The Greatest Historical Movies of All Time

Movies that are both great and based around true events and/or situated in events that happened in our history.

The movies on this list are my preference only; Including, but not limited to: being enjoyable, thought provoking, exciting, technically smart, having fine-honed costuming/props/set pieces, and/or having engaging dialogue. These movies are, for me, the reasons why I keep watching cinema.

side note: Only the movies I have seen are on the list. As I watch more, I will update accordingly.
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1.
Saving Private Ryan (1998)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.6/10 X  
Following the Normandy Landings, a group of U.S. soldiers go behind enemy lines to retrieve a paratrooper whose brothers have been killed in action. (169 mins.)
 
2.
Gladiator (2000)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.5/10 X  
When a Roman general is betrayed and his family murdered by an emperor's corrupt son, he comes to Rome as a gladiator to seek revenge. (155 mins.)
Director: Ridley Scott
 
3.
Schindler's List (1993)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.9/10 X  
In German-occupied Poland during World War II, Oskar Schindler gradually becomes concerned for his Jewish workforce after witnessing their persecution by the Nazi Germans. (195 mins.)
 
4.
Blood Diamond (2006)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.0/10 X  
A fisherman, a smuggler, and a syndicate of businessmen match wits over the possession of a priceless diamond. (143 mins.)
Director: Edward Zwick
 
5.
Black Hawk Down (2001)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  
123 elite U.S. soldiers drop into Somalia to capture two top lieutenants of a renegade warlord and find themselves in a desperate battle with a large force of heavily-armed Somalis. (144 mins.)
Director: Ridley Scott
 
6.
The Last of the Mohicans (1992)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  
Three trappers protect a British Colonel's daughters in the midst of the French and Indian War. (112 mins.)
Director: Michael Mann
 
7.
Braveheart (1995)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.4/10 X  
When his secret bride is executed for assaulting an English soldier who tried to rape her, William Wallace begins a revolt against King Edward I of England. (178 mins.)
Director: Mel Gibson
 
8.
Apollo 13 (1995)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  
NASA must devise a strategy to return Apollo 13 to Earth safely after the spacecraft undergoes massive internal damage putting the lives of the three astronauts on board in jeopardy. (140 mins.)
Director: Ron Howard
 
9.
Fury (2014)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  
A grizzled tank commander makes tough decisions as he and his crew fight their way across Germany in April, 1945. (134 mins.)
Director: David Ayer
 
10.
Joyeux Noel (2005)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  
In December 1914, an unofficial Christmas truce on the Western Front allows soldiers from opposing sides of the First World War to gain insight into each other's way of life. (116 mins.)
 
11.
Ben-Hur (1959)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  
When a Jewish prince is betrayed and sent into slavery by a Roman friend, he regains his freedom and comes back for revenge. (212 mins.)
Director: William Wyler
 
12.
Hotel Rwanda (2004)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  
Paul Rusesabagina was a hotel manager who housed over a thousand Tutsi refugees during their struggle against the Hutu militia in Rwanda. (121 mins.)
Director: Terry George
 
13.
The Great Debaters (2007)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  
A drama based on the true story of Melvin B. Tolson, a professor at Wiley College Texas. In 1935, he inspired students to form the school's first debate team, which went on to challenge Harvard in the national championship. (126 mins.)
 
14.
The Last Samurai (2003)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  
An American military advisor embraces the Samurai culture he was hired to destroy after he is captured in battle. (154 mins.)
Director: Edward Zwick
 
15.
Lawrence of Arabia (1962)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.4/10 X  
The story of T.E. Lawrence, the English officer who successfully united and lead the diverse, often warring, Arab tribes during World War I in order to fight the Turks. (216 mins.)
Director: David Lean
 
16.
Rudy (1993)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  
Rudy has always been told that he was too small to play college football. But he is determined to overcome the odds and fulfill his dream of playing for Notre Dame. (114 mins.)
Director: David Anspaugh
 
17.
The Right Stuff (1983)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  
The story of the original Mercury 7 astronauts and their macho, seat-of-the-pants approach to the space program. (193 mins.)
Director: Philip Kaufman
 
18.
Cinderella Man (2005)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.0/10 X  
The story of James Braddock, a supposedly washed-up boxer who came back to become a champion and an inspiration in the 1930s. (144 mins.)
Director: Ron Howard
 
19.
The Pianist (2002)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.5/10 X  
A Polish Jewish musician struggles to survive the destruction of the Warsaw ghetto of World War II. (150 mins.)
Director: Roman Polanski
 
20.
Zulu (1964)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  
Outnumbered British soldiers do battle with Zulu warriors at Rorke's Drift. (138 mins.)
Director: Cy Endfield
 
21.
Les Misérables (1998)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  
Jean Valjean, a Frenchman imprisoned for stealing bread, must flee a police officer named Javert. The pursuit consumes both men's lives... (134 mins.)
Director: Bille August
 
22.
Amazing Grace (2006)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  
The idealist William Wilberforce maneuvers his way through Parliament, endeavoring to end the British transatlantic slave trade. (118 mins.)
Director: Michael Apted
 
23.
Henry V (1989)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  
In the midst of the Hundred Years' War in 1415, the young King Henry V of England embarks on the conquest of France. (137 mins.)
Director: Kenneth Branagh
 
24.
Kingdom of Heaven (2005)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  
Balian of Ibelin travels to Jerusalem during the crusades of the 12th century, and there he finds himself as the defender of the city and its people. (144 mins.)
Director: Ridley Scott
 
25.
Enemy at the Gates (2001)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  
A Russian and a German sniper play a game of cat-and-mouse during the Battle of Stalingrad. (131 mins.)
 
26.
American Sniper (2014)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  
Navy S.E.A.L. sniper Chris Kyle's pinpoint accuracy saves countless lives on the battlefield and turns him into a legend. Back home to his wife and kids after four tours of duty, however, Chris finds that it is the war he can't leave behind. (133 mins.)
Director: Clint Eastwood
 
27.
The Hurt Locker (2008)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  
During the Iraq War, a Sergeant recently assigned to an army bomb squad is put at odds with his squad mates due to his maverick way of handling his work. (131 mins.)
Director: Kathryn Bigelow
 
28.
Glory (1989)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  
Robert Gould Shaw leads the US Civil War's first all-black volunteer company, fighting prejudices of both his own Union army and the Confederates. (122 mins.)
Director: Edward Zwick
 
29.
Rob Roy (1995)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  
In the highlands of Scotland in the 1700s, Rob Roy tries to lead his small town to a better future,... (139 mins.)
 
30.
Sometimes in April (2005 TV Movie)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  
Debra Winger, Oris Erhuero and Idris Elba star in this drama framed by the Rwandan genocide. (140 mins.)
Director: Raoul Peck
 
31.
The Patriot (2000)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  
Peaceful farmer Benjamin Martin is driven to lead the Colonial Militia during the American Revolution when a sadistic British officer murders his son. (165 mins.)
Director: Roland Emmerich
 
32.
Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World (2003)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  
During the Napoleonic Wars, a brash British captain pushes his ship and crew to their limits in pursuit of a formidable French war vessel around South America. (138 mins.)
Director: Peter Weir
 
33.
Apocalypto (2006)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  
As the Mayan kingdom faces its decline, the rulers insist the key to prosperity is to build more temples and offer human sacrifices. Jaguar Paw, a young man captured for sacrifice, flees to avoid his fate. (139 mins.)
Director: Mel Gibson
 
34.
Saints and Soldiers (2003)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  
Four American soldiers and one Brit fighting in Europe during World War II struggle to return to Allied territory after being separated from U.S. forces during the historic Malmedy Massacre. (90 mins.)
Director: Ryan Little
 
35.
Defiance (2008)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  
Jewish brothers in Nazi-occupied Eastern Europe escape into the Belarussian forests, where they join Russian resistance fighters and endeavor to build a village in order to protect themselves and about 1,000 Jewish non-combatants. (137 mins.)
Director: Edward Zwick
 
36.
Valkyrie (2008)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  
A dramatization of the 20 July assassination and political coup plot by desperate renegade German Army officers against Hitler during World War II. (121 mins.)
Director: Bryan Singer
 
37.
Mississippi Burning (1988)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  
Two FBI agents with wildly different styles arrive in Mississippi to investigate the disappearance of some civil rights activists. (128 mins.)
Director: Alan Parker
 
38.
Titanic (1997)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  
A seventeen-year-old aristocrat falls in love with a kind but poor artist aboard the luxurious, ill-fated R.M.S. Titanic. (194 mins.)
Director: James Cameron
 
39.
Freedom Writers (2007)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  
A young teacher inspires her class of at-risk students to learn tolerance, apply themselves, and pursue education beyond high school. (123 mins.)
 
40.
Spartacus (1960)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  
The slave Spartacus leads a violent revolt against the decadent Roman Republic. (197 mins.)
Director: Stanley Kubrick
 
41.
Jeremiah Johnson (1972)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  
A mountain man who wishes to live the life of a hermit becomes the unwilling object of a long vendetta by Indians, and proves to be a match for their warriors in one-on-one combat on the early frontier. (108 mins.)
Director: Sydney Pollack
 
42.
Patton (1970)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.0/10 X  
The World War II phase of the career of the controversial American general, George S. Patton. (172 mins.)
 
43.
Rescue Dawn (2006)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  
A U.S. fighter pilot's epic struggle of survival after being shot down on a mission over Laos during the Vietnam War. (120 mins.)
Director: Werner Herzog
 
44.
Anna and the King (1999)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  
The story of the romance between the King of Siam and widowed British schoolteacher, Anna Leonowens, during the 1860s. (148 mins.)
Director: Andy Tennant
 
45.
Hidalgo (2004)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  
In 1890, a down-and-out cowboy and his horse travel to Arabia to compete in a deadly cross desert horse race. (136 mins.)
Director: Joe Johnston
 
46.
Elizabeth (1998)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  
A film of the early years of the reign of Elizabeth I of England and her difficult task of learning what is necessary to be a monarch. (124 mins.)
Director: Shekhar Kapur
 
47.
Joan of Arc (1999 Mini-Series)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  
Joan of Arc is born in 1412 in the village of Domrémy in the war zone of Northern France. During her youth she often witnesses the horrors of war... (180 mins.)
 
48.
The Young Victoria (2009)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  
A dramatization of the turbulent first years of Queen Victoria's rule, and her enduring romance with Prince Albert. (105 mins.)
 
49.
We Are Marshall (2006)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  
When a plane crash claims the lives of members of the Marshall University football team and some of its fans, the team's new coach and his surviving players try to keep the football program alive. (131 mins.)
Director: McG
 
50.
Flyboys (2006)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  
The adventures of the Lafayette Escadrille, young Americans who volunteered for the French military before the U.S. entered World War I, and became the country's first fighter pilots. (140 mins.)
Director: Tony Bill
 
51.
The Alamo (2004)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.0/10 X  
Based on the 1836 standoff between a group of Texan and Tejano men, led by Davy Crockett and Jim Bowie, and Mexican dictator Santa Anna's forces at the Alamo in San Antonio, Texas. (137 mins.)