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The Best Movies "Loosely" Based on True Stories

Updated June 15, 2020 8.7k votes 723 voters 22.8k 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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  • 1
    Goodfellas
    252
    62

    Goodfellas

    Robert De Niro, Samuel L. Jackson

    Released1990

    Directed byMartin Scorsese

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  • 2
    The Conjuring
    250
    61

    The Conjuring

    Vera Farmiga, Patrick Wilson

    Released2013

    Directed byJames Wan

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  • 3
    Braveheart
    245
    71

    Braveheart

    Mel Gibson, Sophie Marceau

    Released1995

    Directed byMel Gibson

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  • 4
    Titanic
    264
    86

    Titanic

    Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Winslet

    Released1997

    Directed byJames Cameron

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  • 5
    Boogie Nights
    194
    65

    Boogie Nights

    Julianne Moore, Mark Wahlberg

    Released1997

    Directed byPaul Thomas Anderson

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  • 6
    The Black Dahlia
    129
    52

    The Black Dahlia

    Scarlett Johansson, Rose McGowan

    Released2006

    Directed byBrian De Palma

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  • 7
    The Untouchables
    129
    54

    The Untouchables

    Robert De Niro, Sean Connery

    Released1987

    Directed byBrian De Palma

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  • 8
    Saving Private Ryan
    228
    132

    Saving Private Ryan

    Tom Hanks, Matt Damon

    Released1998

    Directed bySteven Spielberg

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  • 9
    Remember the Titans
    147
    74

    Remember the Titans

    Hayden Panettiere, Ryan Gosling

    Released2000

    Directed byBoaz Yakin

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  • 10
    The Exorcist
    122
    62

    The Exorcist

    Max von Sydow, Ellen Burstyn

    Released1973

    Directed byWilliam Friedkin

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  • 11
    A Beautiful Mind
    124
    65

    A Beautiful Mind

    Jennifer Connelly, Russell Crowe

    Released2001

    Directed byRon Howard

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  • 12
    JFK
    99
    59

    JFK

    Kevin Costner, Gary Oldman

    Released1991

    Directed byOliver Stone

    JFK is a 1991 American historical legal-conspiracy thriller film directed by Oliver Stone. It... more on Wikipedia
  • 13
    Behind Enemy Lines
    75
    50

    Behind Enemy Lines

    Owen Wilson, Gene Hackman

    Released2001

    Directed byJohn Moore

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  • 14
    Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas
    80
    62

    Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

    Johnny Depp, Cameron Diaz

    Released1998

    Directed byTerry Gilliam

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  • 15
    Donnie Brasco
    73
    55

    Donnie Brasco

    Johnny Depp, Al Pacino

    Released1997

    Directed byMike Newell

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  • 16
    The Exorcism of Emily Rose
    149
    140

    The Exorcism of Emily Rose

    Laura Linney, Jennifer Carpenter

    Released2005

    Directed byScott Derrickson

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  • 17
    Almost Famous
    66
    53

    Almost Famous

    Zooey Deschanel, Kate Hudson

    Released2000

    Directed byCameron Crowe

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  • 18
    The Strangers
    114
    107

    The Strangers

    Liv Tyler, Gemma Ward

    Released2008

    Directed byBryan Bertino

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  • 19
    Hoosiers
    66
    53

    Hoosiers

    Gene Hackman, Dennis Hopper

    Released1986

    Directed byDavid Anspaugh

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  • 20
    American Hustle
    148
    146

    American Hustle

    Jennifer Lawrence, Amy Adams

    Released2013

    Directed byDavid O. Russell

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  • 21
    Heat
    67
    65

    Heat

    Natalie Portman, Al Pacino

    Released1995

    Directed byMichael Mann

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  • 22
    Changeling
    117
    133

    Changeling

    Angelina Jolie, John Malkovich

    Released2008

    Directed byClint Eastwood

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  • 23
    Pocahontas
    56
    59

    Pocahontas

    Mel Gibson, Christian Bale

    Released1995

    Directed byEric Goldberg, Mike Gabriel

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  • 24
    The Haunting in Connecticut
    107
    126

    The Haunting in Connecticut

    Virginia Madsen, Amanda Crew

    Released2009

    Directed byPeter Cornwell

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  • 25
    A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood
    7
    0

    Released2019

    Directed byMarielle Heller

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