Oppenheimer, Christopher Nolan’s historical biopic about the inventor of the atom bomb, has received plenty of praise. And more than a few people are pairing it with Greta Gerwig’s latest for a Barbie/Oppenheimer double bill. But what if the movie has left you with a taste for more dramatic historical movies? If you’re looking for the best historical drama movies like Oppenheimer, here they are.
Six Historical Drama Movies to Watch After Oppenheimer
Are all of these movies worth your time? Absolutely. Every one of them will grab your attention and, like Oppenheimer, there’s focus on one individual or a small group of individuals. Are they historically accurate? Mostly. Some of these movies take dramatic license and contain relatively minor historical inaccuracies. But they’re not on the scale of, say, U-571, which had a WWII US submarine capturing the Germans’ Enigma machine, an event which simply didn’t happen. So, in no particular order, here are the best historical drama movies like Oppenheimer.
The Imitation Game (2014)
Starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Keira Knightley, The Imitation Game follows mathematician Alan Turing and his team of WWII code crackers as they attempt to break the Germans’ Enigma code. Forget U-571, this is how it really happened. Turing and team have to make some tough calls, realising that if they act on every message they crack, the Germans will wise up and switch their code.
Directed by Steven Spielberg, Lincoln is, as the name suggests, a biopic of 16th US President Abraham Lincoln, who led the Union to victory during the American Civil War. Daniel Day Lewis steals the show as an absolutely convincing Lincoln, despite being a British actor. Sorry, Hugh Laurie, I’m still not buying that accent.
Historian Joshua Zeitz described the film’s portrayal of Lincoln as mostly realistic, though he criticized how Lincoln’s advisers were depicted. It’s an excellent watch, even if you know it’s not going to end well for the man in the hat.
Remember when Christopher Lee played the founder of Pakistan? No? I don’t blame you, since the film didn’t get much of a release outside of Pakistan. But, Lee considered the role of Muhammad Ali Jinnah as his most important. It was Jinnah’s actions that led to India being split into India and Pakistan. That’s not what he set out to do, instead initially advocating unity. But Jinnah convincingly details his journey from those ideals to the division of a country. It’s not as easy to find as some of the other films on this list, but you can find it on paid streaming service Vidly.tv.
Like Muhammad Ali Jinnah (who is also portrayed in this movie), Mahatma Ghandi believed in a better future for his country. Played by Ben Kingsley (who is half Indian), Richard Attenborough’s movie catalogs Ghandi’s efforts to free India from British occupation, mostly via non-violence, as well as his earlier life.
Yes, that Richard Attenborough. You might know him as Hammond from Jurassic Park, but he was also filmmaker. The movie won eight Oscars including Best Picture, Best Actor, and Best Director.
Hidden Figures (2016)
Schindler’s List (1993)
Another one directed by Steven Spielberg, you’ll almost certainly have heard of this Oscar-winning historical drama. Whether you’ve watched it from beginning to end is another question altogether, but it’s absolutely worth it. It’s about German industrialist Oskar Schindler (played by Liam Neeson) who saved over a thousand Jews from the Holocaust. At times he almost fades into the background, leaving you to observe the horror. It’s hard to stomach at times but, given the subject matter, that should be the case.
Those, then, are the best historical movies like Oppenheimer. Sure, they may not have been paired up with a movie about a plastic toy but you won’t regret watching any of these.