Film The Best Movies Based on True Stories  

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List Rules 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.
list ordered by

1
471 125
Schindler's List is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Movies Based on True Stories
Liam Neeson, Ralph Fiennes, Ben Kingsley 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

2
571 178
Apollo 13 is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Movies Based on True Stories
Tom Hanks, Bryce Dallas Howard, Ed Harris 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
360 120
Goodfellas is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Movies Based on True Stories
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. ...more

4
562 198
Catch Me If You Can is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Movies Based on True Stories
Leonardo DiCaprio, Amy Adams, Jennifer Garner 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

5
239 89
Black Hawk Down is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Movies Based on True Stories
Jon DeSpirito added Ewan McGregor, Tom Hardy, Orlando Bloom Black Hawk Down is a 2001 American-British war film directed by Ridley Scott. It is an adaptation of the 1999 book of the same name by Mark Bowden based on his series of articles published in ...more

6
241 97
A Beautiful Mind is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Movies Based on True Stories
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 ...more

7
285 145
Braveheart is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Movies Based on True Stories
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 ...more

8
355 167
Walk the Line is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Movies Based on True Stories
Reese Witherspoon, Joaquin Phoenix, Ginnifer Goodwin Walk the Line is a 2005 American biographical drama film directed by James Mangold and based on the early life and career of country music artist Johnny Cash. The film stars Joaquin Phoenix, ...more

9
241 79
Tombstone is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Movies Based on True Stories
Val Kilmer, Kurt Russell, Charlton Heston Tombstone is a 1993 American western film directed by George P. Cosmatos, written by Kevin Jarre and starring Kurt Russell and Val Kilmer, with Sam Elliott, Bill Paxton, Powers Boothe, Michael ...more

10
204 125
The Aviator is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Movies Based on True Stories
Kate Beckinsale, Leonardo DiCaprio, Gwen Stefani The Aviator is a 2004 American biographical drama film directed by Martin Scorsese, written by John Logan and produced by Michael Mann, Sandy Climan, Graham King, and Charles Evans, Jr.. It ...more

11
280 95
Hidden Figures is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Movies Based on True Stories
carlybobarly added Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, Janelle Monáe Hidden Figures is a 2016 American biographical drama film directed by Theodore Melfi, based on the non-fiction book by Margot Lee Shetterly. The story of a team of female African-American ...more

12
156 53
Glory is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Movies Based on True Stories
Jon DeSpirito added Morgan Freeman, Denzel Washington, Matthew Broderick Glory is a 1989 American drama film directed by Edward Zwick and starring Matthew Broderick, Denzel Washington, Cary Elwes and Morgan Freeman. The screenplay was written by Kevin Jarre, based on ...more

13
229 97
12 Years a Slave is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Movies Based on True Stories
Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael Fassbender, Benedict Cumberbatch 12 Years a Slave is a 2013 period drama film directed by Steve McQueen, based on the 1853 memoir by Solomon Northup In the antebellum United States, Solomon Northup (Chiwetel Ejiofor), a free ...more

14
338 133
American Sniper is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Movies Based on True Stories
Bradley Cooper, Sienna Miller, Jonathan Groff American Sniper is a 2014 American biographical drama film directed by Clint Eastwood and written by Jason Hall. It is based on the book American Sniper: The Autobiography of the Most Lethal ...more

15
359 143
The Pursuit of Happyness is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Movies Based on True Stories
Will Smith, Thandie Newton, Jaden Smith The Pursuit of Happyness is a 2006 American biographical drama film based on Chris Gardner's nearly one-year struggle with homelessness. Directed by Gabriele Muccino, the film features Will ...more

16
287 132
The Perfect Storm is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Movies Based on True Stories
George Clooney, Mark Wahlberg, Diane Lane 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

17
359 147
Titanic is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Movies Based on True Stories
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 what happened to the RMS Titanic, it stars ...more

18
378 158
A League of Their Own is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Movies Based on True Stories
Madonna, Tom Hanks, Rosie O'Donnell A League of Their Own is a 1992 American comedy-drama film that tells a fictionalized account of the real-life All-American Girls Professional Baseball League. Directed by Penny Marshall, the ...more

19
328 160
Cool Runnings is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Movies Based on True Stories
John Candy, Malik Yoba, Jay Brazeau Cool Runnings is a 1993 American sports film directed by Jon Turteltaub, and starring Leon, Doug E. Doug, Rawle D. Lewis, Malik Yoba and John Candy. The film was released in the United States on ...more

20
144 61
The Elephant Man is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Movies Based on True Stories
Anthony Hopkins, John Hurt, Anne Bancroft 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
225 100
Lincoln is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Movies Based on True Stories
Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Daniel Day-Lewis, Sally Field 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

22
156 57
Rudy is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Movies Based on True Stories
Jon DeSpirito added Vince Vaughn, Sean Astin, Jon Favreau filmography Rudy is a 1993 American sports film directed by David Anspaugh. It is an account of the life of Daniel "Rudy" Ruettiger, who harbored dreams of playing football at the University of ...more

23
231 122
Moneyball is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Movies Based on True Stories
Brad Pitt, Jonah Hill, Robin Wright 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

24
153 59
Butch Cassidy and the Sundance... is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Movies Based on True Stories
Paul Newman, Robert Redford, Cloris Leachman Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid is a 1969 American Western film directed by George Roy Hill and written by William Goldman. Based loosely on fact, the film tells the story of Wild West ...more

25
309 128
Erin Brockovich is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Movies Based on True Stories
Julia Roberts, Marg Helgenberger, Aaron Eckhart Erin Brockovich is a 2000 biographical film directed by Steven Soderbergh and written by Susannah Grant. The film is a dramatization of the true story of Erin Brockovich, portrayed by Julia ...more

26
204 109
Cinderella Man is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Best Movies Based on True Stories
Russell Crowe, Renée Zellweger, Paul Giamatti Cinderella Man is a 2005 American drama film by Ron Howard, titled after the nickname of heavyweight boxing champion James J. Braddock and inspired by his life story. The film was produced by ...more

27
169 72
The King's Speech is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Best Movies Based on True Stories
Helena Bonham Carter, Colin Firth, Guy Pearce The King's Speech is a 2010 British historical drama film directed by Tom Hooper and written by David Seidler. Colin Firth plays King George VI who, to cope with a stammer, sees Lionel Logue, an ...more

28
132 63
Patton is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Best Movies Based on True Stories
Tom Islava added George C. Scott, Karl Malden, Paul Frees Patton is a 1970 American epic biographical film about U.S. General George S. Patton during WWII. It stars George C. Scott, Karl Malden, Michael Bates and Karl Michael Vogler. It was directed by ...more

29
130 75
Amadeus is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Best Movies Based on True Stories
Tom Islava added Jeffrey Jones, Cynthia Nixon, Christine Ebersole Amadeus - Directors Cut is a 1984 biography drama film written by Peter Shaffer and directed by Milos Forman.

30
239 122
Zodiac is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Best Movies Based on True Stories
Robert Downey Jr., Jake Gyllenhaal, Mark Ruffalo Zodiac is a 2007 American mystery-thriller film directed by David Fincher and based on Robert Graysmith's non-fiction book of the same name. Zodiac tells the story of the manhunt for a person ...more

31
72 8
Green Book is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Best Movies Based on True Stories
Viggo Mortensen, Mahershala Ali, Linda Cardellini Green Book is a 2018 comedy-drama film directed by Peter Farrelly. A bouncer (Viggo Mortensen) at a New York nightclub takes a job as a pianist's (Mahershala Ali) chauffeur during a tour in the ...more

32
173 56
Good Morning, Vietnam is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Best Movies Based on True Stories
Jon DeSpirito added Robin Williams, Forest Whitaker, J. T. Walsh Good Morning, Vietnam is a 1987 American comedy film written by Mitch Markowitz and directed by Barry Levinson. Set in Saigon in 1965, during Vietnam, the film stars Robin Williams as a radio DJ ...more

33
173 81
The Revenant is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Best Movies Based on True Stories
Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hardy, Domhnall Gleeson The Revenant is a 2015 American semi-biographical epic western film directed by Alejandro G. Iñárritu. A frontiersman (Leonardo DiCaprio) on a fur trading expedition in the 1820s ...more

34
192 92
Gettysburg is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Best Movies Based on True Stories
Martin Sheen, Tom Berenger, Sam Elliott Gettysburg is a 1993 epic film written and directed by Ronald F. Maxwell, adapted from the novel The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara, about the Battle of Gettysburg. The film starred Tom ...more

35
146 76
The Right Stuff is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Best Movies Based on True Stories
Charles Adams added Jeff Goldblum, Ed Harris, Dennis Quaid The Right Stuff is a 1983 American drama film that was adapted from Tom Wolfe's best-selling 1979 book of the same name about the Navy, Marine and Air Force test pilots who were involved in ...more

36
192 70
The Wolf of Wall Street is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Best Movies Based on True Stories
Tom Islava added Leonardo DiCaprio, Matthew McConaughey, Margot Robbie 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

37
132 57
Hotel Rwanda is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Best Movies Based on True Stories
Nick Nolte, Joaquin Phoenix, Don Cheadle Hotel Rwanda is a 2004 American historical drama film directed by Terry George. It was adapted from a screenplay written by both George and Keir Pearson. It stars Don Cheadle and Sophie Okonedo ...more

38
187 96
Monster is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Best Movies Based on True Stories
Charlize Theron, Christina Ricci, Rose Byrne Monster is a 2003 drama film about Aileen Wuornos, who was executed in Florida in 2002 for taking six men's lives in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Wuornos was played by Charlize Theron, and ...more

39
132 74
Argo is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Best Movies Based on True Stories
Ben Affleck, John Goodman, Bryan Cranston Argo is a 2012 American political thriller film directed by Ben Affleck. The film is adapted from U.S. Central Intelligence Agency operative Tony Mendez's book The Master of Disguise and Joshuah ...more

40
228 104
Mississippi Burning is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Best Movies Based on True Stories
Willem Dafoe, Gene Hackman, Frances McDormand Mississippi Burning is a 1988 American thriller film directed by Alan Parker and written by Chris Gerolmo. It was loosely based on the FBI investigation into the incidents involving of three ...more

41
113 34
The Great Escape is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Best Movies Based on True Stories
DeltaBlues added Steve McQueen, Richard Attenborough, James Garner The Great Escape is a 1963 American WWII epic film based on an escape by British and Commonwealth POW from a German POW camp during WWII, starring Steve McQueen, James Garner, and Richard ...more

42
181 98
Ray is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Best Movies Based on True Stories
Kerry Washington, Jamie Foxx, Terrence Howard Ray is a biographical film focusing on 30 years in the life of rhythm and blues musician Ray Charles. The independently produced film was written, produced and directed by Taylor Hackford, and ...more

43
84 15
Bohemian Rhapsody is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Best Movies Based on True Stories
Rami Malek, Ben Hardy, Gwilym Lee Bohemian Rhapsody is a 2018 American-British biographical drama film directed by Bryan Singer. A chronicle of the years from the formation of Queen and lead singer Freddie Mercury (Rami Malek) ...more

44
51 5
At Eternity's Gate is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Best Movies Based on True Stories
Willem Dafoe, Rupert Friend, Oscar Isaac At Eternity's Gate is a 2018 American drama film directed by Julian Schnabel. Vincent van Gogh (Willem Dafoe) spends his final days in Arles.

45
153 63
The Sound of Music is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Best Movies Based on True Stories
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

46
128 48
Casino is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Best Movies Based on True Stories
Sharon Stone, Robert De Niro, James Woods 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

47
199 93
We Are Marshall is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Best Movies Based on True Stories
Matthew McConaughey, Kate Mara, January Jones We Are Marshall is a 2006 American historical drama biopic film directed by McG. It depicts the aftermath of the 1970 incident that 37 football players on the Marshall University Thundering Herd ...more

48
141 58
JFK is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Best Movies Based on True Stories
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 ...more

49
138 74
Gangs of New York is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Best Movies Based on True Stories
Cameron Diaz, Leonardo DiCaprio, Liam Neeson Gangs of New York is a 2002 American fictionalized historical drama film set in the mid-19th century in the Five Points district of Lower Manhattan in 1863. The film was directed by Martin ...more

50
88 59
Raging Bull is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Best Movies Based on True Stories
Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci, Martin Scorsese Raging Bull is a 1980 American biographical black-and-white sports drama film directed by Martin Scorsese, produced by Robert Chartoff and Irwin Winkler and adapted by Paul Schrader and Mardik ...more