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Top 25 Best Movies Based On True Stories

Movies based on true stories are much more heart-touching than the fictional ones that are seen on screen. The fact that these events have taken place in real life gives the viewers goosebumps and a sense that reality can be stranger than fiction. Being based on true events doesn’t limit the scope of these movies. They range from inspiring and historical to criminal and horror.

From specific events – revolutionary or catastrophic – to people, both inspirational and terrifying, a movie based on true events can cover any genre. Many of these movies are written and directed so well that they fully bring reality onto the screens. Here are some of the movies based on true events that can be informative and inspiring.

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1. Catch Me If You Can (2002)

Catch Me If You Can
Catch Me If You Can

Starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hanks, the 2002 movie is based on an incredible true story. Notorious con artist Frank Abagnale has duped people worth millions of dollars with his masterful art of deception. With his scams getting bolder, he is soon pursued by FBI agent Carl Hanratty. But Hanratty joins him understanding that the man can help him solve crimes.

2. The Social Network (2010)

The Social Network
The Social Network

Everyone knows the man who inspired this story. The film shows how Mark Zuckerberg created the social networking site, Facebook, with his friend Eduardo’s help. The two real men are played by Jesse Eisenberg and Andrew Garfield, respectively. Though it turns out to be a successful venture, Mark has to sever ties with several people along the way. He has to face personal and legal consequences as a result of his million-dollar success.

3. 127 Hours (2010)

127 Hours
127 Hours

The mountain climber Aron Ralston, played by James Franco, is on a hiking adventure in Utah when he gets trapped in a canyon. The movie was released in 2010 and revolves around the desperate measures Aron takes to survive. He struggles for 127 hours before being rescued. Truly, a heart-touching story of willpower.

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4. Into The Wild (2007)

Into The Wild
Into the Wild

The 2007 movie chronicles the true story of Christopher McCandless, played by Emile Hirsch. He is a young graduate, who decides to renounce all his possessions and start a new venture. Christopher hitchhikes across America and lives a nomadic life. During his journey, he encounters several situations which change his perspective on life completely. The story has been told in a book of the same title by Jon Krakauer.

5. Zodiac (2007)


Robert Graysmith, a cartoonist by profession, finds himself obsessively thinking about the Zodiac killer. He uses his skills and abilities to get closer to uncovering the identity of the killer. The movie starring Robert Downey Jr. and Jake Gyllenhaal is inspired by Zodiac, a serial killer who was active in and around northern California in the 1960s and 1970s. The movie hit the theatres in 2007.

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6. The Wolf Of Wall Street (2013)

The Wolf of Wall Street
The Wolf Of Wall Street

Stockbroking takes hold of Jordan Belfort as he takes a hit after a Wall Street crash. Jordan, essayed by Leonardo DiCaprio, cheated his way top along with Donie Azoff. Belfort was violating probably hundreds of laws at any given time, which included defrauding his shareholders and manipulating the stock of dozens of companies. The film became one of the biggest hits of 2013 and is regarded as a popular film in American history.

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7. Spotlight (2015)


The critically acclaimed 2015 movie stars Mark Ruffalo, Michael Keaton, Rachel McAdams, Liev Schreiber and John Slattery. It is based on the true story of the Boston Globe’s Pulitzer Prize-winning reporting on the pedophile-priest scandal in a local Catholic Church. Martin Baron joins the ‘Boston Globe‘ as an editor. He asks four journalists named Michael, Walter, Sacha, and Matt to investigate a story about the child molestation charges against the local church.

8. All The President’s Men (1976)

All The President's Men
All The President’s Men

The film stars Dustin Hoffman and Carl Bernstein. In the 1976 movie, reporters from The Washington Post, Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein uncover the details of the Watergate scandal that led to President Richard Nixon’s resignation. The very incident made Richard Nixon the only President to resign in the history of the United States. The movie hitting the big screen was a major event.

Related: What Happened To Richard Nixon In The Aftermath Of The Watergate Scandal?

9. Goodfellas (1990)


The movie starring Robert De Niro, James Conway, Ray Liotta, Henry Hill, Joe Pesci, Tommy DeVito and Lorraine Bracco is a favorite of most people. It is based on the book ‘Wiseguy‘ by Nicholas Pileggi on the Irish-Italian American mobster, Henry Hill who amasses wealth and makes his way to the top among his fellows. But finally, his world crumbles down as he is caught trafficking drugs and has to turn against his friends for his safety. ‘Goodfellas‘ was released in 1990.

10. Apollo 13 (1995)

Apollo 13
Apollo 13

Directed by Ron Howard, the 1995 movie revolves around the Apollo 13 moon mission. The astronauts Jim Lovell (Tom Hanks), Fred Haise (Bill Paxton) and Jack Swigert (Kevin Bacon) are stranded in space as their spaceship gets damaged. The movie discusses their struggle to return to Earth. It’s unarguably one of the best movies of all time.

11. Schindler’s List (1993)

Schindler's List
Schindler’s List

The movie portrays the horrors of the Holocaust with a mix of tender humanism and creativity. Overwhelmed by his understanding of what would happen to his Jewish employees during World War II, the industrialist, Oskar Schindler (Liam Neeson) tries to protect them. ‘Schindler’s List‘ was released in 1993 and is always counted among the great movies to date.

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12. Erin Brockovich (2000)

Erin Brockovich
Eren Brockovich

Julia Roberts‘ Academy Award-winning performance in the 2000 movie is about a legal assistant in Hinkley, California. Erin Brockovich protested against a power company that polluted the city’s water with cancer-causing toxins. The whistleblower had a strong sense of character and morality and went up against the powers that be to reveal the truth.

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13. Argo (2012)


The 2012 movie starring Ben Affleck, Tony Mendez, Bryan Cranston, and Jack O’Donnell is based on a real mission undertaken by the Canadian government and the CIA. A CIA agent masquerades as a Hollywood sci-fi movie producer to rescue six Americans who are held captive in Tehran during the US hostage crisis in Iran. The movie might sound like fiction, but it’s based on true events.

14. 12 Years A Slave (2013)

12 Years A Slave
12 Years A Slave

This Oscar-winning 2013 movie tells the story of a Black man tricked into being a slave in 1841. Solomon Northup, played by Chiwetel Ejiofor, a free African-American, is promised a fortnightly job by Brown and Hamilton. However, after arriving in Washington DC, he realizes that he has been sold into slavery. It’s one of the most heart-wrenching movies in cinematic history.

15. Hustlers (2019)


The motion picture starring Jennifer Lopez, Constance Wu, and Lili Reinhart is about exotic dancers who swindle money from rich clients. Though they go on with the plan for some time, soon they land in trouble. It’s a totally crazy true story that hit the silver screens in 2019.

16. The Theory Of Everything (2014)

The Theory Of Everything
The Theory Of Everything

The movie was inspired by the life of Stephen Hawking, portrayed brilliantly by Eddie Redmayne. The movie talks about the life of the astrophysicist and how he lived with his motor neuron disease for so many years, unlike the predictions of his doctors. The real-life story as a movie adaptation in 2014 motivated many people to not let tragedies limit one’s zest for life and work.

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17. The Trial Of Chicago 7 (2020)

The Trial of Chicago 7
The Trial Of Chicago 7

The Golden Globe-winning movie is based on the trial of eight anti-Vietnam War protestors — Abbie Hoffman, Jerry Rubin, Tom Hayden, Rennie Davis, David Dellinger, Lee Weiner, John Froines, and Bobby Seale — who were charged with conspiracy and crossing state lines to incite the riots that erupted at the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago. The movie was released in 2020.

18. The King’s Speech (2010)

The King's Speech
The King’s Speech

King George VI, played by Colin Firth, tries to overcome his stammering problem with the help of speech therapist Lionel Logue, essayed by Geoffrey Rush. The setting of the movie is 1936 as George ascends the throne to become the leader during the time of World War. The events depicted in the 2010 film will touch your heart.

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19. The Sound Of Music (1965)

The Sound Of Music
The Sound Of Music

The 1965 musical drama revolves around Julie Andrews’ Baronin Maria, an aspiring nun, who is sent as a governess to take care of seven motherless children. She becomes close with the children there and starts a romantic relationship with their widowed father and strict Captain Baron von Trapp (Christopher Plummer).

20. Butch Cassidy And The Sundance Kid (1969)

Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid
Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid

A real-life story, the movie focuses on two criminal gang leaders – Butch (Paul Newman) and Sundance (Robert Redford) – who flee to Bolivia as their plans to rob a bank goes astray. It is believed that the duo was later killed in Bolivia. The free-spirited and notorious young men were responsible for many such heists. The totally entertaining film was released in 1969.

21. Dog Day Afternoon (1975)

Dog Day Afternoon
Dog Day Afternoon

The movie starring Al Pacino is about an inexperienced criminal Sonny Wortzik and his two other accomplices deciding a bank robbery in Brooklyn. But things go wrong and a hostage situation develops. With the media hovering around and the FBI arriving, the tension increases. The 1975 movie ends with Sonny’s arrest and the hostages being freed.

22. Selma (2014)


The movie focuses on the real-life events that happened in 1965, as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his followers marched from Selma to Montgomery to get their right to register to vote. Their efforts resulted in the Voting Rights Act of 1965 signed by President Lyndon Johnson. Released in 2014, it’s one of the must-watch films in Hollywood.

23. The French Connection (1971)

The French Connection
The French Connection

The 1971 movie tells the story of New York Police Department detectives, Jimmy Doyle (Gene Hackman) and Buddy Russo (Roy Scheider) who are trying to bust a drug cartel based in France. Finally, the two cops can track down the smugglers and capture their leaders. The cat-and-mouse chase is a thrilling watch.

24. Hidden Figures (2016)

Hidden Figure
Hidden Figures

Three brilliant African-American women, played by Taraji P. Henson, Katherine G. Johnson and Octavia Spencer, are the masterminds behind one of the greatest operations at NASA, the launch of John Glenn into orbit. The 2016 movie is based on the women who made this stunning achievement possible – Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan, and Mary Jackson.

25. The Queen (2006)

The Queen
The Queen

The events in the 2016 movie follow the happenings in Buckingham Palace, after the death of Princess of Wales, Princess Diana. It focuses on the dilemma between then Prime Minister Tony Blair and the royals in the wake of a national tragedy. The movie depicts the initial reluctance of the Palace to mourn Diana. It’s an epic journey into the workings of the contentious British monarchy.

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Naveena Prasad M
Naveena Prasad Mhttps://firstcuriosity.com/
An ambivert and a feminist, Naveena is an ambitious girl bustling with ideas. Agatha Christie helped her plot her escape route through reading. Then on, reading and writing became her partners in crime! Chocolates, black tea, and salads are her first love. And she chills with crime thrillers and rom-com.