Movies About American History

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Movies About American History

Thinking about Movies About American History, there are so many movies who explored this idea. Here are 25 of the best ones.

Forrest Gump (1994)

Forrest Gump
★★★★
★★★★
3.5 out of 4 stars

From Robert Zemeckis, starring Tom Hanks, Robin Wright, Gary Sinise, Sally Field
Rated PG-13

Forrest Gump is an American classic film about life and love starring Tom Hanks. It follows the story of a young man named Forrest, who despite his low IQ, loves life, his friends, and doing what he knows is right. Over the course of his life, he meets a variety of people, goes on many adventures, and experiences some of the most important events in modern American history. Along the way, he discovers the true meaning of friendship and love, and learns that life is what you make of it. In the end, Forrest Gump's big heart and positive attitude leads him to achieve the impossible.

Saving Private Ryan (1998)

Saving Private Ryan
★★★★
★★★★
3.4 out of 4 stars

From Steven Spielberg, starring Tom Hanks, Matt Damon, Tom Sizemore, Edward Burns
Rated R

Saving Private Ryan is a 1998 American epic war film directed by Steven Spielberg and written by Robert Rodat. The film is set during the Invasion of Normandy in World War II and follows United States Army Rangers Captain John H. Miller (Tom Hanks) and a squad of men as they search for a paratrooper, Private First Class James Francis Ryan (Matt Damon), who is the last surviving brother of four servicemen. The team of men journey behind enemy lines to find Private Ryan, while engaging in intense battles with German forces. After finding Private Ryan and learning of his brothers' deaths, Captain Miller takes it upon himself to ensure Private Ryan's safe return home. The film follows Captain Miller and his squad in their mission to bring Private Ryan home, making their way through enemy-occupied territory, and engaging in a series of difficult and dangerous battles. Along the way, they experience acts of heroism and selflessness, while also facing the reality of war and the human cost of battle. The film is noted for its realistic and intense portrayal of combat, resulting in its winning five Academy Awards, including Best Picture.

Full Metal Jacket (1987)

Full Metal Jacket
★★★★
★★★★
3.3 out of 4 stars

From Stanley Kubrick, starring Matthew Modine, R. Lee Ermey, Vincent D'Onofrio, Adam Baldwin
Rated R

Full Metal Jacket is a 1987 war film directed by Stanley Kubrick and starring Matthew Modine, Adam Baldwin, and Vincent D'Onofro. It follows a group of U.S. Marines from their rigorous training to their experiences in the Vietnam War. The film tells the story of these soldiers, their struggles, and their relationships with each other. It explores themes of the dehumanizing effects of war, the stress of combat, and the fragility of life. The film's title comes from the standard-issue body armor worn by the Marines, which is referred to as a "full metal jacket".

Judgment at Nuremberg (1961)

Judgment at Nuremberg
★★★★
★★★★
3.3 out of 4 stars

From Stanley Kramer, starring Spencer Tracy, Burt Lancaster, Richard Widmark, Marlene Dietrich
Rated Approved

Judgment at Nuremberg is a 1961 courtroom drama directed by Stanley Kramer, based on the play by Abby Mann. The film tells the story of four German judges who are put on trial for war crimes committed in Nazi Germany. The film follows the trial and its various arguments on the morality of Nazi policies, as well as its effects on the German people. Through the trial, the film seeks to answer the question: can the defendants be found guilty of war crimes when their actions were sanctioned by their government? The film stars Spencer Tracy, Burt Lancaster, Richard Widmark, Marlene Dietrich, Maximilian Schell, Montgomery Clift, Judy Garland, and many others. The film was nominated for 11 Academy Awards and won two, including Best Screenplay for Abby Mann.

There Will Be Blood (2007)

There Will Be Blood
★★★★
★★★★
3.3 out of 4 stars

From Paul Thomas Anderson, starring Daniel Day-Lewis, Paul Dano, Ciarán Hinds, Martin Stringer
Rated R

There Will Be Blood is a 2007 drama film directed by Paul Thomas Anderson and starring Daniel Day-Lewis as a silver-mining prospector in turn-of-the-century California. The story follows the greed and ambition of the main character, Daniel Plainview, as he attempts to build a financial empire. Along the way, he clashes with a religious preacher, Eli Sunday, and his family. The film is ultimately a commentary on religion, greed, family, and power. Plainview's journey to riches leads him to solitude, corruption, and madness.

Long Strange Trip (2017)

Long Strange Trip
★★★★
★★★★
3.3 out of 4 stars

From Amir Bar-Lev, starring John Perry Barlow, Tom Constanten, Sam Cutler, Jerry Garcia
Rated R

Long Strange Trip is an ambitious, 4-hour documentary directed by Amir Bar-Lev that chronicles the history of the Grateful Dead, one of the most iconic rock bands of all time. The film follows the band’s founding members from their early days in San Francisco, to their rise to fame, to their decline and eventual breakup. The narrative is told through interviews with the surviving band members, as well as archival footage, photographs and concert recordings. The documentary also explores some of the most powerful and influential moments in the band’s history, from their early psychedelic experimentation to their emergence as a countercultural phenomenon. Long Strange Trip is both a celebration of the Grateful Dead’s immense influence on the world of music, and an exploration of their unique and sometimes tumultuous journey.

12 Years a Slave (2013)

12 Years a Slave
★★★★
★★★★
3.2 out of 4 stars

From Steve McQueen, starring Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael Kenneth Williams, Michael Fassbender, Brad Pitt
Rated R

12 Years a Slave is a historical drama film that tells the real-life story of Solomon Northup, a free African-American man who was kidnapped and sold into slavery in pre-Civil War America. The film follows Northup's harrowing journey from freedom to enslavement, as he is bought and sold, put to work on a plantation, and struggles to survive under the cruel and oppressive conditions. Along the way, Northup encounters sympathetic and cruel slave owners, witnesses the horrors of the slave trade, and experiences the effects of racism, injustice, and inhumanity. Ultimately, Northup must fight to reclaim his freedom and reunite with his family. 12 Years a Slave is a powerful, emotionally charged film that stands as a testament to the struggles faced by African-Americans during the antebellum period.

The Grapes of Wrath (1940)

The Grapes of Wrath
★★★★
★★★★
3.2 out of 4 stars

From John Ford, starring Henry Fonda, Jane Darwell, John Carradine, Charley Grapewin
Rated Passed

The Grapes of Wrath is a 1940 drama film directed by John Ford, based on John Steinbeck’s 1939 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel of the same name. The film follows the Joad family, a poor farming family from Oklahoma, as they travel west to California in search of a better life during the Great Depression. The Joads suffer a series of hardships and tragedies along the way, but are ultimately able to find some hope and solace in the California farmland. In the end, the Joads learn to come together and fight for their rights in the face of massive injustice. The film is a powerful exploration of human resilience and the importance of standing up for one's beliefs.

Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939)

Mr. Smith Goes to Washington
★★★★
★★★★
3.2 out of 4 stars

From Frank Capra, starring James Stewart, Jean Arthur, Claude Rains, Edward Arnold
Rated Passed

Mr. Smith Goes to Washington is a 1939 classic drama directed by Frank Capra and starring James Stewart. The film follows the story of Jefferson Smith (Stewart), a naive, idealistic, and well-intentioned man, who is appointed to fill a vacancy in the United States Senate. In Washington, Smith quickly finds himself in the middle of a political power struggle between the corrupt Senator Joseph Paine (Claude Rains) and the nation's lobbyists, with Smith determined to fight for what he believes is right. Along the way he discovers the power of his own idealism, as well as the pitfalls of the political system. In the end, Smith finds himself in a filibuster against all odds, and ultimately succeeds in bringing down the corrupt political machine. The film is often credited as one of the most influential films in the history of Hollywood, and is seen as a classic example of Capra's signature brand of optimism and idealism.

Monterey Pop (1968)

Monterey Pop
★★★★
★★★★
3.2 out of 4 stars

From D.A. Pennebaker, starring Otis Redding, Jimi Hendrix, Ravi Shankar, Country Joe McDonald
Rated Not Rated

Monterey Pop is a 1968 documentary film directed by D.A. Pennebaker about the Monterey Pop Festival of 1967. The film features performances from iconic musicians such as Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Otis Redding, and The Who. The film is seen as a key moment in the emergence of the "counterculture" of the 1960s, capturing the spirit and energy of the era. It also serves as a historical document, preserving the performances of these legendary artists on film. Monterey Pop was widely praised by critics and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary. It is considered to be one of the best music documentaries of all time and an important work in the history of documentary film.

Patton (1970)

Patton
★★★★
★★★★
3.2 out of 4 stars

From Franklin J. Schaffner, starring George C. Scott, Karl Malden, Stephen Young, Michael Strong
Rated GP

Patton is a 1970 American epic biographical war film about U.S. Army General George S. Patton during World War II. It stars George C. Scott in the title role as General Patton. The film, directed by Franklin J. Schaffner, tells the story of Patton's career during World War II, from his critical role in the Allies' North Africa victory over Rommel's Afrika Korps, to his leadership of the Third Army into Germany, ending with Germany's surrender in 1945. The film portrays Patton as a driven and controversial figure who was highly respected by his troops and feared and respected by his enemies. It also features Karl Malden as General Omar Bradley and Michael Bates as Field Marshal Montgomery. The film won seven Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Original Score, Best Sound, Best Film Editing, Best Actor in a Leading Role, and Best Art Direction.

Do the Right Thing (1989)

Do the Right Thing
★★★★
★★★★
3.2 out of 4 stars

From Spike Lee, starring Danny Aiello, Ossie Davis, Ruby Dee, Richard Edson
Rated R

Do the Right Thing is a classic American drama directed by Spike Lee. Set in Brooklyn on a hot summer day, the film follows a variety of characters, of different races and backgrounds, as they navigate the complexities of life in a diverse community. Racial tensions on the block are brought to a head when Radio Raheem (Bill Nunn) causes an altercation with Sal (Danny Aiello), the Italian-American owner of a local pizzeria. The conflict leads to a neighborhood-wide riot, as the community struggles to make sense of the violence and grapple with the need to make the right choices. The film examines the dynamics of race, class and identity in America, and culminates with a scene of peaceful resolution.

Glory (1989)

Glory
★★★★
★★★★
3.1 out of 4 stars

From Edward Zwick, starring Matthew Broderick, Denzel Washington, Cary Elwes, Morgan Freeman
Rated R

Glory is a 1989 American historical war drama directed by Edward Zwick and starring Matthew Broderick, Denzel Washington, Cary Elwes, and Morgan Freeman. Based on the letters of Colonel Robert Gould Shaw, the film tells the story of the 54th Massachusetts infantry regiment, the first all-black volunteer regiment in the Union Army during the American Civil War. The regiment is led by Colonel Robert Gould Shaw (Broderick) who, under the direction of General Charles Garrison Harker (Elwes), is charged with leading his men into battle against Confederate forces. As the regiment trains and fights, Shaw and his men battle racism, both from the North and South, and struggle for the freedom that they are fighting for. As the war draws to a close, the 54th Massachusetts proves their courage and patriotism by charging into a suicidal battle at Fort Wagner. Denzel Washington won an Academy Award for his performance as Private Trip, a runaway slave who joins the regiment. Glory is an inspirational and powerful story of courage and perseverance in the face of adversity.

The Right Stuff (1983)

The Right Stuff
★★★★
★★★★
3.1 out of 4 stars

From Philip Kaufman, starring Sam Shepard, Scott Glenn, Ed Harris, Dennis Quaid
Rated PG

The Right Stuff is a 1983 American epic historical drama directed by Philip Kaufman and written by Kaufman, Lem Dobbs and Daniel Taradash. The film is based on Tom Wolfe's 1979 book of the same name, which chronicles the experiences of the first American astronauts and their dangerous journey into space. The film follows the true story of the Mercury Seven, a group of test pilots selected by the United States government to become the first Americans to fly in space. The seven men must face the dangers of space travel and the overwhelming pressures of public expectation as they are catapulted into the limelight of national heroes. As the astronauts prepare for their launch, the US finds itself embroiled in the Cold War, and the astronauts become symbols of American pride. The Right Stuff is a stunning exploration of the human spirit and a testament to the courage and sacrifice of the brave men and women who helped shape the history of space exploration. Along with its iconic score, the film is considered to be one of the most influential works of the 1980s and is acclaimed for its rousing action sequences, its attention to detail, and its accurate portrayal of the lives of the astronauts.

Mississippi Burning (1988)

Mississippi Burning
★★★★
★★★★
3.1 out of 4 stars

From Alan Parker, starring Gene Hackman, Willem Dafoe, Frances McDormand, Brad Dourif
Rated R

Mississippi Burning is a 1988 American crime drama film directed by Alan Parker, and starring Gene Hackman and Willem Dafoe. The story focuses on two FBI agents who are tasked with investigating the disappearance of three civil rights workers in Mississippi. The investigation is met with hostility by the local authorities and resistance from the Ku Klux Klan. The agents soon discover the town hides a web of corruption and violence beneath its tranquil facade. As the violence escalates, the agents are forced to take matters into their own hands to ensure justice is served.

The Last of the Mohicans (1992)

The Last of the Mohicans
★★★★
★★★★
3.1 out of 4 stars

From Michael Mann, starring Daniel Day-Lewis, Madeleine Stowe, Russell Means, Eric Schweig
Rated R

The Last of the Mohicans is a 1992 American epic historical drama set in 1757 during the French and Indian War. Written by Michael Mann and based on the 1826 novel of the same name by James Fenimore Cooper, the film stars Daniel Day-Lewis, Madeleine Stowe, and Russell Means. The story follows a Native American named Hawkeye, played by Day-Lewis, who is adopted by the last members of the Mohicans, Chingachgook, played by Means, and his son Uncas, played by Eric Schweig. Hawkeye and the Mohicans must rescue two British sisters, Cora and Alice, played by Stowe and Jodhi May, from a Huron war party. Along the way, the party is aided by their French ally Major Duncan Heyward. The movie is a highly acclaimed and beloved classic, praised for its acting, cinematography, and action scenes. It is widely considered to be one of the greatest films of all time, and has been selected for preservation by the Library of Congress.

The Longest Day (1962)

The Longest Day
★★★★
★★★★
3.1 out of 4 stars

From Directors: Ken Annakin, Andrew Marton, Gerd Oswald, Bernhard Wicki, Darryl F. Zanuck, starring John Wayne, Robert Ryan, Richard Burton, Henry Fonda
Rated G

The Longest Day is a 1962 epic war film produced by Darryl F. Zanuck, directed by five different directors, and starring an ensemble cast including John Wayne, Henry Fonda, Robert Mitchum, and Richard Burton. The film tells the story of the Allied invasion of Normandy during World War II. It depicts the buildup to the invasion and the chaotic fighting that followed. The film also features an all-star cast including Sean Connery, Peter Lawford, Robert Ryan, and Roddy McDowall. The Longest Day is one of the most acclaimed war films ever made, and it earned two Academy Awards. The film is a gripping and detailed portrayal of one of the most critical events of World War II, and it remains a classic of the war genre.

Malcolm X (1992)

Malcolm X
★★★★
★★★★
3.1 out of 4 stars

From Spike Lee, starring Denzel Washington, Angela Bassett, Delroy Lindo, Spike Lee
Rated PG-13

Malcolm X is a 1992 biographical drama directed by Spike Lee, depicting the life of civil rights activist Malcolm X. The film traces his early life as a street hustler to his conversion to the Nation of Islam and his rise to become a powerful Black Nationalist leader. It examines his struggles to achieve justice for African Americans in the face of racism and violence, his growth as an orator and intellectual, his eventual break with the Nation of Islam, and his assassination in 1965. Denzel Washington stars as Malcolm X, with Angela Bassett, Albert Hall, Al Freeman Jr., and many others playing supporting roles. The film was critically acclaimed and won several awards, including two Academy Award nominations.

Frost/Nixon (2008)

Frost/Nixon
★★★★
★★★★
3.1 out of 4 stars

From Ron Howard, starring Frank Langella, Michael Sheen, Kevin Bacon, Sam Rockwell
Rated R

Frost/Nixon is a 2008 drama film directed by Ron Howard and based on the 2006 play of the same name by Peter Morgan. The film focuses on the story of the historical interviews between British television host David Frost and former U.S. President Richard Nixon which were conducted in 1977, three years after Nixon had resigned from office. It follows Frost's attempts to extract a full confession out of Nixon, while Nixon's advisors attempt to manipulate the situation to their own benefit. The interviews are seen as a battle of wills between the two men, with Frost eventually emerging triumphant. The film stars Michael Sheen as Frost, Frank Langella as Nixon, and Kevin Bacon, Toby Jones, and Oliver Platt in supporting roles. It was nominated for five Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Actor for Langella.

Black Hawk Down (2001)

Black Hawk Down
★★★★
★★★★
3.1 out of 4 stars

From Ridley Scott, starring Josh Hartnett, Ewan McGregor, Tom Sizemore, Eric Bana
Rated R

Black Hawk Down is a 2001 war drama directed by Ridley Scott. Based on a true story, the film follows a United States Army Rangers and Delta Force task force sent to capture Somali warlord Mohamed Farrah Aidid in Mogadishu, Somalia. The mission quickly goes wrong, and the forces find themselves in a desperate battle against a large and heavily armed Somali militia. With the Rangers and Delta Force surrounded, the United States government is forced to send in reinforcements to attempt a rescue mission. With intense battle sequences and a moral dilemma of whether or not the mission should continue, Black Hawk Down is a gripping exploration of the realities of war.

Gangs of New York (2002)

Gangs of New York
★★★★
★★★★
3 out of 4 stars

From Martin Scorsese, starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Cameron Diaz, Daniel Day-Lewis, Jim Broadbent
Rated R

Gangs of New York is a 2002 American crime film directed by Martin Scorsese. Set in the Five Points neighborhood of New York City in the mid-19th century, the film follows Amsterdam Vallon (Leonardo DiCaprio), the son of a slain Irish gang leader, as he returns to the neighborhood to seek revenge against the rival gang leader (Daniel Day-Lewis) responsible for his father's death. Along the way, he discovers the history of the city's emerging gang culture and its changing demographics. With the help of a pickpocket (Cameron Diaz) and a corrupt politician (Liam Neeson), Amsterdam sets his sights on the gang leader, becoming embroiled in a brutal war for the future of the city. The film features stunning visuals, excellent performances, and a captivating plot.

The Great Debaters (2007)

The Great Debaters
★★★★
★★★★
3 out of 4 stars

From Denzel Washington, starring Denzel Washington, Forest Whitaker, Kimberly Elise, Nate Parker
Rated PG-13

The Great Debaters is a 2007 drama film directed by Denzel Washington and produced by Oprah Winfrey. It stars Denzel Washington, Forest Whitaker, Jurnee Smollett-Bell, and Denzel Whitaker. The film is set in the 1930s in Marshall, Texas, where a small, African-American college is struggling to stay afloat during the Great Depression. The story focuses on Melvin B. Tolson, a professor at the college and the school's debate team coach. He leads the debate team to unprecedented success, even preparing them to compete against powerful, Harvard University. Along the way, they must grapple with racism, segregation and other social issues which were rampant in the 1930s. The debate team eventually make it to the national championship in Washington, D.C. and the film culminates in a dramatic showdown between Harvard and the small, African-American college. In the end, the debate team successfully brings attention to the issues of racism and inequality in the 1930s.

Amistad (1997)

Amistad
★★★★
★★★★
2.9 out of 4 stars

From Steven Spielberg, starring Djimon Hounsou, Matthew McConaughey, Anthony Hopkins, Morgan Freeman
Rated R

Lincoln (2012)

Lincoln
★★★★
★★★★
2.9 out of 4 stars

From Steven Spielberg, starring Daniel Day-Lewis, Sally Field, David Strathairn, Joseph Gordon-Levitt
Rated PG-13

Thirteen Days (2000)

Thirteen Days
★★★★
★★★★
2.9 out of 4 stars

From Roger Donaldson, starring Kevin Costner, Bruce Greenwood, Shawn Driscoll, Drake Cook
Rated PG-13

 



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