40 Hollywood Historical Movies That Are Must Watch

History makes Heroes!

Abhishek Biju Nair

Jun 23, 2021|11 min read


What makes a good historical drama? 

A plot with so many emotions and great performances. There are a lot of movies that come under this which makes it difficult to rank the best out of them. 

Some of these movies are left untold, but movies have done a great job of bringing them to light. 

But here’s the list of all Hollywood Historical movies that are must-watch.

These movies are some of the top movies in the historical drama genre and all these movies have an inspiring story from history or a period. So let’s get started!

1. Schindler's List

Schindler's List | Hollywood Historical Movies

To begin this list of Historical Holywood movies, the movie is about Oscar Schindler, a Nazi businessman who saved thousands of Jews from being killed in Nazi camps. 

These camps were set by Adolf Hitler to terminate the jews from the country. Directed by Steven Spielberg, the movie stars Liam Nesson in the lead role. 

This movie is a masterpiece and a must-watch!

2. The Pianist

The Pianist | Hollywood Historical Movies

This Hollywood blockbuster tells the real-life story of a Polish-Jewish musician Wladyslaw Szpilman, who goes through a lot of struggles after losing contact with his family during World War II. Directed by Roman Polanski, 

‘The Pianist’ is an emotional and beautiful movie!

3. Braveheart

Directed by Mel Gibson, ‘Braveheart’ is an epic war film that portrays the first war of Scottish Independence against England. 

The movie is also based on the real-life of William Wallace, a late 13th-century Scottish Warrior. The movie is inspiring, action-packed, and a must-watch. 

4. Amadeus

This movie is based on Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s real-life story the aftermath of as told by Antonio Salieri, a famous Italian composer, who was insanely jealous of Mozart's talent and claimed to have murdered him. 

It's an amazing movie and is amongst one of the simplest movies ever made in Hollywood. 

5. Lawrence Of Arabia

Directed by David Lean, this historical Hollywood movie is based on the real-life story of British secret agent T.E. Lawrence, who played a huge role in the Arab Revolt during the First World War. 

The movie is inspirational and also won seven Oscars. A must-watch!

6. The Rifleman

This movie tells the story of an inspiring hero, Chuck Connors who protects himself, his son, and his friends against gangsters. 

The movie has a great cast who are brilliant, brave, and strong. It’s a beautiful series and a must-watch!

7. The Great Escape

Based on a true story, this movie is one of the greatest movies ever made. The Great Escape portrays a prison break and the bravery of men in the second world war. 

Directed by John Sturges, this movie is an entertaining flick and is one of the best Hollywood Historical movies!

8. Downfall

Downfall | Hollywood Historical Movies

Another World War 2 movie. The movie portrays life in Berlin during the last few weeks before Hitler’s suicide in 1945. Bruno Ganz’s performance as Hitler holds the movie together. 

This movie is a masterpiece and will be remembered for years to come as one of the best Hollywood Historical Movies. 

9. There Will Be Blood

This Hollywood movie is about greed, vengeance. And religion due to the discovery of oil. With a really strong script, this movie is ground-breaking and is a masterpiece. 

‘There will be Blood’ is a powerful piece of cinema and will be etched in the minds of every viewer. A must-watch!

10. The Act Of Killing

In the aftermath of the Indonesian military coup of 1965, over 1 million see videos were murdered. More than a movie this is an experience that can be disturbing but it is an eye-opener. 

‘The Act of Killing’ will probably be the most powerful documentary or movie that you’ll ever come across.

11. Hotel Rwanda

This inspiring movie is based on the real-life story of how Mr. Rusesabagina played by Don Cheadle, and his efforts to secure a safe escape for 1200 people by providing them shelter at the Mille Collines Hotel in Kigali. 

This movie is heart-wrenching and is one of the best drama movies in Hollywood. Another must-watch!

12. Rush

Starring Chris Hemsworth and Daniel Bruhl in lead roles, Rush is based on the true rivalry between Formula 1 racers James Hunt from Britain and Niki Lauda from Australia in the 1970s. 

Directed by Ron Howard, this movie is one of the best racing movies ever made in Hollywood. 

13. 12 Years A Slave

Directed by Steve McQueen, this movie is based on a real-life story. It portrays the journey of a free black man, that is kidnapped and sold into slavery. 

He is threatened by his white masters for being educated. 12 Years a Slave received widespread praise and is one of the best Historical Hollywood movies ever made. A must-watch!

14. Spotlight

This Hollywood film is about the Boston Globe investigative team that exposed the sexual abuse of children by Roman Catholic priests in Boston. 

Directed by Todd McCarthy, everything about this movie is brilliant. 

The movie also won an Oscar for Best picture!

15. Hacksaw Ridge

Hacksaw Ridge | Hollywood Historical Movies

Directed by Mel Gibson, this historical Hollywood drama portrays the true story of real-life hero Desmond Doss who saved the life of 75 soldiers, without carrying a weapon during the battle at Hacksaw Ridge during World War II. 

The movie stars Andrew Garfield as Doss. Another masterpiece and a must-watch!

16. Ben-Hur

A religious epic film which is the remake of the 1925 silent movie of the same name. This movie tells the story of a Jewish man who is falsely accused and punished for an attempted assassination of the Roman governor. 

‘Ben-Hur’ is one of the best movies ever and one of the biggest epic biblical movies ever made. A must-watch!

17. Napoleon

This Historical Hollywood movie portrays the life and times of Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte. 

‘Napoleon’ is an interesting and intelligent movie. You won’t be disappointed. 

18. JFK

This film follows the real-life events of Jim Garrison, the New Orleans District Attorney who sets out to find the mystery behind the assassination of former US President John F Kennedy. 

This movie is one of the greatest movies that Hollywood has ever produced and is a masterpiece. A must-watch!

19. Ip Man (Series)

Ip Man (Series) | Hollywood Historical Movies

Ip Man is a series of martial arts films based on the real-life story of a Chinese Martial Artist Wing Chun. Bruce Lee was one of his students. 

The series begins with Ip man(2008), followed by Ip man 2 (2010) and Ip man 3 (2015). The last and final movie was Ip Man 4: The Finale (2019). 

The Ip Man series is inspiring and breath-taking. Recommended especially to all the action-movie lovers. 

20. Blood Diamond

Starring Leonardo DiCaprio, this movie is about two men who come together for the common quest to recover a diamond that has the power to transform their lives. 

‘Blood diamond’ is powerful, intense, and gripping from start to finish and probably one of DiCaprio’s best movies ever. A masterpiece!

21. Gandhi

Next on this list of Historical Hollywood Movies, is a movie based on the life of Mahatma Gandhi. Directed by Richard Attenborough, the movie portrays his struggles and revolts against British rule through his philosophy of non-violent protest. 

A true warrior without any weapon! The movie is a masterclass and a must-watch!

22. The Imitation Game

Starring Benedict Cumberbatch, this movie is based on the inspiring real-life story of Alan Turing, a legendary mathematician who cracked the code of an impenetrable German war machine called Enigma. 

The movie focuses on his years as a cryptograph for the British military during World War II. Highly recommended!

23. The King's Speech

This Hollywood Historical movie is based on the true-life tale of Prince Albert. 

Starring Colin Firth and Geoffrey Rush in lead roles the movie portrays how he became George VI and how he led his country through World War II. 

Another must-watch!

24. In The Shadow Of The Moon

This Historical Hollywood movie is a documentary put together by NASA that highlights Apollo’s 11 mission. 

The movie contains interviews of many of the astronauts who were part of the mission. It’s captivating, fun, and emotionally effective. 

25. Togo

Togo | Hollywood Historical Movies

A Hollywood flick that tells the true story of a remarkable dog named Dogo. This movie shows how loyal, intelligent, and brave dogs can be. 

Willem Dafoe gives his career-best performance in this movie. ‘Togo’ is so touching and if you’re a dog-lover, his one is for you. A must-watch!

26. The Trial Of The Chicago 7

A historical movie based on the 1969 trial of seven defendants who were charged by the US Government with conspiracy. Many issues like Racism, patriotism, extremism, etc are portrayed in the movie. 

‘The Trial of the Chicago 7’ is a courtroom drama with an excellent cast and a brilliant story. A must-watch!

27. Saving Private Ryan

This Hollywood Historical movie is a military movie based on World War II where Captain John Miller is given the task of searching for Private John Miller. 

Directed by Steven Spielberg this is a thrilling war movie and a masterpiece that is well worth watching. Truly one of the best war films that you’ll ever come across. 

28. Gladiator

This movie tells the story of how a former Roman general sets out for vengeance against an emperor who murdered his family. Starring Russel Crowe and Joaquin Phoenix in lead roles, this movie is an absolute classic of a film. 

One of the best American movies of the 2000s. A must-watch!

29. Black Hawk Down

Another war film about the horror faced by US soldiers in Somalia in 1993. It tells the story of how a captain leads a team of hundred US Army Rangers to catch two of the most-wanted men of the Somali warlord. 

‘Black Hawk Down’ is a nerve-wracking high-intensity war film that is a must-watch and probably one of the best Hollywood war films ever. 

30. Apollo 13

This Hollywood HIstorical is a true story of NASA‘s third moon landing machine Apollo 13. 

Even though it didn’t make it to the surface of the moon, the movie portrays NASA‘s strategy to return Apollo 13 to Earth safely after it underwent damage putting the lives of three astronauts on board at risk. 

The movie is inspirational and will keep you on the edge of your seats throughout. Truly a cinematic masterpiece!

31. Fury

Fury | Hollywood Historical Movies

Another WWII movie tells the story of a US Army Sergeant, played by Brad Pitt and his crew of 5 men walking into Germany with his Sherman tank called Fury. 

The movie has some great performances and is a good one-time watch!

32. The Great Debaters

The movie is about how Mel Tolsen forms a debate team at Wiley College and later goes on to win a national championship by beating Harvard. 

Starring Denzel Washington, the film portrays the racism that African-Americans had to go through in America in the 1930s. It’s very inspiring and is a must-watch!

33. Cinderella Man

This Hollywood Historical movie is the real-life story of boxing champion James J. Braddock, who was one of America’s most loved boxers. 

Titled after his nickname, the movie stars Russell Crowe in the lead role. The movie is heart-warming and inspirational. Another must-watch!

34. American Sniper

American Sniper | Hollywood Historical Movies

This movie is about Chris Kyle, who was one of the most lethal snipers in US military history. Starring Bradley Cooper, this movie is one of the best war films that you’ll ever come across. 

The movie takes us into Kyle’s life, his marriage, family, the mental anxiety derived from the war in Iraq, and his final days. Another Hollywood Historical movie that is a must-watch!

35. Lincoln

This Hollywood Historical movie is based on the final weeks of Abraham Lincoln‘s life and how he played a huge role to bring an end to the civil war and also shows how slavery was abolished in America. 

Directed by Steven Spielberg, the movie stars Daniel Day-Lewis as Lincoln. 

36. Milk

Based on the life of politician Harvey Milk, who was an American gay activist who fought for gay rights and became the first gay person to be elected to major public office in California. 

The film stars Sean Penn as Milk and is directed by Gus Van Sant. The movie is inspiring!

37. A Beautiful Mind

A Beautiful Mind | Hollywood Historical Movies

This inspirational Hollywood historical movie tells the story of John Forbes Nash a mathematical genius who discovered a highly complicated mathematical concept. 

Played by Russell Crowe, the movie portrays how he achieved success and failure in life while suffering from Schizophrenia, which is a brain disorder. 

38. Raging Bull

Directed by Martin Scorsese, this movie is based on the real-life of boxer Jake LaMotta, who was an American professional boxer and a stand-up comedian. 

The movie is inspiring and is one of the best classic sports movies in Hollywood!

39. Erin Brockovich

Based on the real-life story of Erin Brockovich, who played a huge role in building a case against the Pacific Gas & Electric company in 1993 despite her lack of education in law. 

Starring Julia Roberts, this film shows how she takes on challenges and wins against all odds.

40. Ford Vs Ferrari

Ford Vs Ferrari | Hollywood Historical Movies

This historical Hollywood movie is a classic sports drama that tells the story of a 24-hour race called Le Mans where American manufacturing company Ford took on Italy’s Ferrari. 

To stand a chance in the 24-hour race, Ford brought into two racing legends; Carroll Shelby and Ken Miles played by Matt Damon and Christian Bale to help them win the European title. 

Directed by James Mangold, the movie is inspirational and keeps you on the edge of your seats throughout the movie. 

Some of these movies have shown you how life is a struggle and also amazes you with the incidents that took place. 

So the next time, if you’re looking for a Hollywood Historial Movie, here’s a list of all the Hollywood Historical movies that are must-watch.

 Also, if you found this article interesting, make sure you like and share it with a friend or your family so that they’re aware of them.

Do comment and let us know which among these is your favorite.

A few of these movies are available to stream on OTT Platforms. So now all you got to do is grab a bowl of popcorn, sit back, relax and enjoy!

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Abhishek Biju Nair

I grew up with immense love for Performing arts, Movies and Sports. I never thought that I could write an article. But life is worthwhile if you try! You never know what you’re capable of until you try. And then I tried writing for fun, and here I am!



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