12 Movies based on true stories
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1 . Zero dark thirty
Following the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Kathryn Bigelow’s masterwork from 2012 is a gripping action film detailing the decade-long CIA manhunt for Osama bin Laden. Although Jessica Chastain’s character is a fictitious CIA operative intended to be a composite of different agents who worked on the case, all of the events depicted in the film are based on true events, including the years of investigation that led to the discovery of bin Laden’s hiding place in a Pakistan compound, which resulted in the nighttime SEAL Team Six raid in 2011 that killed the Al-Qaeda leader.
Rain Man is based on the novel by American savant Laurence Kim Peek and tells the storey of car dealer Charlie Babbitt (Tom Cruise), who learns that his recently deceased (and estranged) father left his $3 million inheritance to the psychiatric hospital where his brother—who he never met—is incarcerated. Babbitt is initially driven by money, so he checks his brother Raymond out of the institution and returns to Los Angeles, only to embark on a life-changing road trip with his brother Raymond, during which the two brothers develop an amazing bond.
Moneyball is based on Michael Lewis’s 2003 book and tells the storey of how Oakland A’s general manager Billy Beane (played by Brad Pitt) teams up with Ivy Leaguer Peter Brand (played by Jonah Hill) to turn around a struggling team despite a small budget. The two put together an underdog team of game winners by using a “sabermetric” approach to scouting players (basically changing emphasis to cold hard statistics).
During a terror attack, a hotel staff risks everything to keep its guests safe, particularly a British heiress, her husband, and their child.
Raging Bull is a classic sports film that was adapted from Jake LaMotta’s memoir, Raging Bull: My Story, and follows the life of an angry-yet-talented boxer as he rises to fame, falls in love, and fights his inner demons.
The king’s speech
Colin Firth won the Best Actor Oscar for his nuanced portrayal of King George VI in this Best Picture-winning film. Since unexpectedly ascending the throne after his brother abdicates, the king is forced to work with an unorthodox speech therapist to find a cure to his life-long stutter (Geoffrey Rush).
Out of Africa
Based on the memoir by Baroness Karen von Blixen (also known as Isak Dinesen), the movie tells the story of a Danish aristocrat who buys a coffee plantation in Kenya, where she falls in love with an American big-game hunter played by Robert Redford. This Best-Picture winner has sumptuous scenery, Meryl Streep doing an accent, and, well, Robert Redford.
Based on the life of music legend Ray Charles, the film follows Charles (in an Oscar-winning performance by Jamie Foxx) as he makes his way in the music industry, overcoming racism and discrimination against his blindness to become a hit. But fame isn’t without its drawbacks, and Charles must confront his own demons to ensure that his star doesn’t burn out before its time.
Wild is based on Cheryl Strayed’s memoir, Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail, and stars Reese Witherspoon. It tells the storey of the author who, after a series of setbacks and hardships, including the death of her mother (played by Laura Dern) and the disintegration of her marriage, chooses to embark on a journey of self-discovery by hiking 1,100 miles of the Pacific Crest Trail.
Midnight express 1978
Midnight Express is based on the true storey of Billy Hayes, an American college student who is arrested and imprisoned for smuggling drugs out of Turkey. The title of the film is prison slang for an inmate attempting to flee, which Billy does several times only to be recaptured and brutally assaulted by the guards. The soundtrack, which won the Academy Award for Best Original Score in 1979, is one of the most well-known aspects of the film.
Apocalypse Now is loosely based on Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness (1899), which was inspired by true events in the author’s life. Captain Willard, played by Martin Sheen, is sent on a risky mission into Cambodia to kill a renegade colonel (Marlon Brando) who has set himself up as a god among a local tribe and is presumed insane in this remake of the storey set during the Vietnam War. Oh, and The Doors’ score is incredible!
Catch me if you can
In this feature film based on the life of Frank Abagnale Jr., Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hanks play the lead roles. Abagnale grew up to be an expert in forgery and disguise, and he was able to cash checks worth millions of dollars while posing as a Pan Am pilot, a doctor, and a legal prosecutor. What’s more remarkable is that he accomplished all of this before turning 19, and the only reason he did so was to reunite his parents, who had become estranged due to financial difficulties. The film blends comedic scenes with fast action and outstanding acting, so DiCaprio should have gotten his long-awaited Oscar.