Entertainment

The Best Medical Movies Based on True Stories 

Ranker Film
3.6k votes 533 voters 40.2k 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
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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

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#345 of 803 The Greatest Chick Flicks Ever Made #169 of 493 The Funniest '90s Movies

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

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#25 of 93 The Very Best Oscar-Winning Movies For Best Picture #1,020 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movieslisted on Movies That Won Best Picture at the Oscars and Golden Globes

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

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#431 of 720 The Best Black Movies Ever Made, Ranked #46 of 157 The Best Movies You Never Want to Watch Againlisted 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

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#320 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movies #73 of 324 Movies with the Best Soundtrackslisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

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.

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#8 of 93 The Very Best Oscar-Winning Movies For Best Picture #27 of 157 The Best Movies You Never Want to Watch Againlisted on Movies That Won Best Picture at the Oscars and Golden Globes

6
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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

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#27 of 243 Critically Acclaimed Movies That Kinda Suck #98 of 241 The Most Inspirational Movies Everlisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

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

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#669 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movies #158 of 803 The Greatest Chick Flicks Ever Madelisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

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

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#90 of 292 The Top Tearjerker Movies That Make Men Cry #147 of 710 The Best Movies Roger Ebert Gave Four Stars

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

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#23 of 157 The Best Movies You Never Want to Watch Again #17 of 82 The Best Movies Based on Non-Fiction Books #91 of 292 The Top Tearjerker Movies That Make Men Cry

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

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#162 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movies #150 of 1,007 The All-Time Greatest Comedy Filmsfeaturing 50 First Dates Isn't Romantic - It's About A Guy Who Takes Advantage Of A Disabled Woman

11
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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

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#227 of 720 The Best Black Movies Ever Made, Ranked #52 of 145 The Most Utterly Depressing Movies Ever Made

12
M*A*S*H (movie) is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Medical Movies Based on True Stories
RobLein added M*A*S*H (movie)
13
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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
14
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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
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

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#70 of 238 The Best Movies Based on True Storieslisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

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

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#230 of 241 The Most Inspirational Movies Ever #6 of 17 Every Nora Ephron Movie, Ranked Best to Worst

18
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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

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#61 of 110 The Best Movies About Mental Illness #10 of 23 The Best Movies About Eating Disorders

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

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#323 of 571 The Greatest Movies Of The 1980s, Ranked #298 of 710 The Best Movies Roger Ebert Gave Four Starslisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

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
Brain on Fire is listed (or ranked) 21 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
22
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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
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

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#13 of 34 Great Movies About a Mental Breakdown #14 of 49 The Best Movies About Split Personalitieslisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

24
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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

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#25 of 106 The Best New Drama Films of the Last Few Years #45 of 212 The Best R-Rated Drama Movies

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. After he becomes a quadriplegic from a paragliding accident, an aristocrat hires a young ...more

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#1,632 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movies #439 of 1,007 The All-Time Greatest Comedy Films #110 of 135 The Greatest Movies in World Cinema History