The Help is a 2011 period drama film. Written and directed by Tate Taylor, the movie is based on Kathryn Stockett’s 2009 novel of the same name. The ensemble cast consists of Viola Davis, Cicely Tyson, Allison Janney, Jessica Chastain, Emma Stone, Octavia Spencer, and many more. The Help is essentially a drama movie. And there are a lot of drama movies like The Help.
The story of the movie focuses on a young white woman and aspiring journalist, and her relationship with two black maids. The story is set during the Civil Rights Movement in 1963 in Jackson, Mississippi. Trying to become a legitimate journalist and writer, Eugenia Skeeter Phelan decides to write a book from the point of view of the maids.
In the book, she wants to expose the racism they face as they work for white families. The title of the movie comes from the name Black domestic workers in the 1960s got. They were referred to as “the help”.
The movie received praise and critical acclaim. The Help has earned four Academy Award nominations, including one for Best Picture, Best Actress for Viola Davis, and Best Supporting Actress for Chastain and Spencer. Octavia won the award.
With that in mind, here are some more drama movies like The Help.
The historical drama directed by Dee Rees was based on the 2008 novel Midbound by Hillary Jordan. The movie depicts two World War II veterans. One of them is white, and the other is black. They return to rural Mississippi to address racism and PTSD in their own way.
The movie premiered at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival. It was later released on Netflix. During the 75th Golden Globe Award ceremony, the movie received nominations for Best Supporting Actress and Best Original Song. Mudbound also earned four Academy Award nominations. The nomination for Best Cinematography made Rees the first black woman to get a nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay.
The 2013 American historical drama movie was directed and co-produced by Lee Daniels. The screenplay was inspired by Wil Haygood’s Washington Post article, “A Butler Well Served by This Election”.
The movie is loosely based on the real-life of Eugene Allen. She worked in the White House for decades. The movie stars Forest Whitaker in the leading role, alongside Oprah Winfrey, John Cusack, Jane Fonda, Cuba Gooding Jr., Terrence Howard, Robin Williams, and many more.
The 1988 historical crime thriller was loosely based on the 1964 murder investigation of Chaney, Goodman, and Schwerner in Mississippi. Gene Hackman and William Dafoe portray the two FBI agents investigating the disappearance of three civil rights workers in fictional Jessup County.
Critical reaction was mixed. For example, activists in the civil rights movement and families of Chaney, Goodman, and Schwerner criticized the movie for the fictionalization of events.
Won’t Back Down
Viola Davis is one of the best actresses when you need a person for a drama movie. In this 2012 movie, she shines again. Other cast members include Maggie Gyllenhaal and Holly Hunter.
The movie tells the story of two determined mothers. One is a car dealer and bartender, and the other is a teacher. They look to transform their children’s failing inner-city school in Pittsburgh. Facing a powerful bureaucracy and corruption, they are willing to risk everything to make a difference in education.
The 2016 American biographical drama film was directed by Theodore Melfi. It is loosely based on the 2016 non-fiction book of the same name. It is all about African American female mathematicians who worked at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration during the Space Race.
It received critical acclaim, with critics praising the performance of the acting members, as well as writing, direction, and cinematography. But most importantly, it was historically accurate.
Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
Here is another movie starring Viola Davis among the lead actors. Other cast members include Chadwick Boseman, Glynn Turman, Michael Pots, and more.
It focuses on Ma Rainey, who is an influential blues singer. The biographical musical film was produced by Denzel Washington. The adaptation of the movie moved to Netflix after a short theatrical release.
Davis and Boseman made history by winning lead acting awards at the Screen Actors Guild Awards as two black actors. They also received Golden Globe nominations.
The movie tells the true story of a musician determined to live on her own terms.
Ghosts of Mississippi
You can see many of the movies like The Help are about Mississippi. Well, the town was one of the most important during the Civil Rights Movement.
This biographical drama stars Alec Baldwin, James Woods, and Whoopi Goldberg. The plot is based on the true story of the 1994 trial of Byron De La Beckwith. He was a white supremacist accused of the 1963 assassination of civil rights activist Medgar Evers.
James Woods earned an Academy Award nomination but lost to Cuba Gooding Jr.
The 2014 historical drama movie is one of the best drama movies of all time. It is based on the 1965 Selma to Montgomery voting rights marches.
The movie pays homage to Martin Luther King Jr. It premiered at the American Film Institute Festival in November 2014.
Selma received nominations for Best Picture and Best Original Song at the 87th Academy Award ceremony. The movie has been deemed 100% historically accurate.
The Tree of Life
This American art film features an A-list cast with Brad Pitt, Sean Penn, Jessica Chastain, and Tye Sheridan. It chronicles the origins and meaning of life by way of a middle-aged man’s childhood memories of his family living in 1950s Texas.
The movie premiered in competition at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival. It was awarded Palme d’Or.
The movie was adapted from the 1996 novel Push by Sapphire. It stars Gabourey Sidibe, Paula Patton, and Mariah Carey. It was the acting debut of Sidibe. In this movie, she portrays a young woman struggling against poverty and abuse. Filming took place in New York City.
The movie premiered to acclaim at both the 2009 Sundance Film Festival and the 2009 Cannes Film Festival. It won the Audience and Grand Jury Prize at Sundance.
12 Years a Slave
The biographical period drama is based on the 1853 slave memoir Twelve Years a Slave by Solomon Northup. He was a New York State-born free African American man who was kidnapped in Washington by two conmen in 1841 and sold into slavery.
He was put to work on plantations in the state of Louisiana for 12 years before being released. The movie was named the best film of 2013 by several media outlets and critics. It received nine Academy Award nominations, winning Best Picture, Best Supporting Actress, and Best Adapted Screenplay.
The Color Purple
Steven Spielberg directed this epic period drama. It was released in 1985, based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning 1982 novel of the same name by Alice Walker.
This movie was the eighth for Spielberg as a director. It marked a turning point in his career. He departed from the summer blockbuster genre and moved into drama films.
Whoopi Goldberg starred in the lead role, alongside Danny Glover, Oprah Winfrey, Willard Pugh, Adolph Caesar, and Margaret Avery.
The movie tells the story of a young African American girl and shows the problems African American women experienced during the 20th century. That includes incest, pedophilia, domestic violence, poverty, racism, sexism, and more.
The film was a box office success. With a budget of only $15 million, the movie grossed more than $142 million. It earned 11 Academy Award nominations. Yet, it didn’t win a single Oscar.
Saving Mr. Banks
The movie stars Tom Hanks as film producer Walt Disney and Emma Thompson as author P.L. Travers. It is centered on the development of the 1964 film Mary Poppins.
The movie premiered at the London Film Festival in 2013. Among the many acclaims, Thompson earned BAFTA Award nomination, Golden Globe Award nomination, and Screen Actors Guild Award nomination.
The movie is set in 1962 and inspired by the true story of a tour of the Deep South by African American classical and jazz pianist Don Shirley. Italian American bouncer Frank Tony Lip served as her driver and bodyguard.
The movie got its name from The Negro Motorist Green Book, a guidebook for African-American travelers written by Victor Hugo Green.
The movie won Academy Award for Best Picture at the 91st Academy Awards.
Driving Miss Daisy
The 1989 American comedy-drama stars Jessica Tandy, Morgan Freeman, and Dan Aykroyd. Freeman reprised his role for the Off-Broadway production.
The story tells everything you need to know about Daisy from her point of view from a network of relationships and emotions. The movie puts focus on her home life, friends, family, fears, and more.
The Shawshank Redemption
It is only suitable that we finish the list of movies like The Help with one of the best drama movies of all time. The Shawshank Redemption is based on the 1982 Stephen King novella. The story focuses on banker Andy Dufresne, played by Tim Robbins, who is sentenced to life in Shawshank State Penitentiary for the murders of his wife and lover.
Over two decades, he befriends a fellow prisoner, smuggler Ellis Red Redding, played by Morgan Freeman. They are instrumental in a money-laundering operation led by the prison warden.
Fun fact: when the movie premiered, it was a box office failure. It earned only $16 million during the initial theatrical run. But after seven Academy Award nominations, the movie’s box office gross increased to $58.3 million.
More than 320,000 VHS rental copies were shipped through the US, making the movie one of the top video rentals of 1995.