Top Ten Films Based On True Stories

There's a few shockers...

Real life can be so much more thrilling than fiction, so it’s no wonder that some of our favourite Hollywood blockbusters are basd on real life, awe-inspiring (sometimes unbelievable) events. When everyday folk become the subject matter of heroic tales, our interest becomes piqued, and we can’t help but relate to their larger than life stories. Here are our pick of movies so incredible that you couldn’t make them up.

The Big Short

Paramount Pictures

Based on the real life adventures of former banker Michael Lewis, the Big Short achieved the impossible, making a film about the subprime mortgage crisis that triggered the financial crash of 2007 as gripping as a James Bond movie

The Sound of Music

20th Century Fox

The seven Von Trapp children, their father and their singing nanny Maria escaping from Nazi-run Austria over the Alps to neutral Switzerland plays like the stuff of fairy tales. But the tale is actually based on the true memoirs of Maria. The family did indeed flee Austria for safety across the border, although rather more ordinarily on a train rather than disappearing one-by-one singing Edelweiss during a talent show.


Warner Brothers

With a plot so elaborate it could only be real, Ben Affleck’s directing debut was based on former CIA agent Tony Mendez’s experience as a spy. Mendez was sent to rescue a group of Americans who were trapped in Iran during a hostage crisis in 1979 disguised as a Hollywood producer in the country to scout locations for a sci-fi film.

The Revenant

20th Century Fox

Leonardo DiCaprio finally won an Oscar for his role as Hugh Glass, a real life frontier who trail blazed his way across newly discovered America, in this tale of heroics, bear attacks and retribution in the Wild West.

Hotel Rwanda (2004)


Rwanda’s Civil War in 1994 tore a country, neighbours, friends and family apart as tensions between the Hutu and Tutsi people spilled over into unspeakable violence. Don Cheadle played hotel boss Paul Rusesabagina who sheltered over one thousand refugees at the Hôtel des Mille Collines, until he successfully negotiated their way to safety.

Catch Me If You Can

Paramount Pictures

Leonardo DiCaprio (who sure loves a real life hero role) played Frank Abagnale, a con man who managed to swindle millions of dollars by posing as a pilot, a doctor and a parish prosecutor - all before his 19th birthday.

Dallas Buyers Club

Entertainment One

Ron Woodroof (Matthew McConaughey) who was diagnosed with HIV in the mid-1980s, a time when the disease was poorly understood and researched. In a bid to treat his condition, Woodroff smuggles in life-saving drugs from Mexico that are not yet approved for use in the States that he distributed to other people with AIDS. His scheme not only made him money, but also helped him become a better person.

Raging Bull


Robert De Niro stars as the Italian American boxer Jake LaMott in Martin Scorsese’s classic that charts LaMott rise to his peak in the early 1940s before his out-of-the ring rages and jealousy led to his downfall.


Universal Pictures

Angelina Jolie plays a grieving mother who is ‘reunited’ with her missing son - although he isn’t him, and she is forced to fight the disbelief and hostility of police and city authorities to prove she’s right. The story was partly based on Christine Collins who was committed to a psychiatric ward after denying a young boy given to her was her missing boy.

Empire of the Sun

Based on author JG Ballard’s experience in wartime Shanghai, Empire of the Sun sees 12-year-old Christian Bale as Jamie “Jim” Graham negotiating his way back through Japan-occupied China to his parents after he becomes separated from them during an evacuation of their quarters.