Not to quote Ned Stark, but “winter is coming” (or, really, has already arrived). 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.
For the Nerd Children & Tweens
Hah, just kidding. I love the series, but it’s not on this list.
Film Notes: I need to watch this movie again. It’s a great story and an example of ILM in its early days.
The Iron Giant (1999)
Film Notes: Before Brad Bird brought you films like The Incredibles and Ratatouille , The Iron Giant told the story of an unusual relationship between a little boy and a giant robot from space.
The 5000 Fingers of Dr. T (1953)
Film Notes: A film by Dr. Seuss… but it’s not a cartoon. I still can’t believe this film came out in 1953, it’s so ahead of its time—and yes, the man who plays the part of Dr. T is also the voice of Captain Hook in the film Peter Pan.
The Secret of NIMH (1982)
Film Notes: This beautifully animated film is a Don Bluth classic that will change the way you look at mice, scientific testing on animals, and cinderblocks.
Flight of the Navigator (1986)
Film Notes: If you were lucky enough to be a kid when this movie came out, this is probably one of the bright spots in your past.
Film Notes: This is a beautifully told story that can only be told in animation. If you like steampunk, and anime, you have to see this film.
*batteries not included (1987)
Film Notes: Some tiny spaceships arrive on Earth and help a group of tenants about to be evicted save their homes.
Mac and Me (1988)
Film Notes: Mac and Me is my alternative for ET (which everyone has seen). It’s a cute film and one I watched over and over when it came out.
The Witches (1990)
Film Notes: I’ll admit, I didn’t see this film until recently, but it’s adorable and surprisingly scary for a kid’s movie.
The Labyrinth (1986)
Film Notes: Again, David Bowie appears in this list, but this time he’s better dressed. If you’re raising a young nerd-in-training, you’ll want to have them watch this film, with puppets courtesy of Jim Henson.
The Brave Little Toaster (1987)
Film Notes: Since I saw this film as a kid, I’ve never looked at an old-fashioned toaster as a mere appliance. If you’ve ever wondered what your gadgets do in their spare time… you should see this film.
Film Notes: Tim Curry is stunning in this film that was, in my opinion, ahead of its time.
Star Dust (2007)
Film Notes: Seriously, even if you’re tired of the whole fantasy genre, I’m still betting you’ll be taken with how fun and well-done this film is. I was pleasantly surprised and enchanted by it.
The Goonies (1985)
Film Notes: While I think everyone from my generation has seen this film a zillion times, I’m posting the film here, just in case someone hasn’t yet shown it to their children. Another Steven Spielberg gem.
The Princess Bride (1987)
Film Notes: Every nerd I’ve ever met can quote this movie backwards and forwards… but as with The Goonies, I’m posting this film here because there may be younglings who haven’t seen this.
Dark Crystal (1987)
Film Notes: Really, is there anything Jim Henson can’t do? Here’s one of his best works ever. It’s gorgeous, and the characters feel so alive, you’ll wish their world was real.
Film Notes: Yet another amazing Steven Spielberg film. Seriously, if you haven’t seen it, just watch it now.
The Golden Compass (2007)
Film Notes: While this film was supposed to be part of a larger series, I have a feeling they won’t make a sequel… but they should. I love this film. It’s a lot more terrifying and interesting than I would have thought.
Film Notes: This film didn’t get nearly enough credit when it came out, but it’s wonderful, surreal, and quite a ride.
Titan A.E. (2000)
Film Notes: If you’ve actually heard of this movie, I’ll be surprised. It’s one of the few Don Bluth films that didn’t get a ton of attention when it came out (remember An American Tail?) This is a great star-studded sci-fi cartoon (with music from The Black Eyed Peas) that kids and adults will like.
Go Forth and Get Your Geek On
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.
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