THE BEST YEARS OF OUR LIVES (1946)

A surprisingly universal and human story of three soldiers returning to their home town after World War II, from decades before “PTSD” was a term.

BRAVEHEART (1995)

This epic basically invented modern Scottish nationalism despite a total lack of both subtlety and interest in actual history.

FORREST GUMP (1994)

Tom Hanks bumbles through the greatest hits of Baby Boomer history, with nothing to say about any of it.

THE LEOPARD (1963)

I was floored by this Italian epic about the fall of the aristocracy, written by a prince and directed by a Marxist, starring, of all people, Burt Lancaster.

SAVING PRIVATE RYAN (1998)

Few fictional movies are now considered definitive documents of historical events, but this is one of them. This is what happened now.

SPARTACUS (1960)

As epics of Roman battles go, Spartacus is the thinking-man’s version. It also helped break the Hollywood Blacklist.

LAWRENCE OF ARABIA (1962)

Maybe the most epic epic ever made, about a weird guy in the desert.