The Greatest Historical Movies of All Timeby jedp15 | created - 30 Jan 2011 | updated - 23 Sep 2015 | Public
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)
R | 169 min | Drama, War
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.
Votes: 1,086,173 | Gross: $216.54M
2. Gladiator (2000)
R | 155 min | Action, Adventure, Drama
A former Roman General sets out to exact vengeance against the corrupt emperor who murdered his family and sent him into slavery.
Votes: 1,188,695 | Gross: $187.71M
3. Schindler's List (1993)
R | 195 min | Biography, Drama, History
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.
Votes: 1,064,493 | Gross: $96.07M
4. Blood Diamond (2006)
R | 143 min | Adventure, Drama, Thriller
A fisherman, a smuggler, and a syndicate of businessmen match wits over the possession of a priceless diamond.
Votes: 457,307 | Gross: $57.37M
5. Black Hawk Down (2001)
R | 144 min | Drama, History, War
160 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.
Votes: 334,991 | Gross: $108.64M
6. The Last of the Mohicans (1992)
R | 112 min | Action, Adventure, Drama
Three trappers protect the daughters of a British Colonel in the midst of the French and Indian War.
Votes: 134,192 | Gross: $75.51M
7. Braveheart (1995)
R | 178 min | Biography, Drama, History
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.
Votes: 878,620 | Gross: $75.60M
8. Apollo 13 (I) (1995)
PG | 140 min | Adventure, Drama, History
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.
Votes: 241,650 | Gross: $173.84M
10. Joyeux Noel (2005)
PG-13 | 116 min | Drama, History, Music
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.
Votes: 25,386 | Gross: $1.05M
11. Ben-Hur (1959)
G | 212 min | Adventure, Drama, History
When a Jewish prince is betrayed and sent into slavery by a Roman friend, he regains his freedom and comes back for revenge.
Votes: 198,499 | Gross: $74.70M
12. Hotel Rwanda (2004)
PG-13 | 121 min | Biography, Drama, History
Paul Rusesabagina was a hotel manager who housed over a thousand Tutsi refugees during their struggle against the Hutu militia in Rwanda.
Votes: 309,627 | Gross: $23.53M
13. The Great Debaters (2007)
PG-13 | 126 min | Biography, Drama, Romance
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.
Votes: 52,892 | Gross: $30.23M
14. The Last Samurai (2003)
R | 154 min | Action, Drama, History
An American military advisor embraces the Samurai culture he was hired to destroy after he is captured in battle.
Votes: 365,331 | Gross: $111.11M
15. Lawrence of Arabia (1962)
PG | 216 min | Adventure, Biography, Drama
The story of T.E. Lawrence, the English officer who successfully united and led the diverse, often warring, Arab tribes during World War I in order to fight the Turks.
Votes: 237,448 | Gross: $44.82M
16. Rudy (1993)
PG | 114 min | Biography, Drama, Sport
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.
Votes: 49,503 | Gross: $22.75M
18. Cinderella Man (2005)
PG-13 | 144 min | Biography, Drama, Sport
The story of James Braddock, a supposedly washed-up boxer who came back to become a champion and an inspiration in the 1930s.
Votes: 165,023 | Gross: $61.65M
21. Les Misérables (1998)
PG-13 | 134 min | Crime, Drama, History
Valjean, a former criminal, has atoned for his past and now finds himself in the midst of the French Revolution, avoiding a law-obsessed policeman hell-bent on capturing him.
Votes: 35,636 | Gross: $14.10M
22. Amazing Grace (2006)
PG | 118 min | Biography, Drama, History
The idealist William Wilberforce maneuvers his way through Parliament, endeavoring to end the British transatlantic slave trade.
Votes: 22,758 | Gross: $21.21M
23. Henry V (1989)
PG-13 | 137 min | Action, Biography, Drama
In the midst of the Hundred Years War, the young King Henry V of England embarks on the conquest of France in 1415.
Votes: 26,223 | Gross: $10.16M
24. Kingdom of Heaven (2005)
R | 144 min | Action, Adventure, Drama
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.
Votes: 247,558 | Gross: $47.40M
26. American Sniper (2014)
R | 133 min | Action, Biography, Drama
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.
Votes: 395,057 | Gross: $350.13M
27. The Hurt Locker (2008)
R | 131 min | Drama, Thriller, War
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.
Votes: 386,935 | Gross: $17.02M
28. Glory (1989)
R | 122 min | Biography, Drama, History
Robert Gould Shaw leads the U.S. Civil War's first all-black volunteer company, fighting prejudices from both his own Union Army, and the Confederates.
Votes: 112,117 | Gross: $26.83M
29. Rob Roy (1995)
R | 139 min | Adventure, Biography, Drama
In 1713 Scotland, Rob Roy MacGregor is wronged by a nobleman and his nephew, becomes an outlaw in search of revenge while fleeing the Redcoats, and faces charges of being a Jacobite.
Votes: 38,004 | Gross: $31.60M
30. Sometimes in April (2005 TV Movie)
TV-MA | 140 min | Drama, History, War
When the Hutu nationalists raised arms against their Tutsi countrymen in Rwanda in April 1994, the violent uprising marked the beginning of one of the darkest times in African history which resulted in the deaths of almost 800,000 people.
31. The Patriot (2000)
R | 165 min | Action, Drama, History
Peaceful farmer Benjamin Martin is driven to lead the Colonial Militia during the American Revolution when a sadistic British officer murders his son.
Votes: 234,636 | Gross: $113.33M
PG-13 | 138 min | Action, Adventure, Drama
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.
Votes: 187,647 | Gross: $93.93M
33. Apocalypto (2006)
R | 139 min | Action, Adventure, Drama
As the Mayan kingdom faces its decline, a young man is taken on a perilous journey to a world ruled by fear and oppression.
Votes: 267,819 | Gross: $50.87M
34. Saints and Soldiers (2003)
PG-13 | 90 min | Action, Drama, War
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.
Votes: 19,122 | Gross: $1.31M
35. Defiance (I) (2008)
R | 137 min | Action, Drama, History
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 one thousand Jewish non-combatants.
Votes: 129,130 | Gross: $28.64M
36. Valkyrie (2008)
PG-13 | 121 min | Drama, History, Thriller
A dramatization of the July 20, 1944 assassination and political coup plot by desperate renegade German Army officers against Adolf Hitler during World War II.
Votes: 211,387 | Gross: $83.08M
37. Mississippi Burning (1988)
R | 128 min | Crime, Drama, History
Two F.B.I. Agents, with wildly different styles, arrive in Mississippi to investigate the disappearance of some civil rights activists.
Votes: 77,504 | Gross: $34.60M
39. Freedom Writers (2007)
PG-13 | 123 min | Biography, Crime, Drama
A young teacher inspires her class of at-risk students to learn tolerance, apply themselves and pursue education beyond high school.
Votes: 61,096 | Gross: $36.61M
41. Jeremiah Johnson (1972)
GP | 108 min | Adventure, Drama, Western
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.
Votes: 25,508 | Gross: $47.74M
43. Rescue Dawn (2006)
PG-13 | 120 min | Action, Adventure, Biography
A U.S. fighter pilot's epic struggle of survival after being shot down on a mission over Laos during the Vietnam War.
Votes: 94,207 | Gross: $5.49M
44. Anna and the King (1999)
PG-13 | 148 min | Drama, History, Romance
The story of the romance between the King of Siam and widowed British schoolteacher, Anna Leonowens, during the 1860s.
Votes: 33,895 | Gross: $39.26M
45. Hidalgo (2004)
PG-13 | 136 min | Action, Adventure, Biography
In 1890, a down-and-out cowboy and his horse travel to Arabia to compete in a deadly cross desert horse race.
Votes: 73,196 | Gross: $67.29M
46. Elizabeth (1998)
R | 124 min | Biography, Drama, History
The early years of the reign of Elizabeth I of England and her difficult task of learning what is necessary to be a monarch.
Votes: 84,826 | Gross: $30.08M
48. The Young Victoria (2009)
PG | 105 min | Biography, Drama, History
A dramatization of the turbulent first years of Queen Victoria's rule, and her enduring romance with Prince Albert.
Votes: 53,276 | Gross: $11.00M
49. We Are Marshall (2006)
PG | 131 min | Drama, Sport