The 10 Best Historical Movies of the 1990s, According to IMDb

The 1990s were a decade filled with great movies that often dealt with historical subjects. Many of the greatest movies of the time were based on true stories or set during real historical events.

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Historical films often have gigantic scopes and big budgets that give viewers everything they can expect from a blockbuster. Whether it’s war epics like Saving Private Ryan or western classics like tomb stone, historical films from the 1990s were often huge hits with audiences and achieved high scores on IMDb.

ten Amistad (1997) – 7.3

While many historical films covered such broad topics as wars, some focused on a brief moment in history and explored it in detail. Amistad tells the true story of a ship full of African hostages destined for slavery who broke free from their captors and were later put on trial for their actions.

Playing former President John Quincy Adams, Anthony Hopkins delivers an underrated performance in the lead role. With a star-studded supporting cast, the historical drama was well received by audiences and critics alike. Unfortunately, the film has been criticized by some historians as somewhat inaccurate with its depiction of historical events.

9 Elizabeth (1998) – 7.4

Cate Blanchett in the title role of Queen Elizabeth I

Although the majority of the most memorable historical films of the 90s covered subjects from American history, Elizabeth instead turned to the British monarchy for his subject. The film tells the story of the turbulent early years of Queen Elizabeth the First’s reign and the complicated entanglement of her personal life as it relates to her new role as Queen.

Blending elegant imagery and historical drama, Elizabeth delivers an intimate portrait of one of Britain’s most complicated leaders. Although it would have been easy to paint the story in broad strokes, the film focuses on Elizabeth’s personal life and Cate Blanchett delivers a star performance in the lead role.


8 Apollo 13 (1995) – 7.6

Tom Hanks Apollo 13

Temporal distance often dampens the suspense behind many of history’s most thrilling stories. However, Apollo 13 revived its historical situation and made it as suspenseful as any fictional film. The story follows the events of the Apollo 13 space mission which is put in jeopardy when the capsule containing the astronauts is accidentally damaged.

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Through clever scriptwriting and brilliant performances, Apollo 13 takes audiences on a suspenseful ride as NASA tries to bring astronauts back to safety. Although based on real events, the film has no shortage of cinematic magic and still manages to deliver a radical cinematic experience with excellent special effects for the 1990s.

seven Gettysburg (1993) – 7.7


Cinema is one of the best ways to capture the grandeur and significance of historical events and translate them into entertainment. The epic Civil War movie Gettysburg tells the story of both sides of the battle as rival armies prepare and fight the greatest conflict of the entire war.

With an epic runtime of over four and a half hours, Gettysburg gives the viewer plenty of time with its many historical subjects. Veteran actors like Sam Elliott and Martin Sheen shine as legendary Civil War leaders, and the film explores the psychology of the battlefield through its fleshed-out characters.

6 Tombstone (1993) – 7.8

Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday prepare for a showdown in Tombstone.

Although many westerns are entirely fictionalized, some of the most memorable are loosely based on real events. In tomb stone, lawyer Wyatt Earp attempts to retire but is brought back into service when the same outlaws he sidelined return to exact revenge on him.

tomb stone was a great mix of modern western action and historical storytelling. While not entirely accurate, the actual events of the film are legendary in the lore of the American West, and the film brought many historical figures to life brilliantly.

5 JFK (1991) – 8.0

Kevin Costner

The purpose of a historical film can vary, some simply aim to tell a simple story, while others hope to show an event in a different light. jfk follows a New Orleans district attorney who stumbles upon evidence that proves there was more to the assassination of President Kennedy than the official government story.

Conspiracy theories have gained popularity on the internet, but conspiracy culture has persisted for decades. Director Oliver Stone’s unique insight into the past has opened many viewers’ eyes to possibilities that hadn’t been considered. Concept aside, the film offers strong storytelling and excellent performances that keep the film entertaining, even if the plot message is lost on the viewer.

4 Braveheart (1995) – 8.3

Mel Gibson as William Wallace in combat in Braveheart

Period pieces have always been a part of cinema’s past, and many fans are drawn to the grand scale of many historical epics. Brave Heart follows William Wallace, a Scotsman who leads a rebellion against the cruel King of England who rules over his people.

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Bringing the old British countryside to life, Brave Heart captured the viewer’s imagination and stunned them with epic combat sequences. Although few details are actually known about the events of the rebellion, the film fills in the gaps and allows the story to blend seamlessly with the magic of Hollywood cinema for a thrilling experience.

3 Saving Private Ryan (1998) – 8.6

Soldiers under fire in Saving Private Ryan.

War films are often the most popular form of historical film and dozens of films have been made about World War II. Saving Private Ryan follows a squadron of soldiers who go behind enemy lines to retrieve a surviving soldier whose entire battalion was wiped out after D-Day.

Director Steven Spielberg has returned to the historic well for Saving Private Ryan and delivered a truly memorable piece of WWII cinema. With an excellent cast anchored by Tom Hanks, the film manages to be both big and small simultaneously. The film features epic battle sequences as well as touching interpersonal moments that give it great emotional significance.

2 Forrest Gump (1994) – 8.8

While some films focus exclusively on historical events, others simply use the story as a backdrop to tell a smaller story about individual characters. Forrest Gump is the story of a simple man from Alabama whose life is intertwined with many significant historical events as he enjoys an on-and-off relationship with the love of his life.

While a defining role for Tom Hanks’ career, the film was also representative of a generation as a whole. Instead of just focusing on one moment in history, Forrest is involved in some of the greatest moments of an entire generation. Forrest Gump is an enjoyable blend of comedy and drama that has been well received by critics and audiences alike.

1 Schindler’s List (1993) – 8.9

Film can often shine a light on some of the darkest moments in human history, and the stories in it can be a beacon of hope among the darkness. Schindler’s list follows a wealthy business owner in German-occupied Poland during World War II named Oskar Schindler. Worried about his many Jewish employees, Schindler begins to take matters into his own hands to save lives.

Schindler’s list pulls no punches and treats its dark subject matter with appropriate seriousness. The film is a clever cinematic masterpiece that cleverly uses Janusz Kamiński’s black-and-white photography and juxtaposes it with shocking moments of color. While covering a broad subject, the film also manages to focus on the small picture and tells the gripping story of a single character trying to make a difference.

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