot
  • Colossus: The Forbin Project (1970)
Matrix Animation

Matrix influenced so many people and movies to come after it. But what was Matrix inspired by? The answer is mostly by an amazing book named Neuromancer. You can check out this article to find out more about it: Top 15 Books That Inspire Coding.

Notable Loop Movies

Infinity Direction Signs

Loops have a huge place in computer programming. Although these films don’t involve computers or coding, it’s still interesting to ponder about loop events and as it’s usually the case: infinite loops. 

It’s almost impossible to imagine loops without some kind of coding logic being involved even if it’s a biological or philosophical phenomenon. So, if you like loops these will be interesting to you for sure:

  • Triangle
  • Time Travelers
  • Source Code
  • Edge of Tomorrow
  • Predestination
  • Premature
  • The Road
  • 12 Dates of Christmas
  • Palm Springs
  • Horse Girl
  • Happy Death Day 2U
  • Game Over
  • Naked
  • Looper
  • Primer
  • Deja Vu
  • Arq
  • Before I Fall
  • Project Almanac
  • The Endless
  • Repeaters
  • Mine Games
  • Inception
Inception has an infamous ending scene regarding the possibility of another loop

Technically not a traditional infinite loop like some other cool films in the list but Inception does dabble with the concept of infinity if the characters fail to follow certain procedure and actually there is the idea of nested loop with the dreams, really cool movie indeed.

Mathematics Focused Films

Finally, there are some fantastic movies with a strong mathematics concept. Yes, coding goes hand in hand with different levels of math however, pure math involved in these films are hard to pass as a coding themed movie to our audience, hence the exclusion from the primary list.

Nevertheless, they usually relate to coding in a theoretical sense and some of these will certainly appeal to our audience:

  • A Beautiful Mind
  • Good Will Hunting
  • Moneyball
  • Exam
  • Hidden Figures
  • The Man Who Knew Infinity

Also, If you wanna see something funny, someone created an emulator for creating Hollywood-like console animations and it’s hilarious. Check it out.

The software seems to be only working with Ubuntu (Github repo here) but you can still check out the demonstration video.

That’s the end of the list. We hope you found something to enjoy from the list.

Please share if you thought this list was cool.

Also some of these movies have amazing soundtracks that works great while coding. You can check out this article about “Music Ideas for Coding“.

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