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40 Best Mind Expanding Movies – Good List

If you are looking for an exceptional movie that you have not yet seen, then this is an article for you.

Each movie is a transcendental and existential journey that will alter your perception and raise many questions within the viewer. The following are forty movies that have some of the most far-out, inventive, and thought-provoking plot lines in film history.

There are many honorable mentions that could have easily made this list, so please feel free to leave any suggestions in the comments section.

List Of 40 Thought Provoking and Mind-Expanding Movies:

#1 Peaceful Warrior

Way of the Peaceful Warrior is a 2006 drama film starring Nick Nolte, Scott Mechlowicz, and Amy Smart. The film is set in U.C. Berkeley but is shot at UCLA. The movie features a troubled but talented gymnast who meets a spiritual guide. Released on June 2, 2006, the movie is based on the novel Way of the Peaceful Warrior by Dan Millman.

#2 Mr.Nobody

Mr.Nobody tells the life story of Nemo Nobody, a 118-year-old man who is the last mortal on Earth after the human race has achieved quasi-immortality.

#3 Avatar

Avatar is the story of an ex-Marine who finds himself thrust into hostilities on an alien planet filled with exotic life forms. As an Avatar, a human mind in an alien body, he finds himself torn between 2 worlds, in a desperate fight for his own survival and that of the indigenous people. Avatar was officially budgeted at $237 million.

#4 I, Origins

I, Origins tells the story of Dr. Ian Gray, a molecular biologist studying the evolution of the eye. He finds his work permeating his life after a brief encounter with an exotic young woman, who slips away from him. As his research continues years later with his lab partner Karen, they make a stunning scientific discovery that has far-reaching implications and complicates both his spiritual and scientific beliefs.

#5 The Matrix

Gives a great representation of exactly what we are to the Elite of the world – batteries. The humans fuel their entire matrix and designed system. Perhaps even more profound is how this film reveals what it is like to awaken and step out of The Matrix into the real world. Only the mind’s stories and your ego are what limit you.

#6 Waking Life

This movie is an animated story about a nameless young man, played by Wiley Wiggins, who finds himself trapped in an endless series of dreams.

#7 Samsara

A spiritual love-story set in the majestic landscape of Ladakh, Himalayas. Samsara movie is a quest; one man’s struggle to find spiritual Enlightenment by renouncing the world. And one woman’s struggle to keep her enlightened love and life in the world. But their destiny turns, twists and comes to a surprise ending.

#8 Inception

In this move, the producer imagines a new kind of corporate espionage wherein a thief enters a person’s brain during the dream state to steal ideas.

#9 Melancholia

This movie tells the story of two sisters, who find their relationship challenged as a nearby planet threatens to collide into the Earth.

#10 Another Earth

A bright young woman accepted into MIT’s astrophysics program aspires to explore the cosmos.

#11 Transcendence

Two leading computer scientists work toward their goal of Technological Singularity, as a radical anti-technology organization fights to block them from creating a world where computers can transcend the abilities of the human brain.

#12 2001: A Space Odyssey

The movie is a countdown to tomorrow, a road map to human destiny, a quest for the infinite. To start his voyage into the future, Kubrick visits our prehistoric ape-ancestry past, then leaps millennia into colonized space, and eventually whisks astronaut Bowman into uncharted realms of space, perhaps even into immortality.

#13 Enter The Void

This wonderful movie is a 2009 English-language French drama film written and directed by Gaspar Noé and starring Paz de la Huerta, Nathaniel Brown, and Cyril Roy.

Set in the neon-lit nightclub environments of Tokyo, the story follows Oscar, a young American drug dealer who gets shot by the police, but continues to watch subsequent events during an out-of-body experience.

#14 Seven Years in Tibet

Brad Pitt stars in the soaring adventure and amazing true story of an Austrian prisoner of war who is transformed by his friendship with the young His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama.

#15 A Beautiful Mind

The movie is a touching, emotionally charged film detailing the life of a sparkling academic who suffers from schizophrenia. This affliction slowly takes over his mind and we watch as his life crumbles apart around him.

#16 Brazil

Brazil, Terry Gilliam’s visionary Orwellian fantasy, is an audacious dark comedy, filled with strange, imaginative visuals.

#17 Vanilla Sky

David Aames falls in love with his best friend’s girlfriend, Sofia. Following a car crash, organized by a jealous former lover, David is hideously disfigured and fears that the love of his life will never be able to look at him again.

#18 Limitless

Limitless is a paranoia-fueled action-thriller about a writer whose life is transformed by a top-secret “smart drug” that allows him to use 100 percent of his brain and become a perfect version of himself.

#19 Shutter Island

Two federal marshal Chuck Owl and Teddy Daniels come to a psychiatric hospital for dangerous criminals to investigate the mysterious disappearance of one of the patients. This movie will surprise you, scare you, puzzle you, demand attention and respect from you.

#20 Fight Club

The story follows a nameless office drone, that comes in to contact with a flamboyant soap salesman played by Brad Pitt. Together the two start an underground bare-knuckle boxing club, and after it catches on, they slowly mold their group of disaffected young men into an unofficial guerrilla army that rebels against the status quo by performing bizarre acts of vandalism and sabotage.

#21 Requiem for a Dream

The movie interweaves the stories of four drug addicts -Harry; his mother, Sara; his girlfriend, Marion; and his buddy, Tyrone – in their pursuit of a reality-blurring high.

#22 The Jacket

Joe Starks, a veteran of Desert Storm, the type with a persistent character and genuinely kind eyes, gets in a psychiatric hospital after being convicted of a crime he did not commit.

#23 Forrest Gump

Forrest Gump may be an excessively sentimental film with a somewhat problematic message, but its sweetness and charm are usually enough to approximate true depth and grace.

#24 Pan’s Labyrinth

This movie is about the Spanish civil war. It is 1944; the struggle against the Republicans has been won in Spain. D-Day, and Hitler’s imminent collapse in Europe, are distant and unwelcome rumors.

#25 In Time

In a future where people stop aging at 25, but are engineered to live only one more year, having the means to buy your way out of the situation is a shot at immortal youth.

#26 The Thirteenth Floor

One big expert in the field of computer development and programming has created a system that allows one to plunge into a virtual reality modeling New York in the 30ies of 20 century. Without waiting for the moment when it will be brought to mind, newly, but no longer young, the creator decides to visit his new short-term reality for the purpose of sexual pleasures.

#27 The Fountain

Spanning over one thousand years, and three parallel stories, this movie is a story of love, death, spirituality, and the fragility of our existence in this world.

#28 The Truman Show

The movie is founded on an enormous secret that all of the studio’s advertising has been determined to reveal.

#29 The Butterfly Effect

The Butterfly Effect is a 2004 American psychological thriller film that was directed and written by Eric Bress and J. Mackye Gruber, starring Amy Smart and Ashton Kutcher, and is a popular hypothetical example of chaos theory which illustrates how small initial differences may lead to large unforeseen consequences over time.

#30 Life of Pi

Director Ang Lee creates a groundbreaking movie event about a young man who survives a tragic disaster at sea and is hurtled into an incredible journey of adventure and discovery. While marooned on a lifeboat, he forms an amazing and unexpected connection with the ship’s only other survivor, a fearsome Bengal tiger.

#31 Phenomenon

The story revolves around John Travolta, a village male, which obtains the power of telekinesis and super-intelligence after seeing a flash of light in the sky one night.

#32 Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives

Suffering from acute kidney failure, Boonmee has chosen to spend his final days surrounded by his loved ones in the countryside. Surprisingly, the ghost of his deceased wife appears to care for him, and his long lost son returns home in a non-human form.

#33 Memento

The young man Leonard has a rare disease – loss of short term memory. Leonard remembers everything up until the day X – the death of his wife, but does not know where he slept yesterday and what kind of people are around him. With such disease Lenny has a goal – he must avenge the murder of his wife.

#34 Magnolia

An epic mosaic of many interrelated characters in search of forgiveness, happiness and meaning in the San Fernando Valley.

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#35 The Man from Earth

The movie focuses on John Oldman, a departing university professor, who claims to be a Cro-Magnon, who has secretly survived for more than 14,000 years.

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#36 Donnie Darko

A troubled teenager is plagued by visions of a large bunny rabbit that manipulates him to commit a series of crimes, after narrowly escaping a bizarre.

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#37 La vita e bella – 1997 (Life Is Beautiful)

When a Jewish librarian and his son become victims of the Holocaust, he uses a perfect mixture of will, humor and imagination to defend his son from the dangers around their camp.

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#38 Oblivion

Tom Cruise plays as a veteran sent on Earth to extract the remaining useful resources. Tom starts to question the purpose of the mission once he explores enough.

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#39 Cloud Atlas

An exploration of how the actions of individual lives impact one another in the past, present, and future, as one soul is shaped from a killer into a hero, and an act of kindness ripples across centuries to inspire a revolution.

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#40 Lucy

This movie is set in a world that is run by the mob, drug addicts, street gangs, and corrupt cops. Lucy, a woman living in Taipei, Taiwan, is forced to work as a drug mule for the mob.

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Featured image credit – Teo Tarras/Shutterstock