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The Best Movies "Loosely" Based on True Stories

Updated June 15, 2020 8.5k votes 727 voters 23.1k 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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  • Goodfellas1
    243
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    Robert De Niro, Samuel L. Jackson

    Released1990

    Directed byMartin Scorsese

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  • Braveheart2
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    Released1995

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    Directed byJames Cameron

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  • Boogie Nights4
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    Julianne Moore, Mark Wahlberg

    Released1997

    Directed byPaul Thomas Anderson

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  • Saving Private Ryan5
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    Saving Private Ryan

    Tom Hanks, Matt Damon

    Released1998

    Directed bySteven Spielberg

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    Robert De Niro, Sean Connery

    Released1987

    Directed byBrian De Palma

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    Hayden Panettiere, Ryan Gosling

    Released2000

    Directed byBoaz Yakin

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  • The Exorcist8
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    The Exorcist

    Max von Sydow, Ellen Burstyn

    Released1973

    Directed byWilliam Friedkin

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    A Beautiful Mind

    Jennifer Connelly, Russell Crowe

    Released2001

    Directed byRon Howard

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  • JFK10
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    JFK

    Kevin Costner, Gary Oldman

    Released1991

    Directed byOliver Stone

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  • The Conjuring11
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    The Conjuring

    Vera Farmiga, Patrick Wilson

    Released2013

    Directed byJames Wan

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  • Behind Enemy Lines12
    74
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    Behind Enemy Lines

    Owen Wilson, Gene Hackman

    Released2001

    Directed byJohn Moore

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  • Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas13
    77
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    Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

    Johnny Depp, Cameron Diaz

    Released1998

    Directed byTerry Gilliam

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  • Donnie Brasco14
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    Donnie Brasco

    Johnny Depp, Al Pacino

    Released1997

    Directed byMike Newell

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  • Almost Famous15
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    Zooey Deschanel, Kate Hudson

    Released2000

    Directed byCameron Crowe

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  • Hoosiers16
    64
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    Hoosiers

    Gene Hackman, Dennis Hopper

    Released1986

    Directed byDavid Anspaugh

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  • American Hustle17
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    American Hustle

    Jennifer Lawrence, Amy Adams

    Released2013

    Directed byDavid O. Russell

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  • Ed Wood18
    140
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    Ed Wood

    Johnny Depp, Sarah Jessica Parker

    Released1994

    Directed byTim Burton

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  • Changeling19
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    Changeling

    Angelina Jolie, John Malkovich

    Released2008

    Directed byClint Eastwood

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  • A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood21
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    Released2019

    Directed byMarielle Heller

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  • Badlands22
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    Badlands

    Charlie Sheen, Martin Sheen

    Released1973

    Directed byTerrence Malick

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  • Lady Sings the Blues23
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    Lady Sings the Blues

    Diana Ross, Richard Pryor

    Released1972

    Directed bySidney J. Furie

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  • Saving Mr. Banks24
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    Tom Hanks, Colin Farrell

    Released2013

    Directed byJohn Lee Hancock

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  • In the Valley of Elah25
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    In the Valley of Elah

    Charlize Theron, James Franco

    Released2007

    Directed byPaul Haggis

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