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Guest post: Nerd-approved movies to see before you die

by Matthew Price Modified: April 22, 2013 at 4:19 pm •  Published: December 14, 2011

Movies for nerds is a deeper category than just “Star Wars” and “Avatar.”  Retrovo’s Jennifer L. Jacobson looks at the long tail of geek cinema.  More at

Epic Nerd-Approved Movies To See Before You Die

Not to quote Ned Stark, but, “Winter is coming.” And what better way for any self-respecting nerd to spend the season than hunkered down in the glow of some of the best nerd-approved films of all time. But you’ve watched your favorite films a billion times, so how do you find the films you haven’t seen yet, but should?

Well, today I’m putting my Cinema “Minor” to work and that means digging through film history and pulling out title gems that are too often overshadowed by Avatar or the all-impressive Star Wars. These films will change your life (or they should), so sit down, strap in and load these puppies up in your Netflix queue. Here are the best of the best in their respective categories. Enjoy these films. You will be a better nerd for watching them.

*Note: All films should be watched in the aspect ratio they were shot in and if possible, watch the director’s cut. None of this “4:3″ nonsense when a film was shot in widescreen. Also, may of the older films on this list are now on Blu-ray. For a more technical overview of a specific film’s transfer to Blu-ray, please query The Blu Ray Blog. Now, please… enjoy the show.

Straightup Nerd-Tastic Films (AKA Category 1)

Dark City (1998)

Film Notes: If you liked Metropolis, The Matrix, and Inception, you have to see this film. I wrote an entire master’s thesis on it. If you can, watch the commentary by Rober Ebert.

The Fifth Element (1997)

Film Notes: This eye-candy adventure is one of the most charming, beautifully shot, creative, colorful sci-fi films of all time.

Forbidden Planet (1956)

Film Notes: Before Star Trek, there was Forbidden Planet. It’s amazing to see what was possible to the imagination circa 1956.


Stargate (1994)

Film Notes: If you think Terra Nova awesome or could be better… you must see this film. Groundbreaking special effects.

Minority Report (2002)

Film Notes: This Steven Speilberg directed film is based on the thrilling Philip K. Dick short-story and stars Tom Cruise. Let’s just say… it’s totally worth seeing.

THX 1138 (1971)

Film Notes: Before he made Star Wars, George Lucas made this sanitary, haunting vision of the future. … and part of it was shot in Studio One at my alma mater, San Francisco State University!

Dune (1984)

Film Notes: Dune is one of the most impressive, well written sci-fi films of all time, Dune will amaze your inner nerd.

War Games (1983)

Film Notes: It’s good to see Matthew Broderick in something besides a musical – I mean, if you loved your Atari, you’ll love this film. How what started as a game, almost became nuclear war.

Serenity (2005)

Film Notes: From the creator of Angel, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer, this wild-west-meets-pre-cog-human-weapon sci-fi dance through space will blow you away. It’s hard to call yourself a nerd, if you haven’t seen it.


Paprika (2006)

Film Notes: This is one of my favorite movies, I have it on Blu-ray and it’s worth watching in a proper home theater. If you want to see what animation can do and where your dreams can take you, (and if you thought The Matrix and Inception was cool) Paprika is a film you just have to see.

Blade Runner (1982)

Film Notes: Find out if androids dream of electric sheep, and if you can, find out by watching the director’s cut of the film Blade Runner. This touching, beautiful, mind-bending film is one of my all-time-favorites. Quote: “It’s too bad she won’t live… but then again, who does?”

Brazil (1985)

Film Notes: I love Terry Gilliam’s style. Brazil is one of the best no-holds-barred cotton-candy films of all time. Do yourself a favor and be sure to watch the director’s cut as opposed to the theatrical release of this film.

V for Vendetta (2006)

Film Notes: I’ve watched this film so many times. It’s a beautifully told story and stands on its own from the graphic novel on which it is based. That said, you should also read the graphic novel.

Tank Girl (1995)

Film Notes: This movie is proof that filmmakers in 1995 weren’t just making “girl movies” like Clueless.

For categories 2-5, visit

I give you this list so that you may know and understand all things nerd, for no one is simply born a nerd. We are a people, drawn in by the light of technology, science fiction and the possibilities of humanity and the future. We come in every age, gender, hue and kind and we are not simply born nerds… we become nerds.

By Jennifer L. Jacobson,





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by Matthew Price
Features Editor
Features Editor Matthew Price has worked for The Oklahoman since 2000. He’s a University of Oklahoma graduate who has also worked at the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette and was a Dow Jones Newspaper Fund intern for the Dallas Morning News. He’s...
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