Screening 9/11: Films, TV series explore national, personal tragedies

Left to right, Tom Hanks, Thomas Horn, Sandra Bullock, Stephen Daldry and Viola Davis, stars of 9/11 film Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, arrive at the premiere in New York in 2011. File Photo by Laura Cavanaugh/UPI
Left to right, Tom Hanks, Thomas Horn, Sandra Bullock, Stephen Daldry and Viola Davis, stars of 9/11 film "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close," arrive at the premiere in New York in 2011. File Photo by Laura Cavanaugh/UPI | License Photo

NEW YORK, Sept. 10 (UPI) -- In the 20 years since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, TV and film artists have sought answers, celebrated heroes, mourned victims and comforted survivors in projects centered on that painful period in America's history.

Here's a rundown of the most highly acclaimed scripted dramatic works that came out of 9/11.


United 93 (2006)

Bloody Sunday and the Bourne franchise filmmaker Paul Greengrass took a documentarian's shaky-camera approach to faithfully tell the story of the passengers and crew who fought back against their hijackers and brought down Flight 93 in a Pennsylvania field, knowingly sacrificing their own lives in the hopes that no one on the ground would be harmed. No one was. The cast includes Cheyenne Jackson, Christian Clemenson, Olivia Thirlby and Peter Hermann. Streaming now on Hulu, Amazon.

World Trade Center (2006)

Oliver Stone, who is famous for helming history-themed projects such as JFK, Nixon, W. and Snowden -- dramatized the events of 9/11 in this harrowing, fact-based film. Nicolas Cage and Michael Pena play Port Authority Police Sgt. John McLoughlin and police Officer Will Jimeno, who spent hours trapped under the twin towers of the World Trade Center before they became two of only about 20 people pulled from the rubble at Ground Zero. Streaming now on YouTube, Peacock, Netflix, Amazon and Paramount+.


Reign Over Me (2007)

Funnyman Adam Sandler takes on a rare dramatic role in this original work of fiction from writer-director and standup comedian Mike Binder. Charlie is a doctor who gives up on life after his wife and daughters die on 9/11. Avengers actor Don Cheadle plays dentist Alan, the former college roommate with whom Charlie reconnects in his darkest hours. Jada Pinkett Smith, Liv Tyler and B.J. Novak co-star. Streaming now on Hulu, Starz, Amazon.

Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close (2011)

Billy Elliot and The Hours filmmaker Stephen Daldry helmed this movie adaptation of Jonathan Safran Foer's novel. Starring Oskar Schell, Tom Hanks, Sandra Bullock, Max von Sydow, Viola Davis and Jeffrey Wright, it follows an anxious young boy, who is grappling with the death of his father at the World Trade Center, and the various kind people he meets trying to solve a mystery his dad left behind. Pay-per-view on YouTube, Google Play, Vudu, Amazon.

Zero Dark Thirty (2012)

Shot by Oscar-winning The Hurt Locker director Kathryn Bigelow and penned by journalist-screenwriter Mark Boal, the film stars Interstellar and It Chapter Two actress Jessica Chastain as a CIA agent trying to track down al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden. The years-long hunt culminates with the successful 2011 Navy SEAL raid on a compound in Pakistan and the infamous terrorist's death. Jason Clarke, Kyle Chandler, James Gandolfini and Jennifer Ehle co-star. Streaming now on Hulu, Starz, Amazon.


The Walk (2015)

The Trial of the Chicago 7 actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays Philippe Petit, a real-life highwire artist obsessed with walking a line between the double skyscrapers of the World Trade Center in 1974. He was arrested for his daredevil act, but the impressed building's manager awarded him a lifetime pass to the WTC's observation decks. Special effects wizard Robert Zemeckis filmed this in 3D to recreate the buildings and give the audience the stomach-churning experience of sharing the wire with Petit. The movie, which is a love letter to the iconic towers destroyed in the 9/11 attacks, was dedicated to the victims. Streaming now on Amazon.

The Looming Tower (2018)

This miniseries -- adapted from Lawrence Wright's non-fiction book -- follows those involved in planning and carrying out the terror attacks, and the investigators trying to figure out how and why they did it. The 10-part drama stars Jeff Daniels, Tahar Rahim, Wrenn Schmidt, Bill Camp, Louis Cancelmi, Virginia Kull, Ella Rae Peck, Sullivan Jones, Michael Stuhlbarg and Peter Sarsgaard. Streaming now on Hulu.


The Report (2019)

The movie is about real-life Senate staffer Daniel Jones, who was charged with leading an investigation into the 2005 destruction of recordings of CIA interrogations, which sometimes included the torture of suspects, after 9/11. It starred Adam Driver, Annette Bening, Ted Levine, Michael C. Hall, Tim Blake Nelson and Jon Hamm. Streaming now on Amazon.

Worth (2021)

Broadway icon and Younger actress Laura Benanti plays a composite character of real-life spouses of 9/11 first responders in this film about the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund. Batman and Birdman alum Michael Keaton plays Ken Feinberg, who was responsible for calculating how much money each victim's family could receive. Streaming now on Netflix.

Come From Away (2021)

A filmed version of the live stage musical premiered Friday with a cast that includes Petrina Bromley, Jenn Colella, De'Lon Grant, Joel Hatch, Tony LePage, Caesar Samayoa, Q. Smith and Astrid Van Wieren. Featuring book, music and lyrics by Irene Sankoff and David Hein, the 2017 Broadway show is based on the heartwarming true story of how a small Canadian town welcomed and cared for the passengers and crews of dozens of planes that were grounded after the terror attacks. Streaming now on Apple TV+.


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