It is that time of the year again where enthusiasts and mathematicians come together for an annual celebration of the mathematical constant π (pi). Commonly referred to as 3.14, every March 14th people from across the world come together to celebrate the irrational number in many different ways, from eating actual pies to participating in math trivia games. Pi has an infinite amount of digits, and at this rate, it seems that streaming services are producing an infinite amount of content. For cord cutters, there isn’t a better way to celebrate Pi Day by watching the best math movies available on streaming services.
A Beautiful Mind (2001)
Directed by Ron Howard, A Beautiful Mind is a biographical film based on the life of Nobel Laureate in Economics and Abel Prize-winning mathematician John Nash. The film stars Russell Crowe, Jennifer Connelly, Ed Harris and draws inspiration from Sylvia Nasar’s bestselling Pulitzer Prize-nominated book of the same name. The movie was a critical success as it won four Oscars for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Supporting Actress.
Good Will Hunting (1997)
Co-written and starring Matt Damon and Ben Affleck in their breakout roles, the film follows a M.I.T. janitor (Damon) who is troubled yet gifted in mathematics but needs help from a psychologist (Robin Williams) to steer his life on the right path. A critical and financial success, the film took home Oscars for Best Supporting Actor (Williams) and Best Original Screenplay (Affleck and Damon) and made $225 million at the box office off of a $10 million budget.
Starring Kevin Spacey and inspired by the true story of the MIT Blackjack Team, 21 is a heist drama that follows six card counting students who win millions from casinos. The film is based on the 2003 best-selling book Bringing Down the House by Ben Mezrich.
Directed by Darren Aronofsky in his directorial debut, this psychological thriller follows a mathematician who creates a supercomputer that understands humanity’s existence and he tries to withstand temptation from outside forces that want his secret. The film was acclaimed critically and had huge financial success as it was made on a $60,000 budget and made over $3 million at the box office.
Based on Michael Lewis’ 2003 best-selling book Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game about General Manager Billy Beane’s method of using sabermetrics and mathematics to put together a winning baseball team for the Oakland Athletics on a small budget. The film is a biographical sports drama starring Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill and was nominated for six Academy Awards.
Hidden Figures (2016)
Loosely based on Margot Lee Shetterly’s book of the same name, this biographical film is perfect for Pi Day, as it tells the story of African American female mathematicians who worked at NASA during the Space Race. Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, and Janelle Monae were nominated and won numerous awards due to their performances and the film was an Oscar-nominee for Best Performance.
Dramas aren’t the only thing to watch on Pi Day. Cube is a sci-fi horror where six strangers are trapped in different rooms in a giant cube and have to solve puzzles to navigate their way to survival and freedom.
The Number 23 (2007)
Add the first 6 digits of pi together (3.14159) and your sum will be equal to the title of a thriller starring Jim Carrey. In the film, Carrey portrays a man who is obsessed with the 23 enigma after reading about it in a book that closely resembles his own life.
The Butterfly Effect (2004)
The title of the film is based on a popular hypothetical mathematical situation in chaos theory where small changes can lead to large consequences of varying degrees over time. The film stars Ashton Kutcher and Amy Smart and was a box office success; however, it was critically panned. To fit with the theme of the film, it also has three alternate endings.
The Oxford Murders (2008)
Faculty-student relationships are at the forefront when a professor and grad student unite to solve a complex series of murders that are linked together by mathematical symbols. Directed by Álex de la Iglesia, this British-Spanish drama thriller is adapted from mathematician and writer Guillermo Martínez’s novel of the same name, and stars Elijah Wood, John Hunt, Julie Cox, and Leonor Watling.