The 11 Most Caring Doctors in Movies

The 11 Most Caring Doctors in Movies

It has been a challenging year. Thankfully, a lot of people have stepped up to mitigate the chaos in a way that helps everyone sleep just a little bit better at night. We’re talking about the essential workers, in particular the men and women who provide life-sustaining services. Those in law enforcement, manufacturing, transportation, public safety and health (the list goes on and on). We owe a debt of gratitude to all of the workers out there keeping everything afloat, especially those on the front lines—those working in hospitals. Paying tribute to essential workers, we’ve compiled a list of The 11 Most Caring Doctors in Movies.

While the following portrayals don’t hold a torch to the real thing, they at least pay homage. Check out our list below!

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11. Benedict Cumberbatch in Doctor Strange

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At the beginning of Doctor Strange, Marvel’s brilliant neurosurgeon, Steven Strange (Cumberbatch) isn’t all that caring; the good doctor seems to be in it more for notoriety than nobility. However, once Dr. Strange permanently damages his hands and turns to a life dedicated to the mystic arts, he becomes self-sacrificing in a way he wasn’t before. Dr. Strange may not have been a caring physician before meeting the Ancient One but he certainly is after.

10. DeForest Kelley & Karl Urban in Star Trek

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An argument can be made that the USS Enterprise’s exploration, research, defense, peacekeeping, and diplomacy wouldn’t be possible without its Chief Medical Officer, Leonard “Bones” McCoy. The character has pointed out, on numerous occasions, that he is a doctor before anything else: “Damnit Jim, I’m a doctor, not a ____.” Whether he’s being portrayed by Kelley or Urban, Bones brings a relatability to the Star Trek necessary in its genre. Perhaps one of the most well-known doctors of all-time, Leonard McCoy has inspired generations of Trekkies to join the profession. 

9. Giovanni Ribisi in Saving Private Ryan

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Ribisi played Irwin Wade in Saving Private Ryan. Wade was a medic and one of the Rangers chosen to retrieve Private Ryan. Wade tends to downed soldiers on Omaha Beach as well as ones all throughout the film. At a rally point (when looking for Ryan), Wade helps other medics healing soldiers. After he finishes he scolds the fellow soldiers who are flippantly looking through the dog tags of fallen soldiers. He’s a doctor that understands the value of life, constantly fighting death itself. 

8. Jennifer Garner in Dallas Buyers Club

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Dallas Buyers Club, the biopic based on the life of AIDS patient Ron Woodroof (Matthew McConaughey). In the film, Woodroof is aided in his quest to make clinical trial drugs available to patients by Dr. Eve Saks (a fictional character yet very caring doctor).

7. Julianne Moore in Still Alice

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Based on the novel of the same name, Still Alice is about a 50-year-old linguistics professor, Alice Howland (Moore) who is diagnosed with famllial Alzheimer’s disease. While not a doctor by traditional standards (possessing a doctorate), Dr. Howland’s story takes a thoughtful and grounded look at the effects of a horrible disease on life, love, and the human condition. 

6. Harrison Ford in The Fugitive

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Dr. Richard Kimble (Ford) is a vascular surgeon wrongly convicted of murdering his wife (who, in reality, was killed by a one-armed man). The classic film follows Kimble after escaping from a bus transporting prisoners. On-the-run from Tommy lee Jones’ award-winning U.S. Marshal, Kimble must prove his innocence while simultaneously uncovering a pharmacist conspiracy. Kimble’s shining moment as a caretaker comes when he takes time away from being a fugitive to save the life of a misdiagnosed young boy.

5. Peter Ustinov in Lorenzo’s Oil

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Lorenzo’s Oil is based on the true story of Augusto and Michaela Odone who search for a cure to their young son, Lorenzo’s adrenoleukodystrophy (ALD)—a fatal disease. In their tumultuous and resilient search, they enlist the help of Dr. Gus Nikolais (Ustinov). Nikolais’ involvement helps the Odones come to the eventual discovery of “Lorenzo’s Oil,” a treatment that mitigates the disease’s devastating neurological effects. 

4. Kate Winslet in Contagion

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Kate Winslet plays Dr. Erin Mears in Steven Soderbergh’s thriller, Contagion. In the now eerie film, Dr. Mears, an Epidemic Intelligence Service Officer, is dispatched to investigate initial cases of the disease. Mears talks with local bureaucrats and law enforcement agencies on how to produce the best public health response. Mears exhibits an admirable amount of courage and tenacity as the situation worsens, ultimately contracting the novel virus herself and dying—giving her life to the profession. 

3. Michael Caine in The Cider House Rules

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Based on the 1985 novel of the same name, The Cider House Rules follows Homer Wells who grew up in an orphanage run by a Dr. Wilbur Larch (Michael Caine). Larch treats the children at the orphanage with love and respect, even performing secret abortions when necessary. Larch’s mentoring of Wells serves as a foundation for the remainder of the latter’s journey.

2. Robin Williams in Awakenings

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Loosely-based on a real-life neurologist, Oliver Sacks, Robin Williams plays Dr. Malcolm Sayer in Awakenings. The film follows the introverted Sayer as he treats catatonic patients with L-dopa (normally used to treat Parkinson’s disease) in the 60s. As the patients awaken after decades asleep and Sayer from his isolated existence, Awakenings becomes a didactic tale about the fleeting nature of time. 

1. Will Smith in Concussion

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Based on the exposé “Game Brain” written by Jeanne Marie Laskas, Concussion follows the true story of Dr. Bennet Omalu (Smith). Omalu is a forensic pathologist who confronts the NFL for hiding research surrounding chronic traumatic encephalopathy brain damage suffered by professional football players. 

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