Special Report

50 Best Movies Based on True Events

Source: Courtesy of Paramount Pictures

25. The Elephant Man (1980)
> Favorable reviews: 93% of audiences
> Director: David Lynch
> Starring: Anthony Hopkins, John Hurt, Anne Bancroft

David Lynch’s sophomore effort is a mostly accurate recounting of the life of Joseph Merrick — a physically deformed Englishman. The film was nominated for eight Academy Awards but failed to win.

Source: Courtesy of Warner Bros.

24. Dog Day Afternoon (1975)
> Favorable reviews: 90% of audiences
> Director: Sidney Lumet
> Starring: Al Pacino, John Cazale, Penelope Allen

With a 95% Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score, critics consensus on the site describes the film as “tension-soaked drama shaded in black humor.” The movie about a bank robbery that turns into a hostage stand-off received six Academy Award nominations, winning the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay.

Source: Courtesy of Focus Features

23. The Pianist (2002)
> Favorable reviews: 95% of audiences
> Director: Roman Polanski
> Starring: Adrien Brody, Thomas Kretschmann, Frank Finlay

Roman Polanski’s “The Pianist” is based on the autobiography of Polish composer, Wladyslaw Szpilman, during World War II. The film earned Polanski — currently a U.S. fugitive — an Academy Award for Best Director.

Source: Courtesy of DreamWorks Pictures

22. Saving Private Ryan (1998)
> Favorable reviews: 95% of audiences
> Director: Steven Spielberg
> Starring: Tom Hanks, Matt Damon, Tom Sizemore

Steven Spielberg won the Oscar for Best Director (the film won four more, too) for this inspiring account of a group of GIs in WWII. The soldiers push into enemy territory to save a paratrooper whose three brothers have been killed in action. The critic consensus Rotten Tomatoes calls it an “unflinchingly realistic war film [that] virtually redefines the genre.”

Source: Courtesy of Columbia Pictures

21. Anatomy of a Murder (1959)
> Favorable reviews: 90% of audiences
> Director: Otto Preminger
> Starring: James Stewart, Lee Remick, Ben Gazzara

“Anatomy of a Murder” is a courtroom drama crime film starring James Stewart. The film is based on a book by Michigan Supreme Court Justice John D. Voelker — written under a pen name — that details a real-life trial for which he served as defense attorney. It currently holds a perfect critics score on Rotten Tomatoes.

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