film The Best Movies "Loosely" Based on True Stories  

5.2k votes 480 voters 12.9k views 46 items Embed

List Rules Films loosely based on a true story. Vote based on the quality of the film, not the accuracy of the story.

"Based on a true story" isn't always exactly accurate. This list of movies loosely based on true stories took a few too many liberties or only used a true story as distant inspiration.

Hollywood loves this idea though. In the last thirteen years there have been more "based on a true story" films made than were released in the 100 years prior. The problem is that a lot of these "true stories" are hardly that. Be it a huge exaggeration, using one real life person in a crazy scenario, or taking a historical event and creating a fictional story around it (hi, Jack Dawson), the films on this list played fast and loose with the facts.

This isn't by any means knocking any of these films, many are fantastic, widely loved, award winning films. They just took a few too many liberties with the facts. Below is the list of films based on true stories... sort of. Vote up the best films on this list, even if they didn't stick to the truth.
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Saving Private Ryan Tom Hanks, Matt Damon, Vin Diesel Saving Private Ryan is a 1998 American epic drama war film set during the Invasion of Normandy in World War II. Directed by Steven Spielberg and written by Robert Rodat, the film is notable for its graphic and realistic portrayal of war, and ...more

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Braveheart Mel Gibson, Sophie Marceau, Brendan Gleeson Braveheart is a 1995 epic historical medieval war drama film directed by and starring Mel Gibson. Gibson portrays William Wallace, a 13th-century Scottish warrior who led the Scots in the First War of Scottish Independence against King Edward I ...more

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Goodfellas Robert De Niro, Samuel L. Jackson, Joe Pesci Goodfellas is a 1990 American crime film directed by Martin Scorsese. It is a film adaptation of the 1986 non-fiction book Wiseguy by Nicholas Pileggi, who co-wrote the screenplay with Scorsese. The film narrates the rise and fall of Lucchese ...more

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Remember the Titans Hayden Panettiere, Ryan Gosling, Denzel Washington Remember the Titans is a 2000 American sports drama film produced by Jerry Bruckheimer and directed by Boaz Yakin. The screenplay, written by Gregory Allen Howard, is based on the true story of African American coach Herman Boone portrayed by ...more

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Titanic Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Winslet, Kathy Bates Titanic is a 1997 American epic romantic disaster drama film directed, written, co-produced, and co-edited by James Cameron. A fictionalized account of the sinking of the RMS Titanic, it stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet as members of ...more

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The Untouchables Robert De Niro, Sean Connery, Kevin Costner The Untouchables is a 1987 American crime drama film directed by Brian De Palma and written by David Mamet. Based on the book The Untouchables, the film stars Kevin Costner as government agent Eliot Ness. It also stars Robert De Niro as gang ...more

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A Beautiful Mind is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Movies "Loosely" Based on True Stories
A Beautiful Mind Jennifer Connelly, Russell Crowe, Ron Howard A Beautiful Mind is a 2001 American biographical drama film based on the life of John Nash, a Nobel Laureate in Economics. The film was directed by Ron Howard, from a screenplay written by Akiva Goldsman. It was inspired by a bestselling, ...more

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The Exorcist Max von Sydow, Ellen Burstyn, Linda Blair The Exorcist is a 1973 American supernatural horror film directed by William Friedkin, adapted by William Peter Blatty from his 1971 novel of the same name. The book, inspired by the 1949 exorcism case of Roland Doe, deals with the demonic ...more

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JFK Kevin Costner, Gary Oldman, Kevin Bacon JFK is a 1991 American historical legal-conspiracy thriller film directed by Oliver Stone. It examines the events leading to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy and subsequent cover-up through the eyes of former New Orleans district ...more

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The Conjuring Vera Farmiga, Patrick Wilson, Joey King The Conjuring is a 2013 American supernatural horror film directed by James Wan. Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga star as Ed and Lorraine Warren, who were American paranormal investigators and authors associated with prominent cases of haunting. ...more

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Behind Enemy Lines Owen Wilson, Gene Hackman, Gabriel Macht Behind Enemy Lines is a 2001 action war film directed by John Moore in his directorial debut, and starring Owen Wilson and Gene Hackman. The film tells the story of Lieutenant Chris Burnett, an American naval flight officer who is shot down ...more

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Donnie Brasco Johnny Depp, Al Pacino, Paul Giamatti Donnie Brasco is a 1997 American crime film directed by Mike Newell and starring Al Pacino and Johnny Depp. Michael Madsen, Bruno Kirby, James Russo, and Anne Heche appeared in supporting roles. The film is based on the true story of Joseph D. ...more

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Hoosiers Gene Hackman, Dennis Hopper, Barbara Hershey Hoosiers is a 1986 sports film written by Angelo Pizzo and directed by David Anspaugh. It tells the story of a small-town Indiana high school basketball team that wins the state championship. It is loosely based on the Milan High School team ...more

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Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Movies "Loosely" Based on True Stories
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas Johnny Depp, Cameron Diaz, Christina Ricci Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas is a 1998 American dark comedy film co-written and directed by Terry Gilliam, starring Johnny Depp as Raoul Duke and Benicio del Toro as Dr. Gonzo. It was adapted from Hunter S. Thompson's 1971 novel of the same ...more

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Almost Famous Zooey Deschanel, Kate Hudson, Anna Paquin Almost Famous is a 2000 comedy-drama film written and directed by Cameron Crowe and starring Billy Crudup, Kate Hudson, and Patrick Fugit. It tells the fictional story of a teenage journalist writing for Rolling Stone magazine in the early ...more

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Saving Mr. Banks Tom Hanks, Colin Farrell, Emma Thompson Saving Mr. Banks is a 2013 period drama film directed by John Lee Hancock from a screenplay written by Kelly Marcel and Sue Smith. Centered on the development of the 1964 Walt Disney Studios film Mary Poppins, the film stars Emma Thompson as ...more

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Heat Natalie Portman, Al Pacino, Robert De Niro Heat is a 1995 American crime thriller film written, produced and directed by Michael Mann, and starring Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, and Val Kilmer. The film was released in the United States on December 15, 1995. De Niro plays Neil McCauley, a ...more

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Unstoppable Denzel Washington, Rosario Dawson, Chris Pine Unstoppable is a 2010 American action thriller film directed by Tony Scott, written by Mark Bomback, and starring Denzel Washington and Chris Pine. The film, loosely based on the real-life CSX 8888 incident, tells the story of a runaway freight ...more

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Boogie Nights Julianne Moore, Mark Wahlberg, Heather Graham Boogie Nights is a 1997 American drama film written and directed by Paul Thomas Anderson. It is set in Los Angeles' San Fernando Valley and focuses on a young nightclub dishwasher, Eddie Adams, who becomes a popular star of pornographic films, ...more

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The French Connection Gene Hackman, Roy Scheider, Fernando Rey The French Connection is a 1971 American dramatic thriller film directed by William Friedkin and produced by Philip D'Antoni. It stars Gene Hackman, Fernando Rey, and Roy Scheider. The film was adapted and fictionalized by Ernest Tidyman from ...more

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The Exorcism of Emily Rose Laura Linney, Jennifer Carpenter, Tom Wilkinson The Exorcism of Emily Rose is a 2005 American courtroom drama horror film directed by Scott Derrickson and starring Laura Linney and Tom Wilkinson. The film is loosely based on the story of Anneliese Michel and follows a self-proclaimed ...more

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Pocahontas Mel Gibson, Christian Bale, Billy Connolly Pocahontas is a 1995 American animated musical romantic-drama film produced by Walt Disney Feature Animation and released by Walt Disney Pictures. It is the 33rd film in the Walt Disney Animated Classics series, and was produced during a period ...more

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The Black Dahlia Scarlett Johansson, Rose McGowan, Hilary Swank The Black Dahlia is a 2006 American neo noir crime thriller film directed by Brian De Palma. It is drawn from a novel of the same name by James Ellroy, writer of L.A. Confidential and stars Josh Hartnett, Scarlett Johansson, Aaron Eckhart and ...more

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American Hustle Jennifer Lawrence, Amy Adams, Robert De Niro American Hustle is a 2013 American crime comedy-drama film directed by David O. Russell. It was written by Eric Warren Singer and Russell, inspired by the FBI ABSCAM operation of the late 1970s and early 1980s. It stars Christian Bale and Amy ...more

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Changeling Angelina Jolie, John Malkovich, Jeffrey Donovan Changeling is a 2008 American drama film, written by J. Michael Straczynski and directed, co-produced and scored by Clint Eastwood, that explores child endangerment, female disempowerment, political corruption, mistreatment of mental health ...more

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Alpha Dog Olivia Wilde, Amanda Seyfried, Amber Heard Alpha Dog is a 2006 American crime drama film written and directed by Nick Cassavetes, first screened at the Sundance Film Festival on January 27, 2006, with a wide release the following year on January 12, 2007. Starring Emile Hirsch, Justin ...more

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Ed Wood Johnny Depp, Sarah Jessica Parker, Bill Murray Ed Wood is a 1994 American period comedy-drama biopic directed and produced by Tim Burton, and starring Johnny Depp as cult filmmaker Ed Wood. The film concerns the period in Wood's life when he made his best-known films as well as his ...more

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Pain and Gain Dwayne Johnson, Mark Wahlberg, Ed Harris Pain & Gain is a 2013 American crime comedy film directed by Michael Bay and starring Mark Wahlberg, Dwayne Johnson and Anthony Mackie. The film is loosely based on a story published in a 1999 series of Miami New Times articles written by ...more

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The Haunting in Connecticut Virginia Madsen, Amanda Crew, Elias Koteas The Haunting in Connecticut is a 2009 American psychological horror film produced by Gold Circle Films and directed by Peter Cornwell. The film is alleged to be about Carmen Snedeker and her family, though Ray Garton, author of In a Dark Place: ...more

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Snitch Dwayne Johnson, Susan Sarandon, Nadine Velazquez Snitch is a 2013 action drama thriller film written by Ric Roman Waugh and Justin Haythe and directed by Ric Roman Waugh.

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The Strangers Liv Tyler, Gemma Ward, Scott Speedman The Strangers is a 2008 American horror film written and directed by Bryan Bertino and starring Liv Tyler and Scott Speedman as a young couple who are terrorized by three masked assailants, who break into the remote summer home and destroy all ...more

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50/50 Anna Kendrick, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Bryce Dallas Howard 50/50 is a 2011 biography, comedy, drama film written by Will Reiser and directed by Jonathan Levine.

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The Crucible Winona Ryder, Daniel Day-Lewis, Jeffrey Jones The Crucible is a 1996 drama film written by Arthur Miller and based on his play of the same name. It was directed by Nicholas Hytner and stars Daniel Day-Lewis as John Proctor, Winona Ryder as Abigail Williams, Paul Scofield as Judge Thomas ...more

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Bronson Tom Hardy, Amanda Burton, James Lance Bronson is a 2008 British fictionalised biographical psychological drama film co-written and directed by Nicolas Winding Refn and starring Tom Hardy. The film follows the life of notorious prisoner Michael Gordon Peterson, who was renamed ...more

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Open Water Saul Stein, Blanchard Ryan, Daniel Travis Open Water is a 2003 drama psychological horror film loosely based on the true story of an American couple, Tom and Eileen Lonergan, who in 1998 went out with a scuba diving group, Outer Edge Dive Company, on the Great Barrier Reef, and were ...more

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21 Kevin Spacey, Kate Bosworth, Laurence Fishburne 21 is a 2008 American heist drama film directed by Robert Luketic and stars Jim Sturgess, Kevin Spacey, Laurence Fishburne, Kate Bosworth, Liza Lapira, Jacob Pitts, and Aaron Yoo. The film is inspired by the true story of the MIT Blackjack Team ...more

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Badlands Charlie Sheen, Martin Sheen, Sissy Spacek Badlands is a 1973 American crime film written and directed by Terrence Malick, starring Martin Sheen and Sissy Spacek. Warren Oates and Ramon Bieri are also featured. Malick has a small speaking part, although he does not receive an acting ...more

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Anastasia Kirsten Dunst, Meg Ryan, Kelsey Grammer Anastasia is a 1997 American animated musical fantasy drama film produced by Fox Animation Studios and distributed by 20th Century Fox. Directed by former Disney animation directors Don Bluth and Gary Goldman, the film is an adaptation of the ...more

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Lady Sings the Blues Diana Ross, Richard Pryor, Billy Dee Williams Lady Sings the Blues is a 1972 American biographical drama film directed by Sidney J. Furie about jazz singer Billie Holiday loosely based on her 1956 autobiography which, in turn, took its title from one of Holiday's most popular songs. It was ...more

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In the Valley of Elah Charlize Theron, James Franco, Susan Sarandon In the Valley of Elah is a 2007 film written and directed by Paul Haggis, starring Tommy Lee Jones, Charlize Theron, and Susan Sarandon. The film’s title refers to the Biblical valley where the battle between David and Goliath is said to have ...more

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The Bling Ring Lindsay Lohan, Emma Watson, Paris Hilton The Bling Ring is a 2013 American satirical crime film based on actual events. Written, directed and produced by Sofia Coppola, it features an ensemble cast including newcomers Israel Broussard, Katie Chang and Claire Julien, as well as Taissa ...more

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Pride Terrence Howard, Bernie Mac, Tom Arnold Pride is a 2007 biopic drama feature film released by Lionsgate Entertainment on March 23, 2007. Loosely based upon the true story of Philadelphia swim coach James "Jim" Ellis, Pride stars Terrence Howard, Bernie Mac, and Kimberly ...more

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The New World Christian Bale, Colin Farrell, Christopher Plummer The New World is a 2005 British-American romantic historical drama film written and directed by Terrence Malick, depicting the founding of the Jamestown, Virginia settlement and inspired by the historical figures Captain John Smith, Pocahontas ...more

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Too Young to Die? Brad Pitt, Juliette Lewis, Michael O'Keefe Amanda was forced into prostitution in order to survive and addicted to drugs in order to cope.  She becomes the accessory to the brutal murder of her ex-lover.  The state wants Amanda tried as an adult and given the maximum sentence ...more

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You Only Live Once Henry Fonda, Margaret Hamilton, Sylvia Sidney You Only Live Once is a 1937 crime drama film starring Sylvia Sidney and Henry Fonda. Considered an early film noir, the film was the second directed by Fritz Lang in America. At least 15 minutes were trimmed from the original 100-minute ...more

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Till the Clouds Roll By Frank Sinatra, Judy Garland, Angela Lansbury Till The Clouds Roll By is a 1946 American musical film made by MGM. The film is a fictionalized biography of composer Jerome Kern who was originally involved with the production of the film, but died before it was completed. Till the Clouds ...more