As Sept. 11 anniversary approaches, here are 5 movies, shows to watch about that day

From documentaries to miniseries, these are our 5 picks to better understand the sacrifices, courage and heartbreak of Sept. 11, 2001.

As the 20th anniversary of 9-11 approaches on Saturday, a slew of documentaries, feature films, and miniseries are offered, including several new documentaries.

We wanted to highlight some of the best that are currently available for live streaming or purchase. Since we haven't had the time to wade through all of the movies and specials associated with the anniversary, including Michael Keaton's "Worth," we wanted to suggest these five films or television series:

"The Looming Tower"



Featuring a starring performance by Jeff Daniels as driven and flawed FBI agent John O'Neil, who tracked Osama Bin Laden for years before the attacks. An adaption of Lawrence Wright's masterful book, the miniseries that details the beginnings of the Muslim Brotherhood and the attacks on the World Trade Center, which ultimately claimed the life of O'Neil.

"The Center of the World"

Amazon Prime

Made by filmmaker Ric Burns' addendum to his marvelous seven-part history of New York City, which originally aired on PBS' American Experience in 1999. Narrated by the late David Ogden Stiers, the movie was made in 2003 and told the story of the World Trade Center, the Sept. 11 attacks and the aftermath of the towers' collapse. There are some fascinating elements in the series, including analysis by journalist and pilot William Langewiesche, who debunked some of the conspiracies surrounding the collapse of the buildings.

"That fire, which was a kerosene fire, a jet fuel fire, burned very hot, but it also burned very fast we're talking three to five minutes. But what it did is it ignited a simultaneous office fire in both cases, across multiple floors — an office fire the like of which had not been imagined before. In all cases, an office fire is many things burning — partitions, carpets in particular, computer cases — but paper," Langewiesche said. "Mostly paper. And if you look at the dynamics of the collapse, what you find is that in both cases it was the paper fire that was sustained long enough, because of the amount of paper in there, to cause the steel to weaken, to cause the collapse and the hammering down in both cases. I mean, paper on that day was a constant presence. It rained down on the city, as if in mockery of the kind of business that was done at the Trade Center. "Here, have some of the paper." And it burned, and it brought the buildings down."

"Zero Dark Thirty,"

Streaming on Hulu, Starz and Amazon Prime

This is a 2012 movie from Academy Award-winning director Kathryn Bigelow, who won the Oscar for Best Picture and Best Director with 2008's "The Hurt Locker." While "The Hurt Locker" is the more acclaimed film, "Zero Dark Thirty" narrowly focuses on the aftermath of 9-11 and the hunt for Bin Laden. The movie stirred controversy because of its release timing — about a year after U.S. Navy Seals killed bin Laden — and during an election season. However, the movie is a studied look at the machinations of the long and frustrating hunt for Bin Laden.

"United 93"

Streaming on Peacock

This is a hard movie to watch because we know and dread the outcome. However, it's also an important story of courage under unimaginable circumstances. What would you do? That's the question produced from this remarkable film directed by Paul Greengrass, who didn't use big-name actors to tell how the passengers and remaining fought back against terror and gave the ultimate sacrifice.


Available for purchase on Amazon for $10.99

Directed by brothers Jules and Gédéon Naudet and New York firefighter James Hanlon. The French Naudet brothers, along with Hanlon, were shooting a documentary about the year-in-the-life of a probationary firefighter, but it was interrupted by the attacks on the World Trade Center. Following the crew of Engine 7, Ladder 1 and Battalion 1, Jules Naudet was the only one to capture clean video of the first plane, American Airlines Flight 11, crashing into the North Tower. Without hesitation, Battalion Chief Joseph Pfeifer redirects his crew from one scene to head to the World Trade Center. Pfeifer and his firefighters were among the first on scene and Jules Naudet captured what was happening during the initial response. It's a chilling documentary to watch, and the bravery of the firefighters heading up the stairs to fight the fire is remarkable.

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