Entertainment

The Best Medical Movies Based on True Stories  

Ranker Film
3.3k votes 495 voters 36.9k views 37 items

List Rules Vote for the best movies inspired by true medical events.

What are the best medical movies based on true stories? This list includes great historical movies such as Philadelphia, Patch Adams, and Awakenings. All of these movies recount incredible stories about people and their ailments throughout history. Be it about disease, doctors, studies, or medical advancements, these stories are all based on true stories and touch viewers at their core.

Which movie inspired by real medical events is the best? That's up for the voters to decide. Vote up which movie you think is the best, and if you don't see your favorite on here, be sure to add it. This list is votable and rerankable, so have at it!

list ordered by
1
Ranker Video
Robin Williams, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Monica Potter
Patch Adams is a 1998 semi-biographical comedy-drama film starring Robin Williams, Monica Potter, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Bob Gunton. Directed by Tom Shadyac, it is based on the life story of ...more
2
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Jennifer Connelly, Russell Crowe, Ron Howard
A Beautiful Mind is a 2001 American biographical drama film based on the life of John Nash, a Nobel Laureate in Economics. The film was directed by Ron Howard, from a screenplay written by Akiva ...more
3
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Tom Hanks, Denzel Washington, Julius Erving
Philadelphia is a 1993 American drama film and one of the first mainstream Hollywood films to acknowledge HIV/AIDS, homosexuality, and homophobia. It was written by Ron Nyswaner, directed by ...more
4
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Julia Roberts, Marg Helgenberger, Aaron Eckhart
Erin Brockovich is a 2000 biographical film directed by Steven Soderbergh and written by Susannah Grant. The film is a dramatization of the true story of Erin Brockovich, portrayed by Julia ...more
5
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Jack Nicholson, Danny DeVito, Christopher Lloyd
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest is a 1975 drama film written by Lawrence Hauben and Bo Goldman and directed by Miloš Forman.
6
Rain Man is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Medical Movies Based on True Stories
Tom Islava added Tom Cruise, Dustin Hoffman, Valeria Golino
Rain Man is a 1988 American drama film directed by Barry Levinson and written by Barry Morrow and Ronald Bass. It tells the story of an abrasive and selfish yuppie, Charlie Babbitt, who ...more
7
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Angelina Jolie, Winona Ryder, Whoopi Goldberg
Girl, Interrupted is a 1999 American drama film, and an adaptation of Susanna Kaysen's 1993 memoir of the same name. The film chronicles Kaysen's 18-month stay at a mental institution. Directed ...more
8
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Robert De Niro, Robin Williams, Vin Diesel
Awakenings is a 1990 American drama film based on Oliver Sacks' 1973 memoir of the same title. It tells the true story of British neurologist Oliver Sacks, fictionalized as American Malcolm ...more
9
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Anthony Hopkins, John Hurt, Anne Bancroft
The Elephant Man is a 1980 American-British biographical film about Joseph Merrick, a severely deformed man in 19th century London. The film was directed by David Lynch and stars John Hurt, ...more
10
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Drew Barrymore, Adam Sandler, Dan Aykroyd
50 First Dates is a 2004 American romantic comedy film directed by Peter Segal and written by George Wing. The film stars Adam Sandler as a lothario veterinarian and Drew Barrymore as an ...more
11
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Susan Sarandon, Nick Nolte, Laura Linney
Lorenzo's Oil is a 1992 American drama film directed by George Miller. It is based on the true story of Augusto and Michaela Odone, two parents in a relentless search for a cure for their son ...more
12
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Dick Butkus, James Caan, Billy Dee Williams
Brian's Song is a 1971 ABC Movie of the Week that recounts the details of the life of Brian Piccolo, a Wake Forest University football player stricken with terminal cancer after turning pro, ...more
13
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Jessica Lange, JoBeth Williams, Tammy Blanchard
Sybil is a 2007 American docudrama directed by Joseph Sargent. The teleplay by John Pielmeier is based on the 1973 book of the same name by Flora Rheta Schreiber, which fictionalized the story ...more
14
M*A*S*H (movie) is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Medical Movies Based on True Stories
RobLein added M*A*S*H (movie)
15
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Jennifer Garner, Matthew McConaughey, Jared Leto
Dallas Buyers Club is a 2013 American biographical drama film, co-written by Craig Borten and Melisa Wallack, directed by Jean-Marc Vallée. Ron Woodroof was an AIDS patient diagnosed in ...more
16
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Rachel McAdams, Channing Tatum, Jessica Lange
The Vow is a 2012 romantic drama film directed by Michael Sucsy, starring Channing Tatum and Rachel McAdams. The film is inspired by the true story of Kim and Krickitt Carpenter. The Vow was a ...more
17
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Meryl Streep, Cher, Kurt Russell
Silkwood is a 1983 American drama film directed by Mike Nichols. The screenplay by Nora Ephron and Alice Arlen was inspired by the life of Karen Silkwood. In real life, it was vindicated in a ...more
18
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Louise Fletcher, Cynthia Gibb, Peter Michael Goetz
The Karen Carpenter Story is an American television film about singer Karen Carpenter and the brother-and-sister pop music duo of which she was a part, The Carpenters. The film aired on the CBS ...more
19
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Daniel Day-Lewis, Fiona Shaw, Brenda Fricker
My Left Foot: The Story of Christy Brown is a 1989 Irish drama film directed by Jim Sheridan and starring Daniel Day-Lewis. It tells the story of Christy Brown, an Irishman born with cerebral ...more
20
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Ian McKellen, Steve Martin, Richard Gere
And the Band Played On is a 1993 American television film docudrama directed by Roger Spottiswoode. The teleplay by Arnold Schulman is based on the best-selling 1987 non-fiction book And the ...more
21
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Gabrielle Union, Alan Rickman, Mos Def
Something the Lord Made is a 2004 film about the black cardiac pioneer Vivien Thomas and his complex and volatile partnership with white surgeon Alfred Blalock, the world famous "Blue Baby ...more
22
Brain on Fire is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Medical Movies Based on True Stories
Mohammed Karam added Brain on Fire Chloë Grace Moretz, Jenny Slate, Thomas Mann
Brain on Fire is a 2016 American-Canadian-Irish biographical drama film directed by Gerard Barrett, based on the memoir by Susannah Cahalan. A young, capable professional (Chloë Grace ...more
23
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RobLein added Joanne Woodward, Lee J. Cobb, Nancy Kulp
The Three Faces of Eve is a 1957 American CinemaScope film adaptation based on a book by psychiatrists Corbett H. Thigpen and Hervey M. Cleckley, who also helped write the screenplay. It was ...more
24
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Harrison Ford, Brendan Fraser, Keri Russell
Extraordinary Measures is a 2010 medical drama film starring Brendan Fraser, Harrison Ford, and Keri Russell. It is distributed by CBS Films and was released on January 22, 2010. It is about ...more
25
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Omar Sy, François Cluzet, Anne Le Ny
The Intouchables is a 2011 French comedy-drama film directed by Olivier Nakache and Éric Toledano. It stars François Cluzet and Omar Sy. Nine weeks after its release in France on 2 ...more