Being Special: 20 Movies About Autistics

Did you know that autism is not a disease, but a developmental disorder that causes a person to experience the world differently from others? Cinema, the most universal language in the world, has repeatedly told about the fate of people with autism spectrum disorders. Moreover, among the celebrities with ASD in the cinema are Stanley Kubrick, Anthony Hopkins, Tim Burton, Courtney Love. The best films and series about autism provide answers to the main questions. Is a person able to accept himself as he is, if he differs from generally accepted norms? And are others able to accept it?

Music (2020)

The new film is the feature-length debut of singer Sia, who until now has directed only her own music videos. An autistic girl named Music lives with her grandmother. But one day, Music’s old and necessary way of life collapses when the old woman dies of a stroke. Now a half-sister must look after the teenager. Although a young relative can hardly take care of herself, what can we say about a 14-year-old special child!

What do you think, is it worth filming a sequel, and what should be in it?

Original title:
Music

Genre:
Musical, drama

Actors:
Kate Hudson, Lesley Odom Jr., Maddie Ziegler …

Country:
USA

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 6.1, IMDb – 3.1

Age restrictions:
16+


I’m crazy, but it’s okay (TV series 2020)

A beautiful multi-part film about autists is a rated melodrama about two completely different characters who defy fate and fall in love against all odds. Moon Kang Tae is an employee of a psychiatric hospital . He denies love but devotedly cares for his older brother with autism. Go Moon Young is a children’s writer with antisocial personality disorder. Due to bullying in childhood, the girl grew up selfish, arrogant and rude. In addition, the main feature of the unusual author of fairy tales is the absence of feelings and emotions.

Original title:
Saikojiman gwaenchanha

Genre:
Drama, melodrama

Actors:
Kim Soo-hyun, So Ye-ji, Pak Kyu-young …

Country:
South Korea

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 8.2, IMDb – 8.7

Age limit:
16+


Special (2019)

In this film, fans of Vincent Cassel will be able to see a man in a rather atypical role for him as a selfless director of an orphanage for special children. The everyday life of Bruno and Malik is a struggle with indifference and disinterested help to their wards. Two men – an Arab and a Jew – joined forces, regardless of social status, religion and various prejudices, to become a support for those from whom society turned away. The film honestly, without illusions and excessive sentimentality, shows the everyday life of the orphanage, its pupils and the leaders of the institution.

Original title:
Hors normes

Genre:
Drama, comedy

Actors:
Vincent Cassel, Reda Kateb, Helen Vincent …

Country:
France, Belgium

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 7.5, IMDb – 7.4

Age restrictions:
12+


Witness (2019)

The authors of the South Korean film about autism raised this difficult topic by skillfully packing a detective story into a social drama. An old man suffering from depression is found dead and his housekeeper is charged with murder. The woman’s lawyer , Yang Sun-ho, learns that there is only one witness in the case. This is a teenage girl with autism. Will Jan be able to build a dialogue with a special child? And what will he choose when professional duty and the concepts of morality are on different scales?

Original title:
Jeungin

Genre:
Drama, Detective

Actors:
Jung Woo-son, Kim Hyang-gi, Lee Kyu-hyun…

Country:
South Korea

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 7.2, IMDb – 7.5


The Good Doctor (TV series 2017 – 2021)

Another cool multi-part film on the subject of medicine from the creator of House M.D. The protagonist Sean Murphy is a guy with autism who has unusual abilities and a phenomenal memory. In childhood, he lost his brother – the only one with whom he could communicate due to his disorder. Sean becomes a doctor and falls under the tutelage of an experienced neurosurgeon who sees a talent in him. But despite the virtuoso ability to feel the problems inside the human body, the young doctor absolutely does not know how to get along in society.

Original title:
The Good Doctor

Genre:
Drama

Actors:
Freddie Highmore, Antonia Thomas, Hill Harper …

Country:
USA

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 8.9, IMDb – 8.1

Age limit:
16+


Atypical (TV series, 2017 – 2021)

The plot of the American TV series about autistic revolves around high school student Sam. Despite the autistic disorder, the guy lives an ordinary life and tries to somehow fit into society. And his older sister, parents and a psychologist help him . The latter makes Sam think that he just needs to learn the basics of communicating with girls and find himself a lover. What a teenager will do in the near future, getting into a lot of funny situations.

Original title:
Atypical

Genre:
Drama, Comedy

Actors:
Jennifer Jason Leigh, Keir Gilchrist, Brigitte Lundy-Paine…

Country:
USA

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 7.7, IMDb – 8.3


The A Word (TV series 2016 – 2020)

For the time being, it seemed that the Hughes couple were an ordinary family living in a small town near Manchester. However, the world of these people turned upside down overnight when they found out that the smallest member of their family, Joe, is special. Parents tried not to notice the oddities in the boy’s behavior and his difficulties in communication. But now the diagnosis is known – it is autism. How will the couple cope with the news and will they be able to find an approach to Joe? And how their life will change, because from now on it is necessary to follow the established rules and in no case lose self-control.

Original title:
The A Word

Genre:
Drama

Actors:
Max Vento, Lee Ingleby, Christopher Eccleston …

Country:
United Kingdom

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 7.5, IMDb – 7.8


X+Y (2014)

The world of the gifted Nathan Alice is a world of numbers and signs. His excessive stubbornness and obsession with mathematics , but absolute isolation in terms of communication, are explained by the fact that he is autistic. To develop the child’s abilities, Nathan’s mother sends him to a mathematical circle under the guidance of a talented teacher. Now the little hero of the film about outstanding autistic children is placed in unusual conditions. He must learn not just to endure communication, but to interact with the environment – he will have a trip to the Olympics.

Original title:
X+Y

Genre:
Drama, melodrama

Actors:
Asa Butterfield, Rafe Spall, Sally Hawkins

Country:
United Kingdom

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 7.1, IMDb – 7.1

Age restrictions:
18+


Eerily Loud and Incredibly Close (2011)

The creators of the piercing film adaptation of the novel of the same name by Jonathan Safran Foer were able to transfer to the screen the torment of a little boy with autism, who lost the person closest to him – his father. Oscar is 9 years old, he is a little out of this world, and recently a tragedy occurred in the child’s family – his dad died during the September 11 terrorist attack . Together they often played treasure hunts . Therefore, having found the key, Oscar begins an investigation in the wake of the last months of his father’s life.

Original title:
Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close

Genre:
Drama, detective, adventure

Actors:
Thomas Horn, Max von Sydow, Tom Hanks, Sandra Bullock…

Country:
USA

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 7.6, IMDb – 6.9

Age restrictions:
12+


My name is Khan (2010)

A feature film about autistic Khan – a man with a big heart, for whom there is no other person’s grief. Against all odds, the man managed to break out of poverty in India, find a calling and true love in the United States. Together with his wife and son, he spends his days in joy and peace and is engaged in business . Until September 11, 2001, a tragedy shakes the country, forcing society to be prejudiced against any Muslim. Unable to endure the harassment, Khan goes on a journey . The man wants to get to the president so that, looking into his eyes, he can say that he is not a terrorist.

Original title:
My Name Is Khan

Genre:
Drama

Actors:
Shah Rukh Khan, Kajol, Katie A. Kin…

Country:
India, USA, UAE

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 8.1, IMDb – 8.0

Age limit:
16+


Temple Grandin (2010)

Temple Grandin’s phenomenon is that, despite her autism, she was able to reach her potential and succeed. The woman graduated from the magistracy, became one of the leading zoologists and the author of several books. It was she who designed most of the slaughterhouses in the United States, a key aspect of which was the humane treatment of animals. The biopic is based on real events in the life of Temple, one of the first activists to speak openly about the problems of autism.

Original title:
Temple Grandin

Genre:
Drama, biography

Actors:
Claire Danes, Julia Ormond, David Strathairn …

Country:
USA

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 7.9, IMDb – 8.3


Ocean Paradise (2010)

The list of the best films about autists will continue with the story about a father who works in a dolphinarium and raises a special child alone. Having learned about his fatal illness and realizing that soon there will be no one to look after the boy, the man begins to fight for the future of his son. After all, a 21-year-old guy is not at all adapted to life among people. He is distracted, his thoughts are confused, and the slightest changes in his usual way of life lead him to hysteria.

Original title:
Hai yang tian tang

Genre:
Drama

Actors:
Jet Li, Chen Ran, Wen Zhang…

Country:
China

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 7.8, IMDb – 7.6


There are no feelings in space (2010)

The highly rated Swedish comedy drama will introduce you to two brothers. Simon hides from the outside world in a huge saucepan – a spaceship . He is autistic and his life is an ideal equation, where everything is ordered and done exactly by the clock. Sam is an ordinary straight-forward guy looking after his little brother. One day, a catastrophe occurs in the system that has been established over the years – Sam is abandoned by a girl, because of which he falls into depression. Simon decides to find a new lover for his brother at all costs.

Original title:
I rymden finns inga känslor

Genre:
Drama, melodrama, comedy

Actors:
Bill Skarsgård, Martin Wahlström, Cecilia Forss…

Country:
Sweden

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 7.7, IMDb – 7.1


Quiet Things (2010)

The short film will tell not about autistic geniuses or brilliant scientists, but about ordinary people – a man with Asperger’s syndrome and an autistic woman. They come to the beach every day to fly a kite. And there is nothing around – only two, the wind and a kite hovering in the clouds. One day, a teenage girl appears on the same beach. The frivolous and selfish Charlotte does not even suspect that she can destroy their already fragile world.

Original title:
Silent Things

Genre:
Short, drama

Actors:
Antonia Campbell-Hughes, Georgia Groome, Andrew Scott …

Country:
United Kingdom

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 7.6, IMDb – 7.2

Age restrictions:
12+


Adam (2009)

The feature-length debut of director Max Mayer is an award-winning drama film at the Independent Film Festival. Adam works for a robot doll company, is into astronomy, and has autism. This means that Adam is stingy with emotions himself and often does not understand the feelings of others. One day, a new neighbor, Beth, moves into the house. Gradually, young people find a common language, but Adam’s special personality traits sometimes make their relationship simply unbearable. Will they be able to be together?

Original title:
Adam

Genre:
Drama, romance, comedy

Actors:
Hugh Dancy, Rose Byrne, Peter Gallagher …

Country:
USA

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 7.4, IMDb – 7.2

Age restrictions:
16+


Black Ball (2008)

15-year-old Thomas has several problems – constantly changing schools, moving due to his father’s profession and his older brother Charlie with autism. Finding himself once again in a new team, he does not want to stand out, so he carefully hides his brother’s mental disorders from his classmates. The guy just wants, like all teenagers, to be friends , have fun and fall in love. However, acquaintance with the girl Jackie will turn his view of the problem. After all, she was the only one of her peers who was not afraid when she saw Charlie.

Original title:
The Black Balloon

Genre:
Drama, melodrama

Actors:
Reese Wakefield, Luke Ford, Toni Collette…

Country:
Australia, UK

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 7.1, IMDb – 7.2

Age restrictions:
16+


Ben X (2007)

This movie about an autistic child looks in one breath thanks to the realism and non-triviality of the plot, the wonderful acting, and the original denouement. Schoolboy Ben feels more confident in a computer game than in real life. The only way for him to find friends is virtual reality . Here the young man is a hero: he knows exactly how to complete the mission. In the real world, only misunderstanding, persecution and humiliation await him. In the game Archlord, Ben has his own healer – the beautiful Scarlight, and one day the guy decides to date a girl.

Original title:
Ben X

Genre:
Thriller, drama

Actors:
Greg Timmermans, Laura Verlinden, Marike Pinoy…

Country:
Belgium, Netherlands

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 7.4, IMDb – 7.4

Age restrictions:
16+


Crazy in Love (2005)

The kind and smart guy Donald, suffering from mania for numbers, once founded a support society for autistic people. The young man brilliantly performs complex calculations and does it all the time, because he cannot do otherwise. One day Isabelle appears in the group. A charismatic girl also has a number of specific problems. The characters fall in love with each other, but they are hindered by insecurity and inability to express their feelings.

Original title:
Mozart and the Whale

Genre:
Drama, romance, comedy

Actors:
Josh Hartnett, Radha Mitchell, Gary Cole …

Country:
USA

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 7.3, IMDb – 6.8

Age restrictions:
16+


Mercury in Peril (1998)

The dynamic events of the American action movie do not allow distraction from the screen until the very end credits. Bruce Willis, as FBI agent Art Jeffries, will protect a young boy with autism from NSA agents chasing him. Why did the government need a child? The fact is that Simon accidentally revealed the secret government code “Mercury”, allegedly indecipherable. And now the expensive latest development loses all meaning.

Original title:
Mercury Rising

Genre:
Action, thriller, drama, crime

Actors:
Bruce Willis, Alec Baldwin, Miko Hughes…

Country:
USA

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 6.9, IMDb – 6.1

Age restrictions:
16+


Rain Man (1988)

If anyone hasn’t seen the most famous autistic film yet, you’ll have an unforgettable evening in the company of the selfish rake Charlie and his brilliant brother. Charlie’s business is on the verge of bankruptcy. However, the father leaves all the inheritance, except for the ancient Buick, to Raymond, his older brother with autism. Raymond can’t tie his shoelaces or fasten his pants belt, but he has an amazing memory and is able to do complex calculations in his head. The younger brother takes the older brother away from the clinic, and the two men embark on a journey that will change their lives forever.

Original title:
Rain Man

Genre:
Drama

Actors:
Dustin Hoffman, Tom Cruise, Valeria Golino…

Country:
USA

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 8.2, IMDb – 8.0

Age limit:
16+


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Jared Lambert/ author of the article

I’ve been writing about movies, TV shows and anime for over 3 years, and you may have seen my reviews on Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic.

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