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The Best Movies Based on Non-Fiction Books 

Ranker Film
Updated January 27, 2020 13.6k votes 1k voters 58.3k views 82 items

List Rules Films that were based on non-fiction books. Vote up the best movies that started as a non-fiction book.

Some of the absolute best movies in the history of film were based on non-fiction books, whether written to complete historical accuracy or loosely based on true events. Some of these movies have gone down as classics and have forever shaped the movie industry. They tell some of the most gripping stories of all time and captivate audiences. What are the best movies based on non-fiction books?

This list has the best movies that were based on non-fiction books and memoirs, ranked by the community. This the films on this list span a variety of genres, including romance, inspirational dramas, thrillers, and action adventure.
 
This list features the best movies based on non-fiction books including, Tuesdays with Morrie, Syriana, The Hiding Place, Apollo 13, The Blind Side, The Basketball Diaries, The Call of the Wild, and The Greatest Game Ever Played. Vote up the best films based on a non-fiction book below and see where your favorites rank!

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1
Goodfellas is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Movies Based on Non-Fiction Books
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Based on Wiseguy by Nicholas Pileggi 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. ...more

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Based on Lost Moon: The Perilous Voyage of Apollo 13 by astronaut Jim Lovell and Jeffrey Kluger. Apollo 13 is a 1995 American historical docudrama film directed by Ron Howard. The film stars Tom Hanks, Kevin Bacon, Bill Paxton, Gary Sinise, and Ed Harris. The screenplay by William Broyles, ...more

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#1 of 242 The Best Movies Based on True Stories #131 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movieslisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

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Based on the book of the same name by Sebastian Junger. The Perfect Storm is a 2000 American biographical disaster drama film directed by Wolfgang Petersen. It is an adaptation of the 1997 non-fiction book of the same title by Sebastian Junger, which ...more

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Tragic Facts About The Perfect Storm, The Shipwreck Story No One Lived To Tell #11 of 242 The Best Movies Based on True Stories #435 of 548 The Greatest Movies for Guys

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Based on The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game by Michael Lewis. The Blind Side is a 2009 American semi-biographical sports drama film. It was written and directed by John Lee Hancock, and based on the 2006 book The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game by Michael ...more

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#509 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movies #388 of 548 The Greatest Movies for Guyslisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

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Schindler's List is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Movies Based on Non-Fiction Books
EdWildeman added
Schindler's List is a 1993 American epic historical period drama, directed and co-produced by Steven Spielberg and scripted by Steven Zaillian. It is based on the novel Schindler's Ark by Thomas ...more

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Casino is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Movies Based on Non-Fiction Books
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Based on Casino: Love and Honor in Las Vegas by Nicholas Pileggi Casino is a 1995 American drama film directed by Martin Scorsese. It is based on the non-fiction book of the same name by Nicholas Pileggi, who also co-wrote the screenplay for the film with ...more

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#128 of 350 'Old' Movies Every Young Person Needs To Watch In Their Lifetime #40 of 242 The Best Movies Based on True Stories #1,026 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movies

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Based on Escape from Alcatraz by J. Campbell Bruce. Escape from Alcatraz is a 1979 American prison film, directed by Don Siegel and starring Clint Eastwood. It is based on true events. It dramatizes possibly the only successful escape attempt ...more

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#131 of 242 The Best Movies Based on True Stories #1,001 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movies #31 of 591 The Best '70s Movies

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Based on the book of the same name by Marcus Luttrell and Patrick Robinson. Lone Survivor is a 2013 American film written and directed by Peter Berg, and starring Mark Wahlberg, Taylor Kitsch, Emile Hirsch, Ben Foster and Eric Bana. The film is based on the 2007 ...more

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#72 of 242 The Best Movies Based on True Stories #175 of 548 The Greatest Movies for Guys #158 of 366 The Best Movies Based On Books

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Based on the book of the same name by Michael Lewis. Moneyball is an American 2011 biographical sports drama film directed by Bennett Miller from a screenplay by Steven Zaillian and Aaron Sorkin. The film is based on Michael Lewis's 2003 ...more

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#45 of 242 The Best Movies Based on True Stories #767 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movies #221 of 548 The Greatest Movies for Guys

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Based on Donnie Brasco: My Undercover life in the Mafia by Joseph D. Pistone Donnie Brasco is a 1997 American 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 ...more

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#285 of 624 The Greatest Guilty Pleasure Movies #131 of 350 'Old' Movies Every Young Person Needs To Watch In Their Lifetime #830 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movies

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Based on Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln by Doris Kearns. Lincoln is a 2012 American epic historical drama film directed by Steven Spielberg, starring Daniel Day-Lewis as United States President Abraham Lincoln and Sally Field as Mary Todd Lincoln. The ...more

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#184 of 374 The 50+ Best War Movies Ever Made, Ranked #27 of 242 The Best Movies Based on True Stories #87 of 710 The Best Movies Roger Ebert Gave Four Stars

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Based on the book of the same name by John Grogan. Marley & Me is a 2008 American comedy-drama film directed by David Frankel, based on the memoir by John Grogan. Newlyweds John (Owen Wilson) and Jenny Grogan (Jennifer Aniston) learn ...more

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#80 of 242 The Best Movies Based on True Stories #13 of 293 The Top Tearjerker Movies That Make Men Cry #332 of 804 The Greatest Chick Flicks Ever Made

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Based on Seabiscuit: An American Legend by Laura Hillenbrand. Seabiscuit is a 2003 American biographical sports psychological-drama thriller film based on the best-selling non-fiction book Seabiscuit: An American Legend by Laura Hillenbrand. The film is ...more

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The Wolf of Wall Street ... is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Movies Based on Non-Fiction Books
Tom Islava added

Based on the book of the same name by Jordan Belfort

The Wolf of Wall Street is a 2013 American biographical black comedy film directed by Martin Scorsese, based on the memoir by Jordan Belfort. An ambitious stockbroker (Leonardo DiCaprio) tells ...more

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#44 of 242 The Best Movies Based on True Stories #763 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movies #181 of 366 The Best Movies Based On Books

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Based on Queen Bees and Wannabes by Rosalind Wiseman. Mean Girls is a 2004 American teen comedy film. Mark Waters directed, and Tina Fey wrote the screenplay, which is based in part on Rosalind Wiseman's non-fiction book Queen Bees and Wannabes, ...more

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Based on the book of the same name by James Bradley and Ron Powers. Flags of Our Fathers is a 2006 American film directed, co-produced and scored by Clint Eastwood and written by William Broyles, Jr. and Paul Haggis. It is based on the book of the same name ...more

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#59 of 374 The 50+ Best War Movies Ever Made, Ranked #58 of 242 The Best Movies Based on True Stories #47 of 222 The Greatest World War II Movies of All Time

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Based on The Accidental Billionaires by Ben Mezrich. The Social Network is a 2010 American drama film directed by David Fincher and written by Aaron Sorkin. Adapted from Ben Mezrich's 2009 book The Accidental Billionaires: The Founding of ...more

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#34 of 242 The Best Movies Based on True Stories #917 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movies #468 of 548 The Greatest Movies for Guys

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Based on the book of the same name by U.S. Marine Anthony Swofford. 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

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#128 of 374 The 50+ Best War Movies Ever Made, Ranked #70 of 242 The Best Movies Based on True Storieslisted on The Best Movies About the Gulf War

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Based on The Elephant Man and Other Reminiscences by Frederick Treves and The Elephant Man: A Study in Human Dignity by Ashley Montagu.

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#237 of 350 'Old' Movies Every Young Person Needs To Watch In Their Lifetime #273 of 571 The Greatest Movies Of The 1980s, Ranked #18 of 242 The Best Movies Based on True Stories

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Catch Me If You Can is a 2002 American biographical crime drama film based on the life of Frank Abagnale, who, before his 19th birthday, successfully performed cons worth millions of dollars by ...more

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#3 of 242 The Best Movies Based on True Stories #151 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movies #340 of 804 The Greatest Chick Flicks Ever Made

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Based on The Man-Eaters of Tsavo by John Henry Patterson. The Ghost and the Darkness is a 1996 historical adventure film starring Val Kilmer and Michael Douglas set in Africa at the end of the 19th century. It was directed by Stephen Hopkins and the ...more

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#212 of 624 The Greatest Guilty Pleasure Movies #147 of 242 The Best Movies Based on True Storieslisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

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Based on Friday Night Lights: A Town, a Team, and a Dream by H. G. Bissinger. Friday Night Lights is a 2004 sports drama film, directed by Peter Berg, which documents the coach and players of a high school football team and the Texas city of Odessa that supports and is ...more

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#1,462 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movies #366 of 548 The Greatest Movies for Guys #220 of 293 The Top Tearjerker Movies That Make Men Cry

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Pitch Perfect is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Movies Based on Non-Fiction Books
Based on Pitch Perfect: The Quest for Collegiate A Cappella Glory by Mickey Rapkin.

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Based on the book of the same name by Jon Krakauer. Into the Wild is a 2007 American biographical drama survival film written and directed by Sean Penn. It is an adaptation of the 1996 non-fiction book of the same name by Jon Krakauer based on ...more

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Based on Boys Don't Cry by Malorie Blackman Boys Don't Cry is a 1999 American independent romantic drama film directed by Kimberly Peirce and co-written by Andy Bienen. The film is a dramatization of the real-life story of Brandon Teena, ...more

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