Movies to Watch to Celebrate Pi Day

Pi 1998
A24/Everett Collection

“Probably no symbol in mathematics has evoked as much mystery, romanticism, misconception and human interest as the number pi” ~William L. Schaaf, Nature and History of Pi

March 14 marks Pi Day, celebrating the number known as 3.14. If you’re like me and your brain essentially shut down during math class, Pi represents the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter. It can also be represented by the lower-case Greek letter π and if you type π into a calculator and press Enter, you will get the result 3.141592654. Whether you’re a math lover or not, use the day as an excuse to eat your favorite pie and watch some movies that reference Pi.

‘Pi (π)’

Pi Sean Gullette, 1998

A24/Everett Collection

We have to start first with Pi, which starred Sean Gullette and was released in 1998. This psychological thriller was famous director Darren Aronofsky‘s directorial debut. It is about a mathematician who is obsessed with finding order in the world, specifically the contrast between the irrationality of humans and the constant of math. If you’re in for some thrills, deep thinking, and of course, a lot of Pi, check this one out. It earned Aronofsky the Directing Award at the 1998 Sundance Film Festival. Rent it wherever you rent your movies, including Amazon Prime Video.


21, Jim Sturgess, 2008

Columbia Pictures/Everett Collection

If you’re in the mood for a math movie but want it to be a little more light-hearted, then 21 (2008) is a great choice. The film stars Jim Sturgess as an MIT student, trying to gain a scholarship to Harvard. He works with five other MIT students to learn card counting in Black Jack to take Vegas casinos for millions. It is based on real events and people and was told in the book “Bringing Down the House.” Rent it wherever you rent your movies, including Amazon Prime Video.

‘Hidden Figures’

Hidden Figures Taraji P. Henson, 2016

Hopper Stone/20th Century Fox Film Corp./Everett Collection

Hidden Figures (2016) is based on the true story of mathematicians Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan, and Mary Jackson, who worked on the NASA space program in the 1960s. They paved the way for Black women in science and math and their story is truly fascinating. Watch it on Disney+.


Gifted Mckenna Grace, 2017

Wilson Webb/Fox Searchlight Pictures/Everett Collection

Mckenna Grace plays a young girl with a very special gift for mathematics. After her mother dies, she is stuck in a custody battle between her grandmother and her uncle. Her grandma wants to see her use her incredible knowledge of math to change the world while her uncle advocates for a more normal childhood. It also features one of the hardest mathematical equations ever, the Navier-Stokes problem. Lots of math, but a heartwarming family film too. Watch it on Disney+.

‘Good Will Hunting’

Good Will Hunting Matt Damon, 1997

Miramax/Everett Collection

In 1997, one of Robin Williams‘ best films came out. Williams plays a therapist who discovers that the janitor at MIT (Matt Damon) is very skilled at mathematics. It is a heartfelt film that shows Williams’ more serious side and makes us miss him so much. Watch it on Max.

‘Mean Girls’

Mean Girls Lindsay Lohan, Tina Fey, 2004

Paramount/Everett Collection

If you’re just not that into math and looking for a good comedy, Mean Girls (2004) follows Cady Heron who moves from Africa to the United States. She uncovers a strange world of high school cliques, including the art freaks, the mathletes, and the Plastics. She joins a plan to take down the Plastics, the most popular girls at school but gets caught up in the drama. Part of the film does focus on Cady’s incredible math skills and the mathletes, technically making it a good film for this list. Watch it on Paramount+. If you like musicals, a newer version recently began streaming on Paramount+ as well.

Any other films you’d add to this list?

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