The Best Movies Based on True Stories Films
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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.

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  1. 1
    + 85
    - 21

    Ed Harris, Bill Paxton, Gary Sinise

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  2. 2
    + 69
    - 27

    Christopher Walken, Ellen Pompeo, Elizabeth Banks

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  3. 3
    + 58
    - 26

    Reese Witherspoon, Hailey Anne Nelson, Robert Patrick

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  4. 4
    + 59
    - 28

    Jon Lovitz, Garry Marshall, David Strathairn

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  5. 5
    + 45
    - 25

    Bob Costas, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Tim McCarver

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  6. 6
    + 48
    - 28

    Malik Yoba, Al Trautwig, Peter Outerbridge

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  7. 7
    + 38
    - 19

    Paul Walker, Adam Beach, Jamie Bell

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  8. 8
    + 36
    - 19

    Renée Zellweger, Linda Kash, Sergio Di Zio

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  9. 9
    + 40
    - 24

    Will Smith, Jaden Smith, Thandie Newton

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  10. 10
    + 45
    - 29

    George Clooney, Dash Mihok, Diane Lane

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  11. 11
    + 32
    - 17

    Tom Berenger, Billy Campbell, Jeff Daniels

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  12. 12
    + 47
    - 32

    Peter Coyote, Marg Helgenberger, Veanne Cox

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  13. 13
    + 32
    - 18

    Brian Geraghty, Ian McShane, David Strathairn

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  14. 14
    + 45
    - 31

    Jesse Eisenberg, Brenda Song, Rashida Jones

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  15. 15
    + 33
    - 21

    Christina Ricci, Charlize Theron, Bruce Dern

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  16. 16
    + 36
    - 24

    George Foreman, Melissa Leo, Amy Adams

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  17. 17
    + 31
    - 20

    Frances McDormand, Michael Rooker, Brad Dourif

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  18. 18
    + 35
    - 25

    Robert Downey Jr., Clea DuVall, Anthony Edwards

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  19. 19
    + 30
    - 20

    Jake Gyllenhaal, Laura Dern, Andrew Stahl

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  20. 20
    + 31
    - 22

    Daniel Day-Lewis, Tommy Lee Jones, Jackie Earle Haley

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  21. 21
    + 31
    - 23

    Patricia Clarkson, Jim McKay, Sean McCann

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  22. 22
    + 29
    - 23

    Kate Burton, Stacey Ann Turner, Priscilla Poland

    ;
  23. 23
    + 26
    - 20

    Chris Thomas King, Curt Sobel, Julian Bond

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  24. 24
    + 30
    - 25
    ;
  25. 25
    + 27
    - 22

    Jared Leto, Griffin Dunne, Denis O'Hare

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  26. 26
    + 29
    - 25

    Gwen Stefani, Ian Holm, Alec Baldwin

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  27. 27
    + 31
    - 29

    William Hurt, Jena Malone, Marcia Gay Harden

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  28. 28
    + 23
    - 20

    Vincent Schiavelli, Courtney Love, Miles Chapin

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  29. 29
    + 24
    - 22

    Philip Seymour Hoffman, Emily Blunt, Om Puri

    ;
  30. 30
    + 23
    - 21

    Ethan Hawke, John Malkovich, Josh Lucas

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  31. 31
    + 22
    - 21

    Philip Seymour Hoffman, Bob Balaban, David Rakoff

    ;
  32. 32
    + 21
    - 21

    Brian Geraghty, Jake Gyllenhaal, Peter Sarsgaard

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  33. 33
    + 20
    - 21

    Jeremy Northam, Stellan Skarsgård, Chiwetel Ejiofor

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  34. 34
    + 18
    - 20

    Forest Whitaker, Gillian Anderson, David Oyelowo

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  35. 35
    + 18
    - 21

    Frank M. Robinson, Diego Luna, Josh Brolin

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  36. 36
    + 20
    - 24

    Lorraine Bracco, Ernie Hudson, Michael Rapaport

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  37. 37
    + 15
    - 19

    Sam Shepard, Mary-Louise Parker, Casey Affleck

    ;
  38. 38
    + 14
    - 18

    Fanny Ardant, John Gielgud, Vincent Cassel

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  39. 39
    + 17
    - 23

    Greg Kinnear, Kirk Acevedo, Elizabeth Banks

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  40. 40
    + 18
    - 26

    Matt Damon, Thomas Haden Church, J. B. Smoove

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  41. 41
    + 14
    - 21

    Michael Sheen, Oliver Platt, Frank Langella

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  42. 42
    + 16
    - 24

    Will Smith, Jada Pinkett Smith, Nona Gaye

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  43. 43
    + 14
    - 25

    Heath Ledger, Bai Ling, Shea Whigham

    ;
  44. 44
    + 9
    - 23

    Ed Harris, Saoirse Ronan, Jim Sturgess

    ;
  45. 45
    + 6
    - 20

    Matt Damon, Tony Hale, Patton Oswalt

    ;
  46. 46
    + 6
    - 20

    Robert Downey Jr., Jena Malone, Lisa Gay Hamilton

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  47. 47
    + 4
    - 18

    Alfre Woodard, Julian Glover, Danny Glover

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  48. 48
    + 4
    - 18

    Eric Roberts, Peter Sarsgaard, Amanda Seyfried

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  49. 49
    + 4
    - 18

    Malcolm David Kelley, Joy Bryant, Kevin Connolly

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  50. 50
    + 5
    - 21

    Ben Affleck, Adrien Brody, Dash Mihok

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