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The Ten Best Movies about Neurodivergent Heroes

The Ten Best Movies about Neurodivergent Heroes


Most of us know that 'neurodiversity' is a term that refers to the wide array of ways that people's brains can work. Neurodivergent people can have differences in how we process information, communicate, and organise ourselves. But how has the film industry represented neurodivergent people in the past? Let's take a look!

Rain Man

Rain Man is a 1988 American comedy-drama road film directed by Barry Levinson and written by Barry Morrow and Ronald Bass. It stars Dustin Hoffman as an autistic savant who, along with his brother Charlie (Tom Cruise), travels cross country to meet their estranged father Lyle (Kurt Russell) in Las Vegas. The film's theme song was performed by Elton John.

Rain Man was nominated for three Academy Awards: Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor (for Hoffman) and Best Director.

My Left Foot

Daniel Day Lewis, one of the most famous actors and directors in all of film, won an Academy Award for Best Actor (a feat he has also accomplished numerous times) for his portrayal of Christy Brown, a man with cerebral palsy who can only move his left foot. This movie won both Best Picture and Best Director at the Oscars and was nominated for three other categories.

This is a beautiful movie about how people with disabilities can overcome any obstacle through determination and self-motivation.

The Theory of Everything

The Theory of Everything is a film about Stephen Hawking and his wife, Jane. It tells the story of their early years together, what it was like for them to be struggling students and scientists in Cambridge during the 1960s, and how they dealt with his diagnosis at age 21.

We see this scene where Stephen shows up at an event without warning after having been away for weeks working on equations. He walks through crowds of people until he finds Jane sitting at a table by herself looking sad because she had just broken up with someone else (but now she knows he still loves her). She sees him coming toward her but doesn’t know why; then he kisses her passionately on the lips which makes everyone gasp because nobody expected that from him!

Forrest Gump

For many people, Forrest Gump is a movie about a man with learning challenges who’s just trying to be a good person and live his life. But for people like me, it’s so much more than that.

Forrest Gump is the perfect representation of the struggle that many of us face every day: how hard it can be being different from everyone else, how much we are under-estimated by those around us, how we need others to help us succeed in our everyday lives. The main character is constantly told he should “just leave well enough alone,” and yet he never does—because he knows there are other things out there worth fighting for.

Inside I'm Dancing

Inside I'm Dancing tells the story of an Asperger's syndrome-diagnosed man who is obsessed with music, specifically drumming. His condition means that he has trouble reading social cues and communicating with people, but his parents are determined to help him overcome these challenges. He meets a girl at the local support group and they start dating. Together they learn how to dance together and find themselves falling in love. The movie explores what it means to be neurodivergent in a way that is both honest yet hopeful for future generations' ability to live fulfilling lives despite their differences from the majority population.

Temple Grandin

Temple Grandin is a professor of animal science at Colorado State University, an autistic woman who has become a leading figure in autism advocacy, and the subject of the 2010 film Temple Grandin.

Grandin's life story was featured on 60 Minutes in 1996, where she was called "the most accomplished person with autism in the world." She then published her first book Emergence: Labelled Autistic; which details her experiences as an autistic child growing up and how she overcame many obstacles to become who she is today.

As Good as it Gets

In this classic comedy starring Jack Nicholson, a writer with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), is forced to deal with those around him, who don't understand his behaviour. After being rudely rejected by everyone he knows—including his ex-wife and son—he meets Carol (Helen Hunt), who helps him overcome his social difficulties.

The Wizard of Oz

Bear with me on this! The Wizard of Oz is not only a classic, but it’s also one of the most famous movies of all time. There's a belief that in this movie, Dorothy has ADHD and uses her condition to help her friends along their journey. She can’t keep still, she loves to sing and dance, she talks too much sometimes... but she also has a powerful imagination and loves to read books. These are all characteristics that can be found in people with ADHD!

Mr. Holland's Opus

Mr. Holland's Opus is about a teacher who has Asperger's Syndrome, which Dreyfuss played with a nuanced and realistic portrayal that won him an Oscar for Best Actor in a Leading Role. The film is set in the late 1960s, when it was much more difficult for those with spectrum disorders to get through school or find employment. The movie also shows how many neurodivergent people can be incredibly successful if given the right support—and how important it is for society to recognise what we can achieve when we're given the tools and opportunity to do so.

A Beautiful Mind

The movie, which was nominated for eight Academy Awards and won four, is based on the true story of John Forbes Nash Jr. (played by Russell Crowe). It tells the story of a brilliant mathematician who struggled with mental illness throughout his life. He was born in 1928 and lived until May 2015 at age 86.

While an undergraduate at Princeton, Nash went to see doctors but they misdiagnosed him with paranoid schizophrenia instead of bipolar disorder because at that time there wasn't much research about neurodivergent people's brains so doctors thought all their symptoms were related. 


There are more movies about neurodivergent people than you might think, and they’re all wonderful. They make you laugh, they make you cry, and they show us just how awesome it is to be different. I hope post has given you some ideas for your next movie night with friends or family members. We believe that every person should see themselves represented in the media at large and want everyone to feel empowered by their own unique abilities rather than held back by society's expectations of normalcy.

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