History, Best Films

by LakesideScott | created - 25 Jun 2013 | updated - 13 Dec 2015 | Public

I've divided this list into more manageable sections (click my username above):

Prehistory History through 1699 1700-1899 1900-1949 1950-1974 1975-1999 2000-present

I will eventually turn this into a list of the best historical films - those worth watching and substantially accurate. At the moment, I am concentrating on the divided lists, which will be much more inclusive of a wide range of quality and historical accuracy.

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1. Quest for Fire (1981)

R | 100 min | Adventure, Drama, History

This story takes place in prehistoric time when three tribesmen search for a new fire source.

Director: Jean-Jacques Annaud | Stars: Everett McGill, Ron Perlman, Nicholas Kadi, Rae Dawn Chong

Votes: 18,052 | Gross: $20.96M

2. The Clan of the Cave Bear (1986)

R | 98 min | Adventure, Drama, Fantasy

A young Cro-Magnon woman is raised by Neanderthals.

Director: Michael Chapman | Stars: Daryl Hannah, Pamela Reed, James Remar, Thomas G. Waites

Votes: 5,483 | Gross: $1.95M

3. Noah (2014)

PG-13 | 138 min | Action, Adventure, Drama

68 Metascore

Noah is chosen by God to undertake a momentous mission before an apocalyptic flood cleanses the world.

Director: Darren Aronofsky | Stars: Russell Crowe, Jennifer Connelly, Anthony Hopkins, Emma Watson

Votes: 219,435 | Gross: $101.20M

4. The Ten Commandments (1956)

G | 220 min | Adventure, Drama

The Egyptian Prince, Moses, learns of his true heritage as a Hebrew and his divine mission as the deliverer of his people.

Director: Cecil B. DeMille | Stars: Charlton Heston, Yul Brynner, Anne Baxter, Edward G. Robinson

Votes: 54,266 | Gross: $93.74M

Setting: 1300 B.C.

5. Troy (2004)

R | 163 min | Drama, History, Romance

56 Metascore

An adaptation of Homer's great epic, the film follows the assault on Troy by the united Greek forces and chronicles the fates of the men involved.

Director: Wolfgang Petersen | Stars: Brad Pitt, Eric Bana, Orlando Bloom, Julian Glover

Votes: 427,203 | Gross: $133.38M

Setting: 1193 B.C.

6. The Odyssey (1997– )

PG-13 | 176 min | Adventure, Drama, Fantasy

The warrior king Odysseus leaves his idyllic life in the kingdom of Ithaca to fight in the Trojan War. After winning the war, he now must endure a lengthy, ten-year journey to return and, ... See full summary »

Stars: Armand Assante, Greta Scacchi, Isabella Rossellini, Bernadette Peters

Votes: 11,958

7. 300 (2006)

R | 117 min | Action, Fantasy

52 Metascore

King Leonidas of Sparta and a force of 300 men fight the Persians at Thermopylae in 480 B.C.

Director: Zack Snyder | Stars: Gerard Butler, Lena Headey, David Wenham, Dominic West

Votes: 663,833 | Gross: $210.61M

Setting: 480 B.C.

8. Alexander (2004)

R | 175 min | Action, Adventure, Biography

39 Metascore

Alexander, the King of Macedonia and one of the greatest army leaders in the history of warfare, conquers much of the known world.

Director: Oliver Stone | Stars: Colin Farrell, Anthony Hopkins, Rosario Dawson, Angelina Jolie

Votes: 148,977 | Gross: $34.30M

Setting: 336 B.C.

9. Gladiator (2000)

R | 155 min | Action, Adventure, Drama

67 Metascore

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.

Director: Ridley Scott | Stars: Russell Crowe, Joaquin Phoenix, Connie Nielsen, Oliver Reed

Votes: 1,126,143 | Gross: $187.71M

Setting: 180 B.C.

10. Spartacus (1960)

PG-13 | 197 min | Adventure, Biography, Drama

87 Metascore

The slave Spartacus leads a violent revolt against the decadent Roman Republic.

Director: Stanley Kubrick | Stars: Kirk Douglas, Laurence Olivier, Jean Simmons, Charles Laughton

Votes: 107,800 | Gross: $30.00M

11. Rome (2005–2007)

TV-MA | 90 min | Action, Drama, History

A down-to-earth account of the lives of both illustrious and ordinary Romans set in the last days of the Roman Republic.

Stars: Kevin McKidd, Ray Stevenson, Polly Walker, Kerry Condon

Votes: 131,560

12. Cleopatra (1963)

G | 192 min | Biography, Drama, History

60 Metascore

Queen Cleopatra of Egypt experiences both triumph and tragedy as she attempts to resist the imperial ambitions of Rome.

Director: Joseph L. Mankiewicz | Stars: Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, Rex Harrison, Pamela Brown

Votes: 24,789 | Gross: $57.78M

13. Ben-Hur (1959)

G | 212 min | Adventure, Drama, History

90 Metascore

When a Jewish prince is betrayed and sent into slavery by a Roman friend, he regains his freedom and comes back for revenge.

Director: William Wyler | Stars: Charlton Heston, Jack Hawkins, Stephen Boyd, Haya Harareet

Votes: 188,994 | Gross: $74.70M

14. The Passion of the Christ (2004)

R | 127 min | Drama

47 Metascore

Depicts the final twelve hours in the life of Jesus of Nazareth, on the day of his crucifixion in Jerusalem.

Director: Mel Gibson | Stars: Jim Caviezel, Monica Bellucci, Maia Morgenstern, Christo Jivkov

Votes: 193,825 | Gross: $370.78M

Setting: 30 A.D.

15. Caligula (1979)

Unrated | 156 min | Drama, History

Details the graphic and shocking, yet undeniably tragic story of Rome's most infamous Caesar, Gaius Germanicus Caligula.

Directors: Tinto Brass, Bob Guccione, Giancarlo Lui | Stars: Malcolm McDowell, Peter O'Toole, Helen Mirren, Teresa Ann Savoy

Votes: 29,866 | Gross: $23.44M

16. I, Claudius (1976)

Not Rated | 669 min | Biography, Drama, History

The history of the Roman Empire as experienced by one of its rulers.

Stars: Derek Jacobi, John Hurt, Siân Phillips, Brian Blessed

Votes: 13,021

17. Pompeii (I) (2014)

PG-13 | 105 min | Action, Adventure, Drama

39 Metascore

A slave-turned-gladiator finds himself in a race against time to save his true love, who has been betrothed to a corrupt Roman Senator. As Mount Vesuvius erupts, he must fight to save his beloved as Pompeii crumbles around him.

Director: Paul W.S. Anderson | Stars: Kit Harington, Emily Browning, Kiefer Sutherland, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje

Votes: 95,302 | Gross: $23.22M

18. Agora (2009)

R | 127 min | Adventure, Biography, Drama

55 Metascore

A historical drama set in Roman Egypt, concerning a slave who turns to the rising tide of Christianity in the hope of pursuing freedom while falling in love with his mistress, the philosophy and mathematics professor Hypatia of Alexandria.

Director: Alejandro Amenábar | Stars: Rachel Weisz, Max Minghella, Oscar Isaac, Ashraf Barhom

Votes: 58,550 | Gross: $0.62M

19. Beowulf (2007)

PG-13 | 115 min | Animation, Action, Adventure

59 Metascore

The warrior Beowulf must fight and defeat the monster Grendel who is terrorizing Denmark, and later, Grendel's mother, who begins killing out of revenge.

Director: Robert Zemeckis | Stars: Ray Winstone, Crispin Glover, Angelina Jolie, Robin Wright

Votes: 150,577 | Gross: $82.16M

Setting: 490

20. Apocalypto (2006)

R | 139 min | Action, Adventure, Drama

68 Metascore

As the Mayan kingdom faces its decline, a young man is taken on a perilous journey to a world ruled by fear and oppression.

Director: Mel Gibson | Stars: Gerardo Taracena, Raoul Max Trujillo, Dalia Hernández, Rudy Youngblood

Votes: 258,845 | Gross: $50.87M

21. Kingdom of Heaven (2005)

R | 144 min | Action, Adventure, Drama

63 Metascore

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.

Director: Ridley Scott | Stars: Orlando Bloom, Eva Green, Liam Neeson, Martin Hancock

Votes: 239,108 | Gross: $47.40M

Setting: 1150

22. Ivanhoe (1997– )

270 min | Adventure, Drama, Romance

Ivanhoe returning from crusading in the Holy Land to England which is ruled by corrupt Prince John.

Stars: David Barrass, Ralph Brown, Jimmy Chisholm, Trevor Cooper

Votes: 872

23. Braveheart (1995)

R | 178 min | Biography, Drama, History

68 Metascore

When his secret bride is executed for assaulting an English soldier who tried to rape her, Sir William Wallace begins a revolt against King Edward I of England.

Director: Mel Gibson | Stars: Mel Gibson, Sophie Marceau, Patrick McGoohan, Angus Macfadyen

Votes: 840,678 | Gross: $75.60M

Setting: 1280

24. 1492: Conquest of Paradise (1992)

PG-13 | 154 min | Adventure, Biography, Drama

47 Metascore

Christopher Columbus' discovery of the Americas and the effect this has on the indigenous people.

Director: Ridley Scott | Stars: Gérard Depardieu, Armand Assante, Sigourney Weaver, Loren Dean

Votes: 24,868 | Gross: $7.19M

25. The Other Boleyn Girl (2008)

PG-13 | 115 min | Biography, Drama, History

50 Metascore

Two sisters contend for the affection of King Henry VIII.

Director: Justin Chadwick | Stars: Natalie Portman, Scarlett Johansson, Eric Bana, Jim Sturgess

Votes: 92,060 | Gross: $26.81M

26. Henry VIII (2003 TV Movie)

193 min | Biography, Drama, Romance

Two-part TV series documenting the stormy 38-year reign of King Henry VIII.

Director: Pete Travis | Stars: Ray Winstone, Joss Ackland, Sid Mitchell, Charles Dance

Votes: 1,973

27. The Virgin Queen (2005– )

237 min | Biography, Drama, History

The Virgin Queen explores the full sweep of Elizabeth's life: from her days of fear as a potential victim of her sister's terror; through her great love affair with Robert Dudley; into her ... See full summary »

Stars: Anne-Marie Duff, Sienna Guillory, Ian Hart, Tom Hardy

Votes: 2,412

28. Shakespeare in Love (1998)

R | 123 min | Comedy, Drama, History

87 Metascore

A young Shakespeare, out of ideas and short of cash, meets his ideal woman and is inspired to write one of his most famous plays.

Director: John Madden | Stars: Gwyneth Paltrow, Joseph Fiennes, Geoffrey Rush, Tom Wilkinson

Votes: 192,410 | Gross: $100.32M

Setting: 1593

29. Elizabeth (1998)

R | 124 min | Biography, Drama, History

75 Metascore

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.

Director: Shekhar Kapur | Stars: Cate Blanchett, Geoffrey Rush, Christopher Eccleston, Joseph Fiennes

Votes: 81,913 | Gross: $30.08M

30. Elizabeth: The Golden Age (2007)

PG-13 | 114 min | Biography, Drama, History

45 Metascore

A mature Queen Elizabeth endures multiple crises late in her reign including court intrigues, an assassination plot, the Spanish Armada, and romantic disappointments.

Director: Shekhar Kapur | Stars: Cate Blanchett, Clive Owen, Geoffrey Rush, Jordi Mollà

Votes: 59,419 | Gross: $16.29M

31. The New World (2005)

PG-13 | 135 min | Biography, Drama, History

69 Metascore

The story of the English exploration of Virginia, and of the changing world and loves of Pocahontas.

Director: Terrence Malick | Stars: Colin Farrell, Q'orianka Kilcher, Christopher Plummer, Christian Bale

Votes: 76,136 | Gross: $12.71M

Setting: 1607

32. The Countess (2009)

Not Rated | 98 min | Biography, Drama, History

A 17th century Hungarian countess embarks on a murderous undertaking, with the belief that bathing in the blood of virgins will preserve her beauty.

Director: Julie Delpy | Stars: Julie Delpy, Daniel Brühl, William Hurt, Anamaria Marinca

Votes: 6,866

33. To Kill a King (2003)

Not Rated | 102 min | Biography, Drama, History

A recounting of the relationship between General Fairfax and Oliver Cromwell, as they try to cope with the consequences of deposing King Charles I.

Director: Mike Barker | Stars: Tim Roth, Dougray Scott, Olivia Williams, James Bolam

Votes: 2,736

34. Salem Witch Trials (2002 TV Movie)

240 min | Drama, History

A masterful work accurately details the current consensus of what exactly occurred to prompt the colonial witch-trials.

Director: Joseph Sargent | Stars: Kirstie Alley, Henry Czerny, Gloria Reuben, Jay O. Sanders

Votes: 575

Setting: 1692

35. The Man in the Iron Mask (I) (1998)

PG-13 | 132 min | Action, Adventure

48 Metascore

The cruel King Louis XIV of France has a secret twin brother who he keeps imprisoned. Can the twin be substituted for the real king?

Director: Randall Wallace | Stars: Leonardo DiCaprio, Jeremy Irons, John Malkovich, Gérard Depardieu

Votes: 138,873 | Gross: $56.97M

36. The Last of the Mohicans (1992)

R | 112 min | Action, Adventure, Drama

76 Metascore

Three trappers protect a British Colonel's daughters in the midst of the French and Indian War.

Director: Michael Mann | Stars: Daniel Day-Lewis, Madeleine Stowe, Russell Means, Eric Schweig

Votes: 127,999 | Gross: $75.51M

Setting: 1757

37. Roots (1977)
Episode: Part I (1977)

TV-14 | 97 min | Biography, Drama, History

In Gambia, West Africa, Kunta Kinte, son of Omoro and Binta, distinguishes himself in manhood training rituals. But he does not enjoy his new status long: slave traders sweeping the ... See full summary »

Director: David Greene | Stars: Edward Asner, O.J. Simpson, Ralph Waite, Maya Angelou

Votes: 183

38. Roots (1977)
Episode: Part II (1977)

TV-14 | 97 min | Biography, Drama, History

Despite a violent rebellion, the slave ship Lord Ligonier completes its voyage and Kunta Kinte endures the indiginity of an Annapolis slave auction. Fiddler, the slave in charge of Kunta's ... See full summary »

Director: John Erman | Stars: Louis Gossett Jr., Lorne Greene, Robert Reed, Ralph Waite

Votes: 145

39. Roots (1977)
Episode: Part III (1977)

TV-14 | 50 min | Biography, Drama, History

The adult Kunta Kinte meets his match in Belle Reynolds, his future bride and mother to daughter Kizzy.

Director: Marvin J. Chomsky | Stars: John Amos, Lynda Day George, Louis Gossett Jr., Lorne Greene

Votes: 131

40. Roots (1977)
Episode: Part IV (1977)

TV-14 | 51 min | Biography, Drama, History

Kunta Kinte's only child, Kizzy, is on the Moore's ranch, older, and with an 18-year old son, George. He is the opposite of Kunta, as Kizzy says, "a slave through and through" and his ... See full summary »

Director: Marvin J. Chomsky | Stars: John Amos, Lynda Day George, Louis Gossett Jr., Robert Reed

Votes: 127

41. The Patriot (2000)

R | 165 min | Action, Drama, History

63 Metascore

Peaceful farmer Benjamin Martin is driven to lead the Colonial Militia during the American Revolution when a sadistic British officer murders his son.

Director: Roland Emmerich | Stars: Mel Gibson, Heath Ledger, Joely Richardson, Jason Isaacs

Votes: 227,080 | Gross: $113.33M

Setting: 1776

42. Belle (2013)

PG | 100 min | Biography, Drama, Romance

64 Metascore

The mixed-race daughter of a Royal Navy Admiral is raised by her aristocratic great-uncle in 18th-century England.

Director: Amma Asante | Stars: Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Matthew Goode, Emily Watson, Miranda Richardson

Votes: 24,114 | Gross: $10.73M

43. Marie Antoinette (2006)

PG-13 | 123 min | Biography, Drama, History

65 Metascore

The retelling of France's iconic but ill-fated queen, Marie Antoinette. From her betrothal and marriage to Louis XVI at 15 to her reign as queen at 19 and to the end of her reign as queen, and ultimately the fall of Versailles.

Director: Sofia Coppola | Stars: Kirsten Dunst, Jason Schwartzman, Rip Torn, Judy Davis

Votes: 88,783 | Gross: $15.96M

44. Mutiny on the Bounty (1935)

Not Rated | 132 min | Adventure, Biography, Drama

A tyrannical ship captain decides to exact revenge on his abused crew after they form a mutiny against him, but the sailor he targets had no hand in it.

Director: Frank Lloyd | Stars: Charles Laughton, Clark Gable, Franchot Tone, Herbert Mundin

Votes: 17,966

45. Roots (1977)
Episode: Part V (1977)

TV-14 | 51 min | Biography, Drama, History

Follow Chicken George and the story of his son, Tom.

Stars: John Amos, Chuck Connors, Sandy Duncan, Lawrence-Hilton Jacobs

Votes: 111

46. Roots (1977)
Episode: Part VI (1977)

TV-14 | 99 min | Biography, Drama, History

The war is over, the Confederacy having surrendered, freeing the slaves. Mr. Harvey invites the slaves to stay if they wish, maybe sharecropping. The rest of the plantation owners, a ... See full summary »

Director: Gilbert Moses | Stars: Macdonald Carey, Chuck Connors, Scatman Crothers, Sandy Duncan

Votes: 110

47. Amadeus (1984)

R | 160 min | Biography, Drama, History

93 Metascore

The life, success and troubles of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, as told by Antonio Salieri, the contemporary composer who was insanely jealous of Mozart's talent and claimed to have murdered him.

Director: Milos Forman | Stars: F. Murray Abraham, Tom Hulce, Elizabeth Berridge, Roy Dotrice

Votes: 314,415 | Gross: $51.97M

48. The Duchess (2008)

PG-13 | 110 min | Biography, Drama, History

62 Metascore

A chronicle of the life of 18th century aristocrat Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire, who was reviled for her extravagant political and personal life.

Director: Saul Dibb | Stars: Keira Knightley, Ralph Fiennes, Dominic Cooper, Charlotte Rampling

Votes: 68,746 | Gross: $13.82M

49. John Adams (2008)

TV-14 | 71 min | Biography, Drama, History

The life of one of the USA's Founding Fathers, its second President, and his role in the nation's first 50 years.

Stars: Paul Giamatti, Laura Linney, John Dossett, Stephen Dillane

Votes: 23,158

Setting: 1790