Movies like ‘Troy’ are not made every day. Such movies are huge undertakings requiring massive budgets and months of preparation. And even after that, there is no guarantee that the film will be successful. Historical dramas like ‘Troy’ require special attention to not just the plot but also the whole set up. Therefore, technical aspects that go behind the making of a film, like production and costume design, should be spot on. Over the last few decades, several historical movies like ‘Troy’ have been made. But how many have been as good? Let’s find out. Here is the list of best movies similar to ‘Troy’ that are our recommendations. You can watch some of these top movies like ‘Troy’ on Netflix, Hulu or Amazon Prime.
12. The New World (2005)
I honestly think ‘The New World’ is better than several other films on this list; but the reason why it’s ranked so low is because it isn’t really a historical war movie. It’s more romance and, as you’d expect from a Terrence Malick movie, quite philosophical. The film is about a Native American princess who falls for an English explorer. However, complications arise as her tribe’s hatred towards her lover forces her to come to a decision that would change her life forever. The film was initially panned by several critics and received mildly positive reviews from some, but upon frequent revisits and revaluation, many contemporary critics now consider it to be one of the best movies of the decade. Like all Malick films, it’s incredibly beautiful and evocative. I might not recommend this as a starting point for anyone who’s looking to explore Malick’s oeuvre, but those who are familiar with his work must re-watch the film to gain more insights into his style and vision.
11. Legends of the Fall (1994)
Perhaps not among the finest movies in the genre, but I clearly remember enjoying the film when I saw it long back. Starring Brad Pitt, Anthony Hopkins and Aidan Quinn in major roles, the film chronicles the eventful life of a father and his three children who live in the remote countryside of Montana during early 20th century. The film is thematically rich and despite its occasional writing issues, it comes off as an emotional cinematic experience. Another aspect that needs to be appreciated here is the film’s visuals. It manages to paint a very unique atmosphere as Edward Zwick pulls you into the world he’s crafted right from the first scene. Watch it, if you are a fan of period/historical dramas!
10. Alexander (2004)
There is no question about the fact that ‘Alexander’ is a flawed movie. But if you ignore the flaws, there is a lot to like in the film, starting with its epic and wonderfully choreographed battle scenes. Colin Farrell does a good job as Alexander the Great. Val Kilmer and Angelina Jolie do not look their part, but you hardly care. It is escapist entertainment at its best.
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9. Kingdom of Heaven (2005)
Directed by Ridley Scott, the story of this film is set during the Crusades of the 12th century. A French village blacksmith goes to aid the Kingdom of Jerusalem in its defence against the Ayyubi Muslim sultan Salahuddin, who is battling to claim the city from the Christians leading to the Battle of Hattin. Scott, who previously directed epic battle scenes in ‘Gladiator’, takes cue from his own experience. ‘Kingdom of Heaven’ may not have been as successful as ‘Gladiator’ but still it is a very respectable effort. And if you are looking for movies like ‘Troy’, this is a perfect choice.
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8. 300 (2006)
Zac Snyder, or as I like to call him, “The King of SloMos and Dark Palettes”, burst into the mainstream with this visually stunning masterpiece which combined history and fantasy, the scales tipping heavily towards the latter. The film is based on a graphic novel based on the Battle of Thermopylae, one of the greatest last stands in history. With epic battle scenes and stunning action sequences, ‘300’ is more violent than ‘Troy’ but it is an apt companion piece.
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7. The Last of the Mohicans (1992)
This 1992 historical drama is set in 1757 during the French and Indian War. Apart from the well-orchestrated battle scenes, the film features a tremendously brilliant, fierce physical performance from Daniel-Day Lewis. As Hawkeye, the hero of the James Fenimore Cooper novel, he is terrific as a pioneer hero fighting the men over taking the land he loves so dearly. Michael Mann‘s superb film was elevated by the performance. ‘The Last of the Mohicans’ displays Mann’s versatility as a filmmaker. I mean, while watching the film, I couldn’t believe that the same guy also made ‘Heat’, ‘The Insider’ and ‘Collateral’. Watch the film for the performance, direction and the stunning visuals. Oh, and it has an amazing soundtrack too!
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6. The Last Samurai (2003)
Tom Cruise plays a United States Captain, whose personal and emotional conflicts bring him into contact with samurai warriors in the wake of the Meiji Restoration in 19th Century Japan. Captured by the samurai, he becomes their friend and ally, and marries himself to their ways, finding peace as a warrior for the first time in his life. Watching the evolution of this character is thrilling, and Cruise is brilliant in the role. The film’s plot was inspired by the 1877 Satsuma Rebellion led by Saigō Takamori, and the westernization of Japan by foreign powers, though in the film, the United States is portrayed as the primary force behind the push for westernization.
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5. Braveheart (1995)
Mel Gibson’s epic war drama follows the journey of William Wallace, a 13th-century Scottish warrior who led the Scots in the First War of Scottish Independence against King Edward I of England. The film opened to critical acclaim, getting eight Academy nominations and going on to win five, including Best Picture. The film is said to be inspired by Blind Harry’s epic poem, ‘The Actes and Deidis of the Illustre and Vallyeant Compiun Schir William Wallace’. The movie set new land marks in terms of the magnanimity of the sets and use of thousands of on-set extras.
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4. Gladiator (2000)
This is truly Ridley Scott‘s magnum opus. The film is about the virtuoso Hispano-Roman general, sobriquet Maximus who fights against the powerful son of King Marcus Aurelius, whose throne he seized after murdering him. Reduced to slavery, Maximus rises from the ashes like a phoenix through battling and defeating death in the Gladiatorial arena. The film was universally lauded for its authenticity and the battle scenes. It went on to win five Oscars, including the Best Picture. ‘Gladiator’ is credited to have rekindled the interest in films centered around ancient Greek and Roman culture.
I did not go in expecting a wonderful cinematic experience because Scott has been more of a hit-or-miss director for me. But the film did pleasantly surprise me when I first saw it, with its exquisite visuals, raw ambition, and highly impressive performances, especially that of Russell Crowe, who is unbelievably brilliant as Maximus. He elevates the film to a different level altogether, with his irresistible charisma and style, and effortlessly slips into the role. Scott’s direction here is terrific and we can clearly see that he is in complete control of his craft. Although I am not a massive fan of his, this film does display Scott’s range as a filmmaker and he shows that when he is at his best, he is a truly brilliant filmmaker. Scott may have made better films, technically, but this is one that will always remain close to my heart. Watch it for the epic battle scenes, remarkable performances and stylish direction.
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3. Spartacus (1960)
When I watched ‘The Shining’, I couldn’t stop watching all Stanley Kubrick‘s films. The filmography had a perfect ending with this epic historical drama, inspired by the life story of the leader of a slave revolt in antiquity, Spartacus, and the events of the Third Servile War. The master that he is, Kubrick took painstaking efforts to be meticulous and get a realistic tone for the film. The result was one of the greatest movies ever made.
While critiquing the oeuvre of Stanley Kubrick, one might not really rank ‘Spartacus’ very high; which is completely understandable because we’re talking about a director who has made ‘2001: Space Odyssey’, ‘The Shining’, ‘Paths of Glory’, and ‘A Clockwork Orange’…well, I can go on and on. That’s the reason why this film remains hugely underrated; the man has made way too many masterpieces in has career. For any other director, a film like ‘Spartacus’ would have been the ultimate masterpiece of his/her career, but not for Kubrick. He was someone who always looked to push the boundaries of cinema in some way or the other with every film that he made. However, ‘Spartacus’ is still an incredibly bold, ambitious film that has aged brilliantly like all other Kubrick films. It’s more of a spectacle, and not as thematically deep as some of the other Kubrick movies; but it offers an enthralling cinematic experience that you can never forget. I hope that the film gets more love from Kubrickians across the world.
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2. Ben-Hur (1959)
This 1959 epic historical-drama held the mantle of the greatest film ever made for a long time. Inspired by true events, ‘Ben-Hur’ tells the tale of its titular character, and his struggles in life. It was the costliest film ever made at that time, and had the biggest set and production in the history of cinema. The film won a record eleven Academy Awards, setting a precedent which still has yet to be surpassed. It stars Charlton Heston in the main role and it catapulted him into global stardom. ‘Ben-Hur’ still is remembered for the epic war scenes, the sets and the highly influential musical score. Without a doubt, it is an absolute cinematic treat!
Like several other films on the list, ‘Ben-Hur’ is a movie that any person who claims to be a movie lover must watch. Some might find the visuals and overall aesthetics to be dated, obviously, but its wild, exuberant tone still makes for a highly entertaining watch. It’s kind of sad that some critics dismissed this work as a mere exercise in commercial filmmaking, because there’s a lot that needs to be appreciated here. It’s one of those films that laid the foundation for extravagant, commercial filmmaking in Hollywood that traditionally blends wildly fascinating, original story-lines with stunning visuals.
The vision and ambition that William Wyler had did not just lead to a new style of filmmaking, but also inspired a generation of filmmakers. He might not have directly influenced modern mainstream filmmakers like Steven Spielberg and James Cameron, but we must give more credit to the man and this masterpiece of his for having revolutionized the language of commercial filmmaking in Hollywood.
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1. Lawrence of Arabia (1962)
Arguably one of the greatest films ever made, ‘Lawrence of Arabia’ sent shock-waves through the industry with its release. The film garnered a total of seven, out of ten nominations, including the Best Picture at the Academy Awards. The film chronicles the life of TE Lawrence, the charismatic British officer who helped the Arabians fight the Turks through tact and strategies. Peter O’Toole, also the most nominated Academy actor without a win, gave a performance of a lifetime in the titular role. ‘Lawrence of Arabia’ is widely regarded as one of the most influential films ever made and is, undoubtedly, David Lean‘s finest work.
‘Lawrence of Arabia’ is one of those films that you must see once in your lifetime. It’s a film that takes you on a journey, giving you insights into the mind of a deeply flawed hero; a warrior. Lawrence’s journey in the film is profoundly poetic in so many ways. The film explores themes of betrayal, triumph, ambition, power, and corruption, as the protagonist traverses various phases in his life. Apart from its thematic ambitions, the other thing that struck me the most about the film was its style. Although the film explores several profound themes, it also maintains a wildly exciting tone that keeps you engaged and entertained throughout. O’Toole is, without a doubt, the soul of the film. I cannot imagine any other actor in the lead role. Like Al Pacino in ‘The Godfather’, Robert De Niro in ‘Taxi Driver’, Peter O’Toole was born to play the role of Lawrence in this masterpiece of a film. It is unarguably one of the greatest acting performances in film history.
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