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
    + 65
    - 18

    Tom Hanks, Kevin Bacon, Bryce Dallas Howard

    ) open
  2. 2
    + 56
    - 21

    Leonardo DiCaprio, Amy Adams, Jennifer Garner

    ) open
  3. 3
    + 47
    - 23

    Madonna, Tom Hanks, Rosie O'Donnell

    ) open
  4. 4
    + 41
    - 20

    John Candy, Malik Yoba, Jay Brazeau

    ) open
  5. 5
    + 44
    - 23

    Reese Witherspoon, Joaquin Phoenix, Ginnifer Goodwin

    ) open
  6. 6
    + 38
    - 19

    Brad Pitt, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Jonah Hill

    ) open
  7. 7
    + 38
    - 21

    George Clooney, Mark Wahlberg, Diane Lane

    ) open
  8. 8
    + 40
    - 23

    Julia Roberts, Marg Helgenberger, Aaron Eckhart

    ) open
  9. 9
    + 31
    - 16

    Paul Walker, Jayma Mays, Ryan Phillippe

    ) open
  10. 10
    + 34
    - 19

    Amy Adams, Christian Bale, Mark Wahlberg

    ) open
  11. 11
    + 40
    - 26

    Justin Timberlake, Rashida Jones, Rooney Mara

    ) open
  12. 12
    + 27
    - 14

    Renée Zellweger, Russell Crowe, Paul Giamatti

    ) open
  13. 13
    + 28
    - 15

    Tom Berenger, Martin Sheen, Jeff Daniels

    ) open
  14. 14
    + 27
    - 16

    Matthew McConaughey, January Jones, Kate Mara

    ) open
  15. 15
    + 27
    - 16

    Jake Gyllenhaal, Laura Dern, Chris Cooper

    ) open
  16. 16
    + 24
    - 16

    Kerry Washington, Jamie Foxx, Terrence Howard

    ) open
  17. 17
    + 27
    - 19

    Kurt Russell, Patricia Clarkson, Al Michaels

    ) open
  18. 18
    + 28
    - 20

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

    ) open
  19. 19
    + 27
    - 20

    Kate Beckinsale, Leonardo DiCaprio, Gwen Stefani

    ) open
  20. 20
    + 25
    - 18

    Willem Dafoe, Gene Hackman, Frances McDormand

    ) open
  21. 21
    + 24
    - 17

    Dallas Buyers Club

    ) open
  22. 22
    + 27
    - 21

    Will Smith, Thandie Newton, Jaden Smith

    ) open
  23. 23
    + 26
    - 20

    Robert Downey Jr., Jake Gyllenhaal, Mark Ruffalo

    ) open
  24. 24
    + 25
    - 19

    James Franco, Kate Mara, Lizzy Caplan

    ) open
  25. 25
    + 23
    - 18

    Charlize Theron, Christina Ricci, Rose Byrne

    ) open
  26. 26
    + 28
    - 25

    Kristen Stewart, Vince Vaughn, William Hurt

    ) open
  27. 27
    + 25
    - 22
    ) open
  28. 28
    + 22
    - 19

    Julia Roberts, Amy Adams, Tom Hanks

    ) open
  29. 29
    + 18
    - 16

    Courtney Love, Edward Norton, Woody Harrelson

    ) open
  30. 30
    + 18
    - 17

    Philip Seymour Hoffman, Chris Cooper, Mark Pellegrino

    ) open
  31. 31
    + 18
    - 18

    John Malkovich, Ethan Hawke, Josh Lucas

    ) open
  32. 32
    + 16
    - 16

    Kerry Washington, Gillian Anderson, Forest Whitaker

    ) open
  33. 33
    + 17
    - 18

    Jake Gyllenhaal, Jamie Foxx, John Krasinski

    ) open
  34. 34
    + 16
    - 17

    James Franco, Sean Penn, Josh Brolin

    ) open
  35. 35
    + 16
    - 17

    Morgan Freeman, Matthew McConaughey, Anna Paquin

    ) open
  36. 36
    + 16
    - 18

    Elizabeth Banks, Mark Wahlberg, Randy Couture

    ) open
  37. 37
    + 14
    - 16

    Brad Pitt, Zooey Deschanel, Jeremy Renner

    ) open
  38. 38
    + 17
    - 20

    Scarlett Johansson, Matt Damon, Elle Fanning

    ) open
  39. 39
    + 14
    - 17

    Kevin Bacon, Sam Rockwell, Michael Sheen

    ) open
  40. 40
    + 12
    - 15

    Cate Blanchett, Daniel Craig, Lily Allen

    ) open
  41. 41
    + 14
    - 19

    Will Smith, Jamie Foxx, Jada Pinkett Smith

    ) open
  42. 42
    + 15
    - 21

    Leonardo DiCaprio, Mark Wahlberg, Juliette Lewis

    ) open
  43. 43
    + 9
    - 16

    Colin Farrell, Saoirse Ronan, Ed Harris

    ) open
  44. 44
    + 11
    - 20

    Sofía Vergara, Heath Ledger, Jeremy Renner

    ) open
  45. 45
    + 6
    - 14

    Robert Downey Jr., Jamie Foxx, Octavia Spencer

    ) open
  46. 46
    + 6
    - 15

    Matt Damon, Patton Oswalt, Joel McHale

    ) open
  47. 47
    + 5
    - 16

    Ben Affleck, Diane Lane, Robin Tunney

    ) open
  48. 48
    + 4
    - 15

    Amanda Seyfried, Sharon Stone, James Franco

    ) open
  49. 49
    + 3
    - 14

    Denzel Washington, Viola Davis, Salli Richardson

    ) open
  50. 50
    + 4
    - 17

    Christian Bale, Steve Zahn, Marshall Bell

    ) open
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