Adaptations The Best Movies Based on Non-Fiction Books  

Ranker Film
12.4k votes 923 voters 50.5k views 76 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, 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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Goodfellas is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Movies Based on Non-Fiction Books
Bootsdad added 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

2
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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

3
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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

4
161 32
Schindler's List is listed (or ranked) 4 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

5
334 160
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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

6
262 116
Casino is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Movies Based on Non-Fiction Books
Bootsdad added 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

7
207 97
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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

8
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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

9
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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

10
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Bootsdad added 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

11
191 141
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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

12
151 101
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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

13
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BrandonDuggan added 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

14
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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

15
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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

16
77 32
The Wolf of Wall Street is listed (or ranked) 16 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. The screenplay by Terence Winter is adapted from the eponymous memoir by Jordan Belfort and ...more

17
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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

18
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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

19
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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

20
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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. The Elephant Man is a 1980 American-British biographical film about Joseph Merrick, a severely deformed man in 19th century London. The film was directed by David Lynch and stars John Hurt, ...more

21
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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

22
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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

23
144 131
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. Pitch Perfect is a 2012 American musical comedy film directed by Jason Moore. Featuring an ensemble cast, including Anna Kendrick, Skylar Astin, Rebel Wilson, Anna Camp, Brittany Snow, Ester ...more

24
104 92
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Based on Public Enemies: America's Greatest Crime Wave and the Birth of the FBI, 1933–34 by Bryan Burrough. Public Enemies is a 2009 American film directed by Michael Mann and written by Mann, Ronan Bennett and Ann Biderman. It is an adaptation of Bryan Burrough's non-fiction book. Set during the ...more

25
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Based on Lazarus and the Hurricane: The Freeing of Rubin "Hurricane" Carter by Sam Chaiton and Terry Swinton, and The Sixteenth Round: From Number 1 Contender To #45472 by Rubin "Hurricane" Carter. The Hurricane is a 1999 biographical film directed by Norman Jewison, and starring Denzel Washington. The script was adapted by Armyan Bernstein and Dan Gordon from the books Lazarus and the ...more

26
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Based on Not Without My Daughter by Betty Mahmoody and William Hoffer. Not Without My Daughter is a 1991 drama film depicting the escape of American citizen Betty Mahmoody and her daughter from her husband in Iran. The film was shot in the United States, Turkey and ...more

27
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Bootsdad added 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

28
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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

29
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Based on the book of the same name by journalists Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward. All the President's Men is a 1976 American political thriller film directed by Alan J. Pakula. The screenplay by William Goldman is based on the 1974 non-fiction book of the same name by Carl ...more

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Based on Dead Man Walking by Sister Helen Prejean C.S.J. This film is a 1995 American drama film starring Susan Sarandon and Sean Penn, and co-produced and directed by Tim Robbins, who adapted the screenplay from the non-fiction book of the same name. ...more

31
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Based on The Call of the Wild by Jack London. The Call of the Wild is a 1935 American adventure film directed by William A. Wellman and starring Clark Gable, Loretta Young, and Jack Oakie. Based on Jack London's novel of the same name, the ...more

32
94 98
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Based on Charlie Wilson's War: The Extraordinary Story of the Largest Covert Operation in History by George Crile III. Charlie Wilson's War is a 2007 American biographical comedy-drama film, recounting the true story of U.S. Congressman Charlie Wilson who partnered with CIA operative Gust Avrakotos to launch ...more

33
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Based on the book of the same name by John Berendt. Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil is a 1997 American crime drama film directed by Clint Eastwood, and an adaptation of the book of the same name by John Berendt, which was based on ...more

34
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Bootsdad added Based on Midnight Express by Billy Hayes & William Hoffer Midnight Express is a 1978 American-British prison drama film directed by Alan Parker, produced by David Puttnam and starring Brad Davis, Irene Miracle, Bo Hopkins, Paolo Bonacelli, Paul L. ...more

35
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Based on the book of the same name by Jim Carroll. The Basketball Diaries is a 1995 American drama film directed by Scott Kalvert, starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Lorraine Bracco, James Madio, and Mark Wahlberg from the non-fiction work of the same ...more

36
54 86
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Based on The Freedom Writers Diary by Erin Gruwell. Freedom Writers is a 2007 drama film starring Hilary Swank, Scott Glenn, Imelda Staunton and Patrick Dempsey. It is based on the book The Freedom Writers Diary by teacher Erin Gruwell who wrote ...more

37
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Based on the book of the same name by Jon Ronson. The Men Who Stare at Goats is a 2009 American parody comedy film directed by Grant Heslov and based on Jon Ronson's book of the same name, an account of the investigation by Ronson and John ...more

38
42 69
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Based on Seven Years in Tibet by Heinrich Harrer. Seven Years in Tibet is a 1997 British-American biographical drama film based on the 1952 book of the same name written by Austrian mountaineer Heinrich Harrer on his experiences in Tibet ...more

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Thereian Scrooge added In Cold Blood is a 1967 film based on Truman Capote's book of the same name. Richard Brooks prepared the adaptation and directed the film. It stars Robert Blake as Perry Smith, Scott Wilson as ...more

40
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Based on My Dog Skip by Willie Morris. My Dog Skip is a 2000 film, directed by Jay Russell. It is based on the autobiographical book My Dog Skip by Willie Morris. The movie was released March 3, 2000. The movie recounts a few ...more

41
47 84
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Based on The Orchid Thief by Susan Orlean. Adaptation is a 2002 American comedy-drama metafilm directed by Spike Jonze and written by Charlie Kaufman. The film is based on Susan Orlean's non-fiction book The Orchid Thief, with numerous ...more

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Based on The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls

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

43
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Based on The Kennedy Tapes: Inside the White House During the Cuban Missile Crisis by Ernest May and Philip Zelikow Thirteen Days is a 2000 American historical drama-thriller film directed by Roger Donaldson Kevin Costner stars, with Bruce Greenwood featured as President John F. Kennedy, Steven Culp as ...more

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Based on the book of the same name by Greg Behrendt and Liz Tuccillo. He's Just Not That into You is a 2009 American romantic comedy-drama film directed by Ken Kwapis, based on the self-help book by Greg Behrendt and Liz Tuccillo. This Baltimore-set movie of ...more

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Bootsdad added Based on The Iceman Confessions of a Mafia Contract Killer by Philip Carlo The Iceman is an American crime thriller film based on the true story of longtime notorious hitman Richard Kuklinski. Released in 2013 at the Venice Film Festival, the film was directed by Ariel ...more

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Based on Confessions of a Dangerous Mind by Chuck Barris Confessions of a Dangerous Mind is a 2002 biographical spy comedy film depicting the life of popular game show host and producer Chuck Barris, who claimed to have also been an agent for the ...more

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Unbroken: Path to Redemption is a 2018 American Christian drama film directed by Harold Cronk, and the unofficial sequel to the 2014 film Unbroken. Olympian and World War II veteran Louis ...more

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Deepan Basu added 3096 Days 3096 is a 2013 German drama film directed by Sherry Hormann. The film is based on the true story of Natascha Kampusch, a 10-year-old girl and her eight-year ordeal being kidnapped by Wolfgang ...more

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Bootsdad added Based on Angela's Ashes by Frank McCourt 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

50
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Bootsdad added Based on Bully: A True Story of High School Revenge by Jim Schultze Bully is a 2001 American film directed by Larry Clark, and starring Brad Renfro, Bijou Phillips, Rachel Miner, Michael Pitt, Leo Fitzpatrick, Kelli Garner, and Nick Stahl. The screenplay was ...more