With the movie awards season in full swing, I thought I would pick my top ten films for engineers.
And then I started researching this and found I had opened a veritable Pandora’s Box of trouble. So, as this is a light hearted initiative and I am not trying to pigeonhole anyone, or suggest anything, I focused my attention on films with engineering at the heart of their story and I have listed them in order of watch-ability (my own that is):
- Flight of the Phoenix (1965): Survivors from a plane crash in the Sahara set about to escape their dry fate by building a plane from the wreckage of their original. Nominated for two Oscars (best supporting actor and best film editing).
- Back to the Future (1985): Highly fictional. Highly unlikely. The flux capacitor is surely one of the great engineering achievements of all time (past, present and future). Won one of four Oscar nominations (effects).
- The Right Stuff (1983): Chronicling the engineering achievements from the first 15 years of America’s space programme. Won four out of eight Oscar nominations (sound, editing, effects and score).
- The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957): WWII prisoners of war are forced to build a railway bridge for the now notorious Burma-Siam railway by their captors as part of one of the most inhumane episodes of the war. Won seven out of eight Oscar nominations (best film, actor, director, screenplay, cinematography, film editing and musical score) and was nominated for another (best supporting actor).
- Jurassic Park (1993): Representing the whole series, for shear audacious engineering (genetic, civil, mechanical, biomedical, etc.). Won all three Oscar nods (sound, visual effects and sound editing).
- Apollo 13 (1995): NASA engineers had to pull off a four-day marathon to get the Astronauts home alive. Very few films depict engineers as heroes. Fewer are based off of the lives of living, breathing individuals. Won two out of nine Oscar nominations (sound and editing).
- October Sky (1999): Heart-warming true story of a coal miner’s son in 1950s America who is inspired to be a rocket scientist by the first Sputnik launch.
- Star Trek: First Contact (1996): Concerning the invention of the warp drive – without which we would have had life, but not as we know it. Did not win the Oscar for best make-up.
- The Manhattan Project (1986): A big schmaltzy this one where two students make an atomic bomb with plutonium stolen from a scientist dating the male student’s mother.
- The Terminator 2: Judgement Day (1991): OK – perhaps a little tenuous (hence the lowly position), but who wouldn’t like to engineer a cyborg made from liquid metal? Won four out of six Oscar nominations (sound, sound effects editing, visual effects and make-up).
By their nature, lists are highly subjective. So this is my selection and I hope you disagree with at least some of my choices and let me know your inclusions and reasoning.