The Oxford Scientist winter watchlist: Science on screen


Enjoy fun science films over winter. Image credit: Photo by Auke Bakker, via Unsplash.

With the winter holidays approaching, spend a cosy evening with an engaging movie! Selected by The Oxford Scientist team, here is your ultimate science film list. From delving into sci-fi mysteries to riveting biographies, these motion pictures will transport you on a scientific journey this holiday season. And if you only have a minute, you can indulge in exciting, informative articles related to these films from The Oxford Scientist instead. Let the 12 days of holiday movies begin!

1. My Octopus Teacher

Immerse yourself in the stunning underwater world through this documentary, where a filmmaker forms an unusual friendship with an octopus. It is a journey in discovering the intelligence of cephalopods. Discover more animal perspectives in an article about the whale’s point of view by Joe Boyle.

2. The Imitation Game

Sharing the name with Turing’s famous paper, this film delves into the life of mathematician Alan Turing, who played a key role in breaking the Enigma code during World War II. The biographical drama reveals Turing’s life and work. If you’re interested in how mathematics is applied nowadays, read the piece by Taylah Andrews-Clark examining how we can use modelling to predict the spread violence.

Trinity bomb detonation

3. Oppenheimer

Missed the 2023 blockbuster? Now’s your chance to catch up! Explore the complex life of J. Robert Oppenheimer, the “father of the atomic bomb.” The film offers a nuanced portrayal of his contributions and the ethical dilemmas of nuclear weapons. Gain further insights into Oppenheimer from Oxford Scientist authors Lily Massey and Shivi Gupta.

4. Fire of Love

If this holiday season you’re after a romantic tale, then you’re in luck! This is a documentary about two volcanologists who dedicated their lives to understanding and documenting volcanic eruptions. It is a tale of love, adventure, and scientific pursuit. And if you would like to read more about story-telling on screen and documentary film making, enjoy an article by Anka Stankovic.

Apollo crew in the mission operation control room

5. Hidden Figures

Discover the untold story of three brilliant African American women at NASA who played pivotal roles in the early years of the US space program. For more on space travel, read an article by Billie Delpino on how biochemistry is going to take us to Mars.

Elephant in a savana

6. Planet Earth III

The latest instalment in the acclaimed nature documentary series, offering breathtaking footage and insightful commentary on our planet’s diverse ecosystems and the challenges they face. After the mesmerizing sights, ponder our impact on the planet as outlined by Natalie Stevenson.


7. Interstellar

Perfect for holiday travels through space and time, this sci-fi epic explores human exploration’s limits. And for more current news about space, read Olivia Allen’s new article about the problems caused by space debris.

8. Jurassic Park

Experience the wonder and terror of a theme park filled with resurrected dinosaurs. This classic film combines action, adventure, and ethical questions about scientific advancements and their consequences. Follow up with an article by Ben Igielman on Jurassic Park’s 30th anniversary.

Actors Robert De Niro and Robin Williams in the film 'Awakenings'

9. Awakenings

Follow the true story of a doctor’s extraordinary work with patients treated with a new drug. It explores the boundaries between medicine and miracles. For more, read Ester Paolocci’s article about Awakenings, and what laboratory mice and Robert De Niro have in common.

10. Gattaca

Enter a future where genetic engineering determines one’s life path. This thought-provoking film raises important questions about identity, destiny, and the nature of humanity in a society obsessed with perfection. If you’re interested in other ways how the future human might be shaped and look like, read about Human 2.0, an article by Marianna Birkitt.


11. The Man Who Knew Infinity

Witness the incredible life of Srinivasa Ramanujan, a self-taught Indian mathematician. His unique and brilliant work takes him to Trinity College, Cambridge, during World War I. If you are left wondering how many incredible scientists society is going to procure, read this article by Kitty Clarke about paradigm shifting.

12. Into the Inferno

Accompany Werner Herzog on a cinematic journey exploring active volcanoes around the world. This documentary melds the awe-inspiring power of volcanoes with insights into the cultures and scientific research surrounding them. If you’re interested in reading more about eruptions, read an article by Penny Streatfield.

Image credits: Tetiana Grypachevska, Warren Umoh, Piermanuele Sberni, Markus Spiske, NASA, Andy Robson, Mauro Sbicego, Stephanie Harlacher via UnsplashCaptainOT from Movie Stills.