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Imagination Gone Wild: 5 Must See American Psychological Movies

Updated on November 4, 2017
JM Salgado profile image

JM has a passion for inspirational objects of the past and the present. Using words to create a new form of storytelling.

Are you curious about how the brain works? People are generally concerned with the condition of the brain. The way it functions and the way it reacts to different situations are truly interesting and fascinating. The mysterious involvement of these brain functions is not only discussed in classes, but some are also seen through appealing movie franchises.

There are numerous films that are produced and are still in the making which deal with the wonders of the mind. But, here is a list of five great ones that deals with human psychology. They have captured the heart and mind of many film-goers throughout the years.

From "A Beautiful Mind"
From "A Beautiful Mind" | Source

1. Good Will Hunting, 1997

What happens when the smartest person in a prestigious university is not one of the students in the classroom but the janitor?

This is where Good Will Hunting begins a touching story of a brilliant young man. Meet Will Hunting who doesn't see the potential that he has. He has an amazing mind for mathematics and chemistry but is still locked in his rough South Boston life. His life undergoes changes when one professor sees what his mathematical work. He then leads Will to see a therapist (Robin Williams). This movie shows how one person's life could change when it meets its match.

The emotional drama presented here seeks to have a different view of the unrecognized genius. There could be a possible Will Hunting in some individual out there, just waiting for some connection to make.

2. A Beautiful Mind, 2001

Released in 2001, A Beautiful Mind tells the life of another brilliant man, John Forbes Nash, Jr. He is a mathematical genius who is given an opportunity to be part of great minds at Princeton in the 1940s. He shows exceptional skills in his field, and he gets a remarkable discovery as a graduate student. Through these tough times, he is constantly accompanied by his roommate, Charles Herman, who is a literature student. However, he undergoes unbelievable twists and turns in his career and life. This leads to him knowing that he has paranoid schizophrenia, which is difficult for him to accept.

This film is based on the real-life experiences of the 1998 Nobel Laureate in Economics, John Nash. The story would really give you a glimpse to the complexities of the brain. It shows how a seemingly ordinary and inspiring story of a genius could be changed. The director and actors also made it a slow but memorable progress in building the story. You might have to prepare some comfort after watching the movie.

3. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, 2004

How far would you go to forget a failed relationship?

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind deals with the idea of a couple who tries to erase their memories of each other. But, in the course of their new discovery of life with the last remaining memories of each other, the story takes the audience to a unique roller coaster ride.

This might even be a psychological thriller in this sense of experiments and trials. However, this could also be considered as science fiction, and might be a take on the study of the human brain and its function that affects people's behavior.

The wonderful cast and story made this film another hit with an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay in the same year. Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet had the main roles, with Winslet nominated for Best Actress in the Academy Awards. The actors and actresses who participated in the movie are Kirsten Dunst, Mark Ruffalo, Elijah Wood, Tom Wilkinson, Jane Adams, and others.

4. Shutter Island, 2010

A movie adaptation of Dennis Lehane's book with the same title was released in 2010. This movie follows the story of two US Marshalls, Edward "Teddy" Daniels and Chuck Aule, who goes to Shutter Island. This is an eerie place in Boston Harbor as it is the only place where the federal mental hospital houses the criminally insane. Here, the two explores, investigates and experiences strange situations. They are also given some mysterious stares from the island's residents.

The flow of the story gets you thinking that this might just be another scary, police story. However, you are sure to be surprised on how the story changes through the end. You might even find some fascination with how the mind tricks are done or even so with the story line playing with your own mind. The concerns people have with the mental health are not really discussed here, but you might get a glimpse of how they see the world from their own point of view. Aside from that, you would also see the amazing acting of Leonardo Di Caprio, Ben Kingsley, Max von Sydow, Mark Ruffalo and others.

5. Black Swan, 2010

Another 2010 movie dealt with the psyche of people. This time, the lead is that of a beautiful and elegant ballerina named Nina. The actress Natalie Portman gave life to this character and the different faces that she exhibits in the film.

This is another psychological thriller movie that brings its audience to the beauty but the stressful life of Nina. The story unfolds as she continues to perform and be better as part of the ballet company's Swan Lake production. Nina still lives with her mother who is a former ballerina. However, her relationship with Nina is one having an obsessive control over things around the young ballerina. This gives additional pressure to the stressful happenings in Nina's career, as she feels worried about a new dancer, Lily (Mila Kunis).

Though the trials she go through are a little confusing at first, you would see how she tries to fix the crumbling world around her. If you are not familiar with the story, it is a story of Odette, who is turned into a swan. This ballet is from Tchaikovsky's first ballet with the same title. However, in the movie, the artistic director of the company wants to have the same dancer to portray the graceful and innocent White Swan as well as its dark twin the Black Swan which shows sensuality. This makes it more difficult for Nina to overcome because she can perfectly portray the White Swan but not the Black Swan. Then this lets Nina connect with her dark side which could even be her worst competitor.

Which of these films have you seen?

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Additional Psychological Movie

If you want to see some older psychological films, you might have to prepare for two disturbing yet wonderful stories of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975) and The Silence of the Lamb (1991). The 1975 film had Jack Nicholson in the lead role while the latter had Jodie Foster and Anthony Hopkins.

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