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The Best Movies "Loosely" Based on True Stories 

Ranker Film
Updated December 6, 2019 6.9k votes 715 voters 21.8k views 53 items

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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1
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Robert De Niro, Samuel L. Jackson, Joe Pesci

Released: 1990

Directed by: Martin Scorsese

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2
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Mel Gibson, Sophie Marceau, Brendan Gleeson

Released: 1995

Directed by: Mel Gibson

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

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3
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Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Winslet, Kathy Bates

Released: 1997

Directed by: James Cameron

Titanic is a 1997 American epic romance and disaster film directed by James Cameron. A seventeen-year-old aristocrat (Kate Winslet) falls in love with a kind but poor artist (Leonardo DiCaprio) ...more

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4
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Tom Hanks, Matt Damon, Vin Diesel

Released: 1998

Directed by: Steven Spielberg

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5
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Hayden Panettiere, Ryan Gosling, Denzel Washington

Released: 2000

Directed by: Boaz Yakin

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 ...more

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6
The Untouchables is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Movies "Loosely" Based on True Stories
Robert De Niro, Sean Connery, Kevin Costner

Released: 1987

Directed by: Brian De Palma

The Untouchables is a 1987 American 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 ...more

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7
A Beautiful Mind is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Movies "Loosely" Based on True Stories
Jennifer Connelly, Russell Crowe, Ron Howard

Released: 2001

Directed by: 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

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8
The Exorcist is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Movies "Loosely" Based on True Stories
Max von Sydow, Ellen Burstyn, Linda Blair

Released: 1973

Directed by: William Friedkin

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 ...more

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9
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Kevin Costner, Gary Oldman, Kevin Bacon

Released: 1991

Directed by: Oliver Stone

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

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10
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Vera Farmiga, Patrick Wilson, Joey King

Released: 2013

Directed by: James Wan

The Conjuring is a 2013 American supernatural horror film directed by James Wan and the first installment in the Conjuring series. Ed (Patrick Wilson) and Lorraine Warren (Vera Farmiga) are ...more

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11
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Owen Wilson, Gene Hackman, Gabriel Macht

Released: 2001

Directed by: John Moore

Behind Enemy Lines is a 2001 action 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 ...more

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12
Fear and Loathing in Las... is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Movies "Loosely" Based on True Stories
Johnny Depp, Cameron Diaz, Christina Ricci

Released: 1998

Directed by: Terry Gilliam

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 ...more

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13
Donnie Brasco is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Movies "Loosely" Based on True Stories
Johnny Depp, Al Pacino, Paul Giamatti

Released: 1997

Directed by: Mike Newell

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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14
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Gene Hackman, Dennis Hopper, Barbara Hershey

Released: 1986

Directed by: David Anspaugh

Hoosiers is a 1986 sports film directed by David Anspaugh. A coach with a checkered past (Gene Hackman) and a local drunk (Dennis Hopper) train a small town high school basketball team to become ...more

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15
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Zooey Deschanel, Kate Hudson, Anna Paquin

Released: 2000

Directed by: Cameron Crowe

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 ...more

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16
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Tom Hanks, Colin Farrell, Emma Thompson

Released: 2013

Directed by: John Lee Hancock

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 ...more

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17
Heat is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Movies "Loosely" Based on True Stories
Natalie Portman, Al Pacino, Robert De Niro

Released: 1995

Directed by: Michael Mann

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 ...more

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18
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Julianne Moore, Mark Wahlberg, Heather Graham

Released: 1997

Directed by: Paul Thomas Anderson

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19
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Denzel Washington, Rosario Dawson, Chris Pine

Released: 2010

Directed by: Tony Scott

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 ...more

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20
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Gene Hackman, Roy Scheider, Fernando Rey

Released: 1971

Directed by: William Friedkin

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21
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Laura Linney, Jennifer Carpenter, Tom Wilkinson

Released: 2005

Directed by: Scott Derrickson

The Exorcism of Emily Rose is a 2005 American courtroom drama horror film directed by Scott Derrickson, loosely based on the story of Anneliese Michel. A self-proclaimed agnostic lawyer (Laura ...more

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22
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Jennifer Lawrence, Amy Adams, Robert De Niro

Released: 2013

Directed by: David O. Russell

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23
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Johnny Depp, Sarah Jessica Parker, Bill Murray

Released: 1994

Directed by: Tim Burton

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24
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Mel Gibson, Christian Bale, Billy Connolly

Released: 1995

Directed by: Eric Goldberg, Mike Gabriel

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25
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Liv Tyler, Gemma Ward, Scott Speedman

Released: 2008

Directed by: Bryan Bertino

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 ...more

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