10 Greatest "Based on a True Story" Films

There are great stories, and sometimes they come pre-packaged with the "True Story" guarantee. These are the greatest, based on their relationship to that important below-the-title phrase: "Based on a True Story".
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1.
Fargo (1996)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  
Jerry Lundegaard's inept crime falls apart due to his and his henchmen's bungling and the persistent police work of the quite pregnant Marge Gunderson. (98 mins.)
Director: Joel Coen
“ The greatest "Based on a True Story" film because it isn't true. Not even a little bit. ” - matsnowie
 
2.
Milk (2008)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  
The story of Harvey Milk, and his struggles as an American gay activist who fought for gay rights and became California's first openly gay elected official. (128 mins.)
Director: Gus Van Sant
“ In terms of portraying real events accurately, Milk manages to outdo all others. The script and direction both feel very authentic, and the lack of cluttering "True Story" cliches like narration/montages/prologues keeps the film's very natural performances intact. ” - matsnowie
 
3.
Apollo 13 (1995)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  
NASA must devise a strategy to return Apollo 13 to Earth safely after the spacecraft undergoes massive internal damage putting the lives of the three astronauts on board in jeopardy. (140 mins.)
Director: Ron Howard
“ Featuring Hollywood's most scientifically accurate script, Ron Howard's exciting recreation of the Apollo 13 mission has not faded with age. Tom Hanks gives his constant best, but Kevin Bacon, Bill Paxton, Gary Sinise, and Ed Harris all do great work. Even though everyone knows the ending it is still a heartpounding piece of suspence and drama. ” - matsnowie
 
4.
The King's Speech (2010)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.0/10 X  
The story of King George VI of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, his impromptu ascension to the throne and the speech therapist who helped the unsure monarch become worthy of it. (118 mins.)
Director: Tom Hooper
“ The King's Speech is a fine addition to the ranks of Best Picture and the three central performances are key to this. However, Tom Hooper's solid direction and editing brings together everything that was required to make the terrific script into a terrific film. ” - matsnowie
 
5.
Schindler's List (1993)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.9/10 X  
In German-occupied Poland during World War II, Oskar Schindler gradually becomes concerned for his Jewish workforce after witnessing their persecution by the Nazi Germans. (195 mins.)
“ Steven Spielberg's powerful Holocaust film won him his first Oscars and led to a decade-long friendship with Stanley Kubrick. Kubrick had been planning to follow "Full Metal Jacket" with his own Holocaust film called "Aryan Papers," but this film convinced him he had been out-done. The performances, the cinematography, the editing, the script, and every other element comes together to make this an immortal classic. ” - matsnowie
 
6.
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (2007)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.0/10 X  
The true story of Elle editor Jean-Dominique Bauby who suffers a stroke and has to live with an almost totally paralyzed body; only his left eye isn't paralyzed. (112 mins.)
Director: Julian Schnabel
“ The daring filmmaking technique of taking the very personal point of view of the main character makes the story of Jean-Dominique Bauby as uplifting as it is claustrophobic. Matthieu Amalric's central performance is the rock that everything turns on, but the supporting parts of Isaach De Bankole, Max Von Sydow, Emanuelle Seigner and others make this a terrific combination of acting and cinematography. ” - matsnowie
 
7.
127 Hours (2010)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  
An adventurous mountain climber becomes trapped under a boulder while canyoneering alone near Moab, Utah and resorts to desperate measures in order to survive. (94 mins.)
Director: Danny Boyle
“ The remarkable story behind the film gave director Danny Boyle and actor James Franco a great starting point. Somehow they managed to present it in a truly original, absorbing, and uplifting way that even the infamous climax is can't-stop-watching filmmaking. ” - matsnowie
 
8.
The Fighter (2010)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  
A look at the early years of boxer "Irish" Micky Ward and his brother who helped train him before going pro in the mid 1980s. (116 mins.)
“ 2010 was a great year for true stories. Christian Bale's performance got the most press, but Mark Wahlberg proves he's a top Hollywood leading man, Amy Adams proves her previous nomination wasn't just a fluke, and Melissa Leo was the only mother to appear on screen in 2010 as scary as the one in Black Swan. ” - matsnowie
 
9.
Frost/Nixon (2008)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  
A dramatic retelling of the post-Watergate television interviews between British talk-show host David Frost and former president Richard Nixon. (122 mins.)
Director: Ron Howard
“ Ron Howard returned to the true story genre and turned a great play into a great movie. Michael Sheen's performances in films like this manage to make up for his decision to appear in the third Underworld and the Twilight sequels. Frank Langella inhabits Nixon in a way no other actor ever has, and makes the infamous former President an relatable and understandably flawed human being. ” - matsnowie
 
10.
Lords of Dogtown (2005)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  
The film follows the surf and skateboarding trends that originated in Venice, California during the 1970's. (107 mins.)
“ Catherine Hardwicke did such a good job telling the story of the birth of skateboarding that it is still surprising she made Twilight. The three leads are backed up by terrific appearances by Heath Ledger, Johnny Knoxville, Rebecca De Mornay and others. The script (written by one of the main characters, Stacy Peralta) takes the greatest elements of the "Dogtown and Z-Boys" documentary and turns them into a great film. ” - matsnowie