For years, film producers have been obsessed with creating historical events. These events deal with difficult times and situations that reading a history book simply does not cover. Oftentimes, they want to provide viewers with the opportunity to feel as though they lived these moments. Below are some of the best historical movies ever made.

10 Best Historical Movies to Watch (1990-Present)


Schindler’s List (1993)

Director: Steven Spielberg

IMDb Ratings: 8.9/10

Although a greedy German businessman, Oskar Schindler becomes an unlikely aid to the Jews when the Nazi regime begins to take over power in the country. Seeing the constant fear in the eyes of his Jewish workers, Schindler decides to turn his plant into a safe refuge for those needing an escape from the Nazi’s. Overall, he saved over 1000 Jews from the Nazi gas chamber and concentration camps. This film is a testament that even in the darkest of times, those who once seemed dangerous will become willing to help, especially since it is based on the real life story of Oskar Schindler.


Braveheart (1995)

Director: Mel Gibson

IMDb Ratings: 8.4/10

When his bride assaults an English soldier for trying to rape her and is then killed for it, Scottish soldier William Wallace immediately launches a counterattack. Wallace leads the attack against Edward the Longshanks, who hopes to gain the Scottish crown for himself. With the assistance of Robert the Bruce and his home village, Wallace begins a long quest to finally gain Scotland’s freedom from England once and for all. This best historical movie is an inspiration to the underdog, showing that hard work and perseverance truly will make a difference in the world.


Apollo 13 (1995)

Director: Ron Howard

IMDb Ratings: 7.6/10

When space travel was all the rage, Apollo 13 was one of the most talked about shuttles. Even more so when NASA had to rush to discover a way for the shuttle to safely land after it suffered from massive internal damage, which immediately threatened the lives of the three astronauts on board. At first a routine flight, this film, which is based off of Apollo 13’s true flight, shows how quickly a routine can turn into chaos.


Gladiator (2000)

Director: Ridley Scott

IMDb Ratings: 8.5/10

This could be one of the best historical movies of last decade. Russell Crowe brilliantly acts Roman general Maximus who is betrayed and has his family murdered by the corrupt son of the emperor. Succumbed by grief and loss, Maximus is soon caught and forced to become a gladiator. Realizing his only chance for survival is to continually win the games, he decides that he will fuel his strength with a passion for revenge and the desire to look into the eyes of the man who murdered his family. Although it is not known if the story of Maximus is true or not, the picture of the Gladiator games is much like what ancient Roman’s saw in the Colosseum at that time.


Downfall (2004)

Director: Oliver Hirschbiegel

IMDb Ratings: 8.3/10

Beginning in April of 1945, the German Nazi regime is at the brink of destruction as enemy forces are slowly but surely advancing. Despite the odds, Hitler states that he will still claim victory, ordering his generals that they will fight until the last man is standing. Hitler’s emotions range from deranged and suicidal one moment to optimistic in the next. The film is full of the one piece of history many seem to overlook - Hitler’s ultimate defeat. In fact, Hitler commits suicide, leaving his remaining men frantic to stop the Battle of Berlin. The purpose of this film is to show that even the mightiest of flows can succumb to their own death.


Hotel Rwanda (2004)

Director: Terry George

IMDb Ratings: 8.2/10

Based on the true story of Pual Rusesabagina, a hotel manager who protected at least a thousand Tutsi refugees during the reign of the Hutu militia in Rwanda, showing just how awful the conditions in this area of the world were at the time. In fact, these events occurred in modern times, when news occurs at a lightning-fast paced, but Rwanda’s unlikely circumstances and brutal murders continued to go unnoticed. The film shows that becoming a kind and helping hand is vastly important, even when the rest of the world is unaware of what is happening.


I’m Not There (2007)

Director: Todd Haynes

IMDb Ratings: 7.0/10

A new and interesting take on Bob Dylan’s life, this film completes our list of the best historical movies as it portrays the seemingly six different lives this beloved artist once led. It follows him as an actor, folk singer, troubadour, Billy the Kid and even Woody Guthrie. Each depiction of his life shows a part of what made him special and unable to be classified in the world of history. The title of the movie aptly portrays what many believed about Bob Dylan that he wasn’t all there and possibly even had split personalities to have created so many different and unique works.


The King’s Speech (2010)

Director: Tom Hooper

IMDb Ratings: 8.1/10

When King George VI became ruler of England, he was unsure he would be able to stand up for his sudden ascension to throne due to a speech impediment. Fortunately, a speech therapist was able to help him become worthy of such a title. Although the tactics used were unusual, it helped the monarch become capable of leading the country on a daily basis and through a battle. This film serves as a reminder for those who struggle with leadership, helping them realize that regardless of whatever disability they believe they have, there are methods to overcome their disbelief.


Zero Dark Thirty (2012)

Director: Kathryn Bigelow

IMDb Ratings: 7.4/10

Chronicling the search for Al Qaeda and Osama Bin Laden after the horrific September 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Centers, this film follows CIA operative Maya who begins by interrogating prisoners immediately after the initial attack. For years, Maya is alone in her thought, making processes and tactics in order to discover the appropriate information. Fortunately, in the end, her efforts pay off as a Navy Seal Team is sent in to kill Osama Bin Laden, but only Maya believes for sure that she knows the whereabouts of the dangerous terrorist. Reviewing one of the most devastating times in America’s recent history, this best historical movie hits close to home for many, and it is a reflection of how America was able to stay banded together in order to defeat their enemy.


Lincoln (2012)

Director: Steven Spielberg

IMDb Ratings: 7.4/10

This film easily makes its way into this best historical movies list for showing one of the hardest time in American history: the Civil War and the emancipation of the slaves. Set in 1865, Spielberg brilliantly shows just how much effort President Abraham Lincoln put into freeing the slaves before his untimely death. It also helps us realize that this historical amendment had to be passed before the end of the Civil War, or it would be vetoed by the southern states. Serving as a reminder of just how far America has come, this film definitely intrigues us all in how it approaches the sensitive material.


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