15 Best Movies About Doctors of All Time

Movies set in hospitals, the ones where doctors play one of the most important roles are always very interesting to watch. Whether it is because we want to learn something about medicine or witness the lives of these professionals, or we like to follow them through their difficult everyday life situations, we want to learn more and experience it. This is the list of the 15 best movies about doctors where we included the ones that are directly related to the topic but also the ones that are in a way connected to doctors and their work environment.

Awakenings (1990)

This heartbreaking biography drama brings one of the best acting collaborations ever, with Robert de Niro and Robin Williams playing the leading roles. Williams plays a clinical physician hired to work with mostly catatonic patients. 

One of them is 41-year-old Leonard who has been in his current state since he was 11. The new drug and the drug therapy awaken Leonard, casting some other issues on him and his disease.

Patch Adams (1998)

Patch Adams is a true story of a heroic and generous man whose dream is to become a medical doctor. He enjoys helping people and has been brave enough to go where no doctor had gone before. Hunter “Patch” Adams uses humor and laughter to help the sickest patients and relieve their pain.

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This beautiful and heartwarming and at the same time heartbreaking movie is a biographical drama with Robin Williams making one of his most memorable roles. It is a dramedy that shows the strength of doctors and their will to overcome everything to make their patients feel better.

Concussion (2015)

This biographical sports drama with Will Smith and Alec Baldwin in leading roles tells the story of a brilliant forensic neuropathologist who made the discovery of CTE, a football-related brain trauma. Smith plays Dr. Bennet Omalu, an American immigrant and a specialist in his medical field who discovered this trauma in a pro player and fought for the truth to be revealed. 

It is brain damage that happens with football players who suffer repeated concussions while playing. Omalu’s emotional quest was even more difficult when he realized that he will have to fight one of the biggest institutions in the world. 

Breathe (2017)

Even though this movie is not directly connected to doctors, it is connected to an ugly and sneaky disease and the way one man and a woman decided to fight against it and with it. It is a biographical drama, a directing debut by Andy Serkis, with excellent Andrew Garfield and Claire Foy playing the leading roles.

Robin is struck by polio at the age of twenty-eight and is put in a hospital bed with only a few months to live. With the help of his loving and caring wife Diana and her twin brothers, Robin manages to run away from the hospital and decides to try and live a life of happiness with his beloved Diana. He will be able to raise his son, travel, and devote his life to helping other polio patients.  

Contagion (2011)

This post-apocalyptic drama-thriller directed by Steven Soderbergh brings the story of a deadly and mysterious illness which begins with the death of Beth Emhoff after her return from a business trip in Hong Kong. It seems as if she had the flu or some other type of infection. 

But when her son dies later the same day and her husband stays immune, it will be the beginning of a nightmare for doctors and administrators at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. They will first have to identify the virus and then find the means to fight against it and finally destroy it. But they will soon have to face various charges and panic that begin to spread around the globe, as the virus itself.

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975)

One of the best movies of all time and a big criticism of the medical and especially psychiatric behavior toward patients, this Miloš Forman heartbreaking drama tells the story of a few patients who live inside a mental institution.

Everything seemed to be fine until the arrival of a Korean War veteran and criminal who is admitted there after pleading insanity. Jack Nicholson plays McMurphy, a rebel with a criminal past who doesn’t want to go to prison anymore so he invents his insanity and upon meeting everyone at the institution, he begins his rally against the oppressive Nurse Ratched, who is constantly abusing and degrading MacMurphy and other patients.  

The Fugitive (1993)

This brilliant action drama thriller tells the story of a well-respected Chicago surgeon Richard Kimble who is unjustly accused of murdering his wife. After finding out she has been murdered in their own home, he is accused by the police of committing this heinous crime.

After being tried and sentenced to death, Kimble is transported to prison but when his transport crashes, he escapes and becomes the country’s fugitive number one, chased by deputy Samuel Gerard from Chicago. While on the run, Kimble will have to figure out who killed his wife and preferably get Gerard and his team on his side.

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The Doctor (1991)

William Hurt plays the successful doctor Jack McKee in this drama about the seriosity of being ill and the way people face the news. Jack has it all, he is successful, talented, extremely rich, and also very self-centered, without any care in the world.

Until he is diagnosed with throat cancer. He is now there where his patients are every day and he has the opportunity to observe everything from the other side. Surrounded by doctors and other ill patients, Jack will soon realize that there is so much more to life than thinking only about oneself and that there is a lot more to being a doctor than only surgeries and medications.

The Last King of Scotland (2006)

James McAvoy plays a young Scottish doctor Nicholas Garrigan who has just graduated from the University of Edinburgh and is sent to Uganda to do some missionary work run by doctor Merrit and his wife Sarah. Garrigan soon runs into the new president, General Idi Amin who immediately takes him under his wing by hiring him as his personal physician.

 Amin’s idea is to modernize Uganda’s health care which at the very beginning seems extremely generous to Garrigan. But very soon, Garrigan will figure out that Amin is a disturbed individual with a hunger for blood and he will have to rise above this all madness and megalomania around Amin and he will find himself in a fight for survival.

Philadelphia (1993)

This difficult and sad drama deals with one of the biggest medical issues that were going on in the 1980s and the beginning of the 1990s, AIDS. Tom Hanks play Andrew Beckett, a successful lawyer who is diagnosed with HIV which he has to hide from his co-workers at a huge Philadephia law firm, along with his homosexuality.

But when his secret gets exposed, he is fired almost immediately and this is when his fight against discrimination begins. He will team up with a very capable young lawyer Joe Miller, the only one who was willing to help. Aware of the situation, these two brave men will have to prove they are right, which will be extremely difficult, especially when they find themselves in court with Beckett’s ex-employers top litigators.  

Doc Hollywood (1991)

Michael J.Fox plays Benjamin Stone, a young doctor who is driving to L.A. to be interviewed for a high-paying job as a plastic surgeon. When he gets off the highway to avoid traffic, he suddenly gets lost and ends up in the small town of Grady.

Since he has crashed into a fence, he has been sentenced to 32 hours of community service at their local hospital very soon the locals become extremely fond of him and he falls for the beautiful ambulance driver, Lou. From wanting to be done with his service and leaving for L.A. to wanting to stay in Grady is a very short way.

The Elephant Man (1980)

This biographical drama is set in Victorian London and it tells the tale of dr Frederick Traves who comes across an interesting circus sideshow run by a man called the Elephant Man. The creature on display is a young man named Joseph Merrick, with severe physical deformities.

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He has an oversized skull and a disfigured right shoulder and is presented as a freak by his money-obsessed “owner”.  Traves managed to bring him under his care at the hospital and soon realizes that Merrick is a well-educated and eloquent man who becomes a curiosity and attraction amongst London upper-class.

Something the Lord Made (2004)

This tv movie brilliantly depicts the true story of the cardiologist Alfred Blalock who leaves his current hospital for John Hopkins and takes his lab technician Vivien Thomas with him. Thomas is an African-American without a degree, but an extremely talented toolmaker and mechanic. 

He will, together with Bialock, invent bypass surgery and even though Thomas is not a doctor, aware of his talent, especially for surgery, Bialock invites him to assist and advise him. After their huge success and mention in Life magazine, Thomas is excluded and will now have to prove his talent and fight together with his older colleague.

While You Were Sleeping (1995)

One of the most beautiful and beloved romantic comedy dramas is this heartwarming story of Lucy, a lonely Chicago “L” ticket seller who saves the life of a wealthy businessman she has a crush on after he falls on the train tracks. His family mistakes her for his fiance and she accepts to play the game. 

But soon she will get to know his brother and her feelings will slowly move from one brother to another. Even though it is not directly connected to doctors and their lives, a great deal of the movies is set in a hospital but nevertheless, it is a warm and heartwarming story in this list of sad and heartbreaking movies.

M.A.S.H. (1970)

This war comedy-drama brings us closer to the personnel at the 4077 MASH unit that deals with the horrors of the Korean War. It is a humoristic story of recent arrivals, surgeons Captains “Hawkeye” Pierce, “Duke” Forrest, and “Trapper” John McIntyre whose only task is to do their job without the distraction of any personal issues.

Besides their work, they will get themselves into various interesting situations, such as battling with their colleagues, helping their dentist friend Painless with a personal crisis, traveling to Japan for work, being convinced it is a trip, and hoping to win a big football game against another unit.

  • Tamara is a big movie, music and book fan since always and writes a blog about all these things. Loves psychological thrillers, noir movies and mysteries of all kind. Enjoys discussing and talking about movies and tv series.