The Best Movies Based on True Stories Films

The Best Movies Based on True Stories

4.2k votes 394 voters 18k views 57 items tags f p @

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.
List Photo: user uploaded image
Collection Photo:  Universal Pictures
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  1. 1
    + 145
    - 36
    Apollo 13 is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Movies Based on True Stories

    Tom Hanks, Bryce Dallas Howard, Ed Harris

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  2. 2
    + 135
    - 41
    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
    + 99
    - 40
    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
    + 104
    - 49
    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
    + 89
    - 42
    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
    + 83
    - 41
    The Pursuit of Happyness is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Movies Based on True Stories

    Will Smith, Thandie Newton, Jaden Smith

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  7. 7
    + 63
    - 27
    Mississippi Burning is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Movies Based on True Stories

    Willem Dafoe, Gene Hackman, Frances McDormand

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  8. 8
    + 66
    - 31
    Cinderella Man is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Movies Based on True Stories

    Russell Crowe, Renée Zellweger, Paul Giamatti

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  9. 9
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    - 47
    Erin Brockovich is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Movies Based on True Stories

    Julia Roberts, Marg Helgenberger, Aaron Eckhart

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  10. 10
    + 61
    - 29
    We Are Marshall is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Movies Based on True Stories

    Matthew McConaughey, Kate Mara, January Jones

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  11. 11
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    - 42
    The Perfect Storm is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Movies Based on True Stories

    George Clooney, Mark Wahlberg, Diane Lane

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  12. 12
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    - 42
    Moneyball is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Movies Based on True Stories

    Brad Pitt, Jonah Hill, Robin Wright

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  13. 13
    + 53
    - 27
    Gettysburg is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Movies Based on True Stories

    Martin Sheen, Tom Berenger, Sam Elliott

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  14. 14
    + 55
    - 29
    Flags of Our Fathers is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Movies Based on True Stories

    Paul Walker, Ryan Phillippe, Jamie Bell

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  15. 15
    + 56
    - 31
    Monster is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Movies Based on True Stories

    Charlize Theron, Christina Ricci, Rose Byrne

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  16. 16
    + 56
    - 32
    Lincoln is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Movies Based on True Stories

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

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  17. 17
    + 57
    - 34
    The Fighter is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Movies Based on True Stories

    Amy Adams, Christian Bale, Mark Wahlberg

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

    Robert Downey Jr., Jake Gyllenhaal, Mark Ruffalo

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  19. 19
    + 53
    - 31
    The Aviator is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Movies Based on True Stories

    Kate Beckinsale, Leonardo DiCaprio, Gwen Stefani

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  20. 20
    + 49
    - 29
    Dallas Buyers Club is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Movies Based on True Stories

    Jennifer Garner, Matthew McConaughey, Jared Leto

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  21. 21
    + 50
    - 30
    October Sky is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Movies Based on True Stories

    Jake Gyllenhaal, Laura Dern, Chris Cooper

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  22. 22
    + 54
    - 34
    Miracle is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Movies Based on True Stories

    Kurt Russell, Patricia Clarkson, Ken Dryden

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  23. 23
    + 63
    - 46
    The Social Network is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Movies Based on True Stories

    Justin Timberlake, Rashida Jones, Rooney Mara

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  24. 24
    + 45
    - 30
    Charlie Wilson's War is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Movies Based on True Stories

    Julia Roberts, Amy Adams, Tom Hanks

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  25. 25
    + 45
    - 31
    Ray is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Movies Based on True Stories

    Kerry Washington, Jamie Foxx, Terrence Howard

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  26. 26
    + 48
    - 37
    127 Hours is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Best Movies Based on True Stories

    James Franco, Kate Mara, Lizzy Caplan

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  27. 27
    + 49
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    Into the Wild is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Best Movies Based on True Stories

    Kristen Stewart, Vince Vaughn, Zach Galifianakis

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  28. 28
    + 43
    - 35
    Born on the Fourth of July is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Best Movies Based on True Stories
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  29. 29
    + 39
    - 31
    Jarhead is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Best Movies Based on True Stories

    Jake Gyllenhaal, Jamie Foxx, John Krasinski

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  30. 30
    + 12
    - 4
    Patton is listed (or ranked) 30 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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  31. 31
    + 10
    - 2

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

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  32. 32
    + 34
    - 29
    Ali is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Best Movies Based on True Stories

    Will Smith, Jamie Foxx, Jada Pinkett Smith

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  33. 33
    + 8
    - 1
    8 Seconds is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Best Movies Based on True Stories

    added by Wayne Little
    Renée Zellweger, Luke Perry, Stephen Baldwin

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  34. 34
    + 34
    - 30
    Invincible is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Best Movies Based on True Stories

    Elizabeth Banks, Mark Wahlberg, Randy Couture

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  35. 35
    + 33
    - 29
    Amistad is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Best Movies Based on True Stories

    Morgan Freeman, Matthew McConaughey, Anna Paquin

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  36. 36
    + 35
    - 32
    Alive is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Best Movies Based on True Stories

    John Malkovich, Ethan Hawke, Josh Lucas

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  37. 37
    + 32
    - 30
    Capote is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Best Movies Based on True Stories

    Philip Seymour Hoffman, Chris Cooper, Catherine Keener

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  38. 38
    + 33
    - 32
    The Basketball Diaries is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Best Movies Based on True Stories

    Leonardo DiCaprio, Mark Wahlberg, Juliette Lewis

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  39. 39
    + 32
    - 31
    The Last King of Scotland is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Best Movies Based on True Stories

    Kerry Washington, Gillian Anderson, James McAvoy

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  40. 40
    + 27
    - 26
    Elizabeth is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Best Movies Based on True Stories

    Cate Blanchett, Daniel Craig, Lily Allen

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  41. 41
    + 31
    - 31
    The People vs. Larry Flynt is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Best Movies Based on True Stories

    Courtney Love, Edward Norton, Woody Harrelson

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  42. 42
    + 33
    - 35
    We Bought a Zoo is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Best Movies Based on True Stories

    Scarlett Johansson, Matt Damon, Elle Fanning

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  43. 43
    + 5
    - 3
    Amadeus is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Best Movies Based on True Stories

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

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  44. 44
    + 22
    - 27
    The Assassination of Jesse Jam... is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Best Movies Based on True Stories

    Brad Pitt, Zooey Deschanel, Jeremy Renner

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  45. 45
    + 27
    - 34
    Milk is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Best Movies Based on True Stories

    James Franco, Sean Penn, Josh Brolin

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  46. 46
    + 24
    - 33
    Lords of Dogtown is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Best Movies Based on True Stories

    Sofía Vergara, Heath Ledger, Jeremy Renner

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  47. 47
    + 22
    - 31
    Frost/Nixon is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Best Movies Based on True Stories

    Kevin Bacon, Sam Rockwell, Michael Sheen

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  48. 48
    + 15
    - 26
    Antwone Fisher is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Best Movies Based on True Stories

    Denzel Washington, Viola Davis, Salli Richardson

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  49. 49
    + 16
    - 29
    Mandela is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Best Movies Based on True Stories

    Danny Glover, Alfre Woodard, Julian Glover

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  50. 50
    + 10
    - 31
    The Informant! is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Best Movies Based on True Stories

    Matt Damon, Patton Oswalt, Joel McHale

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58 +

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