Entertainment

The Best Medical Movies Based on True Stories  

Ranker Film
3.5k votes 530 voters 39.9k views 38 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

More Patch Adams

#169 of 493 The Funniest '90s Movies #53 of 291 The Top Tearjerker Movies That Make Men Cry #870 of 992 The All-Time Greatest Comedy Films

2
Ranker Video
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

More A Beautiful Mind

#207 of 304 The Greatest Soundtracks of All Timefeaturing 'A Beautiful Mind' Left Out A Lot About The Life And Relationships Of John Nashlisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

3
Ranker Video
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

More Philadelphia

#431 of 719 The Best Black Movies Ever Made, Ranked #128 of 291 The Top Tearjerker Movies That Make Men Crylisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

4
Rain Man is listed (or ranked) 4 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

More Rain Man

#23 of 93 The Very Best Oscar-Winning Movies #321 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movieslisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

5
Ranker Video
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

More Erin Brockovich

#120 of 231 The Best Movies for Women #23 of 239 The Best Movies Based on True Storieslisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

6
Ranker Video
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.

More One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

#8 of 93 The Very Best Oscar-Winning Movies #178 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movieslisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

7
Ranker Video
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

More Awakenings

#249 of 336 'Old' Movies Every Young Person Needs To Watch In Their Lifetime #90 of 291 The Top Tearjerker Movies That Make Men Cry #146 of 710 The Best Movies Roger Ebert Gave Four Stars

8
Ranker Video
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

More Girl, Interrupted

#667 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movies #155 of 808 The Greatest Chick Flicks Ever Madelisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

9
Ranker Video
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

More The Elephant Man

#222 of 336 'Old' Movies Every Young Person Needs To Watch In Their Lifetime #91 of 291 The Top Tearjerker Movies That Make Men Cry #23 of 157 The Best Movies You Never Want to Watch Again

10
Ranker Video
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

More 50 First Dates

#75 of 630 The Greatest Guilty Pleasure Movies #162 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Moviesfeaturing 50 First Dates Isn't Romantic - It's About A Guy Who Takes Advantage Of A Disabled Woman

11
M*A*S*H (movie) is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Medical Movies Based on True Stories
RobLein added M*A*S*H (movie)
12
Ranker Video
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

More Brian's Song

#231 of 719 The Best Black Movies Ever Made, Ranked #10 of 291 The Top Tearjerker Movies That Make Men Cry #25 of 241 The Most Inspirational Movies Ever

13
Ranker Video
Jessica Lange, JoBeth Williams, Tammy Blanchard

If you like this flick, check out our list of the best docudrama movies.

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

More Sybil

#100 of 257 The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time #6 of 49 The Best Movies About Split Personalities #4 of 14 'True Story' Movies Based On Highly Questionable Sources

14
Ranker Video
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

More Lorenzo's Oil

#322 of 710 The Best Movies Roger Ebert Gave Four Stars #699 of 808 The Greatest Chick Flicks Ever Made #11 of 23 Great Movies About Sick & Dying Children

15
Ranker Video
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

More Dallas Buyers Club

#44 of 157 The Best Movies You Never Want to Watch Again #70 of 239 The Best Movies Based on True Storieslisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

16
Ranker Video
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

More Silkwood

#269 of 336 'Old' Movies Every Young Person Needs To Watch In Their Lifetime #420 of 575 The Greatest Movies Of The 1980s, Ranked #230 of 241 The Most Inspirational Movies Ever

17
Ranker Video
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
18
Ranker Video
The Karen Carpenter Story 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

More The Karen Carpenter Story

#63 of 110 The Best Movies About Mental Illness #6 of 22 The Best Documentaries About Eating Disorders #10 of 23 The Best Movies About Eating Disorders

19
Ranker Video
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

More My Left Foot

#298 of 710 The Best Movies Roger Ebert Gave Four Stars #322 of 575 The Greatest Movies Of The 1980s, Rankedlisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

20
Brain on Fire is listed (or ranked) 20 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
21
Ranker Video
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

More And the Band Played On

#577 of 582 The Greatest Film Scores of All Time #189 of 239 The Best Movies Based on True Stories #41 of 113 The Best Movies About Disease Outbreaks

22
Ranker Video
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
23
Ranker Video
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
Ranker Video
Three Christs Richard Gere, Julianna Margulies, Peter Dinklage as Joseph
Three Christs is an American drama film directed by Jon Avnet, based on the book The Three Christs of Ypsilanti by Milton Rokeach. It follows Dr. Alan Stone, who is treating three paranoid ...more

More Three Christs

#27 of 33 The Most Anticipated Movies Of Winter 2020 #27 of 34 The Most Exciting New Movie Trailers Of 2020 #11 of 103 The Best New Drama Films of the Last Few Years

25
Ranker Video
Omar Sy, François Cluzet, Anne Le Ny
The Intouchables is a 2011 French comedy-drama film directed by Olivier Nakache and Éric Toledano. After he becomes a quadriplegic from a paragliding accident, an aristocrat hires a young ...more

More The Intouchables

#1,632 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movies #431 of 992 The All-Time Greatest Comedy Filmsfeaturing Everything You Need To Know About The True Story That Inspired 'The Upside'