80s Movies The Best Historical Movies Released in the 1980s  

Ranker Film
609 votes 105 voters 4.3k 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
32 5
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Stanley Kubrick, Vincent D'Onofrio, R. Lee Ermey
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
2
43 12
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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
3
27 9
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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
19 6
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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
20 8
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Jeffrey Jones, Cynthia Nixon, Christine Ebersole
Amadeus - Directors Cut is a 1984 biography drama film written by Peter Shaffer and directed by Milos Forman.
6
22 10
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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
17 6
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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
8
17 8
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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
15 8
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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
15 9
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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
11
15 9
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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
12
6 2
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
10 8
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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
10 9
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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
15
1 0
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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
16
2 2
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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
17
9 10
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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
9 10
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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
19
8 9
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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
20
7 8
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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
21
7 9
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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
22
4 6
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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
23
6 9
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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
24
5 8
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Oliver Reed, John Gielgud, Anthony Quinn
Lion of the Desert is a 1981 Libyan historical action film starring Anthony Quinn as Libyan tribal leader Omar Mukhtar, a Bedouin leader fighting the Italian army in the years leading up to ...more
25
5 9
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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