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The Best Oscar-Winning Movies Based on True Stories

Updated June 14, 2019 1.7k votes 370 voters 38.8k views25 items

List RulesVote up the best pictures based off of true stories.

We don’t have the math on this or anything, but movies based on true stories tend to win more Best Picture awards at the Oscars than any other type of movie. Whether it’s because true story movies tend to lend themselves to prestige voters, or their stories are simply too large to ignore, the popularity of films based on true stories can’t be denied. Some of the films on this list date all the way back to the first ten years of the Academy Awards, and a lot of them are from as recently as 2013. So if you needed any proof that movies based on real events are a big deal, here it is. Take a look at this list of the best movies based on true stories, and start watching some of these award-winning films. Hey, maybe you'll learn something in the process.

Whether or not you’ve seen all of the movies on this list of films based on true events, you’ve probably heard of most of them. Some of the films have been praised for their historical accuracy, while others tend to not care so much about the facts. We’ve got the inside scoop on each movie, and nifty guide to show you when each film won an award. Pop some popcorn, hop up in your director’s chair and check out this list of the best Oscar winning movies based on true stories. Don’t forget to vote on your favorites!
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  • Titanic is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Oscar-Winning Movies Based on True Stories
    Photo: Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY

    Won the Oscar for Best Picture: 1997

    Titanic was destined to be a hit from the moment it left the port. While we mostly remember the film for the steamy romance between Leo and Kate Winslet, the film featured many historical asides that Cameron took from real accounts of the ship's demise. Specifically, the unsinkable Molly Brown captaining a life vessel full of women as the ship went down. 
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  • Gladiator is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Oscar-Winning Movies Based on True Stories
    Photo: Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY

    Won the Oscar for Best Picture: 2000

    This story of a fictional Gladiator takes place during some very real events in the latter half of the Roman Empire. Ridley Scott took great pains to make the film as historically accurate as possible, but he cut a few corners when he thought the real story would bore viewers. 
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  • Braveheart is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Oscar-Winning Movies Based on True Stories
    Photo: Metaweb / CC-BY

    Won the Oscar for Best Picture: 1995

    A major influence on this story of William Wallace, a hero of Scottish independence, was a 15th century epic poem called "The Acts and Deeds of Sir William Wallace, Knight of Elderslie" which takes quite a few liberties with history. Braveheart has managed to go down as one of the most inaccurate historical films of all time
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  • Won the Oscar for Best Picture: 1957

    Although this film about John Wayne and a group of POWs sabotaging the Japanese army is largely fictitious, it borrows heavily from the actual construction of the Burma Railway which was built by prisoners of war during World War 2. 
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