The main reason why I prefer watching Hollywood movies to Bollywood is the fact that Hollywood movies are pretty much closer to reality. Yes, they do have their own fiction, especially science fiction, and horror films, but the characters and stories woven around the fiction are realistic and easier to believe.

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Also, Hollywood movies are made with the script in mind rather than the stars. Also, the best part of their scripts is that they are either based on popular fiction novels, famous real personalities, or on true events. Unlike the Bollywood film industry, the Hollywood makers are given the freedom to create movies almost on anything and this is the reason they are often seen making a lot of movies based on true events whether it is controversial or not.

While some of the films are dark-themed, there are a few others that narrate an exciting and enthralling story based on true events. Basically made for entertainment, if looked closely, these movies can also get you pumped up in real life.

Best Hollywood Movies on True Stories and real life

American Gangster

American Gangster

Even though the film is based on the life of real-life gangster Frank Lucas, this 2007 crime film American Gangster focuses on the rift between the gangster, played by Denzel Washington, and the detective who caught him, played by Russel Crowe as well as highlights the successful convictions of dirty cops in NYPD during the 70s.

127 Hours

127 hours movie

Based on the real-life of canyoner Aron Ralston, the film 127 Hours takes us through the misery and pain that Ralston felt during the 127 hours of being trapped by a boulder in an isolated slot canyon in Blue John Canyon, South-Eastern Utah during April 2003. The scene where he cuts off his hand to save his life is both petrifying and disturbing but at the same time brave and well-thought.

Catch Me If You Can

Catch Me If You Can biopic film

Catch Me If You Can is a 2002 American crime film based on the cat and mouse chase between the real-life con man Frank Abagnale, played by Leonardo DiCaprio, and the FBI led by Carl Hanratty, played by Tom Hanks. Frank Abagnale was on the FBI’s most-wanted list for a long time as he had successfully performed con jobs worth millions of dollars before he was 19 by check fraud.

The Great Escape

The Great Escape

Set during World War II, The Great Escape is a 1963 American war film that tells us the story about the great escape of British Commonwealth prisoners of war from a German POW camp. The story narrated in the film is derived from the 1950 novel of the same name written by Paul Brickhill, which is also considered as the first-hand account of the mass escape from Stalag Luft III, a POW camp run by Luftwaffe.

The Conjuring

conjuring horror film

Well, I am not a big believer in ghosts and paranormal events but I am a huge fan of films and TV series based on paranormal activity. Also, I am also curious about the claims and stories revolving around haunted mansions or places all over the world. One such haunted story-based film is The Conjuring. Although fiction, this 2013 supernatural-horror film is based on the case files of Ed and Lorraine Warren, the paranormal investigators.

The Exorcism of Emily Rose

The Exorcism of Emily Rose

After The Conjuring, we have another horror film that makes into our list of top Hollywood films based on real events. The Exorcism of Emily Rose is a 2005 film loosely based on the real-life exorcism story of Anneliese Michel, who died as a result of a Catholic exorcism conducted on her believing that she was possessed by demons. The film doesn’t try to side with either the superstitious interpretation or medical interpretation but leaves it to the audience to decide on their own.

The Terminal

The Terminal

The Terminal is a 2004 comedy-drama film that narrates the real-life dilemma of Mehran Karimi Nasseri, who spent 18 years of his life at the Terminal 1 of Charles de Gaulle International Airport, Paris, France, from 1988 to 2006. Although the film’s theme is derived from Nasseri’s misery, Terminal has a completely different plot. In the film, Viktor Navorski, portrayed by Tom Hanks, is trapped at the John F. Kennedy Airport terminal in New York city, who is denied entry into the United States, owing to the outbreak of civil war in his own country and his stateless status.


Zodiac hollywood film on serial killer

Zodiac is a 2007 American mystery thriller film that is based on the manhunt of a notorious serial killer called Zodiac. Directed by David Fincher, the screenplay for the film is entirely based on a 1986 non-fiction book of the same name authored by Robert Graysmith. The film stars Jake Gyllenhaal, Mark Buffalo, and Robert Downey Jr. in the lead roles portraying the characters of the Author Robert Graysmith, SFPD Inspector David Toschi, and the journalist Paul Avery respectively.


titanic full movie

Although not entirely based on the true story, the 1997 epic romantic disaster film Titanic does make it to the list as the movie does revolve around the sinking of the RMS Titanic in 1912. In order to dramatize the film, the director-writer of the film James Cameron added a romantic love story between Jack Dawson, played by Leonardo DiCaprio, and Rose DeWitt Bukater, played by Kate Winslet, both of whom were aboard the ship but belonged to different social classes. The film came out as one of the best romantic films in Hollywood history.

Captain Phillips

Captain Phillips

Captain Phillips is a 2013 film starring Tom Hanks in the titular role as Richard Phillips, captain of the MV Maersk Alabama. Directed by Paul Greengrass, the story of the film is based on the 2009 Maersk Alabama hijacking during which Captain Phillips was taken hostage by the pirates in the Indian Ocean led by Abduwali Muse. The screenplay for the film was derived from Captain Richard Phillips’s own creation A Captain’s Duty: Somali Pirates, Navy SEALs, and Dangerous Days at Sea.

Apollo 13

Apollo 13 Movies about space and other planets

A lot of films about space adventure have been made lately such as Gravity and Interstellar. However, most of these films are based on fiction space expeditions. Yet, Apollo 13 stands out as the film is actually based on the seventh real-life American Apollo space program and the third that was intended to land on the Moon. Directed by Ron Howard, the film features an ensemble cast of Tom Hanks, Kevin Bacon, Bill Paxton, Gary Sinise, and Ed Harris. The screenplay of the film is adapted from the book Lost Moon: The Perilous Voyage of Apollo 13 written by Astronauts Jim Lovell and Jeffrey Kluger.

Also Read: Hollywood Movies about Space and Planets


Argo movie

Argo is a political thriller film directed by Ben Affleck. Getting a lot of accolades in addition to winning 3 Academy Awards, the film enjoyed great reception both at the box office and the critics. The story of the film is adapted from the book The Master of Disguise written by CIA operative Tony Mendez and a 2007 Wired article titled The Great Escape: How the CIA Used a Fake Sci-Fi Flick To Rescue Americans from Tehran written by Joshuah Bearman. Both the references for the film are actually based on the real-life Canadian Caper, the joint covert rescue mission conducted by the Canadian Government and the CIA.

Black Hawk Down

Black Hawk Down

War films are always great to watch but also concerning at times. However, when you find out that most of these war films are based on real life events, these films become terrifying. One such film is the 2001 British-American production Black Hawk Down. The film is actually based on the events of the 1993 raid in Mogadishu by the U.S. Military that was intended to capture the faction leader Mohammed Farrah Aidid and the resultant firefight, also known as the Battle of Mogadishu. The screenplay of the film was adapted from the book of the same name written by Mark Bowden, which he wrote taking reference from the 29-part article series published in The Philadelphia Inquirer.

Escape from Alcatraz

best film on prison escape

Alcatraz Island, located in the San Francisco Bay, used to be a maximum security federal prison from 1933 to 1963. During this time, it was considered to be the most secured prison as no criminal could ever escape from there until June 1962 when the Anglin brothers and Morris broke out of the prison. A film was made about this great escape in 1979 titled Escape from Alcatraz starring Clint Eastwood, Jack Thibeau, and Fred Ward as Morris and the Anglin brothers respectively. While the movie shows that all the three made it to the shore, there has been no clear evidence in real life to verify whether the escape attempt was successful or not as none of these prisoners were ever found.

Also Read : Movies about Prison Escape

The Conjuring 2

the conjuring 2 horror film

The Conjuring 2 is the sequel to the 2013 film The Conjuring. Similar to the first installment of The Conjuring series, this film also revolves around the paranormal investigator Ed and Lorraine Warren, whereas the story of the film is inspired by the case files of Warrens. The film stars Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga, who reprise their roles as the paranormal investigators’ Ed and Lorrain. One of the Best Movies Based on True Story.


Platoon war movie

Well, not entirely a film based on a true event, Platoon is a 1986 American war film directed by Oliver Stone. The story of the film is inspired by Stone’s own experiences as a U.S. Infantryman in Vietnam during the Vietnam War making the film to be the first written and directed by a veteran of the Vietnam War. The film stars Tom Berenger, Willem Dafoe, and Charlie Sheen in the lead roles.

The Enemy at the Gates

Enemy at the gates Movies on world war 2

The Enemy at the Gates is one of the Best war films that is based on the famous historical event, The Battle of Stalingrad during the winter of 1942/43. Despite being fiction, the film does take inspiration from some real-life war stories told by Soviet sniper Vasily Zaytsev. Despite having similar titles, the film has nothing to do with the 1973 non-fiction book Enemy at the Gates: The Battle of Stalingrad written by William Craig. Directed by Jean-Jacques Annaud, the film has Jude Law as the Soviet sniper Vasily Zaytsev.

Pearl Harbor

Pearl Harbor

If you are a history buff, then you must be well aware of the darkest chapter of the history of our world that resulted into the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. You must also be aware that the triggering point to this incident was actually the Attack on Pearl Harbor or the Hawaii Operation by the Japanese which led to the entry of the United States into World War II. Although a disastrous event, the filmmaker Michael Bay decided to make a romantic film centered upon the unfortunate event. The film received so many accolades from all over the globe and also got 4 Oscar nominations that year, winning one for Best Sound Editing.


Changeling movie directed by clint eastwood

While most of the films on the list of top Hollywood films based on true events are basically historical events, Changeling stands out from the lot as this film is actually based on a real-life conspiracy theory. Written and directed by Clint Eastwood, the film tells us the story, which is partly based on the 1928 Wineville Chicken Coop kidnapping and murder case in Los Angeles, California. The film is about a mother, portrayed by Angelina Jolie, who realizes that her son, who was found by the authorities, was not her son after all and when she takes this up to the police, they tag her as a delusional and unfit mother. The rest of the film is about her fight for justice.

All the President’s Men

All the President’s Men

All the President’s Men is a political thriller film based on the 1974 non-fiction book of the same name written by Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward, the two journalists who investigate the Watergate scandal for The Washington Post. Director Alan J. Pakula roped in Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman to play the journalists Bernstein and Woodward respectively.

Your Turn!

These are the best Hollywood Movies Based on True Stories of Real People, share which one is your favorite Film based on Real life story.