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The Best Movies Based on True Stories

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.

The Best Movies Based on True Stories Films
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  1. 1
    + 101
    - 26

    Tom Hanks, Bryce Dallas Howard, Ed Harris Watch for Free with Amazon Prime Free Trial

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  2. 2
    + 82
    - 31

    Leonardo DiCaprio, Amy Adams, Jennifer Garner

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  3. 3
    + 70
    - 30

    Reese Witherspoon, Joaquin Phoenix, Ginnifer Goodwin

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  4. 4
    + 72
    - 33

    Madonna, Tom Hanks, Rosie O'Donnell Watch for Free with Amazon Prime Free Trial

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  5. 5
    + 63
    - 31

    John Candy, Malik Yoba, Jay Brazeau

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  6. 6
    + 51
    - 28

    Will Smith, Thandie Newton, Jaden Smith

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  7. 7
    + 52
    - 31

    Brad Pitt, Jonah Hill, Robin Wright

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  8. 8
    + 39
    - 20

    Martin Sheen, Tom Berenger, Sam Elliott

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  9. 9
    + 41
    - 22

    Matthew McConaughey, Kate Mara, January Jones

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  10. 10
    + 54
    - 34

    George Clooney, Mark Wahlberg, Diane Lane

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  11. 11
    + 42
    - 24

    Paul Walker, Ryan Phillippe, Jamie Bell

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  12. 12
    + 42
    - 24

    Charlize Theron, Christina Ricci, Rose Byrne Watch for Free with Amazon Prime Free Trial

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  13. 13
    + 55
    - 37

    Julia Roberts, Marg Helgenberger, Aaron Eckhart

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  14. 14
    + 42
    - 25

    Russell Crowe, Renée Zellweger, Paul Giamatti

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  15. 15
    + 45
    - 29

    Robert Downey Jr., Jake Gyllenhaal, Mark Ruffalo

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  16. 16
    + 52
    - 36

    Justin Timberlake, Rashida Jones, Rooney Mara

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  17. 17
    + 37
    - 24

    Willem Dafoe, Gene Hackman, Frances McDormand

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  18. 18
    + 40
    - 27

    Kurt Russell, Patricia Clarkson, Ken Dryden

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  19. 19
    + 42
    - 30

    Amy Adams, Christian Bale, Mark Wahlberg

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  20. 20
    + 35
    - 23

    Jake Gyllenhaal, Laura Dern, Chris Cooper

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  21. 21
    + 37
    - 26

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

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  22. 22
    + 34
    - 23

    Jennifer Garner, Matthew McConaughey, Jared Leto

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  23. 23
    + 36
    - 28

    Kate Beckinsale, Leonardo DiCaprio, Gwen Stefani Watch for Free with Amazon Prime Free Trial

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  24. 24
    + 31
    - 24

    Kerry Washington, Jamie Foxx, Terrence Howard

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  25. 25
    + 35
    - 29

    James Franco, Kate Mara, Lizzy Caplan

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  26. 26
    + 33
    - 30
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  27. 27
    + 29
    - 26

    Julia Roberts, Amy Adams, Tom Hanks

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  28. 28
    + 27
    - 25

    John Malkovich, Ethan Hawke, Josh Lucas

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  29. 29
    + 34
    - 34

    Kristen Stewart, Vince Vaughn, Zach Galifianakis

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  30. 30
    + 27
    - 26

    Courtney Love, Edward Norton, Woody Harrelson

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  31. 31
    + 26
    - 25

    Philip Seymour Hoffman, Chris Cooper, Catherine Keener

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  32. 32
    + 25
    - 25

    Kerry Washington, Gillian Anderson, James McAvoy

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  33. 33
    + 26
    - 28

    Jake Gyllenhaal, Jamie Foxx, John Krasinski

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  34. 34
    + 24
    - 26

    Morgan Freeman, Matthew McConaughey, Anna Paquin

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  35. 35
    + 25
    - 28

    Leonardo DiCaprio, Mark Wahlberg, Juliette Lewis

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  36. 36
    + 23
    - 27

    Elizabeth Banks, Mark Wahlberg, Randy Couture

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  37. 37
    + 22
    - 26

    Will Smith, Jamie Foxx, Jada Pinkett Smith

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  38. 38
    + 22
    - 26

    James Franco, Sean Penn, Josh Brolin

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  39. 39
    + 17
    - 21

    Cate Blanchett, Daniel Craig, Lily Allen

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  40. 40
    + 23
    - 30

    Scarlett Johansson, Matt Damon, Elle Fanning

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  41. 41
    + 17
    - 23

    Brad Pitt, Zooey Deschanel, Jeremy Renner

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  42. 42
    + 17
    - 26

    Kevin Bacon, Sam Rockwell, Michael Sheen

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  43. 43
    + 18
    - 29

    Sofía Vergara, Heath Ledger, Jeremy Renner

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  44. 44
    + 8
    - 22

    Denzel Washington, Viola Davis, Salli Richardson

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  45. 45
    + 8
    - 22

    Danny Glover, Alfre Woodard, Julian Glover

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  46. 46
    + 9
    - 27

    Colin Farrell, Saoirse Ronan, Ed Harris

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  47. 47
    + 7
    - 24

    Matt Damon, Patton Oswalt, Joel McHale

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  48. 48
    + 6
    - 22

    Amanda Seyfried, Sharon Stone, James Franco

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  49. 49
    + 7
    - 26

    Robert Downey Jr., Jamie Foxx, Jena Malone

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  50. 50
    + 5
    - 24

    Christian Bale, Steve Zahn, Jeremy Davies

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