Top Best-Selling Movies Based On True Stories

A lot of weird stories, big and small, have been part of the news for as long as there has been people (and news). In this article we’ve put together a list of some famous movies that have been based on various true stories. Some of these are considered recreations of actual events, while others are based on myths or rumors. Some producers have let themselves use their imagination more than others. Some of us enjoy the “true stories” more than the pure fiction. It’s up to you to decide for yourself. Let’s have a look at some movies that are built around true stories!


A love story taking part on the ship that could never sink. Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet play the leading roles. The Titanic sank back in 1912, causing the death of more than 1500 people, leaving around 700 survivors. The movie was the most expensive ever made at the time it came out (1997) and has been ranked one of the biggest movies of all time. The central roles are fictious while others are based on actual people. The movie won an amazing eleven Academy Awards.

The pursuit of happyness

Will Smith plays Chris Gardner in this movie. The role won him an Academy Award. Gardner is a hard-working salesman turning stock broker with a sad and tough story.


This movie from 1993 tells the story of the survivors after the crash of an Uruguayan flight. The passengers were a rugby team and their friends and family. 29 died and 16 survived. Survivors had to eat the flesh of their dead friends in order to survive until they were found 72(!!) days later.


This movie, starring Mel Gibson, tells the story of Sir William Wallace, a Scottish knight opposing King Edward I in the first war of Scottish independence. Five Academy Awards were won by this epic drama.

Schindler’s list

German businessman Oskar Schindler saved the lives of more than 1000 Polish-Jewish refugees during the holocaust. Liam Neeson stars as Schindler himself in this movie that was awarded a whole seven Academy Awards.

Dangerous minds

In this movie, former US Marine LouAnne Johnson(Michelle Pfeiffer) starts teaching a difficult unruly class of mainly Hispanic and Afro-American teenagers.

Boys don’t cry

This movie tells the story of a transgender, Brandon Teena, played by Hillary Swank. This is considered the breakthrough of then unknown actress.

Seven years in Tibet

This movie, starring Brad Pitt, tells the story of Austrian mountaineer Heinrich Harrer during his seven years in Tibet between 1944 and 1951.

Donnie Brasco

Film based on events from the life of Joseph D. Pistone, an FBI agent who infiltrated the Bananno (mafia) family under the alias Donnie Brasco. Starring Al Pacino, Johnny Depp and Michael Madsen.

Men of honor

This movie stars Robert De Niro and Cuba Gooding Jr. It’s the story of the first Afro-American master diver in the US Navy.


Salma Hayek plays the lead role as surrealist Mexican painter Frida Kahlo. The movie won two Academy Awards.

Patch Adams

Robin William stars in this movie about Dr. Hunter “Patch” Adams and his unconventional approach to medicine.


This Oliver Stone-movie stars Kevin Costner as a district attorney and examines the events leading to the assassination of American president John F. Kennedy in 1963.

Erin Brockovich

Julia Robert won an Academy Award for playing single mom Erin Brockovich in her legal fight against Pacific Gas and Electric Company, a US West Coast energy corporation.

From hell

This 2001-thriller featuring Johnny Depp is loosely based on the murders of Jack the Ripper.

Catch me if you can

Frank Abagnale Jr. successfully conned millions of dollars before the age of 19, posing as several different personalities; a doctor, a pilot and prosecutor. Starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hanks.

Anna and the King

The story of Anna Leonowens an English schoolteacher in Siam in the 19th century. Starring Jodie Foster as Anna.


Will Smith stars as boxing icon Muhammad Ali in this biographical film from 2001.


Sean Penn stars as Harvey Milk, the first openly gay to be elected to public office in California and one of the first three in the United States as whole. Nominated for eight Academy Awards, won two.


A biographical film from 2009 starring Morgan Freeman as Nelson Mandela and Matt Damon as the captain of the South African rugby union team the Springboks. Both actors won an Academy Award for their roles.

Green Zone

This 2010 war thriller featuring Matt Damon was inspired by a book documenting life in the green zone in Baghdad.

The blind side

This movie follows Michael Oher, an NFL offensive lineman, from his difficult upbringing and until he became one of the most highly coveted prospects in college football. Starring Sandra Bullock who received an Academy Award for best actress with this movie.

The Social Network

This recently released 2010 drama is about the founding of Facebook.

Some other movies based on true stories;

The pianist


Raging bull


Apollo 13


Michael Collins

A beautiful mind

Pearl Harbor

and the list goes on and on …

(Sources: Wikipedia & Images by: IMP Awards