Since the beginning of cinema, historical movies have been popular for their ability to transport audiences to bygone eras. These films serve as a cinematic journey into the past, reflecting our enduring fascination with history and its influence on modern culture. The most popular historical films of 2023 offer a new look at events that shaped our world, from the Manhattan Project to the Battle of Waterloo. Here, then, is a glimpse at some of the most memorable and powerful historical movies of the year.
Written and directed by Christopher Nolan, Oppenheimer traces the life of J. Robert Oppenheimer, the American theoretical physicist called the “father of the atomic bomb” for his role in the development of nuclear weapons for the U.S. government’s Manhattan Project. With a three-hour running time, the historical drama features an all-star cast that includes Cillian Murphy as Oppenheimer; Matt Damon as Leslie Groves, the head of the Manhattan Project; Robert Downey Jr. as Lewis Strauss, a U.S. Atomic Energy Commission member; Emily Blunt as Kitty, Oppenheimer’s wife; and Florence Pugh as psychiatrist and communist Jean Tatlock, Oppenheimer’s lover.
Inspired by the 2005 biography American Prometheus, and a collection of Oppenheimer’s speeches, Nolan wanted to explore how Oppenheimer grappled with the implications of his work. Nolan, best known for a string of moody, cerebral blockbusters including the Dark Knight trilogy, Interstellar, Tenet, and the World War II epic Dunkirk, has crafted another hit with Oppenheimer. With an 8.4/10 rating on IMDb, Oppenheimer has almost hit the $1 billion mark in global box-office sales, and Variety hailed the film as an “across-the-board contender” for Oscar wins.