Special Report

50 Best Movies Based on True Events

Though audiences in 2020 did not get the chance to go to the movies as much as before, people still watched a lot of movies — just on streaming platforms. The reason for watching did not really change either — to escape the humdrum of day-to-day monotony.

Still, some of the greatest movies are based on real-life stories, though added drama may occasionally be necessary to bring these stories up to cinematic standards. Some of the best movies ever produced in Hollywood are based on true events, showing that for many the truth is often more interesting than fiction.

24/7 Tempo has identified the 50 best movies that are based on true events. The ranking is based on audience and critic ratings from Rotten Tomatoes and Internet Movie Database.

Movies based on true events often tell the life story of exceptional individuals. Such is the case with David Lean’s “Lawrence of Arabia” (1962), which is based on the life of British Lt. T.E. Lawrence, and “Amadeus” (1984), which is based on the life of composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

There are also productions, including Steven Spielberg’s World War II-based “Saving Private Ryan” that take a less direct approach to interpreting true events. While the movie is based on an actual soldier named Fritz Niland — whose name in the movie is James Ryan — Niland was never lost and did not require rescue. Niland’s character serves as a way for the events of the D-Day invasion of Normandy and the army’s “sole-survivor policy” to be told.

Many of the movies on this list have won Oscars, Golden Globes, and other prestigious awards. But there are also films that, though they did not win, received many nominations and are certainly worth viewing. These are the 35 greatest movies that should’ve won an Oscar.

Click here to see the 50 best movies based on true events.

To determine the best movies based on true stories, 24/7 Tempo ranked movies within the biography genre and those tagged on IMDb as being “based on a true story.” For each movie, we considered the Rotten Tomatoes average critic rating, Rotten Tomatoes’ average audience rating, and IMDb average user rating. To be considered, each film had to have at least 10,000 user ratings on both IMDb and Rotten Tomatoes and 10 approved Tomatometer critic reviews.

We averaged the user ratings from Rotten Tomatoes and IMDb and weighted them by the number of votes for each. The combined user rating was then averaged with the Rotten Tomatoes critic rating. Box office data came from IMDb and is not adjusted for inflation.