A man revealed to be Jacques Saunière is being pursued by a mysterious hooded character known as Silas (Paul Bettany) through the Grand Gallery in the Louvre in Paris. Silas demands the location of the Priory's clef de voûte or "keystone." Under threat of death, Saunière finally confesses the keystone is kept in the sacristy of Church of Saint-Sulpice, "beneath the Rose." Silas thanks him, and then shoots him in the stomach. Meanwhile, American symbologist Robert Langdon (Tom Hanks), who is in Paris as a guest lecturer on symbols and the sacred feminine, is contacted by the French police, and summoned to the Louvre to view the crime scene. He discovers the dying Saunière has created an intricate display using black light ink and his own body and blood. Captain Bezu Fache (Jean Reno) asks him for his interpretation of the puzzling scene.
Mr. Bean (Rowan Atkinson) is a well meaning, but hopelessly clumsy and destructive security guard, at the Royal National Gallery in London, though his reputation for sleeping on the job compels the board of directors to attempt to fire him, they are thwarted by the chairman (Sir John Mills) who is sympathetic with him. In order to rid themselves of Bean, the board send him to Los Angeles to represent them at the unveiling of the portrait Whistler's Mother. The famous painting has been purchased for $50 million by the fictional Grierson Art Gallery with a grant from General Newton (Burt Reynolds). Bean's visit is arranged by the gallery's curator, David Langley (Peter MacNicol), who, impressed with the National Gallery's false profile of "Dr. Bean", agrees to accommodate Bean in his house for two months, much to the chagrin of his wife Allison (Pamela Reed), son Kevin (Andrew Lawrence) and daughter Jennifer (Tricia Vessey), who subsequently leave for Allison's mother's house.
In 1943 during World War II, the Allies are making good progress driving back the Axis powers in Italy. However, Frank Stokes (George Clooney) persuades the American President that victory will have little meaning if the artistic treasures of Western civilization are lost in the fighting. Stokes is directed to assemble an Army unit nicknamed the "Monuments Men", comprising seven museum directors, curators, and art historians to both guide Allied units and search for stolen art to return it to its rightful owners.
In 1953, Katherine Ann Watson (Julia Roberts), a 30-year-old graduate student in the department of Art History at Oakland State, takes a position teaching "History of Art" at Wellesley College, a conservative women's private liberal arts college in Massachusetts, because she wants to make a difference and influence the next generation of women. At her first class, Katherine discovers that the girls have already memorized the entire syllabus from the textbook, so she instead uses the classes to introduce them to Modern Art and encourages spirited classroom discussions about topics such as what makes good art and what the Mona Lisa's smile means. This brings her into conflict with the conservative college president (Marian Seldes), who warns Katherine to stick to the syllabus if she wants to keep her job. Katherine comes to know many of the students in her class well and seeks to inspire them to achieve more for themselves as intelligent women than the expected convention of marriage to eligible young men. Joan Brandwyn (Julia Stiles) dreams of being a lawyer and has enrolled as pre-law, so Katherine encourages her to apply to Yale Law School, where she is accepted; Katherine finds her liberal sensibilities affronted when Joan's fiancé Tommy (Topher Grace) comments Joan "will always have that", intimating his own expectations of what his wife should be. Joan eventually elopes with Tommy, and professes to Katherine she is very happy—she had decided that what she wants most is to be a wife and mother after graduation and asks Katherine to respect her choice.
At the Metropolitan Museum of Art, an attempted robbery of precious paintings fails when museum employees discover imposters posing as staff. In all the confusion of locking down the museum and capturing the robbers, Thomas Crown (Pierce Brosnan) slips into an adjacent room and steals the painting of San Giorgio Maggiore at Dusk by Monet. The insurers of the $100 million artwork send investigator Catherine Banning (Rene Russo) to assist NYPD Detective Michael McCann (Denis Leary) in solving the crime.
In 1918, the young Jiro Horikoshi longs to become a pilot, but his nearsightedness prevents it. He reads about the famous Italian aircraft designer Giovanni Battista Caproni, and dreams about him that night. In the dream, Caproni tells him that building planes is better than flying them.
Vicky (Rebecca Hall) and Cristina (Scarlett Johansson) visit Barcelona for the summer, staying with Vicky's distant relative Judy (Patricia Clarkson) and her husband Mark (Kevin Dunn). While the two are great friends, Vicky is practical and traditional in her approach to love and commitment and is engaged to the reliable Doug (Chris Messina), whereas Cristina imagines herself to be a nonconformist, spontaneous but unsure of what she wants from life or love.
Tom Logan (Robert Redford) is an Assistant District Attorney in the New York City District Attorney's Office, who is on his way to becoming the new District Attorney. Into his life enters Laura Kelly (Debra Winger), an attorney who is representing Chelsea Deardon (Daryl Hannah). Chelsea is accused of stealing a painting from an art dealer, Victor Taft (Terence Stamp). However, Chelsea claims that the painting is actually hers, as her father made it for her and signed it to her on her 8th birthday 18 years ago - the same day that her father and most of his paintings went up in smoke in a mysterious fire.
In early 1920s Copenhagen, the illustrator and artist Gerda Wegener (Alicia Vikander) asks her husband, Einar Wegener (Eddie Redmayne), to stand in for a female model. The popularity of the portraits leads to Gerda painting her husband in further pictures as a woman. Einar develops an attraction for a female physical appearance and begins living as a woman named Lili Elbe. Ultimately Elbe becomes the first ever recipient of male to female sex reassignment surgery, and Gerda supports her decision, although their marriage becomes strained when Gerda comes to the realization that Lili is no longer the person she married. A childhood friend of Lili, Hans Axgil (Matthias Schoenaerts), shows up and forms a complex love triangle with the couple.
In a series of flashbacks throughout the film, Maria Altmann recalls the arrival of Nazi forces in Vienna, Austria, and the subsequent suppression of the Jewish community and the looting and pillaging conducted by the Nazis against Jewish families. Seeking to escape before the country is completely shut off, Maria Altmann and members of her family attempt to flee to the United States. While Altmann and her husband are successful in their escape, she is forced to abandon her parents in Vienna.
Frida begins just before the traumatic accident Frida Kahlo (Salma Hayek) suffered at the age of 18 when a trolley bus collided with a motor bus she was riding. She is impaled by a metal pole and the injuries she sustained plague her for the rest of her life. To help her through convalescence, her father brings her a canvas upon which to start painting. Throughout the film, a scene starts as a painting, then slowly dissolves into a live-action scene with actors.
During the course of a burglary, master jewel thief Luther Whitney (Clint Eastwood) witnesses the killing of Christy Sullivan (Melora Hardin), the beautiful young wife of elderly billionaire Walter Sullivan (E. G. Marshall), during her drunken rendezvous with Alan Richmond (Gene Hackman), the President of the United States. Walter Sullivan is Richmond's friend and financial supporter.
Griet (Scarlett Johansson) is a shy girl living in the Dutch Republic in 1665. Her father, a Delftware painter, has recently gone blind, rendering him unable to work and putting his family in a precarious financial situation. To help matters, Griet is sent to work as a maid in the household of famed painter Johannes Vermeer (Colin Firth). Griet works hard, almost wordlessly, in the lowest position in a harsh hierarchy, doing her best despite spiteful treatment by one of Vermeer's children. While she is on a routine shopping trip outside the house, a butcher's son, Pieter (Cillian Murphy), notices Griet and falls in love with her, even though she is slow to return his affections.
In 1958, Margaret leaves her husband and takes her young daughter Jane to North Beach, San Francisco. Supporting her daughter alone, Margaret gets a job painting illustrations at a furniture factory. While creating portraits at an outdoor art show, Margaret meets Walter Keane, who is selling his Parisian street scene paintings. Soon, Walter proposes to her and they marry.
Simon (McAvoy), an art auctioneer, becomes an accessory to the theft of a painting–Goya's Witches in the Air–from his own auction house. When a gang attacks during an auction, Simon follows the house emergency protocol by packaging the painting. The gang's leader Franck (Cassel) then takes the package from him at gunpoint. Simon attacks Franck, who delivers him a blow to the head that leaves him with amnesia. When Franck gets home, he discovers that the package contains only an empty frame. After ransacking Simon's apartment and trashing his car, the gang kidnaps and unsuccessfully tortures him. But he has no memory of where he has hidden the painting. Franck decides to hire a hypnotherapist to try to help him remember.