Entertainment

20 Of The Best Historical Movies All History Buffs Need To Watch

Top 20 History Movies

Published on January 10th, 2020

There are some powerful and important history movies which are quite strategic in terms of past occurrence but they have not been understood by people.

When it comes to history movies, then majority of the plot is based on actual historical events and these historical events form a part and parcel of the story.

The subtype of such history movies include the epic, the war film, the biographical film, the period or topical film, the metahistorical film, present and past.

And many other different kind of viewpoints which will illustrate the complex relationship which led to such history movies. Below given are some of the best history movies of all times.

Have a look at them and you are definitely going to enjoy the same. Do share your experience and feedback about the same. We would love to hear back from you about your thoughts on the history movies.

1. The Report (2019)

Idealistic Senate staffer Daniel J. Jones, tasked by his boss to lead an investigation into the CIA’s post 9/11 Detention and Interrogation Program, uncovers shocking secrets. The story of Daniel Jones, lead investigator for the US Senate’s sweeping study into the CIA’s Detention and Interrogation Program, which was found to be brutal, immoral and ineffective.

With the truth at stake, Jones battled tirelessly to make public what many in power sought to keep hidden. FBI agent Daniel Jones performs an exhaustive investigation into the CIA’s use of torture on suspected terrorists. In the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, the CIA adopted new interrogation techniques.

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Review

The Report is just an OK movie, which is too bad because it needed to be great. Very few of the policymakers who enabled the grotesque, systematic torture of terror suspects in the aftermath of 9/11 have faced consequences for their actions. Many of them are still prominent in public life.

Most are far more familiar than Dan Jones, the obsessive author of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s Study of the Central Intelligence Agency’s Detention and Interrogation Program—better known as the “Torture Report.” Jones, portrayed by the talented actor (and improbable sex symbol) Adam Driver, deserves to be recognized as a hero, and the human rights abuses he meticulously exposed deserve to be memorialized. The perpetrators deserve to face justice, but this perfectly adequate Amazon Original might be as close as they ever get.

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2. Midway (2019)

Midway is a 2019 American war film based on the Attack on Pearl Harbor and the subsequent Battle of Midway during World War II. Directed by Roland Emmerich, who produced the film with Harald Kloser, and written by Wes Tooke, the film features an ensemble cast, including Ed Skrein, Patrick Wilson, Luke Evans, Aaron Eckhart, Nick Jonas, Mandy Moore, Dennis Quaid, Tadanobu Asano, and Woody Harrelson.

Midway, a fast-paced recounting of the war in the Pacific from the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor to the decisive three-day battle seven months later was the most-seen movie in America over the Veterans Day weekend. Coming from Independence Day director Roland Emmerich, it’s a dutiful, uncomplicated retelling that nevertheless sticks closer to history than the 1976 film Midway did—never mind that the screenwriter and director of Midway ’76 (Donald S. Sanford and Jack Smight, respectively), along with several prominent members of the movie’s large cast (Henry Fonda, Charlton Heston, Glenn Ford, Cliff Robertson, and Hal Holbrook) were all real-life World War II veterans.

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Review

Midway is a film to give a new generation an important lesson in history; one that feels alive and one that will connect you with the heroes from The Battle of Midway. “Midway,” tells a story that’s vividly and viscerally rendered, with all the entertainment value of a big, old-fashioned war movie, cutting back and forth between the home front and front line.

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3. The Favourite (2018)

In early 18th century England, a frail Queen Anne occupies the throne and her close friend, Lady Sarah, governs the country in her stead. When a new servant, Abigail, arrives, her charm endears her to Sarah. Early 18th century.

England is at war with the French. Nevertheless, duck racing and pineapple eating are thriving. A frail Queen Anne (Olivia Colman) occupies the throne and her close friend Lady Sarah (Rachel Weisz) governs the country in her stead while tending to Anne’s ill health and mercurial temper.

When a new servant Abigail (Emma Stone) arrives, her charm endears her to Sarah. Sarah takes Abigail under her wing and Abigail sees a chance at a return to her aristocratic roots.

As the politics of war become quite a time consuming for Sarah, Abigail steps into the breach to fill in as the Queen’s companion. Their burgeoning friendship gives her a chance to fulfill her ambitions and she will not let women, men, politics or rabbits stand in her way.

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Review

It is most definitely a Yorgos Lanthimos film, with his peculiar Weltanschauung omnipresent. The emotionless and monotone delivery of dialogue has been scaled back considerably from The Lobster (2015) and The Killing of a Sacred Deer (2017), but everything else you’d expect is here – the pseudo-omniscient judgemental glare; the dark absurdist humor; the formal rigidity; the emotional isolation of the characters; the surrealism; the games of psychological one-upmanship; the alienation of the audience; the thematic centrality of shifting power relations; the lack of distinction between poignancy and joviality; the use of self-contained and closed off pocket universes where characters must play by rules differing from those of the outside world; intimate familial conflict (except in bigger rooms than in his previous films); and a disorienting score.

Similarly, whilst The Lobster was a savage dystopian-set allegory for discipline and conformity, The Favourite is a merciless satire of decadence and pettiness, taking in such additional themes as a class, gender, love, lust, duty, loyalty, partisan politics, patriarchal hegemony, and women behaving just as appallingly as men.

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4. Schindler’s List (1993)

Based on a true story, Steven Spielberg’s Schindler’s List stars Liam Neeson as Oskar Schindler, a German businessman in Poland who sees an opportunity to make money from the Nazis’ rise to power. He starts a company to make cookware and utensils, using flattery and bribes to win military contracts and bring in accountant and financier Itzhak Stern (Ben Kingsley) to help run the factory.

By staffing his plant with Jews who’ve been herded into Krakow’s ghetto by Nazi troops, Schindler has a dependable unpaid labor force. For Stern, a job in a war-related plant could mean survival for himself and the other Jews working for Schindler. However, in 1942, all of Krakow’s Jews are assigned to the Plaszow Forced Labor Camp, overseen by Commandant Amon Goeth (Ralph Fiennes), an embittered alcoholic who occasionally shoots prisoners from his balcony.

Schindler arranges to continue using Polish Jews in his plant, but, as he sees what is happening to his employees, he begins to develop a conscience. He realizes that his factory (now refitted to manufacture ammunition) is the only thing preventing his staff from being shipped to the death camps. Soon Schindler demands more workers and starts bribing Nazi leaders to keep Jews on his employee lists and out of the camps.

By the time Germany falls to the allies, Schindler has lost his entire fortune — and saved 1,100 people from likely death. Schindler’s List was nominated for 12 Academy Awards and won seven, including Best Picture and a long-coveted Best Director for Spielberg, and it quickly gained praise as one of the finest American movies about the Holocaust.

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Review

The story of a righteous rescue mission amid unimaginable horror…a sober, historical drama. With its black-and-white bleakness and its fiercely insistent realism, Schindler’s List is a hallucinogenic experience. It is one of the most finely calibrated, most overtly mournful, most nakedly authentic films ever made.

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5. Alexander (2004)

Alexander is a 2004 epic historical drama film based on the life of the Macedonian Greek general and king Alexander the Great. It was directed by Oliver Stone and starred Colin Farrell. Alexander is a 2004 epic historical drama film based on the life of the Macedonian Greek general and king Alexander the Great. It was directed by Oliver Stone and starred Colin Farrell. The story starts by establishing the relationships among Alexander; his scheming mother, Olympias; and his brutal and unpredictable father, King Philip II of Macedon.

Alternately doted upon or derided by his father (depending on how drunk he was), Alexander grows up with a need to prove himself. His mother introduces him to palace intrigue and whatever-it-takes ambition. Add a natural intelligence and keen interest in learning all he could about the world, instilled by his tutor, Aristotle, and Alexander is destined to become a bright star set to do great things—or burn out early. He winds up doing a bit of both.

This three-hour biopic barely mentions Alexander’s early conquest of Asia Minor and the biblical lands of Israel, Assyria, and Egypt, including his great victories at Granicus, Issus, and Tyre, which established his reputation as a military genius. The first battle shown is the decisive victory at Gaugamela, in what is today northern Iraq, which breaks the back of the Persian army under Darius III and allows Alexander to take Babylon.

Alexander then takes his army deep into the Hindu Kush mountains (today’s Afghanistan) and on into India, driven both by ambition and an addictive need to know what lay beyond the next river. Along the way, he takes a wife, Roxane of Bactria, and becomes increasingly arrogant and distant from his loyal generals. After the only battle he ever lost, in India, Alexander marches his army toward home. But he never makes it. Alexander the Great, conqueror of the known world, dies of a mysterious disease (or is poisoned) in Babylon.

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Review

Te soldier’s masculine brotherhood and its closed world of secret fears and private affections have long been a favorite theme for Oliver Stone. This chest-beating hunk of a movie gives him the broadest possible shoulders on which to carry it. Our hero absolutely outclasses those wimpy beta-males of military history: Achilles, Caesar, Napoleon – or indeed Sherman, Patton, and Schwarzkopf.

Macedonia’s Alexander the Great had conquered most of the known world by the time he was 25; at the time of his death at the age of 32 in 323 BC, he presided over a vast empire stretching across Central Asia. If anyone is allowed to have dyed blond hair, snowy white tunics, intense relationships with other men, and a simply impossible mother – well, it is this highly-strung hombre.

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6. Downfall (2005)

Downfall (German: Der Untergang) is a 2004 German war film directed by Oliver Hirschbiegel, depicting the final ten days of Adolf Hitler’s reign over Nazi Germany in 1945, from the perspective of his secretary, Traudl Junge. In 1942, young Traudl Junge (Alexandra Maria Lara) lands her dream job — secretary to Adolf Hitler (Bruno Ganz) at the peak of his power.

Three years later, Hitler’s empire is now his underground bunker. The real-life Traudl narrates Hitler’s final days as he rages against imagined betrayers and barks orders to phantom armies, while his mistress, Eva Braun (Juliane Köhler), clucks over his emotional distance, and other infamous Nazis prepare for the end.

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Review

“Downfall” isn’t about commuting history’s sentence for the Nazis, but heeding its warning – a gruesome, sustained-tension lesson about informed politics and whether those who left evil to its own devices could arrive at a place of complicit guilt.

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7. Braveheart (1995)

Braveheart is the story of William Wallace’s quest to overthrow English rule of Scotland and Horner’s score is filled with traditional Celtic and Scottish influences – whistles and pipes galore – paired with the modern orchestra. Heartachingly romantic at times, and excitingly percussive in the battle scenes, the score also has the power to haunt, combining the London Symphony Orchestra with a boy’s choir.

The album of Horner’s score was an international smash all over the world and continues to sell well. The second album of more music – and audio excerpts – from the film was also a Classic FM chart-topper.

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Review

Braveheart is a big, strapping medieval sword-and-arrow movie with more fighting than romance, a surprising abundance of lush and sensuous imagery considering its brutal strife, and Gibson fiercely inciting it to stand up and march.

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8. The King’s Speech (2010)

Britain’s Prince Albert (Colin Firth) must ascend the throne as King George VI, but he has a speech impediment. Knowing that the country needs her husband to be able to communicate effectively, Elizabeth (Helena Bonham Carter) hires Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush), an Australian actor and speech therapist, to help him overcome his stammer. An extraordinary friendship develops between the two men, as Logue uses unconventional means to teach the monarch how to speak with confidence.

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Review

The King’s Speech is a feel-good movie, but a very adult one, and while it tells a good story, well scripted, absorbing and believable (except for an odd line or two), Tom Hooper’s film is far more driven by character than by plot.

The King’s Speech boasts an exceptional cast, which includes Helena Bonham Carter, Michael Gambon, Derek Jacobi, and Guy Pearce, all of whom helped contribute to the picture with the smallest amount of screen time.

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9. Hotel Rwanda (2004)

If true, the story of Paul Rusesabagina, as told in the 2004 film Hotel Rwanda, would be truly inspirational. Here is a Rwandan who faced down the militia to protect the terrorized families who had sought shelter at the five-star Hotel des Mille Collines in Kigali.

He alone had heroically saved hundreds of people. At that time the hotel was owned by the Belgian company Sabena, and it had the benefit of an outside telephone line. The film is based on events that purportedly took place at the hotel during the genocide of the Tutsi in 1994.

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Review

Hotel Rwanda starred Don Cheadle and was directed by Terry George. It’s based on a true event, about Paul Rusesabagina, a Hutu who worked at a four-star hotel in Kigali. When the war broke out he thought of only saving his immediate family but as he saw what was happening he opened the hotel to Tutsi and Hutus seeking refuge from the killing.

He used all the favors he had stored as manager of the hotel and basically saved over a thousand lives. This will be the next Schindler’s list. When the film was over, there was a standing ovation. Don Cheadle was excellent as an ordinary man forced to do extra-ordinary things. Paul Rusesabagina and his family attended the screening and he received a five-minute standing ovation. Even Michael Moore came to see this movie.

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10. Letters From Iwo Jima (2006)

On December 10, 2006, the Los Angeles Film Critics Association named Letters from Iwo Jima Best Picture of 2006. Furthermore, Clint Eastwood was runner-up for directing honors. In addition, the American Film Institute named it one of the 10 best films of 2006. The island of Iwo Jima stands between the American military force and the home islands of Japan.

Therefore the Imperial Japanese Army is desperate to prevent it from falling into American hands and providing a launching point for an invasion of Japan. General Tadamichi Kuribayashi (Ken Watanabe) is given command of the forces on the island and sets out to prepare for the imminent attack. General Kuribayashi, however, does not favor the rigid traditional approach recommended by his subordinates, and resentment and resistance fester amongst his staff.

In the lower echelons, a young soldier, Saigo (Kazunari Ninomiya), a poor baker in civilian life, strives with his friends to survive the harsh regime of the Japanese Army itself, all the while knowing that a fierce battle looms. When the American invasion begins, Kuribayashi and Saigo find strength, honor, courage, and horrors beyond imagination.

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Review

Letters from Iwo Jima is a powerful film. We are shown the good and the bad of both sides. The film is about 98% in Japanese with three or four scenes spoken in English. The cast is all Japanese which was a must for the film giving it a more authentic feel to it. The battles are gritty and real and will shake you up. By far a tremendous film with an amazing message of humanity and survival.

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11. JFK (1991)

On November 22, 1963, President John F. Kennedy is assassinated in Dallas. Lee Harvey Oswald is arrested for the crime and subsequently shot by Jack Ruby, supposedly avenging the president’s death. An investigation concludes that Lee Harvey Oswald and Jack Ruby acted alone in their respective crimes, but Louisiana district attorney Jim Garrison is skeptical.

Assembling a trusted group of people, Garrison conducts his own investigation, bringing about backlash from powerful government and political figures. The assassination of JFK has been told in every possible way through every available medium. Oliver Stone managed the unimaginable transforming and almost folk tragedy, through a mix of drama and cinema veritè, into a riveting mystery thriller with the paranoiac style of a man who’s in touch with paranoia in a quasi-permanent basis.

Unnerving, frustrating and spectacularly satisfying. Kevin Costner manages to be convincing as the centerpiece of the conspiracy theory. We believe the whole damn thing because we see it through his logic. Sissy Spacek, as his wife, represents most of us and she does it brilliantly. Tommy Lee Jones and Kevin Bacon are a pleasure to watch. Donald Sutherland, Jack Lemmon, Walter Matthau, and even John Candy, Sally Kirkland and Vincent D’Onofrio deliver little parts of the puzzle without ever becoming distracting.

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Review

JFK is a well-made work of suspense, intrigue, and drama, all based on trying to solve one of the greatest mysteries of our time. Oliver Stone has tackled such enormous issues and larger-than-life subjects before. He’s adept at managing a huge cast, complicated plotting, and weighty topics.

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12. Silence (2016)

Martin Scorsese’s long-gestating film Silence is based on Endō’s novel, which he read shortly after his 1988 film the Last Temptation of Christ was protested and condemned by the Catholic Church and other conservative Christians 28 years ago. It’s almost impossible to capture the nuances of a novel like Endō’s for the screen; Masahiro Shinoda tried in 1971, and Endō reportedly hated the ending.

But Scorsese comes about as close as one can imagine, and the results are challenging for both the faithful and the skeptic. Martin Scorsese’s SILENCE tells the story of two Christian missionaries (Andrew Garfield and Adam Driver) who face the ultimate test of faith when they travel to Japan in search of their missing mentor (Liam Neeson) – at a time when Christianity was outlawed and their presence was forbidden. The celebrated director’s 28-year journey to bring Shusaku Endo’s 1966 acclaimed novel to life will be in theaters this Christmas.

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Review

Silence is a drama about Christian martyrdom, and like all such films, from Carl Dreyer’s The Passion of Joan of Arc to Fred Zinnemann’s A Man for All Seasons, it must address an atheist counter-sensibility aware that the Catholic Inquisition itself saw no difficulty in putting perceived heretics to death, and that arguably their own martyrs are therefore ineligible for lenient humanist sympathy.

In fact, in this movie, there is a fierce debate about the opposition of Christianity and Buddhism, of Europe and Asia, and about the relativism of faith. The picture is adapted by Scorsese and screenwriter Jay Cocks from the celebrated 1966 novel Silence by the Japanese Catholic author Shūsaku Endō. It has in fact been filmed twice before, by Masahiro Shinoda in 1971 and João Mario Grilo as The Eyes of Asia in 1994.

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13. 12 Strong (2018)

In the wake of the September 11 attacks, Captain Mitch Nelson leads a US Special Forces team into Afghanistan for an extremely dangerous mission. Once there, the soldiers develop an uneasy partnership with the Northern Alliance to take down the Taliban and its al-Qaida allies.

Outgunned and outnumbered, Nelson and his forces face overwhelming odds in a fight against a ruthless enemy that takes no prisoners.12 Strong (also known as 12 Strong: The Declassified True Story of the Horse Soldiers) is a 2018 American action war drama film directed by Nicolai Fuglsig and written by Ted Tally and Peter Craig.

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Review

That’s not to say it’s completely restrained, by any means. In telling a tale of real-life heroism against staggering odds, this is a rousing war picture, meant to stir equal amounts of excitement and patriotism. Set soon after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, “12 Strong” is packed with protracted battle sequences, full of deafening bombings and seemingly endless amounts of gunfire. The cumulative effect is draining; you’ll walk out of the theater with the feeling that you, too, have gone to war – and an appreciation for those who are brave enough to do so themselves.

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14. 12 Years A Slave (2013)

Based on an incredible true story of one man’s fight for survival and freedom. In the pre-Civil War United States, Solomon Northup, a free black man from upstate New York, is abducted and sold into slavery. Facing cruelty personified by a malevolent slave owner, as well as unexpected kindnesses, Solomon struggles not only to stay alive but to retain his dignity. In the twelfth year of his unforgettable odyssey, Solomon’s chance meeting with a Canadian abolitionist will forever alter his life.

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Review

“12 Years a Slave” (2013) is a film based on the 1853 book of the same name by Solomon Northup, a free Black American man sold into slavery in the South. It stars Chiwetel Ejiofor as Solomon Northup and Lupita Nyong’o as Patsey. Alfre Woodard appears, briefly, as great as ever. Steve McQueen directs.

 

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16. Agora (2009)

A historical drama set in Roman Egypt, concerning a slave who turns to the rising tide of Christianity in the hope of pursuing freedom while falling in love with his mistress, the philosophy and mathematics professor Hypatia of Alexandria. Amidst the increasing influence of Christianity on the Roman Empire, Greek philosopher and teacher Hypatia find herself targeted for favoring science over faith.

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Review

After science fiction and horror, one of the genres with the most potential to allegorically explore contemporary issues is the historical drama. Exploring the ideological battle between the roles of religion, science, and philosophy in social and political discourse, Agora is one such film.

Set in the Roman Egyptian city Alexandria in the 4th-century Agora is something of a revisionist epic that is less about male heroes in sandals achieving glory with their swords and more about celebrating the achievements of proto-feminist mathematician, philosopher and astronomer Hypatia (Rachel Weisz) in an era of religious turmoil.

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17. 300 (2007)

In the Battle of Thermopylae of 480 BC, an alliance of Greek city-states fought the invading Persian army in the mountain pass of Thermopylae. Vastly outnumbered, the Greeks held back the enemy in one of the most famous last stands of history. Persian King Xerxes led an Army of well over 100,000 (Persian king Xerxes before the war has about 170,000 army) men to Greece and was confronted by 300 Spartans, 700 Thespians, and 400 Thebans.

Xerxes waited for 10 days for King Leonidas to surrender or withdraw but left with no options he pushed forward. After 3 days of battle, all the Greeks were killed. The Spartan defeat was not the one expected, as a local shepherd, named Ephialtes, defected to the Persians and informed Xerxes that the separate path through Thermopylae, which the Persians could use to outflank the Greeks, was not as heavily guarded as they thought.

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Review

The movie involves a legendary last stand by 300 death-obsessed Spartans against a teeming horde of Persians. So brave and strong are the Spartans that they skewer, eviscerate, behead and otherwise inconvenience tens of thousands of Persians before finally falling to the weight of overwhelming numbers. The lesson is that the Spartans are free, and the Persians are slaves, although the Spartan idea of freedom is not appetizing (children are beaten to toughen them).

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18. The Assassination Of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford (2007)

Taking place in the American Northwest in the early 1880s, the film dramatizes the last seven months in the life of famed outlaw Jesse James, beginning with the Blue Cut train robbery of 1881 and culminating in his assassination at the hands of Robert Ford the following April. In the time between these two fateful events, the young and jealous Ford befriends the increasingly mistrustful outlaw, even as he plots his demise.

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Review

If Lee’s film can be seen as a prologue to the story of the James gang, The Assassination of Jesse James can be viewed as its complement, an epilogue to the saga. It’s a long, quiet, meditative work that largely takes place over a period of about eight months, beginning in 1881 with the 38-year-old Frank James (Sam Shepard) and his 34-year-old brother Jesse (Brad Pitt) meeting the 19-year-old Bob Ford (Casey Affleck) and his brother Charley (Sam Rockwell), all of them the sons of rural preachers.

Their conduct is stiffly formal, their vocabularies and cadences influenced like those around them by the King James Bible and The Book of Common Prayer. The gang’s great days concluded in 1876 with the debacle of the bank raid in Northfield, Minnesota, which resulted in the break-up of the James-Younger gang and drove Frank and Jesse into permanent hiding, the latter living with his wife and small children under a pseudonym.

This is a typical theme of American crime movies: aging men once proud of their professionalism, now forced to work and ride with inferior companions. James is a sick man, mentally and physically burnt out by his thirties. Like his brother, he’s only living off, and for, the popular legend. They bring hope and pride to the local common folk and excitement to those on the tame Eastern Seaboard who read dime novels relating their adventures.

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19. The Current War (2017)

The Current War is a 2017 American historical drama film inspired by the 19th-century competition between Thomas Edison and George Westinghouse over which the electric power delivery system would be used in the United States (often referred to as the “war of the currents”). Thomas Edison and George Westinghouse — the greatest inventors of the industrial age — engage in a battle of technology and ideas that will determine whose electrical system will power the new century.

Backed by J.P. Morgan, Edison dazzles the world by lighting Manhattan. But Westinghouse, aided by Nikola Tesla, sees fatal flaws in Edison’s direct current design. Westinghouse and Tesla bet everything on risky and dangerous alternating current.

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Review

Director Alfonso Gomez-Rejon and scripter Michael Mitnick have opted to relate the so-called “war of the currents,” when Thomas Edison (Benedict Cumberbatch) and Henry Westinghouse (Michael Shannon) were competing with each other to see who would eventually be allowed to power the entire nation with newfangled electricity.

Edison is assisted by his personal secretary Samuel Insull (Tom Holland, thus reuniting Spider-Man with Dr. Strange post-Avengers), while Westinghouse eventually forms an alliance with immigrant inventor Nikola Tesla (Nicholas Hoult). This is fascinating material, but it’s also, perhaps unavoidably, too much material for one movie to adequately tackle.

Despite strong performances, the characters too often feel like Reader’s Digest-condensed versions of the actual figures, and the necessary streamlining and alteration of history leaves the entire enterprise bereft of much dramatic urgency. Select scenes in The Current War provide a charge, but there simply isn’t enough juice to power the entirety of the project.

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20. Mary Queen Of Scots (2018)

Mary Queen of Scots explores the turbulent life of the charismatic Mary Stuart. Queen of France at 16 and widowed at 18, Mary defies pressure to remarry. Instead, she returns to her native Scotland to reclaim her rightful throne. But Scotland and England fall under the rule of the compelling Elizabeth I.

Each young Queen beholds her “sister” in fear and fascination. Rivals in power and in love, and female regents in a masculine world, the two must decide how to play the game of marriage versus independence. Determined to rule as much more than a figurehead, Mary asserts her claim to the English throne, threatening Elizabeth’s sovereignty. Betrayal, rebellion, and conspiracies within each court imperil both thrones – and change the course of history.

The latest film to line-up in hopes of awards season glory is Josie Rourke’s directorial debut Mary Queen of Scots, who will explore the turbulent relationship between Mary Stuart and her cousin, Elizabeth I of England. Queen of France at 16 and widowed at 18, Mary defied pressures to remarry and instead returned to her native Scotland to reclaim her rightful throne, which put in her in direct conflict with Elizabeth as many Catholics believed Mary had a claim to the throne of England.

And, when Mary fled to England seeking Elizabeth’s help when she was ejected from the Scottish throne, Elizabeth treated her cousin with caution and suspicion. Mary soon became a direct threat to Elizabeth’s sovereignty, and their tussle for power reached a breaking point. Saoirse Ronan stars as Mary, across Margot Robbie as Elizabeth; the film also features Joe Alwyn, Gemma Chan, James McArdle, David Tennant, and Guy Pearce.

The film has already attracted interest for its depiction of the period and how the two queens interacted and, although it’s been celebrated for its passionate portrait of two formidable women in history, it’s also attracted criticism for several major historical inaccuracies. The biggest three have been outlined below.

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Review

Director Josie Rourke makes a very assured move from the theatre to the cinema screen in her feature debut, a full-blooded tale of personal and political rivalries told with wit, flair, and passion. As Mary, Ronan embodies both the vibrant spirit and iron strength of her character. Some scenes, such as those in which she shares the close company of her ladies in waiting, have the air of a coming-of-age movie, full of youthful laughter and candid confession.

Yet from the moment Mary strides ashore and marches toward Holyrood, it is clear that she possesses a steely resolve. (I was briefly reminded of action hero Milla Jovovich’s armor-plated Joan of Arc, leading her forces into battle in Luc Besson’s 1999 film, The Messenger.)While Ronan is terrific, Robbie has arguably the more difficult role, conjuring an engaging portrait of someone whose position has made her “more man than a woman”.

It’s a credit to Robbie that Elizabeth’s anguish shines through the stony visage behind which she is increasingly forced to hide. Josie Rourke: ‘I was fighting to put a period in a period movie’ The supporting roles are well cast too, with particular plaudits due to Hart, who remains one of the UK’s most reliably riveting stage and screen presences.

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