The Best Movies Based on True Stories

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List Criteria: Some story liberties and combining of characters allowed. All within reason. And yes, Cool Runnings.

"Based on a true story" is so commonly thrown around it's practically the new "in a world where...." as far as trailer plugs go. But the films on this list really were based on true events or a real person's life story. And they weren't just so-so, they were great movies.

The surge in the popularity of movies based on true stories in the last decade is especially staggering. The first feature length film based on a true story was The Kelly Gang, about Ned Kelly. It was released in 1900. Between 1900 and 2000, there were a total of 211 films with the distinction of being based on a true story.

In the thirteen years since 2000, there have been 221. Yeah. So in the last 13 years Hollywood has made more 'true story' films than in the 100 years prior. Whoa.

The films on this list dove deep, did the research, and created a films as honest and true to the facts as possible. Below are the best movies truly based on true stories. Vote up your favorite films on this list, or add a movie you love that was based on a real life story or historical events.
Collection Photo:  Universal Pictures
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  1. 1
    + 163
    - 41
    Apollo 13 is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Movies Based on True Stories

    most listed
    Tom Hanks, Bryce Dallas Howard, Ed Harris

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  2. 2
    + 144
    - 44
    Catch Me If You Can is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Movies Based on True Stories


    Leonardo DiCaprio, Amy Adams, Jennifer Garner

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  3. 3
    + 109
    - 42
    Walk the Line is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Movies Based on True Stories


    Reese Witherspoon, Joaquin Phoenix, Ginnifer Goodwin

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  4. 4
    + 113
    - 52
    A League of Their Own is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Movies Based on True Stories


    Madonna, Tom Hanks, Rosie O'Donnell

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  5. 5
    + 97
    - 43
    Cool Runnings is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Movies Based on True Stories


    John Candy, Malik Yoba, Jay Brazeau

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  6. 6
    + 72
    - 32
    Mississippi Burning is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Movies Based on True Stories


    Willem Dafoe, Gene Hackman, Frances McDormand

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  7. 7
    + 73
    - 35
    Cinderella Man is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Movies Based on True Stories


    Russell Crowe, Renée Zellweger, Paul Giamatti

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  8. 8
    + 15
    - 1


    Robert De Niro, Samuel L. Jackson, Joe Pesci

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  9. 9
    + 90
    - 45
    The Pursuit of Happyness is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Movies Based on True Stories


    Will Smith, Thandie Newton, Jaden Smith

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  10. 10
    + 78
    - 44
    Moneyball is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Movies Based on True Stories


    Brad Pitt, Jonah Hill, Robin Wright

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  11. 11
    + 61
    - 33
    Dallas Buyers Club is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Movies Based on True Stories


    Jennifer Garner, Matthew McConaughey, Jared Leto

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  12. 12
    + 91
    - 53
    Erin Brockovich is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Movies Based on True Stories


    Julia Roberts, Marg Helgenberger, Aaron Eckhart

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  13. 13
    + 65
    - 32
    We Are Marshall is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Movies Based on True Stories


    Matthew McConaughey, Kate Mara, January Jones

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  14. 14
    + 60
    - 33
    Monster is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Movies Based on True Stories


    Charlize Theron, Christina Ricci, Rose Byrne

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  15. 15
    + 79
    - 44
    The Perfect Storm is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Movies Based on True Stories


    George Clooney, Mark Wahlberg, Diane Lane

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  16. 16
    + 56
    - 36
    The Aviator is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Movies Based on True Stories


    Kate Beckinsale, Leonardo DiCaprio, Gwen Stefani

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  17. 17
    + 64
    - 42
    Zodiac is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Movies Based on True Stories


    Robert Downey Jr., Jake Gyllenhaal, Mark Ruffalo

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  18. 18
    + 59
    - 36
    The Fighter is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Movies Based on True Stories


    Amy Adams, Christian Bale, Mark Wahlberg

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  19. 19
    + 62
    - 39
    Miracle is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Movies Based on True Stories


    Kurt Russell, Patricia Clarkson, Ken Dryden

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  20. 20
    + 56
    - 29
    Gettysburg is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Movies Based on True Stories


    Martin Sheen, Tom Berenger, Sam Elliott

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  21. 21
    + 57
    - 31
    Flags of Our Fathers is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Movies Based on True Stories


    Paul Walker, Ryan Phillippe, Jamie Bell

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  22. 22
    + 71
    - 52
    The Social Network is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Movies Based on True Stories


    Justin Timberlake, Rashida Jones, Rooney Mara

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  23. 23
    + 57
    - 37
    Lincoln is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Movies Based on True Stories


    Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Daniel Day-Lewis, Sally Field

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  24. 24
    + 50
    - 33
    Ray is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Movies Based on True Stories


    Kerry Washington, Jamie Foxx, Terrence Howard

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  25. 25
    + 54
    - 40
    127 Hours is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Movies Based on True Stories


    James Franco, Kate Mara, Lizzy Caplan

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  26. 26
    + 56
    - 46
    Into the Wild is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Best Movies Based on True Stories


    Kristen Stewart, Vince Vaughn, Zach Galifianakis

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  27. 27
    + 50
    - 33
    October Sky is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Best Movies Based on True Stories


    Jake Gyllenhaal, Laura Dern, Chris Cooper

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  28. 28
    + 11
    - 2


    Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci, Martin Scorsese

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  29. 29
    + 46
    - 33
    Charlie Wilson's War is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Best Movies Based on True Stories


    Julia Roberts, Amy Adams, Tom Hanks

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  30. 30
    + 9
    - 1
    Lawrence of Arabia is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Best Movies Based on True Stories


    Omar Sharif, Peter O'Toole, Alec Guinness

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  31. 31
    + 12
    - 6
    Amadeus is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Best Movies Based on True Stories

    added by Tom Islava
    Jeffrey Jones, Cynthia Nixon, Christine Ebersole

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  32. 32
    + 10
    - 1
    JFK is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Best Movies Based on True Stories


    Kevin Costner, Gary Oldman, Kevin Bacon

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  33. 33
    + 8
    - 2


    Liam Neeson, Ralph Fiennes, Ben Kingsley

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  34. 34
    + 14
    - 7
    Patton is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Best Movies Based on True Stories

    added by Tom Islava
    George C. Scott, Karl Malden, Paul Frees

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  35. 35
    + 10
    - 3


    Mel Gibson, Sophie Marceau, Brendan Gleeson

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  36. 36
    + 12
    - 2
    Remember the Titans is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Best Movies Based on True Stories


    Hayden Panettiere, Ryan Gosling, Denzel Washington

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  37. 37
    + 35
    - 31
    Amistad is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Best Movies Based on True Stories


    Morgan Freeman, Matthew McConaughey, Anna Paquin

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  38. 38
    + 39
    - 36
    Jarhead is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Best Movies Based on True Stories


    Jake Gyllenhaal, Jamie Foxx, John Krasinski

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  39. 39
    + 11
    - 5

    added by Charles Adams
    Jeff Goldblum, Ed Harris, Dennis Quaid

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  40. 40
    + 8
    - 2
    The Revenant is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Best Movies Based on True Stories


    Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hardy, Domhnall Gleeson

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  41. 41
    + 44
    - 38
    Born on the Fourth of July is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Best Movies Based on True Stories
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  42. 42
    + 6
    - 2
    12 Years a Slave is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Best Movies Based on True Stories


    Brad Pitt, Michael Fassbender, Benedict Cumberbatch

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  43. 43
    + 8
    - 3
    Quiz Show is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Best Movies Based on True Stories


    Ralph Fiennes, Martin Scorsese, Ethan Hawke

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  44. 44
    + 36
    - 35
    Invincible is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Best Movies Based on True Stories


    Elizabeth Banks, Mark Wahlberg, Randy Couture

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  45. 45
    + 34
    - 34
    The Last King of Scotland is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Best Movies Based on True Stories


    Kerry Washington, Gillian Anderson, James McAvoy

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  46. 46
    + 8
    - 4
    Argo is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Best Movies Based on True Stories


    Ben Affleck, John Goodman, Bryan Cranston

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  47. 47
    + 9
    - 2


    Paul Newman, Robert Redford, Cloris Leachman

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  48. 48
    + 34
    - 35
    The Basketball Diaries is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Best Movies Based on True Stories


    Leonardo DiCaprio, Mark Wahlberg, Juliette Lewis

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  49. 49
    + 37
    - 34
    Alive is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Best Movies Based on True Stories


    John Malkovich, Ethan Hawke, Josh Lucas

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  50. 50
    + 35
    - 32
    Ali is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Best Movies Based on True Stories


    Will Smith, Jamie Foxx, Jada Pinkett Smith

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