Entertainment
591 voters

The Best Medical Movies Based on True Stories

Updated October 4, 2020 3.8k votes 591 voters 46.8k views39 items

List RulesVote 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!

Photo:
...more
  • Patch Adams1
    243
    45

    Patch Adams

    Robin Williams, Philip Seymour Hoffman

    Released1998

    Directed byTom Shadyac

    Patch Adams is a 1998 semi-biographical comedy-drama film starring Robin Williams, Monica...  more

    More Patch Adams 

    #149 of 252 The Funniest '90s Movies#735 of 922 The All-Time Greatest Comedy Films

  • A Beautiful Mind2
    171
    51

    A Beautiful Mind

    Jennifer Connelly, Russell Crowe

    Released2001

    Directed byRon Howard

    A Beautiful Mind is a 2001 American biographical drama film based on the life of John Nash, a...  more

    More A Beautiful Mind 

    #14 of 24 The Best Movies with Twist Endings#170 of 557 The Greatest Film Scores of All Time

  • One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest3
    152
    40

    One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

    Jack Nicholson, Danny DeVito

    Released1975

    Directed byMiloš Forman

    One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest is a 1975 drama film written by Lawrence Hauben and Bo Goldman...  more

    More One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest 

    #19 of 46 Movies That Won Best Picture at the Oscars and Golden Globes#10 of 369 The Best Movies Based On Books

  • Philadelphia4
    142
    34

    Philadelphia

    Tom Hanks, Denzel Washington

    Released1993

    Directed byJonathan Demme

    Philadelphia is a 1993 American drama film and one of the first mainstream Hollywood films to...  more

    More Philadelphia 

    #553 of 661 The Best Black Movies Ever Made, Ranked#43 of 277 The Top Tearjerker Movies That Make Men Cry

  • Erin Brockovich5
    139
    39

    Erin Brockovich

    Julia Roberts, Marg Helgenberger

    Released2000

    Directed bySteven Soderbergh

    Erin Brockovich is a 2000 biographical film directed by Steven Soderbergh and written by...  more

    More Erin Brockovich 

    #22 of 26 The Best F-Bombs In Movie History#6 of 55 The Best Biopics About Women

  • Rain Man6
    112
    33

    Rain Man

    Tom Cruise, Dustin Hoffman

    Released1988

    Directed byBarry Levinson

    Rain Man is a 1988 American drama film directed by Barry Levinson and written by Barry Morrow...  more

    More Rain Man 

    #23 of 92 The Very Best Oscar-Winning Movies For Best Picture#72 of 246 The Best Rainy Day Movies

  • Girl, Interrupted7
    125
    47

    Girl, Interrupted

    Angelina Jolie, Winona Ryder

    Released1999

    Directed byJames Mangold

    Girl, Interrupted is a 1999 American drama film, and an adaptation of Susanna Kaysen's 1993...  more

    More Girl, Interrupted 

    #348 of 1,189 Every Oscar Winning Film Ever#120 of 781 The Greatest Chick Flicks Ever Made

  • Awakenings8
    111
    37

    Awakenings

    Robert De Niro, Robin Williams

    Released1990

    Directed byPenny Marshall

    Awakenings is a 1990 American drama film based on Oliver Sacks' 1973 memoir of the same title....  more

    More Awakenings 

    #47 of 50 The Best Oscar-Nominated Movies of the '90s#84 of 132 The Best Films Directed by Famous Actors

  • The Elephant Man9
    95
    34

    The Elephant Man

    Anthony Hopkins, John Hurt

    Released1980

    Directed byDavid Lynch

    The Elephant Man is a 1980 American-British biographical film about Joseph Merrick, a severely...  more

    More The Elephant Man 

    #21 of 170 The Most Utterly Depressing Movies Ever Made#34 of 224 The Best Black and White Movies Ever Made

  • 50 First Dates10
    118
    59

    50 First Dates

    Drew Barrymore, Adam Sandler

    Released2004

    Directed byPeter Segal

    50 First Dates is a 2004 American romantic comedy film directed by Peter Segal. Henry Roth...  more

    More 50 First Dates 

    50 First Dates Isn't Romantic - It's About A Guy Who Takes Advantage Of A Disabled Woman#392 of 549 The Greatest Epic Movies Ever Made

  • M*A*S*H (movie)11
    72
    28

    M*A*S*H (movie)

  • Brian's Song12
    71
    30

    Brian's Song

    Dick Butkus, James Caan

    Released1971

    Directed byBuzz Kulik

    Brian's Song is a 1971 ABC Movie of the Week that recounts the details of the life of Brian...  more

    More Brian's Song 

    #37 of 85 The Greatest African American Biopics#21 of 204 The Best Sports Movies Ever Made

  • Sybil13
    68
    39

    Sybil

    Jessica Lange, JoBeth Williams

    Released2007

    Directed byJoseph Sargent

    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...  more

    More Sybil 

    #128 of 230 The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time#5 of 73 The Best Movies About Split Personalities

  • Lorenzo's Oil14
    65
    41

    Lorenzo's Oil

    Susan Sarandon, Nick Nolte

    Released1992

    Directed byGeorge Miller

    Lorenzo's Oil is a 1992 American drama film directed by George Miller. It is based on the true...  more

    More Lorenzo's Oil 

    #9 of 29 Powerful Movies About Sick & Dying Children#7 of 13 13 Pretty Accurate Movies About Historical Illnesses

  • The Karen Carpenter Story15
    50
    30

    The Karen Carpenter Story

    Louise Fletcher, Cynthia Gibb

    Released1989

    Directed byJoseph Sargent, Richard Carpenter

    The Karen Carpenter Story is an American television film about singer Karen Carpenter and the...  more

    More 

    #61 of 123 The Best Movies About Mental Illness#12 of 29 The Best Movies About Eating Disorders

  • Dallas Buyers Club16
    61
    43

    Dallas Buyers Club

    Jennifer Garner, Matthew McConaughey

    Released2013

    Directed byJean-Marc Vallée

    Dallas Buyers Club is a 2013 American biographical drama film, co-written by Craig Borten and...  more

    More Dallas Buyers Club 

    #19 of 36 The Best Period Movies Set in the '80s#45 of 134 The Best Movies You Never Want to Watch Again

  • The Vow17
    58
    41

    The Vow

    Rachel McAdams, Channing Tatum

    Released2012

    Directed byMichael Sucsy

    The Vow is a 2012 romantic drama film directed by Michael Sucsy, starring Channing Tatum and...  more
  • Silkwood18
    44
    30

    Silkwood

    Meryl Streep, Cher

    Released1983

    Directed byMike Nichols

    Silkwood is a 1983 American drama film directed by Mike Nichols. The screenplay by Nora Ephron...  more

    More Silkwood 

    #306 of 372 'Old' Movies Every Young Person Needs To Watch In Their Lifetime#365 of 512 The Greatest Movies Of The 1980s, Ranked

  • And the Band Played On19
    42
    36

    And the Band Played On

    Ian McKellen, Steve Martin

    Released1993

    Directed byRoger Spottiswoode

    And the Band Played On is a 1993 American television film docudrama directed by Roger...  more

    More And the Band Played On 

    #50 of 54 The Best Richard Gere Movies#68 of 207 The Best LGBTQ+ Themed Movies

  • My Left Foot20
    44
    39

    My Left Foot

    Daniel Day-Lewis, Fiona Shaw

    Released1989

    Directed byJim Sheridan

    My Left Foot: The Story of Christy Brown is a 1989 Irish drama film directed by Jim Sheridan...  more

    More My Left Foot 

    #269 of 675 The Best Movies Roger Ebert Gave Four Stars#34 of 50 The Best Oscar-Nominated Movies of the '80s

  • Something the Lord Made21
    39
    38

    Something the Lord Made

    Gabrielle Union, Alan Rickman

    Released2004

    Directed byJoseph Sargent

    Something the Lord Made is a 2004 film about the black cardiac pioneer Vivien Thomas and his...  more

    More Something the Lord Made 

    #38 of 91 Great Historical Black Movies Based On True Stories#27 of 39 The Best Movies About Black History

  • Brain on Fire22
    25
    23

    Brain on Fire

    Chloë Grace Moretz, Jenny Slate

    Released2016

    Directed byGerard Barrett

    Brain on Fire is a 2016 American-Canadian-Irish biographical drama film directed by Gerard...  more
  • The Three Faces of Eve23
    26
    33

    The Three Faces of Eve

    Joanne Woodward, Lee J. Cobb

    Released1957

    Directed byNunnally Johnson

    The Three Faces of Eve is a 1957 American CinemaScope film adaptation based on a book by...  more
  • The Intouchables24
    30
    44

    The Intouchables

    Omar Sy, François Cluzet

    Released2011

    Directed byOlivier Nakache, Eric Toledano

    The Intouchables is a 2011 French comedy-drama film directed by Olivier Nakache and Éric...  more

    More The Intouchables 

    #9 of 106 The Best French Movies That Are Absolute Masterpieces#23 of 49 The Best R-Rated Movies That Blew Up At The Box Office

  • Champions25
    26
    39

    Champions

    Kirstie Alley, John Hurt

    Released1983

    Directed byJohn Irvin

    Champions is a 1983 film based on the true story of jockey Bob Champion. It is directed by...  more