Special Report

These Are the Best Movies Made About Real People

Source: Courtesy of Fox Searchlight Pictures

20. 12 Years a Slave (2013)
> Index score: 2.70 — #449 out of 25,589 movies
> Domestic box office: $63.9 million
> Starring: Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael Kenneth Williams, Michael Fassbender, Brad Pitt

Ripped straight from the pages of Solomon Northup’s own memoir, this harrowing biopic follows the free northern man (played by Chiwetel Ejiofor) into southern slavery. As he struggles to keep both his life and his dignity intact, Northup must contend with a sadistic slave owner (Michael Fassbender). The film won three Academy Awards, including Best Picture.

Source: Courtesy of DreamWorks Distribution

19. Catch Me If You Can (2002)
> Index score: 2.70 — #449 out of 25,589 movies
> Domestic box office: $260.0 million
> Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hanks, Christopher Walken, Martin Sheen

Behold the wild but true story of master con artist Frank Abagnale Jr. (played by Leonardo DiCaprio), who impersonates various professions with impressive success. As exciting and lucrative the journey may seem, it’s also filled with perpetual loneliness and paranoia. The real-life Abagnale is now a security consultant who gives occasional speeches on both his personal exploits and modern scams.

Source: Courtesy of Newmarket Films

18. Downfall (2004)
> Index score: 2.70 — #448 out of 25,589 movies
> Domestic box office: $8.1 million
> Starring: Bruno Ganz, Alexandra Maria Lara, Ulrich Matthes, Juliane Köhler

This German-language drama attempts to shed light on Hitler’s final days inside a Berlin bunker, as witnessed by his secretary Traudl Junge. The depiction is based on various accounts and at least two direct source materials, one being Junge’s personal memoir.

Source: Courtesy of No Distributor Found

17. Togo (2019)
> Index score: 2.71 — #397 out of 25,589 movies
> Domestic box office: No data available
> Starring: Willem Dafoe, Julianne Nicholson, Christopher Heyerdahl, Richard Dormer

This daunting adventure portrays the 1925 serum run to Nome — aka The Great Mercy Race — during which teams of sled dogs delivered vital medication to a remote Alaskan town. Against all odds, musher Leonhard “Sepp” Seppala (played by Willem Dafoe) and his dog Togo endure the longest portion of the relay.

Source: Courtesy of Janus Films

16. Ivan the Terrible, Part II (1958)
> Index score: 2.72 — #365 out of 25,589 movies
> Domestic box office: No data available
> Starring: Nikolay Cherkasov, Serafima Birman, Pavel Kadochnikov, Mikhail Zharov

The last film from Russian director Sergei M. Eisenstein (best known for 1925’s “Battleship Potemkin”) is the second in a two-part series. An exploration of political power, it finds Czar Ivan IV grappling with various foes. It was initially completed in 1946 but not released until 1958 due to a ban from Stalin.