Adaptations The Best Movies Based on Memoirs  

Ranker Film
169 votes 17 voters 26 items

List Rules Only movies based on or inspired by memoirs. No biopics without written source material.

Sometimes the truth is more entertaining than fiction. The best movies based on memoirs capture real-life experiences of people fighting addictions, surviving war, and falling in love. Many films based off of memoirs feature amazing actors and actresses and a few movies based on biographies have even won Academy Awards.

What memoirs adapted into movies will you find on this list. The Sound of Music has to be near the top. The stage musical – featuring music composed by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II – was based on Maria van Trapp's memoir, The Story of the Trapp Family Singers. Girl, Interrupted is another good movie adapted from a memoir.

The Pianist, based on Wladyslaw Szpilman's memoir of the same name, won three Academy Awards including Best Actor for Adrien Brody. Other good memoir movies include Mommie Dearest, Downfall, and Eat Pray Love.

Do you have a favorite movie based on a memoir? Vote the best films up to the top of this list, add any we may have missed, and check back for new movies based on memoirs as they come out.

list ordered by
1
8 2
Girl, Interrupted is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Movies Based on Memoirs
Angelina Jolie, Winona Ryder, Whoopi Goldberg
Girl, Interrupted is a 1999 American drama film, and an adaptation of Susanna Kaysen's 1993 memoir of the same name. The film chronicles Kaysen's 18-month stay at a mental institution. Directed ...more
2
7 3
The Pianist is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Movies Based on Memoirs
Adrien Brody, Thomas Kretschmann, Emilia Fox
The Pianist is a 2002 historical drama film co-produced and directed by Roman Polanski, scripted by Ronald Harwood, and starring Adrien Brody. It is based on the autobiographical book The ...more
3
6 2
Downfall is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Movies Based on Memoirs
Alexandra Lara, Bruno Ganz, Thomas Kretschmann
Downfall is a 2004 German film directed by Oliver Hirschbiegel, depicting the final ten days of Adolf Hitler's reign over Nazi Germany in 1945. The film is written and produced by Bernd ...more
4
5 1
Beautiful Boy is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Movies Based on Memoirs
Steve Carell, Timothée Chalamet, Maura Tierney
Beautiful Boy is a 2018 American biographical drama film directed by Felix Van Groeningen, based on the books by David and Nic Sheff. The film chronicles meth addiction and recovery through the ...more
5
5 1
Can You Ever Forgive Me? is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Movies Based on Memoirs
Melissa McCarthy, Richard E. Grant, Jane Curtin
Can You Ever Forgive Me? is a 2018 biographical comedy-drama film directed by Marielle Heller, based on the memoir by Lee Israel. When bestselling celebrity biographer, Lee Israel (Melissa ...more
6
6 3
The Sound of Music is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Movies Based on Memoirs
Julie Andrews, Christopher Plummer, Eleanor Parker
The Sound of Music is a 1965 American musical drama film produced and directed by Robert Wise and starring Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer. The film is an adaptation of the 1959 Broadway ...more
7
5 2
Angela's Ashes is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Movies Based on Memoirs
Robert Carlyle, Emily Watson, Alan Parker
Angela's Ashes is a 1999 Irish-American drama film based on the memoir of the same name by Frank McCourt. It was co-written and directed by Alan Parker, and starred Emily Watson, Robert Carlyle, ...more
8
5 2
Jarhead is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Movies Based on Memoirs
Jake Gyllenhaal, Jamie Foxx, John Krasinski
Jarhead is a 2005 biographical drama film based on U.S. Marine Anthony Swofford's 2003 memoir of the same name, directed by Sam Mendes, starring Jake Gyllenhaal as Swofford with Jamie Foxx, ...more
9
6 4
The Diving Bell and the Butter... is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Movies Based on Memoirs
Lenny Kravitz, Max von Sydow, Emmanuelle Seigner
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly is a 2007 biographical drama film based on Jean-Dominique Bauby's memoir of the same name. The film depicts Bauby's life after suffering a massive stroke, on 8 ...more
10
4 2
Running with Scissors is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Movies Based on Memoirs
Gwyneth Paltrow, Alec Baldwin, Evan Rachel Wood
Running with Scissors is a 2006 American black comedy film based on Augusten Burroughs' 2002 memoir of the same name, written and directed by Ryan Murphy, and starring Joseph Cross, Annette ...more
11
4 2
The Motorcycle Diaries is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Movies Based on Memoirs
Gael García Bernal, Mía Maestro, Nidia Bermejo
The Motorcycle Diaries is a 2004 biopic about the journey and written memoir of the 23-year-old Ernesto Guevara, who would several years later become internationally known as the iconic Marxist ...more
12
3 1
The Glass Castle is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Movies Based on Memoirs
Brie Larson, Naomi Watts, Woody Harrelson
The Glass Castle is a 2017 drama film directed by Destin Daniel Cretton, based on Jeannette Walls's 2005 memoir of the same name. Brie Larson stars Jeannette Walls, the eldest daughter of deeply ...more
13
3 1
Behind the Candelabra is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Movies Based on Memoirs
Matt Damon, Michael Douglas, Dan Aykroyd
Behind the Candelabra is a 2013 American drama film directed by Steven Soderbergh. It dramatizes the last ten years in the life of pianist Liberace and the relationship he had with Scott ...more
14
4 3
This Boy's Life is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Movies Based on Memoirs
Leonardo DiCaprio, Robert De Niro, Eliza Dushku
This Boy's Life is a 1993 film adaptation of the memoir of the same name by American author Tobias Wolff. It is directed by Michael Caton-Jones and stars Leonardo DiCaprio as Tobias Wolff, ...more
15
3 2
Being Flynn is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Movies Based on Memoirs
Robert De Niro, Julianne Moore, Olivia Thirlby
Being Flynn is a 2012 American drama film starring Robert De Niro, Julianne Moore and Paul Dano, released in select theatres in the United States on March 2, 2012. It was based on Another ...more
16
2 1
JT LeRoy is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Movies Based on Memoirs
Laura Dern, Kristen Stewart, Diane Kruger
JT LeRoy (a.k.a. Jeremiah Terminator LeRoy) is a 2019 biographical film directed by Justin Kelly based on the memoir by Savannah Knoop. A young woman named Savannah Knoop (Kristen Stewart) ...more
17
2 1
October Sky is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Movies Based on Memoirs
Jake Gyllenhaal, Laura Dern, Chris Cooper
October Sky is a 1999 American biographical film directed by Joe Johnston, starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Chris Cooper and Laura Dern. It is based on the true story of Homer Hickam, a coal miner's ...more
18
4 4
Eat Pray Love is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Movies Based on Memoirs
Julia Roberts, James Franco, Javier Bardem
Eat Pray Love is a 2010 American romantic comedy-drama film starring Julia Roberts as Elizabeth Gilbert, based on Gilbert's best-selling memoir of the same name. Ryan Murphy co-wrote and ...more
19
4 4
Syriana is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Movies Based on Memoirs
George Clooney, Matt Damon, Amanda Peet
Syriana is a 2005 geopolitical thriller film written and directed by Stephen Gaghan, and executive produced by George Clooney, who also stars in the film with an ensemble cast. Gaghan's ...more
20
4 4
Out of Africa is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Movies Based on Memoirs
Meryl Streep, Robert Redford, Iman Abdulmajid
Out of Africa is a 1985 American epic romantic drama film directed and produced by Sydney Pollack and starring Robert Redford and Meryl Streep. The film is based loosely on the autobiographical ...more
21
3 3
Iris is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Movies Based on Memoirs
Kate Winslet, Judi Dench, Jim Broadbent
Iris is a 2001 biographical film that tells the story of British novelist Iris Murdoch and her relationship with John Bayley. The film contrasts the start of their relationship, when Murdoch was ...more
22
3 3
A Mighty Heart is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Movies Based on Memoirs
Angelina Jolie, Archie Panjabi, Denis O'Hare
A Mighty Heart is a 2007 drama film directed by Michael Winterbottom; It is an adaptation of Mariane Pearl's memoir, A Mighty Heart. A Mighty Heart was met with relatively positive reviews from ...more
23
4 5
Mommie Dearest is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Movies Based on Memoirs
Faye Dunaway, Diana Scarwid, Steve Forrest
Mommie Dearest is a 1981 American biographical drama film about Joan Crawford, starring Faye Dunaway. The film was directed by Frank Perry. The story was adapted for the screen by Robert ...more
24
1 2
Boy Erased is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Movies Based on Memoirs
Lucas Hedges, Nicole Kidman, Russell Crowe
Boy Erased is a 2018 American coming-of-age drama film directed by Joel Edgerton, based on Garrard Conley's memoir. When the son (Lucas Hedges) of a Baptist pastor in a small American town is ...more
25
1 3
The Whole Wide World is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Movies Based on Memoirs
Renée Zellweger, Vincent D'Onofrio, Harve Presnell
The Whole Wide World is a 1996 American film depicting the relationship between pulp fiction writer Robert E. Howard and schoolteacher Novalyne Price Ellis. The film was adapted by Michael Scott ...more