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The Best Movies "Loosely" Based on True Stories

Updated June 15, 2020 8.8k votes 725 voters 23.0k views54 items

List RulesFilms 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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  • The Conjuring1
    250
    61

    The Conjuring

    Vera Farmiga, Patrick Wilson

    Released2013

    Directed byJames Wan

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  • Goodfellas2
    248
    62

    Goodfellas

    Robert De Niro, Samuel L. Jackson

    Released1990

    Directed byMartin Scorsese

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  • Braveheart3
    240
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    Braveheart

    Mel Gibson, Sophie Marceau

    Released1995

    Directed byMel Gibson

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  • Titanic4
    260
    85

    Titanic

    Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Winslet

    Released1997

    Directed byJames Cameron

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  • Boogie Nights5
    193
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    Boogie Nights

    Julianne Moore, Mark Wahlberg

    Released1997

    Directed byPaul Thomas Anderson

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  • The Black Dahlia6
    128
    52

    The Black Dahlia

    Scarlett Johansson, Rose McGowan

    Released2006

    Directed byBrian De Palma

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  • Saving Private Ryan7
    227
    126

    Saving Private Ryan

    Tom Hanks, Matt Damon

    Released1998

    Directed bySteven Spielberg

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  • The Untouchables8
    130
    54

    The Untouchables

    Robert De Niro, Sean Connery

    Released1987

    Directed byBrian De Palma

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  • Remember the Titans9
    149
    74

    Remember the Titans

    Hayden Panettiere, Ryan Gosling

    Released2000

    Directed byBoaz Yakin

    Remember the Titans is a 2000 American sports drama film produced by Jerry Bruckheimer and... more on Wikipedia
  • The Exorcist10
    121
    62

    The Exorcist

    Max von Sydow, Ellen Burstyn

    Released1973

    Directed byWilliam Friedkin

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  • A Beautiful Mind11
    123
    64

    A Beautiful Mind

    Jennifer Connelly, Russell Crowe

    Released2001

    Directed byRon Howard

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  • JFK12
    100
    59

    JFK

    Kevin Costner, Gary Oldman

    Released1991

    Directed byOliver Stone

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  • Behind Enemy Lines13
    75
    49

    Behind Enemy Lines

    Owen Wilson, Gene Hackman

    Released2001

    Directed byJohn Moore

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  • Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas14
    79
    62

    Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

    Johnny Depp, Cameron Diaz

    Released1998

    Directed byTerry Gilliam

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  • Donnie Brasco15
    72
    55

    Donnie Brasco

    Johnny Depp, Al Pacino

    Released1997

    Directed byMike Newell

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  • The Exorcism of Emily Rose16
    149
    139

    The Exorcism of Emily Rose

    Laura Linney, Jennifer Carpenter

    Released2005

    Directed byScott Derrickson

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  • Hoosiers17
    66
    53

    Hoosiers

    Gene Hackman, Dennis Hopper

    Released1986

    Directed byDavid Anspaugh

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  • The Strangers18
    114
    107

    The Strangers

    Liv Tyler, Gemma Ward

    Released2008

    Directed byBryan Bertino

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  • Almost Famous19
    65
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    Almost Famous

    Zooey Deschanel, Kate Hudson

    Released2000

    Directed byCameron Crowe

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  • American Hustle20
    147
    145

    American Hustle

    Jennifer Lawrence, Amy Adams

    Released2013

    Directed byDavid O. Russell

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  • Heat21
    67
    64

    Heat

    Natalie Portman, Al Pacino

    Released1995

    Directed byMichael Mann

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  • Changeling22
    116
    133

    Changeling

    Angelina Jolie, John Malkovich

    Released2008

    Directed byClint Eastwood

    Changeling is a 2008 American drama film, written by J. Michael Straczynski and directed,... more on Wikipedia
  • Once Upon a Time in Hollywood23
    9
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    Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

    Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt

    Released2019

    Directed byQuentin Tarantino

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  • The Haunting in Connecticut24
    107
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    The Haunting in Connecticut

    Virginia Madsen, Amanda Crew

    Released2009

    Directed byPeter Cornwell

    The Haunting in Connecticut is a 2009 American psychological horror film produced by Gold... more on Wikipedia
  • A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood25
    7
    0

    Released2019

    Directed byMarielle Heller

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