By Alex Castle
It’s starting to look like Ben Affleck’s Argo is the front-runner for the Best Picture trophy at this year’s Academy Awards, what with the Golden Globes and the SAG awards it’s already racked up. I’m not sure Argo was literally the best picture of 2012, though I liked it a lot; I thought what worked best about it was the way it evoked the chaotic atmosphere of post-Shah Iran and the palpable sense of dread the hostages must have felt. Likewise, Argo‘s main competition for the big prize, Kathryn Bigelow’s Zero Dark Thirty gets the facts of the hunt for Bin Laden but also the way that search changed the people who led it.
The best historical dramas do this: they show us not just what happened, but what it felt like when it happened. Here are some of our favorite movies dramatizing real events, all available at Blockbuster stores, from Blockbuster By Mail, and instantly at Blockbuster On Demand.
The early days of the United States space program are beautifully brought to life from Chuck Yeager’s breaking of the sound barrier to John Glenn’s triumphant orbit of the Earth, with a great young cast of future stars including Dennis Quaid, Ed Harris, Scott Glenn, Sam Shepard, and Fred Ward. Not a lot of three-hour-plus movies are this compelling, but I could sit through this one twice in a row.
The only triumph greater than a successful space mission is the rescue of the astronauts from a space mission gone completely pear-shaped. Tom Hanks, Bill Paxton, and Kevin Bacon play the astronauts forced to improvise their way back to Earth in a craft not remotely designed for it, with a near unbearable sense of anxiety on the ground as NASA tries to bring them home safely.
Oliver Stone has made quite a few historically-based dramas, but probably the least, shall we say fanciful, is the one about Ron Kovic, a gung-ho Marine volunteer who ends up paraplegic, badly shaken by the horror of war, and an outspoken critic of the Vietnam War. Tom Cruise earned an Academy Award nomination in the role, proving (to some) that he could actually act.