30 Brainy Movies That Will Make You Go WTF?!

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These mind-bending, mentally stimulating movies are not for your pajama parties, fellas. Their stories, editing, and sometimes even the visual complexities of them can make you feel a little, well, “not-so-brainy” if you insist on not paying attention. So clear your mind, and enjoy the challenge!

The list is not in order, and the storylines were taken from IMDb.

1. The Others, 2001

A woman named Grace retires with her two children to a mansion on Jersey, towards the end of the Second World War, where she's waiting for her husband to come back from battle. The children have a disease which means they cannot be touched by direct sunlight without being hurt in some way. They will live alone there with oppressive, strange and almost religious rules, until she needs to hire a group of servants for them. Their arrival will accidentally begin to break the rules with unexpected consequences.

IMDb: 7.6

2. There Will Be Blood, 2007

The intersecting life stories of Daniel Plainview and Eli Sunday in early twentieth century California presents miner-turned-oilman Daniel Plainview, a driven man who will do whatever it takes to achieve his goals. He works hard but also takes advantage of those around him at their expense if need be. His business partner/son (H.W.) is, in reality, an "acquired" child whose true biological single-parent father (working on one of Daniel's rigs) died in a workplace accident. Daniel is deeply protective of H.W. if only for what H.W. brings to the partnership. Eli Sunday is one in a pair of twins whose family farm Daniel purchases for the major oil deposit located on it.

IMDb: 8.1

3. Snowpiercer, 2013

Set in 2031, the entire world is frozen except for those aboard the Snowpiercer. For 17 years, the world's survivors are on a train hurtling around the globe creating their own economy and class system. Led by Curtis, a group of lower-class citizens living in squalor at the back of the train are determined to get to the front of the train and spread the wealth around. Each section of the train holds new surprises for the group who have to battle their way through. A revolution is underway. 

IMDb : 7.0

4. The Butterfly Effect, 2004

Evan Treborn grows up in a small town with his single, working mother and his friends. He suffers from memory blackouts where he suddenly finds himself somewhere else, confused. Evan's friends and mother hardly believe him, thinking he makes it up just to get out of trouble. As Evan grows up he has fewer of these blackouts until he seems to have recovered. Since the age of seven he has written a diary of his blackout moments so he can remember what happens. One day at college he starts to read one of his old diaries, and suddenly a flashback hits him like a brick! 

IMDb: 7.7

5. The Red Violin, 1998

In present day Montreal, a famous Nicolo Bussotti violin, known as "the red violin," is being auctioned off. During the auction, we flash back to the creation of the violin in 17th century Italy, and follow the violin as it makes its way through an 18th century Austrian monastery, a violinist in 19th century Oxford, China during the Cultural Revolution, and back to Montreal, where a collector tries to establish the identity and the secrets of "the red violin."

IMDb: 7.8

6. Shutter Island, 2010

It's 1954, and up-and-coming U.S. marshal Teddy Daniels is assigned to investigate the disappearance of a patient from Boston's Shutter Island Ashecliffe Hospital. He's been pushing for an assignment on the island for personal reasons, but before long he wonders whether he hasn't been brought there as part of a twisted plot by hospital doctors whose radical treatments range from unethical to illegal to downright sinister. Teddy's shrewd investigating skills soon provide a promising lead, but the hospital refuses him access to records he suspects would break the case wide open. As a hurricane cuts off communication with the mainland, more dangerous criminals "escape" in the confusion, and the puzzling, improbable clues multiply, Teddy begins to doubt everything - his memory, his partner, even his own sanity. 

IMDb: 8.1

7. Lucky Number Slevin, 2006

In an airport waiting room, a man in a wheelchair tells a stranger a story about a fixed horse race in 1979 that resulted in a family's deaths. In Manhattan, two bookies and the son of a Mob boss die. A young man just out of the shower answers the door to a neighbor woman and explains that he's visiting, has had a bad week, including being mugged, and doesn't know where his pal, who lives there, is. The neighbor is chatty; she's a coroner. Two thugs arrive and, believing the visitor to be the guy who lives there, take him to see the boss with the dead son, who tells him to kill the son of his Mob rival. Mistaken identity? What connects the threads? Cops are watching.

IMDb: 7.8

8. The Perverts Guide To Ideology, 2012

The sequel to The Pervert's Guide to Cinema sees the reunion of brilliant philosopher Slavoj Zizek with filmmaker Sophie Fiennes, now using their inventive interpretation of moving pictures to examine ideology - the collective fantasies that shape our beliefs and practices.

IMDb: 7.6

9. Minority Report, 2002

In the year 2054 A.D. crime is virtually eliminated from Washington D.C. thanks to an elite law enforcing squad "Precrime". They use three gifted humans (called "Pre-Cogs") with special powers to see into the future and predict crimes beforehand. John Anderton heads Precrime and believes the system's flawlessness steadfastly. However one day the Pre-Cogs predict that Anderton will commit a murder himself in the next 36 hours. Worse, Anderton doesn't even know the victim. He decides to get to the mystery's core by finding out the 'minority report' which means the prediction of the female Pre-Cog Agatha that "might" tell a different story and prove Anderton innocent.

IMDb: 7.7

10. The Best Offer, 2013

In the world of high-end art auctions and antiques, Virgil Oldman is an elderly and esteemed but eccentric genius art-expert, known and appreciated by the world. Oldman is hired by a solitary young heiress, Claire Ibbetson, to auction off the large collection of art and antiques left to her by her parents. For some reason, Claire always refuses to be seen in person. Robert aids Oldman in restoring and reassembling some odd mechanical parts he finds amongst Claire's belongings, while also giving him advice on how to befriend her and deal with his feelings towards her. Also a friend of Oldman, Billy Whistler helps him to acquire a secret private collection of master paintings.

IMDb: 7.8

11. Being John Malkovich, 1999

Puppeteer Craig Schwartz and animal lover and pet store clerk Lotte Schwartz are just going through the motions of their marriage. Despite not being able to earn a living solely through puppeteering, Craig loves his profession as it allows him to inhabit the skin of others. He begins to take the ability to inhabit the skin of others to the next level when he is forced to take a job as a file clerk for the off-kilter LesterCorp, located on the five-foot tall 7½ floor of a Manhattan office building. Behind one of the filing cabinets in his work area, Craig finds a hidden door which he learns is a portal into the mind of John Malkovich, the visit through the portal which lasts fifteen minutes after which the person is spit into a ditch next to the New Jersey Turnpike. 

IMDb: 7.8

12. Cube, 1997

Six different people, each from a very different walk of life, awaken to find themselves inside a giant cube with thousands of possible rooms. Each has a skill that becomes clear when they must band together to get out: a cop, a math whiz, a building designer, a doctor, an escape master, and a disabled man. Each plays a part in their thrilling quest to find answers as to why they've been imprisoned.

IMDb: 7.4

13. Gattaca, 1997

In the not-too-distant future, a less-than-perfect man wants to travel to the stars. Society has categorized Vincent Freeman as less than suitable given his genetic make-up and he has become one of the underclass of humans that are only useful for menial jobs. To move ahead, he assumes the identity of Jerome Morrow, a perfect genetic specimen who is a paraplegic as a result of a car accident. With professional advice, Vincent learns to deceive DNA and urine sample testing. Just when he is finally scheduled for a space mission, his program director is killed and the police begin an investigation, jeopardizing his secret.

IMDb: 7.8

14. The Usual Suspects, 1995

Following a truck hijack in New York, five conmen are arrested and brought together for questioning. As none of them are guilty, they plan a revenge operation against the police. The operation goes well, but then the influence of a legendary mastermind criminal called Keyser Soze is felt. It becomes clear that each one of them has wronged Soze at some point and must pay back now. The payback job leaves 27 men dead in a boat explosion, but the real question arises now: Who actually is Keyser Soze?

IMDb: 8.7

15. The Devil's Advocate, 1997

Devil's Advocate thematically raises the preposition that 'is winning everything' in the legal profession.Does a lawyer commits the basic sin of Vanity if he believes his job is to win, as Kevin does. Further the movie in John Milton's trenchant speech questions the very notion of righteousness in the post-modern world. Milton's speech rips apart the whole discourse of religion when he presents the inherent contradiction of it. Kevin's dilemma reflects the modern man who accuses the circumstances for being what he is,the culture dominated by making money 'which build egos of the size of cathedral', the question is can one really call what one does 'freely-willed'?. The movie deals with these 'Hamltian questions' in a lawyer's mind.

IMDb: 7.5

16. Inside Man, 2006

From a cell, a man tells us he has planned the perfect bank robbery; he invites us to watch. An efficient gang enters a Manhattan bank, locks the doors, and takes hostages. They work deliberately, without haste. Detective Frazier is assigned to negotiate, but half his mind is occupied with the corruption charges he is facing. The bank's president has something to protect in a safe deposit box, so he brings in Madeleine White, a high-power broker with a hidden agenda. With an army of police surrounding the bank, the thief, the cop, and the plutocrat's fixer enter high-stakes negotiations. Why are the robbers asking for a plane, if they are so competent and they know they won't get one? Why aren't they in more of a hurry? If the job's perfect, why is the thieves' leader in a cell?

IMDb: 7.7

17. Memento, 2000

Memento chronicles two separate stories of Leonard, an ex-insurance investigator who can no longer build new memories, as he attempts to find the murderer of his wife, which is the last thing he remembers. One story line moves forward in time while the other tells the story backwards revealing more each time. 

IMDb: 8.5

18. Primer, 2004

At night and on weekends, four men in a suburban garage have built a cottage industry of error-checking devices. But, they know that there is something more. There is some idea, some mechanism, some accidental side effect that is standing between them and a pure leap of innovation. And so, through trial and error they are building the device that is missing most. However, two of these men find the device and immediately realize that it is too valuable to market. The limit of their trust in each other is strained when they are faced with the question, If you always want what you can't have, what do you want when you can have anything?

IMDB: 7.0

19. The Man From Earth, 2013

An impromptu goodbye party for Professor John Oldman becomes a mysterious interrogation after the retiring scholar reveals to his colleagues he has a longer and stranger past than they can imagine.

IMDb: 8.0

20. Blade Runner, 1982

In the futuristic year of 2019, Los Angeles has become a dark and depressing metropolis, filled with urban decay. Rick Deckard, an ex-cop, is a "Blade Runner". Blade runners are people assigned to assassinate "replicants". The replicants are androids that look like real human beings. When four replicants commit a bloody mutiny on the Off World colony, Deckard is called out of retirement to track down the androids. As he tracks the replicants, eliminating them one by one, he soon comes across another replicant, Rachel, who evokes human emotion, despite the fact that she's a replicant herself. As Deckard closes in on the leader of the replicant group, his true hatred toward artificial intelligence makes him question his own identity in this future world, including what's human and what's not human.

IMDb: 8.2

21. Jacob's Ladder, 1990

New York postal worker Jacob Singer is trying to keep his frayed life from unraveling. His days are increasingly being invaded by flashbacks to his first marriage, his now-dead son, and his tour of duty in Vietnam. Athough his new wife tries to help Jacob keep his grip on sanity, the line between reality and delusion is steadily growing more and more uncertain.

IMDb: 7.6

22. Mulholland Drive, 2001

A bright-eyed young actress travels to Hollywood, only to be ensnared in a dark conspiracy involving a woman who was nearly murdered, and now has amnesia because of a car crash. Eventually, both women are pulled into a psychotic illusion involving a dangerous blue box, a director named Adam Kesher, and the mysterious night club Silencio.

IMDb: 8.0

23. Predestination, 2014

PREDESTINATION chronicles the life of a Temporal Agent sent on an intricate series of time-travel journeys designed to ensure the continuation of his law enforcement career for all eternity. Now, on his final assignment, the Agent must pursue the one criminal that has eluded him throughout time.

IMDb: 7.4

24. Mr. Nobody, 2009

In the year 2092, one hundred eighteen year old Nemo is recounting his life story to a reporter. He is less than clear, often times thinking that he is only thirty-four years of age. But his story becomes more confusing after he does focus on the fact of his current real age. He tells of his life at three primary points in his life: at age nine (when his parents divorced), age sixteen and age thirty-four. The confusing aspect of the story is that he tells of alternate life paths, often changing course with the flick of a decision at each of those ages. One life path has him ultimately married to Elise, a depressed woman who never got over the unrequited love she had for a guy named Stefano when she was a teenager and who asked Nemo to swear that when she died he would sprinkle her ashes on Mars. A second life path has him married to Jean.

IMDb: 7.9

25. Brick, 2006

The lonely teenager Brendan finds his former girlfriend Emily dead in the entrance of a tunnel of sewage and recalls her phone call two days ago, when she said to him that she was in trouble. Brendan, who still loved Emily, met bad elements of his high-school trying to contact her, and when he succeeded, she told him that she was OK. He hides her body in the tunnel and decides to investigate the meaning and connection of four words, including "brick" and "pin", that Emily told him to find who killed her. Using the support of his nerd friend Brain, he successively meets the small time drug dealers Kara, Dode, Brad Bramish, Laura and Tugger, to reach the teenager powerful drug dealer The Pin. Slowly, Brendan unravels the motives why Emily was killed and plots a revenge.

IMDb: 7.5

26. Inception, 2010

Dom Cobb is a skilled thief, the absolute best in the dangerous art of extraction, stealing valuable secrets from deep within the subconscious during the dream state, when the mind is at its most vulnerable. Cobb's rare ability has made him a coveted player in this treacherous new world of corporate espionage, but it has also made him an international fugitive and cost him everything he has ever loved. Now Cobb is being offered a chance at redemption. One last job could give him his life back but only if he can accomplish the impossible - inception. Instead of the perfect heist, Cobb and his team of specialists have to pull off the reverse: their task is not to steal an idea but to plant one. If they succeed, it could be the perfect crime. But no amount of careful planning or expertise can prepare the team for the dangerous enemy that seems to predict their every move. An enemy that only Cobb could have seen coming.

IMDb: 8.8

27. Waking Life, 2001

Dreams. What are they? An escape from reality or reality itself? Waking Life follows the dream(s) of one man and his attempt to find and discern the absolute difference between waking life and the dreamworld. While trying to figure out a way to wake up, he runs into many people on his way; some of which offer one sentence asides on life, others delving deeply into existential questions and life's mysteries. We become the main character. It becomes our dream and our questions being asked and answered. Can we control our dreams? What are they telling us about life? About death? About ourselves and where we come from and where we are going? The film does not answer all these for us. Instead, it inspires us to ask the questions and find the answers ourselves.

IMDb: 7.8

28. The Matrix, 1999

Thomas A. Anderson is a man living two lives. By day he is an average computer programmer and by night a hacker known as Neo. Neo has always questioned his reality, but the truth is far beyond his imagination. Neo finds himself targeted by the police when he is contacted by Morpheus, a legendary computer hacker branded a terrorist by the government. Morpheus awakens Neo to the real world, a ravaged wasteland where most of humanity have been captured by a race of machines that live off of the humans' body heat and electrochemical energy and who imprison their minds within an artificial reality known as the Matrix. As a rebel against the machines, Neo must return to the Matrix and confront the agents: super-powerful computer programs devoted to snuffing out Neo and the entire human rebellion.

IMDb: 8.7

29. K- PAX, 2001

Prot is a patient at a mental hospital who claims to be from a far away planet. His psychiatrist tries to help him, only to begin to doubt his own explanations.

IMDb: 7.4

30. Fight Club, 1999

A ticking-time-bomb insomniac and a slippery soap salesman channel primal male aggression into a shocking new form of therapy. Their concept catches on, with underground "fight clubs" forming in every town, until an eccentric gets in the way and ignites an out-of-control spiral toward oblivion.

IMDb: 8.9

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