The event of 9/11 has remained one of the most tragic and memorable attacks in 2001. Lives were lost and changed. As a form of remembering, many films also tell stories about the incident. In the same manner, many stories are written with the incident as the basis. Here are the 13 best 9/11 movies.
1. Zero Dark Thirty (2012)
English 2h 37m IMDb
Director: Kathryn Bigelow
Stars: Jessica Chastain, Joel Edgerton, Chris Pratt
Zero Dark Thirty is a film set amidst the aftermath of the September 11 attacks that dramatizes the almost decade of an international search for the head of the terrorist network Al-Qaeda, Osama bin Laden. The movie can be categorized into two parts. The first provides an overview of the events leading up to the search for Bin Laden.
The second part is where the operation itself is shown. The performance is excellent, and the movie doesn’t shy away from many of the most difficult issues. The film is engaging despite people already knowing how it ends. It does a great job of keeping you on the edge of your seat.
2. Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close (2011)
English 2h 9m IMDb
Director: Stephen Daldry
Stars: Thomas Horn, Tom Hanks, Sandra Bullock
The novel written by Jonathan Safran Foer served as the inspiration for the film Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. The plot of this movie centers on a little kid who, after the tragic death of his father in the terrorist events of September 11, 2001, sets out on a journey to find some resolution to his loss.
This is not your typical boring movie made in Hollywood; it is a mind-blowing story that’s told beautifully. Everyone does a great job, but what makes this story interesting is how the characters interact with one another. The chemistry is good, and it beautifully shows the strong bond between a son and a parent.
3. The Report (2019)
English 1h 59m IMDb
Director: Scott Z. Burns
Stars: Adam Driver, Annette Bening, Jon Hamm
The film tells the story of FBI agent Daniel Jones. He conducts an intensive examination of the use of torture by the CIA on people who are suspected of being terrorists. After the attacks of September 11, 2001, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) implemented new questioning procedures.
This movie illustrates the lengths to which authorities are ready to go to protect their citizens, even if it means compromising any sense of morality, ethics, or accountability. Despite being potentially dull and having moments that dump too much information too rapidly, the film is well-executed and engaging.
4. 12 Strong (2018)
English 2h 10m IMDb
Director: Nicolai Fuglsig
Stars: Chris Hemsworth, Michael Shannon, Michael Peña
The movie is based on the non-fiction book Horse Soldiers written by Doug Stanton. The film chronicles the narrative of U.S. Army Special Forces that were ordered to Afghanistan soon after September 11. This movie is up there with some of the best movies that have come out in recent years.
The film also accurately depicts the conflict in Afghanistan compared to other films. It offers a representation of true bravery, camaraderie, and loyalty. The characters’ connection to one another is depicted moving throughout the story. The pace and action are both realistic and well-executed.
5. The Flight That Fought Back (2005)
English 1h 30m IMDb
Director: Bruce Goodison
Stars: reg Benson, Toni Youngblood, Jason LeGrande
This movie details the story of the fourth hijacked airliner on September 11th, which never reached its intended destination. The passengers and crew of United Airlines Flight 93 displayed incredible bravery and overpowered the terrorists who hijacked their plane and forced it to fly to Washington, DC.
This prevented a bigger catastrophe from occurring. The movie’s reenactments and interviews are very tasteful and sensitive, and they give a great look at what happened on that terrible Tuesday morning. Sensitive in the sense of full respect for the victims. The film has a lot of visual flairs and is pleasant to watch overall.
6. United 93 (2006)
English 1h 51m IMDb
Director: Paul Greengrass
Stars: David Alan Basche, Olivia Thirlby, Liza Colón-Zayas
The docudrama thriller film United 93 was released in 2006 and portrayed the events that took place on board United Airlines Flight 93.
This flight was one of the four flights that were hijacked during the attacks on September 11th. Because of the efforts of the passengers and crew on this flight, it was the only one that was able to avoid hitting its intended target.
This film includes amazing acting by actors that you’ll hardly know they are acting. It’s stressful, keeps you on the edge of your seat, and sparks a sense of accountability and love for the people around you.
7. Worth (2020)
English 1h 58m IMDb
Director: Sara Colangelo
Stars: Michael Keaton, Amy Ryan, Stanley Tucci
This movie portrays the narrative of a lawyer in Washington, D.C., named Kenneth Feinberg. He fights and tries to help the victims of 9/11 despite opposition from cynicism, bureaucracy, and politics. Worth captures the impact and repercussions of 9/11 with the utmost sensitivity.
It shows the suffering of those left behind and is not a tired retread of disaster film aftermath clichés but rather a true account of actual individuals’ events. This film is not insincere, trivial, or demeaning; rather, it features excellent writing and outstanding performance.
8. Windows on the World (2019)
English 1h 47m IMDb
Director: Michael D. Olmos
Stars: Ryan Guzman, Edward James Olmos, Chelsea Gilligan
This film tells the story of a man from Mexico as he makes the journey to New York City on September 11 to look for his father. His father was employed at the renowned Windows on the World restaurant at the World Trade Center. Windows on the World film is very good, and viewers will enjoy watching it.
It is well written, offers a new point of view, and is emotional. The performances of the characters were outstanding. Windows on the World sends a powerful message of love. In its entirety, this movie tells a story that is emotional and gripping.
9. September 11 (2002)
English 2h 14m IMDb
Director: oussef Chahine(segment Egypt), Amos Gitai(segment Israel), Shôhei Imamura(segment Japan)
Stars: Maryam Karimi, Mohamad Dolati, Agelem Habibi
September 11 is a worldwide film made of 11 pieces from different directors. The directors that contribute come from other countries. Everybody provided their perspective on the event in a short clip of 11 minutes, 9 seconds, and one frame.
The film segments range greatly in terms of both their subject matter and their level of production quality, showcasing a variety of narrative approaches and styles utilized by those involved.
This anthology of 11 short films is a compelling and human experience, despite its inconsistent components. These are the accounts of individuals whose lives were irrevocably altered by the events on a certain Tuesday in September.
10. The Mauritanian (2021)
English 2h 9m IMDb
Director: Kevin Macdonald
Stars: Tahar Rahim, Nouhe Hamady Bari, Saadna Hamoud
This film follows a defense attorney, her assistant, and a military prosecutor. The story starts with their investigation of a certain suspect held for six years at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The team uncovers a vast conspiracy while examining the said suspected 9/11 terrorist.
This film is emotionally compelling and draws viewers into the story of a man imprisoned at Guantanamo for years for a crime he didn’t commit. It’s the kind of film that will hold your attention from beginning to end. However, it can be a film that’s hard to watch for some, especially when you are sensitive about this theme and genre.
11. American Terrorist (2020)
English 1h 18m IMDb
Director: Charles Kopelson
Stars: Peter Cambor, Lacey Dorn, Tarek Bishara
In the aftermath of September 11, two brothers are forced to face the repercussions of their decision to take the law into their own hands. The movie evokes a feeling of claustrophobia and a sensation of paranoia as you watch it. This is not a film about bubble gum that ignores humanity; it is a film of repercussions.
This movie doesn’t come across as overly preachy, and all the performers did a great job portraying their respective roles. Without pandering to audience sentiments or belittling their intelligence, the film poses difficult questions to anyone watching it to find answers.
12. Diverted (2009)
English 1h 26m IMDb
Director: Alex Chapple
Stars: Shawn Ashmore, David Suchet, Joanne Whalley
When the United States closed its airspace in the wake of the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, planes headed for New York City were rerouted to land in Gander, Canada, instead.
The film tells about camaraderie as a community with a population of only 9,000 was able to provide food and shelter for an additional 7,000 travelers for the four days that the airports were closed due to the situation.
Despite its dragging pace, the story is fascinating, and the performances are quite good. The film meaningfully shows the passengers’ confusion and fury, as well as the city’s effort to help those stranded.
13. WTC View (2005)
English 1h 44m IMDb
Director: Brian Sloan
Stars: Michael Urie, Jeremy Beaz, lieLucas Papaelias
WTC View is an adaptation of Brian Sloan’s play of the same name, which premiered in 2003 and followed one man’s hunt for a roommate in the weeks after the terrorist attacks of September 11th.
The film starts with a photographer named Eric, who posts an ad in the newspaper looking for a new roommate for his flat with a view of the World Trade Center on September 10th, 2001.
The atmosphere and ambiance are accurately portrayed without drawing attention to the actual location. Most characters deliver solid performances that flesh out their roles, proving that strong writing and directing can compensate for a lack of A-list expertise.
The 9/11 events have been emotionally taxing to everyone, especially those who lost someone. For some, it might just be history, but for many, it’s a story of many, and the happenings back then deserved to be remembered and the sacrifices honored.
These 13 best 9/11 movies will help you grasp the impact of that event not just on people in New York but on the world.