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There are rumors of government conspiracies, undercover spies, tense scenes in the courtroom, and controversies in the press. Do you think it gets any better than that?
It’s never easy for a whistleblower to make a choice. They’re placed in perilous scenarios involving their own safety, the protection of their family, and their own guilt.
Whistleblower movies, which are often based on real occurrences, can shock viewers with the truth stories underlying our history and culture.
A selection of the best films about whistleblowers who have been persecuted for bringing to light some of society’s most odious secrets.
15. The Fifth Estate (2013)
Top-secret information, from breaking news scandals to military intelligence leaks, may be found at WikiLeaks, one of the largest public dumping sites. Who, on the other hand, would set up such a business? Do you think it’d be possible for someone to get away with something like that?
Julian Assange, the creator of WikiLeaks, isn’t exactly a superhero. In fact, he’s renowned as a narcissist, and his pursuit of the truth has resulted in the deaths of many people. It’s not all bad news for him; he’s an outspoken advocate for free expression.
Actors Benedict Cumberbatch and Daniel Brühl portray an Australian publisher and German technology activist who find sensitive US intelligence documents.
Inside WikiLeaks: My Time with Julian Assange at World’s Most Dangerous Website by Domscheit-Berg served as the inspiration for director Bill Condon’s biographical thriller about Assange.
14. The Informant! (2009)
The Informant! is a film adaptation of Kurt Eichenwald’s nonfiction book of the same name. tracks the career of a bright CEO who blows the whistle on his company’s unethical practices.
After confessing about ADM price-fixing schemes to the FBI, Mark Whitacre agrees to wear a concealed wire so that the FBI can destroy them from within the company.
As a fan of Steven Soderbergh’s Ocean’s 11 series, you’ll enjoy this comedy-crime film. An amusing tale with some unexpectedly grim moments, The Informant! has an ironic tone that we really enjoy.
When the film was released, many people applauded Damon’s portrayal as Whitacre, a damaged guy who stumbles through an otherwise funny biopic.
13. The Laundromat (2019)
It would appear that Steven Soderbergh has a soft spot for films about undercover whistleblowers. More than a decade after he gave us The Informant!, he gave us another bizarre comedy in which a criminal enterprise is uncovered.
Ellen Martin (Meryl Streep), a retired widower on a peaceful vacation, is an odd source of information in this thriller. Ellen is on a mission to recover financial compensation for the loss of her husband and discovers an insurance scam involving a shell company situated in Nevis.
It may sound tedious, but director Steven Soderbergh makes it fun with witty narration by Gary Oldman and Antonio Banderas. While sipping cocktails on the beach, the two of them take us through the process of money laundering through the clever usage of fourth-wall cracks.
The three sections of the Laundromat are broken up into three by the two funny narrators.
12. Snowden (2016)
Snowden’s CIA subcontractor, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, is a bold actor who famously revealed classified information: the NSA has been conducting illegal mass surveillance, which doesn’t just harm the great foreign powers, but average American residents, too.
In Hong Kong in 2013, Snowden met with a documentary filmmaker and a journalist in secret. Shailene Woodley, Melissa Leo, Zachary Quinto, and Tom Wilkinson feature in Oliver Stone’s biographical thriller about former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, who was labeled a traitor for his efforts to reveal the truth.
Computer geeks will love Snowden, who is chock-full of jargon and plot twists. Not to mention Joseph Gordon-harrowing Levitt’s portrayal of an implacable survivor.
11. Official Secrets (2019)
In Gavin Hood’s suspenseful biography Official Secrets, Keira Knightley’s Katharine Gun (played by Keira Knightley) is constantly confronted with difficult choices.
Is it right for her to reveal British intelligence that could start a war? Is she responsible for her actions? In court, should she plead guilty or innocent? Despite the fact that Gun technically broke the Official Secrets Act, she stands by her decision to save lives.
Despite this, the media harasses her, the public is misinformed, and her husband is wrongfully deported as a result. No hero is given a round of applause and Gun has even issued an arrest warrant.
A celebration of heroism and an allegory for media manipulation, Official Secrets should be noted by everyone.
10. The Post (2017)
The now-famous Pentagon Papers, a government report on the United States’ involvement in the Vietnam War, are anxiously awaited by journalists at The Washington Post.
Katharine Graham begs for the military exposé to be released so that they can outdo their rival, the New York Times, in terms of revenue.
Steven Spielberg, Meryl Streep, Sarah Paulson, and Bob Odenkirk join forces with Tom Hanks, one of their favorite actors, for this exciting historical drama. Smoking-filled meeting rooms can be made romantic by Spielberg, whose rapid speech and moral dilemmas elevate the plot.
The Post is a compelling picture that avoids the over-the-top gimmicks of spy flicks in favor of delving deeper into the gray area between journalistic ethics and the (not always just) letter of the law.
9. The Report (2019)
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This incisive political thriller by Scott Z. Burns follows the arduous FBI inquiry into CIA torture practices. In a sad twist, it’s all based on genuine events.
A 6,700-page report created by agent Daniel Jones is the star of Adam Driver’s performance. The study spans six years, balancing the legislative specifics with Jones’ sorrowful search for the truth.
The odds are stacked against Jones, yet he refuses to give up his personal life in order to be a workaholic. The Report is particularly timely in light of the events of September 11, 2001.
8. Erin Brockovich (2000)
Which one of these people directed the film? This time, Steven Soderbergh brings us a live-action Wonder Woman.
Legal clerk Erin Brockovich (Julia Roberts) discovers that a California gas and power corporation has been polluting water, causing terrible impacts on the surrounding community—and it was all hidden up in real estate papers.
Even though she was a single mother of three young children, Erin was an integral part of the PG&E lawsuit. Multiple Oscars were bestowed to Erin Brockovich for the fiery yet human portrayal of Julia Roberts, who went on to win the award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role.
7. Dark Waters (2019)
There must be a connection between businesses and polluting water supplies. Due to unregulated chemicals, Dupont is to blame for several deaths in Dark Waters.
Robert Bilott, a corporate defense lawyer in Ohio, says a West Virginia corporation is to blame for a slew of mysterious animal fatalities. Robert pursues a class-action lawsuit for Parkersburg residents who have been exposed to cancer-causing acids as he investigates the subject further.
It only gets more sinister for Robert as his investigations deepen—and he finds himself bogged down by loose ends and burdensome regulations that threaten to put both his professional and personal lives in danger. Mark Ruffalo, Anne Hathaway, and Tim Robbins feature in Todd Haynes’ harrowing account of true events.
6. The Whistleblower (2010)
A dramatization of real events by Larysa Kondracki, The Whistleblower stars Rachel Weisz as the whistleblower.
Kathryn Bolkovac is a Nebraska police officer serving for the United Nations in Bosnia after the conflict. But when she discovers that DynCorp personnel are supporting sex trafficking rings, Kathryn files a complaint and takes to the BBC.
As uncomfortable as this film’s subject matter may be, it’s necessary to see it in order to confront it. In her role as the woman-against-the-world peacekeeper, Weisz is hypnotic, forcing the audience to look at the world through her eyes.
5. The Constant Gardener (2005)
It’s good to have Rachel Weisz back, although as a flashback-only Amnesty activist. That’s not a spoiler, promise!
His spouse and ambassador Justin Quayle (played by Ralph Fiennes) is tasked with solving her murder in this British-German thriller. An adaptation of John le Carré’s novel The Constant Gardener is a fictionalized portrayal of a real-life situation.
Justin’s wife, who was just posted to Kenya, was found dead in the woods. In his search for the murderer, Justin unearths a huge conspiracy that goes far beyond his wildest dreams.
Director Fernando Meirelles set up a trust fund to equip local villages with basic schooling while filming in Kibera’s slums. There is one silver lining in this otherwise dismal film:
4. The Insider (1999)
The Man Who Knew Too Much, based on a 1996 Vanity Fair article by Marie Brenner, stars Russell Crowe and Al Pacino and is a foreshadowing of the future. Jeffrey Wigand is a scientist and tobacco company whistleblower who worked on the production of less harmful cigarettes.
Tobacco industry secrets are kept from TV producer Lowell Bergman (Al Pacino) in The Insider, a movie starring Russell Crowe. Even though Bergman notices this, it leads to a flurry of legal orders and courtrooms.
Director Michael Mann transforms a 60-minute television program into a beautifully crafted feature film, highlighting the cowardice and corruption of the cigarette business.
3. Serpico (1973)
Serpico, Sidney Lumet’s Oscar-nominated movie, features Al Pacino as the whistleblower. Following an investigation into police corruption, Peter Maas’ novel was adapted into a film based on that research.
At a time when idealistic police officers were hard to come by in New York City, Frank Serpico stood out as one who would not take bribes or turn a blind eye to wrongdoing. Having been rejected by his peers, Frank decides to go public with his claims, placing himself and others in danger.
Serpico is a movie that makes you think while also making you jump with joy. Serpico’s story is still relevant today, despite the fact that unscrupulous cops are easy to come by.
2. Spotlight (2015)
Another heartbreaking tale necessitates another valiant effort by the media to bring those responsible to justice. Spotlight covers a harrowing investigation of Boston-area child sex abuse that went unreported for many years.
John Slattery and Stanley Tucci star in Tom McCarthy’s ensemble film, which also features Mark Ruffalo, Michael Keaton, Rachel McAdams and Tom McCarthy himself as reporters for the Boston Globe.
The “Spotlight” team is determined to bring down many Catholic priests accused of systematic sexual abuse—but the victims are now troubled adults who are afraid to speak up about their prior pain.
Aside from interviewing the few people they have access to, the team scours the area for any documents that could lead to an arrest or disclosure of private information. The Catholic Church was outraged by the critical and popular acclaim given to the film Spotlight despite the fact that it was historically accurate.
1. All the President’s Men (1976)
One of the most significant political crises in American history, Watergate brought an end to President Richard Nixon’s term in office. The Washington Post’s Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward did the investigation and wrote the book on which Alan J. Pakula’s film is based.
Redford and Hoffman star as two reporters who rely on the elusive source Deep Throat. All the President’s Men is a thoughtful, introspective, and immensely engaging slow burner.
It’s a good idea to view this picture because it was the beginning of such a significant event, whether it be historical or cinematic.