watchworthy presents

The Best Oscar-Winning Movies Based on True Stories 

Ranker Film
Updated June 14, 2019 1.6k votes 363 voters 37.5k views 25 items

List Rules Vote 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!
Data-driven recommendations based on voting from over 40 million monthly visits to Ranker. Try the free app
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. 
Is this one of the best?

More Titanic 

#39 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movies Weird But True Behind-The-Scenes Stories From The Set Of 'Titanic'listed on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

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. 
Is this one of the best?

More Gladiator 

#13 of 374 The 50+ Best War Movies Ever Made, Ranked The Bizarre Sequel To 'Gladiator' That Almost Got Madelisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

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
Is this one of the best?

More Braveheart 

#12 of 374 The 50+ Best War Movies Ever Made, Ranked #53 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movieslisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

The Bridge on the River ... is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Oscar-Winning Movies Based on True Stories
Photo: Metaweb/GNU Free Documentation License

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. 
Is this one of the best?

More The Bridge on the River Kwai 

#83 of 363 The Best Movies Based On Books #341 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movieslisted on Movies That Won Best Picture at the Oscars and Golden Globes