Tonight's Golden Globe Awards (awarded by members of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association) have me thinking about the great portrayals of inventive thinking, engineering, and patents in films (and television). Here are some of my favorites – can you recommend others? ("Educational" films OK if you would pay to see them or tune in on televsion.)

  • Apollo 13 (solving the CO2 filter problem)
  • Percy Julian - Forgotten Genius (PBS Nova film; celebrates the grit and genius of the inventor of a practical method of producing cortisone)
  • Flash of Genius (Robert Kearns, inventor of intermittent windshield wiper)
  • Bottle Shock (California wine)
  • All Things Bakelite (Leo Baekeland, inventor of first synthetic plastic)
  • Hacksaw Ridge (Desmond Doss, WWII medic/conscientious objector, devises a way to get gravely wounded soldiers down cliffs of Iwo JIma)


  1. The Martian!  Lots of great science and invention.

  2. How about Lorenzo's Oil? And maybe Awakenings.

  3. "Joy" starring Jennifer Lawrence, Bradley Cooper, and Robert Di Nero. Haven't seen it, but apparently it is about an individual inventor's quest to get a patent and protect her intellectual property rights!!

    • 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968, Artificial Intelligence, Spacetech)
    • Electric Dreams (1984, Artificial Intelligence)
    • Hackers, (1995, Cyber Security)
    • Outbreak (1995, Biotech)
    • Contact (1997, Astronomy)
    • Bicentennial Man (1999, for Robotics)
    • Minority Report (2002, Augmented Reality, Biometrics, Human Computer Interface, etc)
    • S1m0ne (2002, Artificial Intelligence, Computer Graphics, Sentient Technology)
    • I, Robot (2004, Robotics)
    • The Island (2005, Cloning, Biotech)


  4. Imitation Game (breaking the Enigma machine, computer science)

    Extraordinary Measures (Pompe Disease)

  5. In Europe there was a German television police series in 1990, called Derrick, and episode 184 was about a "deadly patent". It involves the President of the German Patent department and it shows scenes shot at the Munich patent department.

    Earlier, on Dutch tv, we had this excellent performance of Tom Manders, well known in his character "Dorus", playing the roles of both a searcher as well as an inventor of a revolutionary mouse trap. It is set in the pre-computer old times, with genuine paper shoes. Shot at the Dutch patent office. A must-see on youtube:

    I think language is not much of an issue here.