With every passing day, finals week feels like less of something to worry about later and more like something to break down about now. What once was just a mark on your calendar, outshined by the preceding festivities of Spring Fling, is now a daunting reality. However, as you let the procrastination bug settle in, you might as well watch movies that are, at the very least, tangentially related to the content of your final exams. Sure, they won’t replace the hours you’ll spend locked up in Van Pelt, but they may help you get through a hellish few weeks.
For your final on 20th century history: Forrest Gump
Though it won’t guarantee a passing grade on your history exam, Forrest Gump covers a lot of the second half of the 20th century, during which the title character remains completely oblivious to the chaos ensuing all around him. Though it's unlikely that you share Forrest’s positive outlook, it doesn’t hurt to have your heart warmed by Tom Hanks’ sympathetic portrayal of a simple man who does extraordinary things. A sweet little movie about love may be the spiritual medicine needed to pull you out of the misery of finals, even if only for a few hours.
For your final on game theory: A Beautiful Mind
A Beautiful Mind is a biopic about the brilliant Nobel Prize–winning mathematician, John Nash, who pioneered game theory and, as explored in the film, had his life turned around due to an emergence of paranoid schizophrenia. A Beautiful Mind has been praised for its presentation of mathematics, though if it's game theory you're studying, it's unlikely that the film will illuminate its complexities as much as you probably need it to. The film stands as a solid biopic, nevertheless.
For your final on quantum mechanics: The Theory of Everything
Don’t worry, this is the last film on the list that will follow the life of a famous academic, making you feel inadequate about your intelligence and your ability to persevere through unimaginable hardship. The Theory of Everything is a movie that explores the life and work of the late, great Stephen Hawking. Like most of us mere mortals, I have a basic understanding of Hawking’s work, but seeing how the man was able to expand our universe of thought despite developing a progressive neurological disease really puts life into perspective.
For your final on abnormal psychology: Shutter Island
Sometimes college feels like being trapped in a moody psychological thriller set on an island far from the comforts of home. Why not just go a little further with that vibe and take a quick study break to watch Shutter Island? Though not quite as haunting as the specter of finals that will literally keep you up at night in the coming weeks, the movie will almost certainly give you a little needed distance from the grind. Focus on something just as confusing and mentally taxing as your studies, but this time, it’s entertainment.
For your final in finance: The Wolf of Wall Street
The Wolf of Wall Street is a movie that takes selling out to finance to a whole new level. Given that it is ostensibly a comedy, this film is a lot more fun than the others on this list, but isn’t without its merits. It uses three hours of glorious excess, including the most usages of the word “fuck” of any mainstream film, to satirize capitalist greed. Though it probably won't make that Wharton degree any less desirable, it may make you reconsider the ethical underpinnings of American capitalism, with the added benefit of a great performance from Leonardo DiCaprio.