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
    + 75
    - 20


    Tom Hanks, Kevin Bacon, Bryce Dallas Howard

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  2. 2
    + 65
    - 23


    Leonardo DiCaprio, Amy Adams, Jennifer Garner

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  3. 3
    + 54
    - 25


    Reese Witherspoon, Joaquin Phoenix, Ginnifer Goodwin

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  4. 4
    + 53
    - 26


    Madonna, Tom Hanks, Rosie O'Donnell

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  5. 5
    + 42
    - 22


    Brad Pitt, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Jonah Hill

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  6. 6
    + 44
    - 24


    John Candy, Malik Yoba, Jay Brazeau

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  7. 7
    + 44
    - 25


    George Clooney, Mark Wahlberg, Diane Lane

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  8. 8
    + 35
    - 18


    Paul Walker, Jayma Mays, Ryan Phillippe

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  9. 9
    + 45
    - 28


    Julia Roberts, Marg Helgenberger, Aaron Eckhart

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  10. 10
    + 31
    - 16


    Renée Zellweger, Russell Crowe, Paul Giamatti

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  11. 11
    + 42
    - 27


    Justin Timberlake, Rashida Jones, Rooney Mara

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  12. 12
    + 30
    - 16


    Tom Berenger, Martin Sheen, Jeff Daniels

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  13. 13
    + 35
    - 21


    Amy Adams, Christian Bale, Mark Wahlberg

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  14. 14
    + 32
    - 19


    Charlize Theron, Christina Ricci, Rose Byrne

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  15. 15
    + 29
    - 17


    Matthew McConaughey, January Jones, Kate Mara

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  16. 16
    + 33
    - 22


    Will Smith, Thandie Newton, Jaden Smith

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  17. 17
    + 28
    - 18


    Jake Gyllenhaal, Laura Dern, Chris Cooper

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  18. 18
    + 29
    - 19


    Willem Dafoe, Gene Hackman, Frances McDormand

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  19. 19
    + 30
    - 22


    Robert Downey Jr., Jake Gyllenhaal, Mark Ruffalo

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  20. 20
    + 29
    - 21


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

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  21. 21
    + 29
    - 21


    James Franco, Kate Mara, Lizzy Caplan

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  22. 22
    + 29
    - 21


    Kurt Russell, Patricia Clarkson, Al Michaels

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  23. 23
    + 26
    - 19


    Dallas Buyers Club

  24. 24
    + 25
    - 18


    Kerry Washington, Jamie Foxx, Terrence Howard

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  25. 25
    + 28
    - 22


    Kate Beckinsale, Leonardo DiCaprio, Gwen Stefani

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  26. 26
    + 29
    - 24
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  27. 27
    + 23
    - 18


    Courtney Love, Edward Norton, Woody Harrelson

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  28. 28
    + 31
    - 27


    Kristen Stewart, Vince Vaughn, William Hurt

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  29. 29
    + 24
    - 20


    Julia Roberts, Amy Adams, Tom Hanks

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  30. 30
    + 23
    - 19


    John Malkovich, Ethan Hawke, Josh Lucas

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  31. 31
    + 22
    - 19


    Philip Seymour Hoffman, Chris Cooper, Mark Pellegrino

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  32. 32
    + 20
    - 20


    Jake Gyllenhaal, Jamie Foxx, John Krasinski

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  33. 33
    + 18
    - 18


    Kerry Washington, Gillian Anderson, Forest Whitaker

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  34. 34
    + 18
    - 19


    James Franco, Sean Penn, Josh Brolin

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  35. 35
    + 18
    - 19


    Morgan Freeman, Matthew McConaughey, Anna Paquin

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  36. 36
    + 15
    - 17


    Brad Pitt, Zooey Deschanel, Jeremy Renner

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  37. 37
    + 19
    - 22


    Leonardo DiCaprio, Mark Wahlberg, Juliette Lewis

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  38. 38
    + 17
    - 20


    Elizabeth Banks, Mark Wahlberg, Randy Couture

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  39. 39
    + 18
    - 23


    Scarlett Johansson, Matt Damon, Elle Fanning

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  40. 40
    + 13
    - 17


    Cate Blanchett, Daniel Craig, Lily Allen

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  41. 41
    + 14
    - 19


    Kevin Bacon, Sam Rockwell, Michael Sheen

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  42. 42
    + 16
    - 22


    Will Smith, Jamie Foxx, Jada Pinkett Smith

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  43. 43
    + 13
    - 22


    Sofía Vergara, Heath Ledger, Jeremy Renner

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  44. 44
    + 9
    - 20


    Colin Farrell, Saoirse Ronan, Ed Harris

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  45. 45
    + 6
    - 17


    Robert Downey Jr., Jamie Foxx, Octavia Spencer

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  46. 46
    + 6
    - 17


    Matt Damon, Patton Oswalt, Joel McHale

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  47. 47
    + 5
    - 18


    Ben Affleck, Diane Lane, Robin Tunney

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  48. 48
    + 4
    - 16


    Amanda Seyfried, Sharon Stone, James Franco

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  49. 49
    + 4
    - 16


    Denzel Washington, Viola Davis, Salli Richardson

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  50. 50
    + 4
    - 19


    Gael García Bernal, Mía Maestro, Facundo Espinosa

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