Entertainment

The Best Historical Movies Released in the 1980s  

Ranker Film
638 votes 110 voters 4.5k views 33 items

List Rules Vote up your favorite historical films from the 1980s.

What are the best historical movies from the 1980s? This list includes great historical movies such as Glory, Amadeus, and Name of the RoseHistorical movies allow audiences to relive a piece of a history that they may never know about otherwise. They become sources of both entertainment and education.   

 The movies on this list are the best of the best when it comes to historical films. Which one is the best? Well, that's up to the voters to decide. Vote up your favorite historical movie from the 1980s, and if there isn't one on here that you think deserves a spot, be sure to add it. 

list ordered by
1
Ranker Video
Stephen Fry, Kenneth Branagh, Ian Holm
Chariots of Fire is a 1981 British historical drama film. It tells the fact-based story of two athletes in the 1924 Olympics: Eric Liddell, a devout Scottish Christian who runs for the glory of ...more
2
Ranker Video
Vincent D'Onofrio, R. Lee Ermey, Adam Baldwin
Full Metal Jacket is a 1987 film directed and produced by Stanley Kubrick. The screenplay by Kubrick, Michael Herr, and Gustav Hasford was based on Hasford's novel The Short-Timers. The film ...more
3
Ranker Video
Morgan Freeman, Denzel Washington, Matthew Broderick
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
4
Ranker Video
Willem Dafoe, Gene Hackman, Frances McDormand
Mississippi Burning is a 1988 American thriller film directed by Alan Parker and written by Chris Gerolmo. It was loosely based on the FBI investigation into the incidents involving of three ...more
5
Ranker Video
Jeff Goldblum, Ed Harris, Dennis Quaid
The Right Stuff is a 1983 American drama film that was adapted from Tom Wolfe's best-selling 1979 book of the same name about the Navy, Marine and Air Force test pilots who were involved in ...more
6
Ranker Video
Daniel Day-Lewis, Ben Kingsley, Martin Sheen
Gandhi is a 1982 epic biographical film which dramatises the life of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, the leader of India's non-violent, non-cooperative independence movement against the United ...more
7
Ranker Video
Jeffrey Jones, Cynthia Nixon, Christine Ebersole
Amadeus - Directors Cut is a 1984 biography drama film written by Peter Shaffer and directed by Milos Forman.
8
Ranker Video
Born on the Fourth of July, published in 1976, is the best selling autobiography by Ron Kovic, a Vietnam veteran who became an activist. Kovic was born on July 4, 1946, and his book's ironic ...more
9
Ranker Video
Peter O'Toole, Joan Chen, Vivian Wu
The Last Emperor is a 1987 biographical film about the life of Puyi, the last Emperor of China, whose autobiography was the basis for the screenplay written by Mark Peploe and Bernardo ...more
10
Ranker Video
John Malkovich, Craig T. Nelson, Sam Waterston
This film is a 1984 British drama film set in Democratic Kampuchea, which is based on the experiences of two journalists: Cambodian Dith Pran and American Sydney Schanberg. The film, which won ...more
11
Ranker Video
Sean Connery, Christian Slater, Ron Perlman
The Name of the Rose is a 1986 film directed by Jean-Jacques Annaud, based on the book of the same name by Umberto Eco. Sean Connery is the Franciscan friar William of Baskerville and Christian ...more
12
Raging Bull is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Historical Movies Released in the 1980s
Tom Islava added Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci, Martin Scorsese
Raging Bull is a 1980 American biographical black-and-white sports drama film directed by Martin Scorsese, produced by Robert Chartoff and Irwin Winkler and adapted by Paul Schrader and Mardik ...more
13
Ranker Video
Alec Baldwin, Winona Ryder, Dennis Quaid
Great Balls of Fire! is a 1989 American biographical film directed by Jim McBride and starring Dennis Quaid as pioneer rock 'n' roll star Jerry Lee Lewis. Based on a biography by Myra Lewis and ...more
14
Ranker Video
Moses Zook added Mel Gibson, Liam Neeson, Daniel Day-Lewis
The Bounty is a 1984 British adventure drama historical film directed by Roger Donaldson, starring Mel Gibson and Anthony Hopkins, and produced by Bernard Williams with Dino De Laurentiis as ...more
15
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Jack Nicholson, Diane Keaton, Gene Hackman
Reds is a 1981 epic film that was co-written, produced, and directed by Warren Beatty. The picture centers on the life and career of John Reed, the journalist and writer who chronicled the ...more
16
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Christian Bale, Emma Thompson, Judi Dench
Henry V is a 1989 British drama film adapted for the screen and directed by Kenneth Branagh, based on William Shakespeare's play of the same name about King Henry V of England. The film stars ...more
17
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Mel Gibson, Sigourney Weaver, Linda Hunt
The Year of Living Dangerously is a 1982 drama film directed by Peter Weir and adapted from the novel The Year of Living Dangerously by Christopher Koch. The story is about a love affair set in ...more
18
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Paul Newman, John Cusack, Laura Dern
Fat Man and Little Boy is a 1989 film that reenacts the Manhattan Project. The film is named after the weapons "Fat Man" and "Little Boy" detonated over Nagasaki and ...more
19
Ranker Video
Mickey Rourke, Willem Dafoe, Jeff Bridges
Heaven's Gate is a 1980 American epic Western film written and directed by Michael Cimino. It portrays a fictional dispute between land barons and European immigrants in Wyoming in the 1890s. ...more
20
Ranker Video
Tom Islava added Meryl Streep, Kevin Kline, Peter MacNicol
Sophie's Choice is a 1982 American drama film directed by Alan J. Pakula, who adapted William Styron's novel of the same name. Meryl Streep stars as Sophie, a Polish immigrant who shares a ...more
21
Ranker Video
North and South is the title of three American television miniseries broadcast on the ABC network in 1985, 1986, and 1994.The 1985 first installment, North and South, remains the seventh-highest ...more
22
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Michael Caine
Jack the Ripper is a 1988 two-part television film/miniseries portraying a fictionalized account of the hunt for Jack the Ripper, the unidentified serial killer responsible for the Whitechapel ...more
23
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Denzel Washington, Kevin Kline, Julian Glover
Cry Freedom is a 1987 British drama film directed by Richard Attenborough, set in the late 1970s, during the apartheid era of South Africa. The screenplay was written by John Briley based on a ...more
24
Ranker Video
Peter O'Toole, Barbara Carrera, David Warner
Masada is an American television miniseries that aired on ABC in April 1981. Advertised by the network as an "ABC Novel for Television," it was a fictionalized account of the ...more
25
Ranker Video
Ian McKellen, Jane Seymour, Anthony Andrews
The Scarlet Pimpernel is a 1982 British romantic adventure film set during the French Revolution. It is based on the novels The Scarlet Pimpernel and Eldorado by Baroness Emmuska Orczy, and ...more