7 Movies That Can Increase Your Intelligence, Says Psychology

Want to boost your intelligence the easy way? These thought-provoking films will impact your life and have you thinking for days!

Updated 25 Feb 2021

7 Movies That Can Increase Your Intelligence, Says Psychology - Feature-Image

If you’re looking to boost your intelligence, you can read a book, solve puzzles or even eat “brain food”. But did you know that you can do the same by watching movies too?

According to psychologists, people retain information and concepts better when it’s attached to strong emotions and movies serves as a channel that can help expand our minds — be it emotionally or intellectually. To boot, some movies can even make you think critically, improve your vocabulary and pique your interest in new subjects!

From tear-jerking films to thought-provoking plots, here are some of the mind-expanding movies that are more than just entertainment and will have you thinking for days.

#1. Memento (2000)

Movies Improve IQ-Memento

Memento is a detective story about Leonard who developed short term memory loss following a break-in that led to his wife’s tragic death. He attempts to find the killer with trails of clues left behind but his search gets more complicated as he can’t form new memories since the accident.

The movie follows a non-linear narrative, starting with the end and works its way to the beginning to unfold the truth. This forces the audience to improve their attention and think critically as they come to their own conclusions. But most importantly, Memento perfectly highlights the key importance of memory techniques.

#2. Limitless (2011) 

Movies Improve IQ-Limitless

You’ve probably heard that people only use 10% of their brain. While this has been debunked as a myth, it does make you wonder what will happen if you can use 100% of your brain by just thinking. Will that make you a savant with extraordinary abilities?

Limitless is a thriller that follows a struggling writer, Edward Morra, who is introduced to a nootropic drug called NZT-48. The mysterious pill is known to grant him the ability to fully utilise 100% of his brain; a razor-sharp mind that can drastically improve his life. But his addiction to the pill and power calls for some trouble in the end.

While there isn’t such a drug that exists on this level (at least not legally), Limitless will prime you to think smarter as you catch up with Edward’s ability to solve problems far beyond his own expectations.

Asia Pacific University of Technology & Innovation (APU)

Bachelor of Science (Honours) in Psychology

Dual-award degree – one from De Montfort University, UK, and one from APU

#3. Inside Out (2015) 

Movies Improve IQ-Inside Out

Bet you didn’t think that an animated Pixar movie would make the cut in the list of mind-expanding movies. But Inside Out is like none other.

The story is about a young girl named Riley who struggles to adjust to the changes in her teenage life following her big move to a new city. During the course of the film, you’ll see Riley’s emotions — Joy, Fear, Sadness, Disgust and Anger — take control in managing difficult situations.

Inside Out perfectly captures the duelling emotions of a child and how they rearrange themselves as they learn maturity. While the movie is comedic and heartwarming to watch, it also allows you to reflect on the impact of emotions, motivation and stress on your individual character as you grow up. This is one way to boost your emotional intelligence!

#4. Ex-Machina (2014)

Movies Improve IQ-Ex Machina

If you’re a fan of sci-fi films that revolve around technology and artificial intelligence, then you need to watch Ex Machina.

Following an intense human drama centring on a trio of individuals, the story starts with Caleb, a computer programmer who wins a contest that grants him a week-long stay with his company’s CEO at a private estate. Upon arriving, Caleb is introduced to the CEO’s brilliant invention, an AI robot named Ava, but soon learns that there’s more to Ava and that AI consciousness comes with its own price.

Ex Machina cleverly adopts the Turing test (originally called the imitation game) where a machine has the ability to exhibit intelligent behaviour that’s similar to humans. Not only is this movie entertaining, but it also enables you to explore the possibilities of artificial intelligence adapting to human emotions.

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#5. Annihilation (2018)

Movies Improve IQ-Annihilation

Some movies are mystery boxes with no clear answers presented to you when the screen fades to black — and Annihilation is one of those films with an ending you just have to sort through yourself.

The story follows Lena, a biologist, who volunteers on a dangerous mission inside Area X after her soldier husband returns with serious medical conditions. Her expedition leads to the discovery of a world of mutated landscapes and creatures that threaten both their lives and their sanity.

You’ll explore themes surrounding biology and genetic engineering and uncover the meaning of the movie behind its metaphor. This trippy psychological thriller is bound to frustrate and put you at the edge of your seats.

Asia Pacific University of Technology & Innovation (APU)

Bachelor of Science (Honours) in Psychology

Dual-award degree – one from De Montfort University, UK, and one from APU

#6. Cloud Atlas (2012)

Movies Improve IQ-Cloud Atlas

This 2012 dystopia-utopia film revolves around a group of people whose lives are intertwined through six different personal narratives across various eras. Ultimately, the overall arc tells you about the phases in the rise and fall of a global corporate monopoly and how this group of people manoeuvre around it.

With different narrations, the movie can be difficult and confusing to watch. However, as the stories unfold, you’ll see that every character’s life journey is connected to each other. In essence, Cloud Atlas sets a wonderful tone about unity and acceptance of people’s differences and is definitely worth a watch.

#7. The Butterfly Effect (2004)

Movies Improve IQ-The Butterfly Effect

If you could change one course of action in your life, would you do it?

The Butterfly Effect perfectly encapsulates the possibility of changing your past and what your course of life would look like in the future. The movie follows Evan who suffers from severe headaches that would render him unconscious sometimes. During his blackouts, he is able to travel back in time and change certain actions in his life but this leads to serious consequences.

Using the Chaos theory to explain its plot, The Butterfly Effect will force you to sit down with your thoughts and reflect on all your actions so that you don’t make regrettable decisions.

There you have it — movies that can boost your intelligence! What movies do you believe have given your IQ or EQ a boost? Let us know in the comments.

Feeling demotivated in your studies? These movies related to your degree might bring back that spark!

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    Nina Fazil

    Nina Fazil

    A work in progress — has been for the past 24 years.