What do you get when you mix one of the world’s most popular pastimes with one of the most complex and challenging activities? You get programming movies – a genre that is both fun and engaging to watch.
While there are certainly some duds out there, as with any genre, there are also some gems that are well worth watching. In this blog post, we will take a look at thirteen of the best coding movies released to date. So without further ado, let’s get started!
1. The Social Network (2010)
Director: David Fincher
The Social Network is a 2010 American biographical drama film directed by David Fincher and written by Aaron Sorkin. Based on the book The Accidental Billionaires by Ben Mezrich, the movie portrays the founding of the social networking website Facebook and the resulting lawsuits. It stars Jesse Eisenberg as founder Mark Zuckerberg, along with Andrew Garfield as Eduardo Saverin, Justin Timberlake as Sean Parker, and Armie Hammer as Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss.
2. Steve Jobs (2015)
Director: Danny Boyle
Steve Jobs is a 2013 American biographical drama film directed by Danny Boyle and written by Aaron Sorkin. Based on Walter Isaacson’s 2011 biography of the same name, the film stars Michael Fassbender as Jobs, with Kate Winslet, Seth Rogen, Jeff Daniels, Katherine Waterston, Michael Stuhlbarg, and Perla Haney-Jardine in supporting roles. This coding movie covers 14 years (1984–1998) of Jobs’ life, focusing on his time as the CEO of Apple Inc.
3. Her (2013)
Director: Spike Jonze
Her is a 2013 American science fiction romantic drama film written, directed, and produced by Spike Jonze. It stars Joaquin Phoenix, Amy Adams, Scarlett Johansson, Rooney Mara, Olivia Wilde, and Chris Pratt. The film follows Theodore Twombly (Phoenix), a man who develops a relationship with Samantha (Johansson), an intelligent computer operating system personified through a female voice.
4. The Fifth Estate (2013)
Director: Bill Condonx
The Fifth Estate is a 2013 biographical thriller film directed by Bill Condon, based on the 2011 book Inside WikiLeaks: My Time with Julian Assange at the World’s Most Dangerous Website by Daniel Domscheit-Berg. The film stars Benedict Cumberbatch as WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and Daniel Brühl as Domscheit-Berg. The film’s cast also includes Anthony Mackie, David Thewlis, Alicia Vikander, Stanley Tucci, and Laura Linney.
5. The Internship (2013)
Director: Shawn Levy
The Internship is a 2013 American comedy film directed by Shawn Levy, written by Vince Vaughn and Jared Stern, and produced by Vaughn. The film stars Vaughn and Owen Wilson as salesmen who are unemployed and attempt to get internships at Google, where they compete with much younger and more technically qualified applicants.
6. Swordfish (2001)
Director: Dominic Sena
Swordfish is a 2001 American action thriller film directed by Dominic Sena and starring John Travolta, Hugh Jackman, Halle Berry, Don Cheadle, Vinnie Jones, and Sam Shepard. The film follows Stanley Jobson (Travolta), a former black-hat hacker who is recruited by NSA agent Gabriel Shear (Jackman) to help him steal $9.5 billion from a government slush fund.
7. Pirates of Silicon Valley (1999)
Director: Martyn Burke
Pirates of Silicon Valley is a 1999 American television film directed by Martyn Burke and starring Noah Wyle as Steve Jobs and Anthony Michael Hall as Bill Gates. The film, being a classic among coding movies, chronicles the rivalry between Jobs and Gates, as well as the rise of the personal computer industry in the 1970s and 1980s.
8. Startup.com (2001)
Directors: Jehane Noujaim and Karim Amer
Startup.com is a 2001 American documentary film directed by Jehane Noujaim and Chris Hegedus. The film chronicles the rise and fall of govWorks.com, a dot-com company founded in 1999. The plot follows the two main characters, Kaleil Isaza Tuzman and Tom Herman, from when they first met in college to the demise of their startup.
9. Sneakers (1992)
Director: Phil Alden Robinson
Sneakers is a 1992 American comedy-crime film directed by Phil Alden Robinson and starring Robert Redford, Dan Aykroyd, Ben Kingsley, Mary McDonnell, River Phoenix, Sidney Poitier, David Strathairn, and James Earl Jones. The film follows a group of former government spies who are recruited by a mysterious figure to steal a black box that can decode any computer encryption.
10. Hackers (1995)
Director: Iain Softley
Hackers is a 1995 American crime film directed by Iain Softley and starring Jonny Lee Miller, Angelina Jolie, Renoly Santiago, Matthew Lillard, Laurence Mason, Fisher Stevens, Jesse Bradford, and Lorraine Nicholson. The film is another great example of coding movies that shows a group of young computer hackers who are targeted by the FBI. In the movie, hacking is portrayed as a cool and exciting activity, which is something that many real-life hackers can relate to.
11. Primer (2004)
Director: Shane Carruth
Primer is a 2004 American science fiction film about the accidental discovery of time travel. The low-budget indie film was written, directed, and produced by Shane Carruth, who also starred in the film along with David Sullivan. The film follows two engineers who build a time machine in their garage. As they begin to use it for personal gain, they inadvertently discover that their actions have potentially catastrophic consequences.
12. Antitrust (2001)
Director: Peter Howitt
Antitrust is a 2001 American thriller film directed by Peter Howitt and starring Ryan Phillippe, Rachael Leigh Cook, Claire Forlani, Tim Robbins, and Ty Treadway. The film is loosely based on the real-life case of the United States v. Microsoft Corp., in which the government accused Microsoft of using its monopoly power to stifle competition.
13. Untraceable (2008)
Director: Gregory Hoblit
Untraceable is a 2008 American thriller film directed by Gregory Hoblit and starring Diane Lane, Colin Hanks, and Billy Burke. The film follows FBI Special Agent Jennifer Marsh (Lane) as she tracks down a serial killer who is using the Internet to kill people live on webcam. The killer’s victims are chosen at random, and the only way to catch him is to figure out who he is before he kills again.
BONUS: Best TV shows about coding
1. Silicon Valley (2014)
Creator: Mike Judge
Silicon Valley is an American comedy television series created by Mike Judge, John Altschuler, and Dave Krinsky. The series focuses on six young men who found a startup company in Silicon Valley. The show has been praised for its accurate portrayal of the tech industry and has received multiple awards, including the Critics’ Choice Television Award for Best Comedy Series.
2. IT Crowd (2006)
Creator: Graham Linehan
The IT Crowd is a British comedy television series created by Graham Linehan. The show is set in the fictional London offices of Reynholm Industries, and revolves around the antics of its IT department staff. The show has been praised for its clever writing and witty humor, and has won several awards, including the BAFTA Award for Best Situation Comedy.
3. Mr. Robot (2015)
Creator: Sam Esmail
Mr. Robot is an American drama–thriller television series created by Sam Esmail. It stars Rami Malek as Elliot Alderson, a cybersecurity engineer and hacker who suffers from social anxiety disorder and clinical depression. Christian Slater plays Mr. Robot, the mysterious leader of an underground hacking group called “fsociety”. The group aims to erase all debts by attacking the large corporation E Corp.
Whether you’re a developer who wants to learn more about the process of programming or just enjoy watching movies that involve coding, this list has something for everyone. We hope you’ll check out some of these coding movies and TV shows – and if you do, be sure to let us know what you think!
Elmar Mammadov is a software developer, tech startup founder, and computer science career specialist. He is the founder of CS Careerline and a true career changer who has previously pursued careers in medicine and neuroscience.
Due to his interest in programming and years of past personal experience in coding, he decided to break into the tech industry by attending a Master’s in Computer Science for career changers at University of Pennsylvania. Elmar passionately writes and coaches about breaking into the tech industry and computer science in general.