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The Best Historical Drama Movies Of All Time, Ranked 

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Updated March 19, 2020 101.6k votes 6.6k voters 252.3k views 219 items

List Rules Your favorite historical drama films, regardless of box office gross or popularity.

Moviegoers rank the best historical drama movies and period pieces of all time below. So what makes a good historical drama movie? Some would say period-accuracy is most important while others may assert plot and emotion should be priorities. Sometimes a great performance can overcome a flawed historical drama. These differing opinions are why it is difficult to rank the best historical drama movies of all time. 

Do your due diligence and vote up your favorite historical dramas. These are the top films in the historical drama genre, meaning that each and every one of these is either tells a story from history or is a period piece. We have included details such as cast, year, director and more. This list of historical drama films also contains plot summaries and miscellaneous information. Original trailers for the movies included when available.

Many of these hit historical drama movies are available for streaming on Netflix and Amazon Prime.  Don't agree with this list? Feel free to rerank it to your heart's desire. You can either copy the historical drama films or add your own. This list, though, contains the best historical drama movies of all time, as voted on by fans of the films. Make sure to rock the vote by voting up the greatest movies on this list (according to you).  List of historical drama films includes historical drama movie titles that can be clicked on for more information about the film. After you've voted for your favorites, share the list on Facebook, Twitter, or any other social networks. Aside from this list of the best historical drama movies, you can also take a look at the Best Family Drama Movies, The Best R-Rated Drama Movies, and the Best PG-13 Rated Drama Movies

All sorts of directors have taken on Historical drama movies. Examples include Orson Welles, Martin Scorsese, and Robert Redford.

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1
Schindler's List is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Historical Drama Movies Of All Time, Ranked
wiabux added Liam Neeson, Ralph Fiennes, Ben Kingsley

Released: 1993

Directed by: Steven Spielberg

Schindler's List is a 1993 American epic historical period drama, directed and co-produced by Steven Spielberg and scripted by Steven Zaillian. It is based on the novel Schindler's Ark by Thomas ...more
2
Gladiator is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Historical Drama Movies Of All Time, Ranked
Russell Crowe, Joaquin Phoenix, Michael Sheen

Released: 2000

Directed by: Ridley Scott

Gladiator is a 2000 American-British epic historical drama film directed by Ridley Scott, starring Russell Crowe, Joaquin Phoenix, Connie Nielsen, Ralf Möller, Oliver Reed, Djimon Hounsou, ...more
3
Black Hawk Down is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Historical Drama Movies Of All Time, Ranked
wiabux added Ewan McGregor, Tom Hardy, Orlando Bloom

Released: 2001

Directed by: Ridley Scott

Black Hawk Down is a 2001 American-British war film directed by Ridley Scott. It is an adaptation of the 1999 book of the same name by Mark Bowden based on his series of articles published in ...more
4
Tombstone is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Historical Drama Movies Of All Time, Ranked
RobLein added Val Kilmer, Kurt Russell, Charlton Heston

Released: 1993

Directed by: Kevin Jarre, George P. Cosmatos

Tombstone is a 1993 American western film directed by George P. Cosmatos, written by Kevin Jarre and starring Kurt Russell and Val Kilmer, with Sam Elliott, Bill Paxton, Powers Boothe, Michael ...more
5
The Patriot is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Historical Drama Movies Of All Time, Ranked
wiabux added Mel Gibson, Heath Ledger, Logan Lerman

Released: 2000

Directed by: Roland Emmerich

The Patriot is a 2000 American epic historical fiction film directed by Roland Emmerich. Peaceful farmer Benjamin Martin (Mel Gibson) is driven to lead the his own group of men during the ...more
6
Dances with Wolves is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Historical Drama Movies Of All Time, Ranked
cynde added Kevin Costner, Mary McDonnell, Charles Rocket

Released: 1990

Directed by: Kevin Costner

Dances with Wolves is a 1990 American epic western film directed, produced by, and starring Kevin Costner. It is a film adaptation of the 1988 book of the same name by Michael Blake and tells ...more
7
Patton is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Historical Drama Movies Of All Time, Ranked
RobLein added George C. Scott, Karl Malden, Paul Frees

Released: 1970

Directed by: Franklin J. Schaffner

Patton is a 1970 American epic biographical film about U.S. General George S. Patton during WWII. It stars George C. Scott, Karl Malden, Michael Bates and Karl Michael Vogler. It was directed by ...more
8
Gangs of New York is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Historical Drama Movies Of All Time, Ranked
Cameron Diaz, Leonardo DiCaprio, Liam Neeson

Released: 2002

Directed by: Martin Scorsese

Gangs of New York is a 2002 American fictionalized historical drama film set in the mid-19th century in the Five Points district of Lower Manhattan in 1863. The film was directed by Martin ...more
9
Gone with the Wind is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Historical Drama Movies Of All Time, Ranked
cynde added Clark Gable, Vivien Leigh, Olivia de Havilland

Released: 1939

Directed by: Sam Wood, George Cukor, Victor Fleming

Gone with the Wind is a 1939 American epic historical romance film adapted from Margaret Mitchell's Pulitzer-winning 1936 novel. It was produced by David O. Selznick of Selznick International ...more
10
The King's Speech is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Historical Drama Movies Of All Time, Ranked
Helena Bonham Carter, Colin Firth, Guy Pearce

Released: 2010

Directed by: Tom Hooper

The King's Speech is a 2010 British historical drama film directed by Tom Hooper and written by David Seidler. Colin Firth plays King George VI who, to cope with a stammer, sees Lionel Logue, an ...more
11
Braveheart is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Historical Drama Movies Of All Time, Ranked
Jim_In_Texas added Mel Gibson, Sophie Marceau, Brendan Gleeson

Released: 1995

Directed by: Mel Gibson

Braveheart is a 1995 epic historical medieval war drama film directed by and starring Mel Gibson. Gibson portrays William Wallace, a 13th-century Scottish warrior who led the Scots in the First ...more
12
Ben-Hur is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Historical Drama Movies Of All Time, Ranked
Ferry73 added Charlton Heston, Jack Hawkins, Hugh Griffith

Released: 1959

Directed by: William Wyler

Ben-Hur is a 1959 American epic historical drama film, directed by William Wyler, produced by Sam Zimbalist for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and starring Charlton Heston, Stephen Boyd, Jack Hawkins, Hugh ...more
13
Lincoln is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Historical Drama Movies Of All Time, Ranked
wiabux added Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Daniel Day-Lewis, Sally Field

Released: 2012

Directed by: Steven Spielberg

Lincoln is a 2012 American epic historical drama film directed by Steven Spielberg, starring Daniel Day-Lewis as United States President Abraham Lincoln and Sally Field as Mary Todd Lincoln. The ...more
14
300 is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Historical Drama Movies Of All Time, Ranked
ElijahKaganer added Gerard Butler, Michael Fassbender, Lena Headey

Released: 2006

Directed by: Zack Snyder

300 is a 2006 American fantasy war film based on the 1998 comic series of the same name by Frank Miller and Lynn Varley. Both are fictionalized retellings of the Battle of Thermopylae which took ...more
15
Glory is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Historical Drama Movies Of All Time, Ranked
Jim_In_Texas added Morgan Freeman, Denzel Washington, Matthew Broderick

Released: 1989

Directed by: Edward Zwick

Glory is a 1989 American drama film directed by Edward Zwick and starring Matthew Broderick, Denzel Washington, Cary Elwes and Morgan Freeman. The screenplay was written by Kevin Jarre, based on ...more
16
Tora! Tora! Tora! is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Historical Drama Movies Of All Time, Ranked
RobLein added Jason Robards Jr., Martin Balsam, Joseph Cotten

Released: 1970

Directed by: Richard Fleischer, Toshio Masuda, Kinji Fukasaku

Tora! Tora! Tora! is a 1970 American–Japanese film directed by Richard Fleischer and stars an ensemble cast, including Martin Balsam, Joseph Cotten, Sō Yamamura, E. G. Marshall, James Whitmore ...more
17
Kingdom of Heaven is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Historical Drama Movies Of All Time, Ranked
Eva Green, Liam Neeson, Edward Norton

Released: 2005

Directed by: Ridley Scott

Kingdom of Heaven is a 2005 epic historical drama directed and produced by Ridley Scott and written by William Monahan. It stars Orlando Bloom, Eva Green, Jeremy Irons, David Thewlis, Brendan ...more
18
The Last Samurai is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Historical Drama Movies Of All Time, Ranked
Tom Cruise, Billy Connolly, Timothy Spall

Released: 2003

Directed by: Edward Zwick

The Last Samurai is a 2003 American epic film directed and co-produced by Edward Zwick, who also co-wrote the screenplay with John Logan. The film stars Tom Cruise, who also co-produced, as well ...more
19
Casablanca is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Historical Drama Movies Of All Time, Ranked
cynde added Ingrid Bergman, Humphrey Bogart, Peter Lorre

Released: 1942

Directed by: Michael Curtiz

Casablanca is a 1942 American romantic drama film directed by Michael Curtiz and based on Murray Burnett and Joan Alison's unproduced stage play Everybody Comes to Rick's. The film stars ...more
20
Saving Private Ryan is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Historical Drama Movies Of All Time, Ranked
Joe Skip Stewart added Tom Hanks, Matt Damon, Vin Diesel

Released: 1998

Directed by: Steven Spielberg

Saving Private Ryan is a 1998 American epic drama war film set during the Invasion of Normandy in World War II. Directed by Steven Spielberg and written by Robert Rodat, the film is notable for ...more
21
Spartacus is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Historical Drama Movies Of All Time, Ranked
wiabux added Kirk Douglas, Laurence Olivier, Tony Curtis

Released: 1960

Directed by: Stanley Kubrick

Spartacus is a 1960 American epic historical drama film directed by Stanley Kubrick. The screenplay by Dalton Trumbo was based on the novel Spartacus by Howard Fast. It was inspired by the life ...more
22
Band of Brothers is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Historical Drama Movies Of All Time, Ranked
Joe Skip Stewart added Donnie Wahlberg, Damian Lewis, Dexter Fletcher

Released: 2001

Directed by: Mikael Salomon, Tony To, Richard Loncraine, David Frankel, David Leland, + more

Band of Brothers is a 2001 American WWII drama miniseries based on historian Stephen E. Ambrose's 1992 non-fiction book of the same name. The executive producers were Steven Spielberg and Tom ...more
23
The Last of the Mohicans... is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Historical Drama Movies Of All Time, Ranked
LisaMcCaffrey added Daniel Day-Lewis, Madeleine Stowe, Pete Postlethwaite

Released: 1992

Directed by: Michael Mann

The Last of the Mohicans is a 1992 historical epic film set in 1757 and produced by Morgan Creek Pictures. It was directed by Michael Mann and based on James Fenimore Cooper's novel of the same ...more
24
Inglourious Basterds is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Historical Drama Movies Of All Time, Ranked
cynde added Brad Pitt, Michael Fassbender, Diane Kruger

Released: 2009

Directed by: Eli Roth, Quentin Tarantino

Inglourious Basterds is a 2009 German-American war black comedy film written and directed by Quentin Tarantino and starring Brad Pitt, Christoph Waltz, Mélanie Laurent, Michael ...more
25
The Passion of the Chris... is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Historical Drama Movies Of All Time, Ranked
wiabux added Monica Bellucci, Jim Caviezel, Claudia Gerini

Released: 2004

Directed by: Mel Gibson

The Passion of the Christ is a 2004 American epic biblical drama film directed by Mel Gibson and starring Jim Caviezel as Jesus Christ. It depicts the Passion of Jesus largely according to the ...more