List with Top 10 Artificial Intelligence Movies that Redefined the Field of Computer Science [Updated]

How to choose a movie about AI that will shape your understanding of the field?

Andrii Torchylo
Data Scientist @ DataRoot Labs
24 Dec 2021
8 min read
List with Top 10 Artificial Intelligence Movies that Redefined the Field of Computer Science [Updated]

Why should we watch movies about artificial intelligence?

In the 21st century, movies serve as a main source of entertainment for the majority of the people. Considering the fast-paced world we live in, there is no surprise that people prefer watching a 90-minute movie over reading a 300-page book, which essentially contains the same amount of information. But what if I would say that those 90 minutes can be not only entertaining but also crucial for the beginning of your career in artificial intelligence.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) in movies or "robots will destroy us"

The idea that robots would take over the human race was prevalent in the film industry for as long as the sci-fi genre existed. Because of the huge popularity of movies like Terminator and Robocop, for many people now, the term "Artificial Intelligence" is associated with the deadly robots - the concept, which pretty much defined the main direction of the sci-fi genre. However, among those films, there are ones that not only deviated from the "deadly robots" idea but also revolutionised the field of Artificial Intelligence.

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For example, inspired by DiCaprio’s famous quote “we need to go deeper” from the Inception movie, the team of researchers from Google revolutionalised the state of computer vision by creating a deep neural network, which was named after the movie.

Similarly, startups like Neuralink, Kami Computing, and Zuckerberg's J.A.R.V.I.S. were all inspired by movies' ideas. However, despite the clear benefit that movies about artificial intelligence bring to the research community, they are also an incredible source of inspiration for newcomers to the field.

Together with the DataRoot Labs team, we found the best movies about artificial intelligence. Without further ado, here is our top-10:

1. The Matrix (1999 - 2021)

The first Matrix movie directed by Lana and Lilly Wachowski was released in 1999 and immediately became one of the best movies about artificial intelligence. The Matrix features iconic Keanu Reeves, Carrie-Anne Moss, and Laurence Fishburne in the main roles. The first movie has numerous awards and it received 8.6/10 rating on IMDb. The franchise has its own Reddit page.

Source IMDb

To start off the list of the best Artificial Intelligence movies, we have the classic old Matrix. Released more than 20 years ago, the Matrix still is one of the best movies about AI ever made by humanity. The movie tells a story about a man named Thomas A. Anderson, who works as a computer programmer and lives seemingly an everyday life in futuristic New York. At night, however, Thomas is a hacker, known by his pseudonym Neo, and he always runs into trouble because of his illegal activities. Neo grows suspicious of his superficial reality, and only when he meets a legendary computer hacker, Morpheus, he realises the truth about his world.

Needless to say that Matrix was one of the most influential movies that shaped the way we think about AI. After Matrix hypothesized that we could live in a super-realistic computer simulation, numerous theories about computer-simulated reality were born. Even Elon Musk mentioned that “If you assume any rate of improvement at all, games will eventually be indistinguishable from reality — we’re most likely in a simulation.” After the enormous success of the first movie, The Matrix Revolutions and The Matrix Reloaded were released. Finally, in 2021 the last movie The Matrix Resurrections hit the theaters, which has the lowest rating out of all Matrix movies, but still might be a good movie to watch.

2. Blade Runner (1982 - 2017)

Blade Runner (1982), the first movie from the franchise, is #171 in the Top Rated Movies by IMDb. The cast of the movie includes iconic Harrison Ford, Rutger Hauer, and Sean Young, while Ridley Scott directed the movie. The film achieved 2 Oscars, 84 rating on Metascore, and 8.1/10 stars on IMDb. There is also an active thread on Reddit about this film.

Source IMDb

This dystopian science fiction movie is (subjectively) one of the best artificial intelligence movies of the past century. “Blade Runner,” tells a story about Los Angeles of 2019, where a group of bio-engineered robots, replicas, escape their space colony and reveal a serious threat to humans, while a cop Rick Decard reluctantly agrees to kill them. Unlike many movies about robots, replicas in “Blade Runner” are not immortal. Knowing that they can live only for 4 years, they explore the philosophical nature of mortality while killing humans responsible for their creation.

This excellent movie switches the roles of robots and humans, exploring morality through the characters' actions. Especially intriguing is the fact that the authors of the movie were trying to show their vision of the future, which has already become our past. And even though we still do not have flying cars and fully intelligent robots like the ones we see in the movie, some of the advancements in bio-engineering made it possible to create synthetic body parts.

3. Love Death + Robots (2019-2021)

Love, Death + Robots is a 2-volume anthology animation series covering all kinds of genres: science fiction, fantasy, comedy, horror, and many more. Released in 2019, Netflix and Blur Studio’s hit had already become a 5-time Emmy winner. Created by Tim Miller with David Fincher as executive producer, the series currently has 8.5/10 IMDb series.

Source IMDb

Each of 26 episodes of Love, Death + Robots tells a different story about love, death — and you guessed it — robots. As the title hints, the whole series is full of sexual and violent content with sci-fi elements. The series is a reboot of 1981 Fincher and Miller's animated science fiction film Heavy Metal. Like the original, the series mostly reimagines how humans would live and confront technology in the future dominated by robots, Artificial Intelligence, or alliance. Each of the episodes not only tells a different story based on the novel but also is portrayed in a uniques art style.

Although unlike other titles in the list Love, Death + Robots is not a movie but a series, it's certainly worth every minute spent watching it.

4. Her (2013)

Directed by Spike Jonze, Her is perhaps one of the most nominated artificial intelligence movies. Awards for this movie include an Oscar for the best writing and original screenplay, Golden Globe, and 80 more wins at international cinematic competitions. The movie's cast includes Scarlet Johanson, who played the role of Samantha, and Joaquin Phoenix, who was the Theodore in the movie. The IMDb rating of this movie was 8.0/10.

Source IMDb

Her tells a story about a lonely writer Theodore who decides to purchase an artificially intelligent voice assistant. Being able to learn through experience and understand human emotions, voice assistant Samantha quickly gets closer with Theodore and they start a romantic relationship. Having fallen in love with a computer program, the protagonist feels tremendous joy and doubt.

And while many websites claim that we should not expect such technology to develop in the nearest future, a group of researchers from Kami Computing has already made a huge leap forward in this field. By using state of the art NLP transformer models, they were able to create an AI chatbot that not only can understand the context of the conversation and emotional connotations but also speak with the voice of Scarlett Johansson, who voiced Samantha in the movie.

5. Superintelligence (2020)

Directed by Ben Falcone, Superintelligence is a perfect combination of sci-fi and brain-off comedy. The movie stars popular actors such as Melissa McCarthy, James Corden, and Brian Tyree Henry. Even though it has a relatively low rating of 5.4/10 on IMDb, Superintelligence is still one of the best comedies made in 2020.

Source IMDb

The movie is about “the most average human being” Carol Peters. When her TV, phone, and microwave starts talking to her, she thinks she is going crazy. In reality, the world's first super-intelligence has selected her for observation, taking over her life with a bigger, more ominous plan to take over everything. Now, Carol is on the mission to save humanity by convincing Artificial Intelligence that humans are worth living.

When watching other popular movies about AI, it is important to take their “predictions” with the grain of salt because quite often, they are being over-dramatic about the superpowers of artificial intelligence. Therefore, seeing comedies like Superintelligence being created is a great counterbalance to the narrative of deadly AI robots killing the world. If you look for a light comedy that, instead of threatening you with AI, makes fun of it, Superintelligence is your best choice!

6. Ex Machina (2014)

Directed and written by Alex Garland, Ex Machina won an Oscar for the Best Achievement in Visual Effects in 2016, alongside other 71 wins and 156 nominations. The film cast included Alicia Vikander, Domhnall Gleeson, and Oscar Isaac. With an estimated investment of $15,000,000, Ex Machina achieved incredible graphics quality and visual effects, which made many people love this film.

Source IMDb

Ex Machina is a futuristic sci-fi thriller that tells one of the most vivid stories about AI development. Caleb Smith was just another programmer at the corporation until he won an opportunity to spend a week in the mansion of his company’s CEO. Caleb is expected to conduct a Turing test for the Ava, a highly advanced AI developed by Caleb’s employer, but instead ends up tied in the questions of what makes him human.

Ex Machina tells a similar story to Westworld, the movie is actually closer to "Her", by focusing more on the robot's personality. The film explores the questions of what is consciousness for Artificial Intelligence and how we need to encode morality in AI's actions - the questions that are very important in today's context. Although modern robotics are still far from generating flawless movements that we see in the movie, some of the modern advancements in Reinforcement Learning enabled us to simulate realistic motion in various settings.

7. Inception (2010)

Directed by Cristopher Nolan, Inception features famous actors such as Leonardo DiCaprio, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Ellen Page. Reaching incredible success by winning 4 Oscars and having an IMDb rating of 8.8/10, Inception proves to be one of the most successful films in the industry. The film also has its own Reddit thread.

Source IMDb

Inception is a movie that blurs the line between the dream and reality. The movie is about the group of trained agents, “extractors,” who use the innovative device for collaborative dreaming to steal important information from their targets' minds. Similarly to other Nolan's movies, Inception has a very complex and multilayer plot, which motivates people to watch this film over and over again.

However, with the recent development of devices that can scan brain activity like Neuralink, the crazy idea of seeing someone's dream is not that distant anymore. By using the data collected from such devices as a condition to Generative Adversarial Networks, it is possible to recreate what we see in the dream, which is an active area of research in DataRoot Labs.

8. Free Guy (2021)

One of the most recent AI movies, Free Guy, was directed by Shawn Levy and written by Matt Lieberman and Zak Penn. This movie has an IMDb rating of 7.2/10 and several nominations and awards. The movie features iconic Ryan Reynolds in the leading role, who is a perfect fit for the Guy character. The production of Free Guy was super expensive (the estimate for the budget is $120,000,000), which can be seen in the special effects and overall quality of the movie.

Source IMDb

Have you ever wondered how is it to be a character in a computer game? Free guy tells a story about just that! The main character in the movie, Guy, finds himself as an NPC (non-playable character) in the super realistic open world video game. This movie has an excellent combo of action, adventure, and good humor, and is definitely worthwhile your time!

The idea of the movie is seemingly very close to the Matrix, but unlike Matrix, Free Guy is much closer to our everyday life. It has numerous references to the pop-culture and the gaming industry. So, if you have ever played any computer game, you will find it very hilarious and relatable.

9. The Imitation Game (2014)

Directed by Morten Tyldym, The Imitation Game features Benedict Cumberbatch, Kiera Knightley, and Matthew Goode in the leading roles. With an overall budget of $14,000,000, The Imitation Game reached incredible success, winning an Oscar and 48 other awards. Fun fact: Mark Strong, who played Stewart Menzies in the movie, wears an authentic suit from 1940 to better suit his character.

Source IMDb

The movie is a historical drama about a British mathematician, Alan Turing, who attempts to decipher the German encoding machine Enigma. With the group of the best British crossword solvers, Alan makes the first computer ever to find a universal way of deciphering Enigma.

This awesome movie is a must-watch for two reasons. First, it shows the biographical history of Alan Turing, who is often regarded as a father of computer science. Secondly, the main character is played by Benedict Cumberbatch, who is simply a superb actor. Even though this movie does not provide an insight into the future of AI, we included it on the list because it shows the first-ever application of machine learning in the history of humanity.

10. AlphaGo - The Movie (2017)

Directed by Greg Kohs with an original score by Academy Award nominee Hauschka, AlphaGo chronicles a journey from the halls of Oxford, through the backstreets of Bordeaux, past the coding terminals of Google DeepMind in London, and ultimately, to the seven-day tournament in Seoul. As the drama unfolds, more questions emerge: What can artificial intelligence reveal about a 3000-year-old game? What can it teach us about humanity?

Unlike most artificial intelligence films on this list, AlphaGo is not about futuristic sci-fi stuff that may or may not happen in the future. Instead, it is an incredible documentary about AI advancement that has already occurred in our reality. The story is about a team of researchers from DeepMind, who found an algorithm that can play professionally Go - an ancient Chinese board game, which for a long time considered to be “too difficult to teach the machine to play.”

By using a dataset of the best Go players and a Reinforcement Learning algorithm, researchers trained the agent that could defeat the current world champion, Lee Sedol. This victory, often regarded by the press as a “computer’s domination over the human race”, was actually just the beginning of the story. Soon after the match, DeepMind released a new version of the program called AlphaZero, but this time the program did not pre-train on the collected datasets of professional Go players but instead learned completely by the self-play. This new approach eliminated human bias and eventually led to state of art in chess, shogi, and Go.

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Andrii Torchylo
Data Scientist @ DataRoot Labs
Andrii Torchylo is a Data Scientist at DataRoot Labs. Andrii works on the NLP-related tasks and contributes code to Kami Computing startup. From high school, Andrii was passionate about physics and astronomy and won several national-level olympiads. After finishing 10 grades of Ukrainian school, Andrii got accepted to Taft School, an American boarding school located in Watertown, CT. Before joining the team, Andrii took several courses at DataRoot University and worked as a summer intern in DataRoot Labs, where he developed his interest in the field of Machine Learning and AI. Besides, Andrii loves to play chess and run.
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