Critics often lament the lack of “original” ideas in Hollywood, complaining that—week after week—each Friday’s slate of new releases is simply a mash-up of superhero sequels and franchise reboots. And while movies based on real-life events could technically be considered yet another category of “recycled” content, when placed in the hands of the right director and actors, the truth can be far more compelling than fiction. That is one explanation as to why some of the most powerful films released in recent years—including Fruitvale Station, Selma, Hidden Figures, and Sully—are based on real events.
Whenever moviemakers get their hands on a story based on true events, the odds are they may stumble into controversy with the liberties that they take in the name of artistic expression. See, for instance, Jada Pinkett Smith's complaints about the way the filmmakers behind the Tupac Shakur biopic All Eyez on Me portrayed her relationship and interactions with Shakur. Pinkett Smith says that, among other things, she and Shakur never had an argument backstage at one of his shows, Shakur never read her a poem, and he also didn't say goodbye to her when he left Los Angeles, as depicted in dramatic scenes throughout the film. All of this is one high-profile example of the challenges of depicting actual people on film, particularly when said people are still alive to set the record straight.
As such, each of the classic movies on our list below should be viewed mostly for entertainment value. These are less recent examples that have proven the test of time to stand up well as far as a viewing experience is concerned, but if you want to learn all of the facts about the historical events upon which they're based, it may serve you well to do a little digging on your own after you're done watching.
With that said, here are the 15 Best Movies Inspired By True Events.