I searched far and wide for lists of best historical movies of all time. These often included movies that were based on true stories and movies that were historical fiction. Criteria included the movies being ranked, not just listed, and covering all time, not just a decade. The lists were generally created by groups, whether teams or committees or based on general public voting (like Ranker.com).

I was able to find 34 lists. I took the 34 lists and added all their content into a spreadsheet, noting the rank of every film. The total number was almost 1900 including all the repeats. I experimented with different formulas, trying to balance the value of being ranked high on any list and being included on the most lists. I ended up averaging the rankings each movie got (there were 300 that were on at least 2 lists) and dividing that average by a factor of the number of lists that movie was on. The lowest score meant a high ranking average on many lists. The complete spreadsheet is attached at the bottom.

The movies that were on the most lists (out of 34) were:

  • Schindler’s List (1993) – 27 lists
  • 12 Years a Slave (2013) – 22 lists
  • Apollo 13 (1995) – 19 lists
  • Gladiator (2000) – 18 lists
  • Braveheart (1995) – 18 lists
  • The King’s Speech (2010) – 18 lists
  • Lincoln (2012) – 17 lists
  • Ben-Hur (1959) – 16 lists
  • Glory (1989) – 15 lists
  • Lawrence of Arabia (1962) – 14 lists

Here are links to the lists I used along with dates the lists were created: