I saw three fantastic historical movies last year, and wanted to recommend them to you all.
I have to add the disclaimer that they are realistic depictions of the periods/situations in which they take place, and all have some disturbing content/images because of that. These are not children's movies, however, I thought they were excellent, and recommend them.
Glory is the true story of the first colored regiment in the Civil War. A young white officer was assigned to lead them, and he, unlike most of his contemporaries, treated the black soldiers the same as white soldiers. He insisted that his fellow white officers do the same, and also promoted some of the black men to be officers. The higher-ups seemed to see the regiment as laborers --better for clearing roads than for fighting--but the young officer diligently drilled his men and repeatedly requested that he be able to take his men into battle. In the end of course they finally do get to prove themselves in battle...but I won't tell you the ending because of course then you wouldn't need to see it for yourself.
I am not sure if The Great Debaters is a true story or not, but it's a good one regardless. It takes place 90 years later, in Texas, when racial tensions were high and lynchings were commonplace. A debate team from a black university is doing so well that they send a challenge to a local white school. The resulting debate sparks a lot of press--and a lot of tempers. Subsequent white schools refuse their challenges, all except one big school up north...Harvard. The final meeting of course is a thinly veiled debate about racial equality and rights, and presents some powerful, thoughtful arguments for civil disobedience.
Finally, Joyeux Noel (Merry Christmas) is a French-made film about Christmas Eve 1914, when troops from both sides of the warfront left their trenches and joined in 'no man's land' to sing carols and share cigarettes and whiskey. It's not strictly historical, but is based on the actual events, and is a heartwarming and inspiring film.