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The Best Medical Movies Based on True Stories

Updated October 4, 2020 3.8k votes 585 voters 46.1k 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!

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  • Patch Adams1
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    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 on Wikipedia

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  • Philadelphia2
    145
    33

    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 on Wikipedia

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  • A Beautiful Mind3
    175
    53

    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 on Wikipedia
  • One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest4
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    39

    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 on Wikipedia

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  • Erin Brockovich5
    141
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    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 on Wikipedia
  • Rain Man6
    115
    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 on Wikipedia
  • Girl, Interrupted7
    128
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    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 on Wikipedia

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  • Awakenings8
    114
    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 on Wikipedia
  • The Elephant Man9
    96
    35

    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 on Wikipedia
  • 50 First Dates10
    121
    58

    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 on Wikipedia
  • M*A*S*H (movie)11
    73
    29

    M*A*S*H (movie)

  • Brian's Song12
    73
    31

    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 on Wikipedia
  • Sybil13
    69
    40

    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 on Wikipedia

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  • Lorenzo's Oil14
    66
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    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 on Wikipedia

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  • Dallas Buyers Club15
    63
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    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 on Wikipedia

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  • The Karen Carpenter Story16
    51
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    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 on Wikipedia

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  • The Vow17
    59
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    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 on Wikipedia
  • Silkwood18
    45
    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 on Wikipedia

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  • My Left Foot19
    46
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    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 on Wikipedia

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  • And the Band Played On20
    44
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    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 on Wikipedia

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  • Something the Lord Made21
    39
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    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 on Wikipedia
  • Brain on Fire22
    26
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    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 on Wikipedia
  • The Three Faces of Eve23
    26
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    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 on Wikipedia
  • Champions24
    26
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    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 on Wikipedia
  • My Own Country25
    28
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    My Own Country

    Marisa Tomei, Hal Holbrook

    Released1998

    Directed byMira Nair

    My Own Country is a 1998 drama TV film directed by Mira Nair.