Several movies about orphans exist in popular culture. These movies present narratives that are woven around characters with no families and help real-life orphans to relate with them- something that characters from the majority of films does not allow.
Thus, it is imperative to talk about such movies so that orphans too enjoy the privilege to identify themselves within fictional personas. This article provides a list of the 15 best movies about orphans.
Directed by the famed filmmaker Martin Scorsese, Hugo effortlessly makes it to the list of 15 best movies about orphans. The film revolves around the titular character Hugo, an orphan who lives at a railway station in Paris and is on a mission to find a key that will get automation by his late father working.
Displaying extravagant visuals, the film is a fantasy adventure. It was adapted from the 2007 book The Invention of Hugo Cabret.
Released in 2011, the film was nominated for 11 Academy Awards and succeeded in winning 5 of them. Hugo was able to collect $185.8 million at the box office.
Adapted from the book A Long Way Home by Saroo Brierley and Larry Buttrose, Lion follows the story of Saroo who gets separated from his family at the age of five and ends up being adopted by an Australian couple. However, he returns to India to search for his birth parents 25 years later.
Starring Dev Patel as the protagonist, the film is directed by Garth Davis. IMDb rates Lion at 8 and Rotten Tomatoes recommends it with 84%.
- Batman Begins
Although countless films on Batman have been released over the years, none of them showcases before the audience, the origin story of the Caped Crusader except for Batman Begins.
Batman Begins traces the journey of a young Bruce Wayne, distressed by the murder of his parents into becoming the silent guardian of Gotham City. The film is a cogent representation of the mental struggles of Bruce as an orphan.
Directed by Christopher Nolan and starring Christian Bale as Batman, it was the first installment of the Dark Knight Trilogy. Batman Begins was released in 2005 and stands as one of the best comic-book movies ever.
Pretty suggestive by its name, Orphan is a story about Esther, an orphan who is adopted by a couple who had lost their nine-year-old daughter. However, they start making a troubling discovery about her mysterious past and uncover several traits of her disturbing personality.
The film is a horror thriller, filled with gory violence and terrifying moments. Released in 2009, the movie is directed by Jaume Collet-Serra. It is rated 7 out of 10 on IMDb.
- Life of Pi
Released in 2012, Life of Pi narrates the incredible survival story of a teenager, Pi who is stranded in the middle of the ocean with a tiger for a companion following a shipwreck that killed his parents. The film captivates the audience with its stirring visualizations of the protagonist’s survival attempts.
Directed by Ang Lee, the movie stars Suraj Sharma in the titular role. It received 11 nominations at the 85th Academy Awards and won four of them. Life of Pi bagged $609 million at the global box office.
- The Northman
Based on the legend of Amleth, The Northman portrays the tale of a prince whose only ambition is vengeance after his father is murdered and his kingdom is taken from him. The movie is a gripping revenge story embedded with raw bloody action.
Directed by Robert Eggers, the plot is set in 10th-century Scandinavia. The film stars Alexander Skarsgård in the lead and was released in 2022. Rotten Tomatoes rates The Northman highly at 89%.
- Despicable Me
An amusing animated film with an anti-hero as a protagonist, Despicable Me tells the story between a foster father and three little girls. The film guarantees a fun ride and is joyfully engrossing owing to all its comedic sequences.
The film is directed by Pierre Coffin and Chris Renaud and was released in 2010. Despicable Me grossed over $543 million in its theatrical run and is rated with a strong 80% on IMDb.
An enthralling superhero flick, Shazam is based on the DC character of the same name. It is an origin story depicting the happenings that lead Billy, a recently adopted orphan into becoming the superhero Shazam and the subsequent events that follow.
The film features Asher Angel as Billy and Zachary Levi as his super-powered alias. Directed by David F. Sandberg, Shazam was released in 2019 and collected $366 million at the box office.
Shazam is rated at a glorious 90% on Rotten Tomatoes.
- Stuart Little
Stuart Little is a classic film about orphans. It is a computer-animated comedy movie about a mouse with human characteristics, Stuart who is adopted by the Littles.
The movie explores the many feelings that orphans, especially younger ones experience upon their adoption. Filled with laughter-inducing sequences as well as heart-warming moments, Stuart Little promises a good watch.
Released in 1999, Stuart Little is directed by Rob Minkoff and is based on the 1945 novel of the same name by E.B White.
- Man of Steel
Another superhero film based on a DC character appears in this list of 15 best movies about orphans. Released in 2013, Man of Steel traces the origin of the beloved superhero Superman.
The film beautifully portrays the hardships that young Clark Kent has to go through on Earth before becoming the revered hero. The questions that he asks about his parents and his birth make it a notable inclusion in this list.
Henry Cavill plays Clark Kent or Superman in the film. It is directed by Zack Snyder and is regarded as one of the best DC films of all time.
- 12 Mighty Orphans
12 Mighty Orphans showcases the issues that football coach Rusty has to attend to as he starts training a team of orphaned teenagers for a state championship during the Great Depression. It is a sports drama directed by Ty Roberts and was released in 2021.
The film is based on the novel Twelve Mighty Orphans: The Inspiring True Story of the Mighty Mites Who Ruled Texas Football by Jim Dent. IMDb rates the movie 6.9 out of 10.
- Annabelle: Creation
Sharing the same genre as Orphan, Annabelle: Creation revolves around a group of orphan girls who move to a foster home and begin experiencing horrifying supernatural happenings.
Directed by David F. Sandberg, the film grossed over $306 million at the box office. Rotten Tomatoes rates Annabelle: Creation at 70%.
- Kung Fu Panda 2
The second installment in the Kung Fu Panda series, Kung Fu Panda explores the adventures of Po as he sets out to foil the plans of murderous peacock Shen who intends to conquer China and destroy kung fu while unveiling the mystery of his own past.
The film properly deals with the secret behind Po’s parentage and thus, gets itself listed as a film about orphans. Kung Fu Panda 2 is directed by Jennifer Yuh Nelson and was a blockbuster at the time of its release in 2011, collecting $665.7 million.
The film is an action comedy and is rated 80% on Rotten Tomatoes.
Jumanji showcases the story of two children who play a magical board game and comes across Alan, a man who was trapped in the game as a child, and attempt to free him while facing countless dangers that the game throws at them.
Directed by Joe Johnston, Jumanji was released in 1995 and has stood the test of time as a classic fantasy adventure. The film is rated 7 out of 10 on IMDb.
Directed by Don Bluth and Gary Goldman, Anastasia is an animated musical fantasy drama presenting the tale of the titular character who barely makes it out alive when her parents are killed and later, travels to Paris with two cons who want to portray her as the real princess and get rewards.
The film was released in 1997 and was praised for its fantastical retelling of the Grand Duchess along with its animation.