Special Report

These Are the Best Movies Made About Real People

Source: Courtesy of M.J. Gourland

5. The Passion of Joan of Arc (1928)
> Index score: 2.76 — #163 out of 25,589 movies
> Domestic box office: $716,000
> Starring: Maria Falconetti, Eugene Silvain, André Berley, Maurice Schutz

This silent-era classic features groundbreaking direction and a timeless performance from Renée Maria Falconetti. Based on actual records, it depicts the trial and execution of legendary martyr Joan of Arc (played by Falconetti). With its distinct use of close-ups, the film reaps lasting impact out of expressive gestures.

Source: Courtesy of Janus Films

4. Mirror (1975)
> Index score: 2.77 — #139 out of 25,589 movies
> Domestic box office: $812,000
> Starring: Margarita Terekhova, Filipp Yankovskiy, Ignat Daniltsev, Oleg Yankovskiy

Employing a nonlinear and surrealist style, Russian director Andrei Tarkovsky channels his own life story in this semi-autobiographical drama. It juxtaposes personal memories with historical events to create a complex tapestry of human experience. Somewhat polarizing upon its debut, the work is now considered an outright classic.

Source: Courtesy of Focus Features

3. The Pianist (2002)
> Index score: 2.81 — #52 out of 25,589 movies
> Domestic box office: $51.4 million
> Starring: Adrien Brody, Thomas Kretschmann, Frank Finlay, Emilia Fox

Based on Władysław Szpilman’s memoir of the same name, this Holocaust drama follows the accomplished Jewish pianist (played by Adrien Brody) into the Warsaw Ghetto. As he hides out among the ruins, Szpilman struggles desperately to survive. It won three Academy Awards.

Source: Courtesy of Warner Bros.

2. Goodfellas (1990)
> Index score: 2.86 — #11 out of 25,589 movies
> Domestic box office: $101.5 million
> Starring: Robert De Niro, Ray Liotta, Joe Pesci, Lorraine Bracco

Arguably the most influential film of the modern era, Scorcese’s gangster epic chronicles three decades in the life of mob affiliate Henry Hill (Ray Liotta). Deft camerawork and unconventional storytelling set new standards for editing and pacing alike, which isn’t to mention the quotable dialogue and iconic performances. It’s adapted from the book “Wiseguy” by Nicholas Pileggi, who co-wrote the script with Scorsese.

Source: Courtesy of Universal Pictures

1. Schindler’s List (1993)
> Index score: 2.90 — #4 out of 25,589 movies
> Domestic box office: $214.4 million
> Starring: Liam Neeson, Ralph Fiennes, Ben Kingsley, Caroline Goodall

Spielberg shot this seminal WWII drama in black and white so as to retain its documentary-like feel. Liam Neeson portrays German industrialist Oskar Schindler, who saved over 1,000 Jewish refugees during the Holocaust. It won seven Oscars and currently holds the #6 position on IMDb’s list of top-rated films.