10 Best Movies Based On True Stories, According To Ranker

with the next Elvis film from director Baz Luhrmann which will be released on June 24, 2022, it’s clear that biopics and movies based on true stories aren’t going away anytime soon. Whether it’s the great cinema of Lawrence of Arabia or the musical styles of jukeboxes from Rocketmanthese types of films have always been popular, and for good reason.

There’s something about the tangibility of these stories, the fact that they actually happened, that makes them so appealing to audiences. It amazes many that these events happened in real life, and with such a wide range of movies based on true stories, it helps that private soldier gave moviegoers a guide to viewing the best of the best.


ten Hello, Vietnam (1987)

good morning vietnam

Loosely based on the experiences of AFRS radio DJ Adrian Cronauer, good morning vietnam sees Robin Williams play the radio DJ in a comedy set in the Vietnam War. Despite the conflicts and bustle of the setting, the film is remembered for its hilarious diversions and Williams’ impassioned performance.

Related: 10 Robin Williams Movies That Prove His Versatility As An Actor

Which makes good morning vietnam so special is not the comedy itself, but the way it is used. Thematically, it serves to escape the horrors of war, thus reinforcing the history’s themes of censorship during conflict. Equally important, it never erases the disguises of the Vietnam conflict, and that key detail is what makes this Barry Levinson film an Oscar-nominated classic, rather than a tasteless laugh fest.

9 Cool Races (1993)

John Candy was a scene stealer in Cool Runnings

Inspired by the formation and performance of the Jamaican National Bobsleigh Team at the 1988 Winter Olympics, Cool races was the last film to be released during John Candy’s lifetime. Despite this film’s close proximity to his death, John Candy still delivers the charm and laughs one would expect without getting in the way of the story or the real protagonists, the Jamaican bobsleigh team.

While the bobsled team doesn’t quite have the same enduring presence as John Candy’s character, their dynamic is still delightful. They bicker and brawl occasionally, but ultimately the audience supports them because the team has put aside their differences to pursue success. It’s this focus on changing minds and proving itself in the face of adversity – notably when the bobsleigh crashes – that defines the film.

8 The Blind Side (2009)

Michael Oher in The Blind Side with Sandra Bullock

Based on the book The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game by Michael Lewis, The blind side stars Quinton Aaron as Michael Oher, an American football player who overcame a poor upbringing to play in the NFL. The film also stars Sandra Bullock in an Oscar-winning performance as Oher’s adoptive mother.

The reason the film is loved is because of Bullock. She absolutely nails the role of an energetic mother who will stop at nothing to support Oher. Her take on the character is so nuanced that it becomes easy to forgive the cookie-cutter plot and just follow her journey to uplift Oher.

seven A League of Their Own (1992)

Dottie and Jimmy in the dugout in A League of Their Own

From director Penny Marshall, A league apart offers a fictional account of the creation of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League (AAGPBL) in the 1940s. In this sense, the film is not based on a true story given that the characters are completely made up for the film , but it’s still based on reality given that the AAGPBL was 100% real.

At the heart of this film is the relationship between sisters Kit and Dottie, who begin playing on the same team and grow closer to their teammates before Dottie becomes the face of the league and Kit is traded. The ensuing rivalry is one that touches close for many, but it never borders on cynicism. There’s always warmth to the dynamic between these two characters, as well as the supporting cast, which makes A league apart one of the most charming baseball movies of all time.

6 Remember the Titans (2000)

Led by the dynamic Denzel Washington, Remember the titans tells the story of Herman Boone and his attempt to join the TC Williams football team in 1971. Amid discrimination and interpersonal conflict, the team finally comes together to win the championship.

Related: 10 Best Athlete Biopics, Ranked (According To IMDb)

Although Washington is the star of this film with his hardened take on Boone, the emotion of the play runs through the team. In real life they were a professional unit that won almost every game with ease, but in the movie they are depicted as barely scratching most games. It’s a choice that emphasizes both the struggle the team has faced due to race, as well as the camaraderie of the players.

5 Glory (1989)

Morgan L Freeman's character leads his all-black regiment in Glory

1989 Glory tells the story of the 54th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment, one of the first black regiments in the Union Army. Starring Denzel Washington in an Oscar-winning role, the film doesn’t shy away from the racism and discrimination the 54th faces from his superiors, as evidenced by their lower pay and lack of supplies.

Which makes Glory so poignant and inspiring is that it is a story of the underdog. The black regiment was practically spat out by its white comrades, but they managed to grow from nothing to a successful fighting unit. And though their story ends in tragedy, their sacrifice inspired the Union to create other black military regiments and units, leading the way to emancipation and civil rights.

4 Tombstone (1993)

The main characters of the movie Tombstone

One of several films depicting the events of the shooting at the OK Corral, tomb stone stars Kurt Russell and Val Kilmer as notorious gunslingers Wyatt Earp and Doc Holiday. Like any good western, it’s got action, romance, and a healthy dose of brotherly melodrama.

What elevates the film above other adaptations of the near-mythical showdown in Tombstone, AZ are the performances. With Kurt Russell in the lead role, Earp becomes more than just a knight in shining armor, but a flawed man who must answer the call of responsibility. Similarly, Val Kilmer deals with the darkness that lurks beneath the calm demeanor of a man who is slowly approaching death. These performances, along with those of the rest of the cast, are what make the film so memorable.

3 Goodfellas (1993)

From director Martin Scorsese, Freedmen follows the rise and fall of mob associate Henry Hill and his coworkers. Starring Robert De Niro, Ray Liotta, Joe Pesci and Lorraine Bracco in the lead roles, the film was nominated for six Oscars.

Related: Ray Liotta’s Best Movies Besides Goodfellas

Often cited as one of the greatest films ever made, Freedmen goes beyond basic biographical rhythms and brilliantly weaves an intricate story of love, desire and betrayal over two and a half hours. Add classic scenes and lines like “I’m funny how, I mean funny like I’m a clown? Am I having fun?” and it’s no wonder the film is adored by critics and casual audiences alike.

2 Apollo 13 (1995)

Tom Hanks Apollo 13

“Houston we have a problem.” This is just one of many quotes recreated on the big screen in Ron Howard’s magnum opus, Apollo 13a film that follows the crew of the titular spaceship as they seek to return alive to Earth.

Beyond the gripping drama of the premise, the film’s main selling point is the dynamic between the protagonists. There is no competition to see who can outdo themselves. Instead, Tom Hanks, Kevin Bacon, and Bill Paxton embody the spirit of their characters and work together to make sure the ship lands.

1 Schindler’s List (1993)

Schindler's list

Led by Liam Neeson in an Oscar-nominated performance, Schindler’s list is not only one of director Steven Spielberg’s finest films, but it is also widely regarded as one of the greatest films ever made. The film follows Oscar Schindler as he goes from a man trying to make a fortune to someone trying to save as many lives as possible after witnessing the horrors of the Holocaust.

Which makes Schindler’s list such a powerful film is its refusal to shirk about it. The atrocities of the Holocaust are fully exposed, the film refuses to show any sympathy for Amon Goth or any of the other top Nazi officials, and the script even acknowledges the faults of Oscar Schindler as a person. It’s brutal and absolutely not something you can appear on at any time, but there’s no denying the greatness of the film.

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