Ars kicked off March with our own kind of bracket: one full of movies about hackers, cybercrime and computer tricks. We asked for your votes, and despite your complaints, for example why we pit Hackers in return for Sneakers in the first round – you responded in kind, which allowed us to narrow down a much larger selection to a final four list of best hack movie nominees.
In our final round of voting, we’re changing the usual bracket elimination process for something more intense. Four hack movies coming in—Office space, TRON, War gamesAnd Jurassic Park– but only one will leave. Yes, it’s a free hacker movie! You’ve had a month to think about your favorites, so read up on the latest contenders and cast the most ruthless vote the internet has seen since that Slashdot poll that asked voters to predict vote percentages. (That one still hurts our brains.) Once Sunday night’s vote is over, we’ll update this post with our take on the results.
Movies that already beat it: Antitrust, super man 3, Hackers
Why it’s l33t: The ultimate dream of technology is to never have to work again, right? Well, this movie brings all the satisfaction of following a few nobodies who not only fight for the dream, but also beat a printer to death. Trapped in a fluorescent-lit workspace, Peter Gibbons and his two buddies software engineers alter the company’s account system to blackout fractions of cents, but end up stealing much more than that. Along the way, Gibbons shares a work philosophy that many have tried and failed to live up to: “I did absolutely nothing, and it was everything I thought it could be.” Nice weekend! -Megan Geuss
Movies that already beat it: Wargames: dead code, Enemy of the state, The Matrix: reloaded
Why it’s l33t: Do you remember the Soviet Union, the Cold War and the bomb shelters? The reality of the distrust between the US and the USSR was the setting for this thriller. In his first starring role, Matthew Broderick plays a young hacker who hacks into a NORAD supercomputer. Unaware that he is messing around with military hardware, he ends up playing the games installed on the machine. It starts innocently enough with chess and backgammon, but then moves on to a cool-sounding simulation called Global Thermonuclear War. The problem is that he can’t access it until he cracks a password. After help from some hacker friends, he comes up with the password and gets to play the cool sounding game. The only problem is that everyone at NORAD thinks it’s the real deal and a Soviet missile launch is imminent. The hacking scenes are very dated, but as a teenager spending every possible minute in the computer lab, I could only dream of the kind of hacking adventures like Broderick’s character – not to mention having a girlfriend as hot as Ally Sheedy. —Eric Bangman
Movies that already beat it: Tron Legacy, Crazy science, The girl with the dragon tattoo
Why it’s l33t: Never mind that this was the first one really cool movie about video game culture, it also did a great job dividing its duties as a villain between a soulless suit and a sentient computer called Master Control Program. The entire movie revolved around masked, unwanted access to a computer system, so in many ways this movie is the granddaddy of our entire list. That said, Flynn’s actual command-line efforts in the movie are pretty minimal; once he breaks into ENCOM’s labs and gets his hands on a keyboard, he is digitally transferred into the system’s game world, and from there every conceivable early 1980s computer concept becomes a living object. But hey – light cycles! —Sam Machkovech
Movies that already beat it: The core, independence Day, Black hat
Why it’s l33t: Aside from the pseudoscience of dinosaur cloning (just fill in the gaps with frog DNA!), I’ve always seen Jurassic Park like a movie about how nothing is ever completely safe, especially a fence with a bioengineered T. Rex. A disgruntled programmer is able to turn the once-new amusement park into a land of horrors in minutes, and the only other person in the group who can operate a computer is a teenage girl. If the movie is set in 2015, there would be dozens of workers ready to solve Dennis Nedry’s hacking job (though based on the trailer for the upcoming Jurassic worldsafety is unsurprisingly still an issue in a park full of caged dinosaurs).
For fun, click here for a site that replicates the park’s central console. Minutes of fun! — Tiffany Kelly
Poll: Choose a movie