Daniel Day-Lewis stars as our 16th president in a poignant portrait of Abraham Lincoln's battle to pass the Thirteenth Amendment, which officially outlawed slavery in the United States, as the Civil War raged on. Tommy Lee Jones, James Spader and David Strathairn co-star; Steven Spielberg directs a screenplay by celebrated playwright Tony Kushner.

A clear favorite in American cinema narratives is the tale of a single strong-willed man fighting the good fight for the betterment of others. For Lincoln, this meant risking his reputation and life to bring an end to slavery in America. The heroes of the historical-inspired dramas below fought against fear and tyranny, be it in 1962 Salem, Massachusetts, 1890s British Empire, or 1937 Nanking, China.

The Crucible (1996) Daniel Day Lewis costars with Winona Ryder in this sizzling adaptation of Arthur Miller's award-winning play that explored the Salem witch trials. She plays Abigail Williams, a teen girl who wields incredible power of persuasion when she convinces the puritanical and fearful community that witches are among them. He plays a married farmer harboring a secret shame who is the only one who can bring a stop to the hysteria she's spurred. Nicholas Hytner directs.

Gandhi (1982) Ben Kingsley stars as Mahatma Gandhi, the icon of passive resistance. Beginning with Gandhi's political awakening in 1893 South Africa, this eight-time Oscar winner charts his life-long battle—albeit a decidedly non-violent one—to topple the British Empire's hold over India. John Gielgud, Candace Bergen and Edward Fox co-star; Richard Attenborough directs.

The Flowers of War (2011) Christian Bale headlines the most expensive film production China has ever mounted, playing brash American who becomes the reluctant defender of a church filled with schoolgirls and refugee courtesans during the Rape of Nanking, when Japanese forces overtook the Chinese city during the Second Sino-Japanese War, and wrought shocking violence against the place and its people. Based on the novel 13 Flowers of Nanjing, this drama explores the traumas those trapped within the city's borders faced, and the bravery that emerged from the horror. Yimou Zhang directs.

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