Historical movies usually deal with darker parts of history, making some of them a little uncomfortable to watch. However it is my expert (not really) opinion that this might be the most important movie genre there is. Some of these are true stories, some are historical fiction, all are good. Here you go:
The Help is a wonderful film about a group of women fighting to change segregation standards. Emma Stone plays a quirky writer determined to get the real story about Southern standards from a group of black house maids. All of the women in this are perfectly cast and it really highlights how far we have come, but how far we still have to go. Also, the pie scene will have you rolling on the floor. Watch it.
- Available for rent/ buy on Apple TV and Google Play
Spotlight focuses on a group of four reporters who desperately want to unearth a scandal at the Catholic church that has been happening for years. Set in Boston in the early 2000’s, the reporters are hesitant to research this phenomenon because more than half of their readership is Catholic. However, knowing what an important story this was, they pursue it anyways. They discover truly appalling facts about the Church, all while remaining completely respectful of the victims. This one stays with you for a while.
- Available on Netflix
3. Schindler’s List
Schindler’s List is not exactly what I would call a “happy tale.” Set in the throngs of World War II, Oskar Schindler, played by the always great Liam Neeson (you know him from Taken, or as the voice of the lion from Chronicles of Narnia. You’re welcome.), persuades Nazi officials into letting him run a factory where the employees are entirely Jewish. Under the guise of producing plasticware, he creates a list (duh) of people he plans to move to work at a different factory. He does this so that they may live and not go to a concentration camp. This is based on a true story and is not for the faint of heart.
- Available to stream on Starz, or rent/buy on Apple TV and Google Play
4. Saving Private Ryan
(Sorry Dad, I gotta). I have only seen my dad cry twice in my life and that was while watching Marley & Me and Saving Private Ryan (insert laughing emoji here). This movie is about a family (last name: Ryan) which has four brothers involved in World War II. Three of the brothers die, and the last one is MIA (that’s Missing in Action for those of you who don’t know army-speak). A group of soldiers all wearing the exact same uniform (which really isn’t fun because it’s very hard to distinguish between them) go on an epic journey to find him. If you’re a 40 year old man, apparently it’s a tear-jerker.
- Available to rent/buy on Apple TV, Amazon Prime, or Google Play
5. 12 Years a Slave
I watched this movie in a sociology class and had to fight back the tears (along with the rest of my class, no judgement). Solomon Northrop (played by Chiwetel Ejiofor, who once played a drag queen in Kinky Boots) was a free man who was kidnapped and sold back into slavery. The film follows his hardships as he tries to remain himself while also pretending to be someone else. There are some truly horrible characters in this movie, but it is definitely one of the most important movies you could ever watch.
- Available to rent/buy on Apple TV or Google Play