Best Movies Ever Made based on a True Story

List by john Last updated August 16, 2017

This is a list of the best movies based on a true story of all time listed in no particular order. Some of the films featured here have been made to closely resemble historic fact while others take the story with a pinch of salt and try to add more entertainment value. If you have any suggestions for movies that have not been included please comment below.


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Based true story List order as defined by john

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Schindler's List (1993)

Drama History War
Whoever saves one life, saves the world entire.

The true story of how businessman Oskar Schindler saved over a thousand Jewish lives from the Nazis while they worked as slaves in his factory during World War II.

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Vote count 3,495 Vote avg 82 Release date 1993-11-29

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The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)

Crime Drama Comedy
EARN. SPEND. PARTY.

A New York stockbroker refuses to cooperate in a large securities fraud case involving corruption on Wall Street, corporate banking world and mob infiltration. Based on Jordan Belfort's autobiography.

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Vote count 5,203 Vote avg 79 Release date 2013-12-25

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Stalag 17 (1953)

Comedy Drama War
THE STAR-SPANGLED, LAUGH-LOADED SALUTE TO OUR P.W. HEROS!

It's a dreary Christmas 1944 for the American POWs in Stalag 17. For the men in Barracks 4, all sergeants, have to deal with a grave problem - there seems to be a security leak. The Germans always seem to be forewarned about escapes and in the most recent attempt the two men, Manfredi and Johnson, walked straight into a trap and were killed. For some in Barracks 4, especially the loud-mouthed Duke, the leaker is obvious: J.J. Sefton, a wheeler-dealer who doesn't hesitate to trade with the guards and who has acquired goods and privileges that no other prisoner seems to have. Sefton denies giving the Germans any information and makes it quite clear that he has no intention of ever trying to escape. He plans to ride out the war in what little comfort he can arrange, but it doesn't extend to spying for the Germans.

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Vote count 124 Vote avg 76 Release date 1953-05-29

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Catch Me If You Can (2002)

Drama Crime
The true story of a real fake.

A true story about Frank Abagnale Jr. who, before his 19th birthday, successfully conned millions of dollars worth of checks as a Pan Am pilot, doctor, and legal prosecutor. An FBI agent makes it his mission to put him behind bars. But Frank not only eludes capture, he revels in the pursuit.

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Vote count 3,011 Vote avg 77 Release date 2002-12-25

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The Pianist (2002)

Drama War
Music was his passion. Survival was his masterpiece.

The Pianist is a film adapted from the biography of Wladyslaw Szpilman. A Jewish-Polish pianist who during the second world war lived and hid miraculously in Warsaw after having gone through a terrible tragedy. A film from Roman Polanski.

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Vote count 1,418 Vote avg 80 Release date 2002-09-24

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Find Me Guilty (2006)

Drama Action Comedy

Based on the true story of Jack DiNorscio, a mobster who defended himself in court for what would be the longest mafia trial in U.S. history.

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Vote count 108 Vote avg 64 Release date 2006-03-16

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The Intouchables (2011)

Drama Comedy
Sometimes you have to reach into someone else's world to find out what's missing in your own.

A true story of two men who should never have met – a quadriplegic aristocrat who was injured in a paragliding accident and a young man from the projects.

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Vote count 4,047 Vote avg 81 Release date 2011-11-02

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Hotel Rwanda (2004)

Drama History War
When the world closed its eyes, he opened his arms.

Inspired by true events, this film takes place in Rwanda in the 1990s when more than a million Tutsis were killed in a genocide that went mostly unnoticed by the rest of the world. Hotel owner Paul Rusesabagina houses over a thousand refuges in his hotel in attempt to save their lives.

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Vote count 690 Vote avg 74 Release date 2004-09-11

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Ray (2004)

Drama Music
The extraordinary life story of Ray Charles. A man who fought harder and went farther than anyone thought possible.

Born on a sharecropping plantation in Northern Florida, Ray Charles went blind at seven. Inspired by a fiercely independent mom who insisted he make his own way, He found his calling and his gift behind a piano keyboard. Touring across the Southern musical circuit, the soulful singer gained a reputation and then exploded with worldwide fame when he pioneered couping gospel and country together.

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Vote count 381 Vote avg 71 Release date 2004-10-29

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The Impossible (2012)

Drama
Nothing is more powerful than the human spirit.

In December 2004, close-knit family Maria, Henry and their three sons begin their winter vacation in Thailand. But the day after Christmas, the idyllic holiday turns into an incomprehensible nightmare when a terrifying roar rises from the depths of the sea, followed by a wall of black water that devours everything in its path. Though Maria and her family face their darkest hour, unexpected displays of kindness and courage ameliorate their terror.

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Vote count 1,681 Vote avg 69 Release date 2012-09-09

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The Pursuit of Happyness (2006)

Drama
Inspired by True Events

The true story of Christopher Gardner, who invests heavily in a device known as a 'Bone Density Scanner', only to find himself struggle to sell the product as it's just marginally better than the current technology, and much more expensive. His wife leaves him, he loses his house, bank account and credit cards and, now forced to live out in the streets with his young son, he's desperate to find a steady job. He takes on a job as a stockbroker but, before he can receive pay, he needs to go through 6 months of training, and must sell his devices.

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Vote count 1,957 Vote avg 76 Release date 2006-12-14

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Zodiac (2007)

Crime Drama Mystery
There's more than one way to lose your life to a killer

The true story of the investigation of 'The Zodiac Killer', a serial killer who terrified the San Francisco Bay Area, taunting police with his ciphers and letters. The case becomes an obsession for four men as their lives and careers are built and destroyed by the endless trail of clues.

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Vote count 1,566 Vote avg 72 Release date 2007-03-02

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Saving Private Ryan (1998)

Drama History War
The mission is a man.

As U.S. troops storm the beaches of Normandy, three brothers lie dead on the battlefield, with a fourth trapped behind enemy lines. Ranger captain John Miller and seven men are tasked with penetrating German-held territory and bringing the boy home.

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Vote count 4,239 Vote avg 78 Release date 1998-07-24

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The Great Escape (1963)

Adventure Drama History
Put a fence in front of these men...and they'll climb it...

The Nazis, exasperated at the number of escapes from their prison camps by a relatively small number of Allied prisoners, relocates them to a high-security 'escape-proof' camp to sit out the remainder of the war. Undaunted, the prisoners plan one of the most ambitious escape attempts of World War II. Based on a true story.

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Vote count 612 Vote avg 78 Release date 1963-06-20

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Goodfellas (1990)

Drama Crime
Three Decades of Life in the Mafia.

Henry Hill is a small time gangster, who takes part in a robbery with Jimmy Conway and Tommy De Vito, two other gangsters who have set their sights a bit higher. His two partners kill off everyone else involved in the robbery, and slowly start to climb up through the hierarchy of the Mob.

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Vote count 2,495 Vote avg 82 Release date 1990-09-12

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In the Name of the Father (1993)

Drama
Falsely accused. Wrongly imprisoned. He fought for justice to clear his father's name.

A small time thief from Belfast, Gerry Conlon, is falsely implicated in the IRA bombing of a pub that kills several people while he is in London. He and his four friends are coerced by British police into confessing their guilt. Gerry's father and other relatives in London are also implicated in the crime. He spends fifteen years in prison with his father trying to prove his innocence.

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Vote count 282 Vote avg 75 Release date 1993-12-12

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A Beautiful Mind (2001)

Drama Romance
I need to believe that something extra ordinary is possible....

At Princeton University, John Nash struggles to make a worthwhile contribution to serve as his legacy to the world of mathematics. He finally makes a revolutionary breakthrough that will eventually earn him the Nobel Prize. After graduate school he turns to teaching, becoming romantically involved with his student Alicia. Meanwhile the government asks his help with breaking Soviet codes, which soon gets him involved in a terrifying conspiracy plot. Nash grows more and more paranoid until a discovery that turns his entire world upside down. Now it is only with Alicia's help that he will be able to recover his mental strength and regain his status as the great mathematician we know him as today..

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Vote count 2,402 Vote avg 76 Release date 2001-12-11

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Changeling (2008)

Crime Drama Mystery
To find her son, she did what no one else dared.

Christine Collins is overjoyed when her kidnapped son is brought back home. But when Christine suspects that the boy returned to her isn't her child, the police captain has her committed to an asylum.

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Vote count 932 Vote avg 73 Release date 2008-01-30

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Titanic (1997)

Drama Romance Thriller
Nothing on Earth could come between them.

84 years later, a 101-year-old woman named Rose DeWitt Bukater tells the story to her granddaughter Lizzy Calvert, Brock Lovett, Lewis Bodine, Bobby Buell and Anatoly Mikailavich on the Keldysh about her life set in April 10th 1912, on a ship called Titanic when young Rose boards the departing ship with the upper-class passengers and her mother, Ruth DeWitt Bukater, and her fiancé, Caledon Hockley. Meanwhile, a drifter and artist named Jack Dawson and his best friend Fabrizio De Rossi win third-class tickets to the ship in a game. And she explains the whole story from departure until the death of Titanic on its first and last voyage April 15th, 1912 at 2:20 in the morning.

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Vote count 5,943 Vote avg 74 Release date 1997-11-18

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Into the Wild (2007)

Adventure Drama
Into the heart. Into the soul.

The true story of top student and athlete, Christopher McCandless, who after graduating from Emory University in 1992, abandoned his possessions, gave his entire $24,000 savings account to charity and hitchhiked to Alaska to live in the wilderness.

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Vote count 2,402 Vote avg 78 Release date 2007-09-11

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Dog Day Afternoon (1975)

Crime Drama Thriller
The Most Bizarre Bank Siege Ever.

A man robs a bank to pay for his lover's operation; it turns into a hostage situation and a media circus.

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Vote count 540 Vote avg 75 Release date 1975-08-11

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Captain Phillips (2013)

Action Drama Thriller
Out here survival is everything.

The true story of Captain Richard Phillips and the 2009 hijacking by Somali pirates of the US-flagged MV Maersk Alabama, the first American cargo ship to be hijacked in two hundred years.

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Vote count 2,150 Vote avg 76 Release date 2013-10-10

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Argo (2012)

Drama Thriller
The movie was fake. The mission was real.

As the Iranian revolution reaches a boiling point, a CIA 'exfiltration' specialist concocts a risky plan to free six Americans who have found shelter at the home of the Canadian ambassador.

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Vote count 3,026 Vote avg 70 Release date 2012-10-11

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Blow (2001)

Crime Drama
Based on a True Story.

A boy named George Jung grows up in a struggling family in the 1950's. His mother nags at her husband as he is trying to make a living for the family. It is finally revealed that George's father cannot make a living and the family goes bankrupt. George does not want the same thing to happen to him, and his friend Tuna, in the 1960's, suggests that he deal marijuana. He is a big hit in California in the 1960's, yet he goes to jail, where he finds out about the wonders of cocaine. As a result, when released, he gets rich by bringing cocaine to America. However, he soon pays the price.

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Vote count 1,077 Vote avg 74 Release date 2001-04-04

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Donnie Brasco (1997)

Crime Drama Thriller
Donnie Brasco. Based on a True Story.

An FBI undercover agent infilitrates the mob and finds himself identifying more with the mafia life at the expense of his regular one.

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Vote count 923 Vote avg 73 Release date 1997-02-27

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Judgment at Nuremberg (1961)

Drama History
The event the world will never forget.

Judgment at Nuremberg is an American film based on the trials of 4 Nazi judges in Nuremberg Germany in 1948 by an American court.

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Vote count 136 Vote avg 75 Release date 1961-12-01

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October Sky (1999)

Drama Family
Sometimes one dream is enough to light up the whole sky.

Based on the true story of Homer Hickam, a coal miner's son who was inspired by the first Sputnik launch to take up rocketry against his father's wishes, and eventually became a NASA scientist.

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Vote count 204 Vote avg 73 Release date 1999-02-19

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The Imitation Game (2014)

History Drama Thriller
The true enigma was the man who cracked the code.

Based on the real life story of legendary cryptanalyst Alan Turing, the film portrays the nail-biting race against time by Turing and his brilliant team of code-breakers at Britain's top-secret Government Code and Cypher School at Bletchley Park, during the darkest days of World War II.

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Vote count 4,450 Vote avg 80 Release date 2014-11-14

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Troy (2004)

War Adventure Drama
For passion. For honor. For destiny. For victory. For love.

In year 1250 B.C. during the late Bronze age, two emerging nations begin to clash. Paris, the Trojan prince, convinces Helen, Queen of Sparta, to leave her husband Menelaus, and sail with him back to Troy. After Menelaus finds out that his wife was taken by the Trojans, he asks his brother Agamemnom to help him get her back. Agamemnon sees this as an opportunity for power. So they set off with 1,000 ships holding 50,000 Greeks to Troy. With the help of Achilles, the Greeks are able to fight the never before defeated Trojans.

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Vote count 2,145 Vote avg 68 Release date 2004-05-13

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The Social Network (2010)

Drama
You don't get to 500 million friends without making a few enemies.

On a fall night in 2003, Harvard undergrad and computer programming genius Mark Zuckerberg sits down at his computer and heatedly begins working on a new idea. In a fury of blogging and programming, what begins in his dorm room as a small site among friends soon becomes a global social network and a revolution in communication. A mere six years and 500 million friends later, Mark Zuckerberg is the youngest billionaire in history... but for this entrepreneur, success leads to both personal and legal complications.

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Vote count 2,737 Vote avg 71 Release date 2010-09-30

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War Horse (2011)

Drama War
Separated by War. Tested by Battle. Bound by Friendship.

Follows a young man named Albert and his horse, Joey, and how their bond is broken when Joey is sold to the cavalry and sent to the trenches of World War One. Despite being too young to enlist, Albert heads to France to save his friend.

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Vote count 818 Vote avg 70 Release date 2011-12-25

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Frost/Nixon (2008)

Drama
400 million people were waiting for the truth.

For three years after being forced from office, Nixon remained silent. But in summer 1977, the steely, cunning former commander-in-chief agreed to sit for one all-inclusive interview to confront the questions of his time in office and the Watergate scandal that ended his presidency. Nixon surprised everyone in selecting Frost as his televised confessor, intending to easily outfox the breezy British showman and secure a place in the hearts and minds of Americans. Likewise, Frost's team harboured doubts about their boss's ability to hold his own. But as the cameras rolled, a charged battle of wits resulted.

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Vote count 281 Vote avg 71 Release date 2008-10-15

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Apollo 13 (1995)

Drama
Houston, we have a problem.

The true story of technical troubles that scuttle the Apollo 13 lunar mission in 1971, risking the lives of astronaut Jim Lovell and his crew, with the failed journey turning into a thrilling saga of heroism. Drifting more than 200,000 miles from Earth, the astronauts work furiously with the ground crew to avert tragedy.

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Vote count 1,326 Vote avg 73 Release date 1995-06-30

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The Hurt Locker (2008)

Drama Thriller War
You'll know when you're in it.

Forced to play a dangerous game of cat-and-mouse in the chaos of war, an elite Army bomb squad unit must come together in a city where everyone is a potential enemy and every object could be a deadly bomb.

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Vote count 1,595 Vote avg 72 Release date 2008-10-10

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Zero Dark Thirty (2012)

Thriller Drama History
The Greatest Manhunt in History

A chronicle of the decade-long hunt for al-Qaeda terrorist leader Osama bin Laden after the September 2001 attacks, and his death at the hands of the Navy S.E.A.L. Team 6 in May, 2011.

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Vote count 1,518 Vote avg 66 Release date 2012-12-19

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Unbroken (2014)

Drama War
Survival. Resilience. Redemption

A chronicle of the life of Louis Zamperini, an Olympic runner who was taken prisoner by Japanese forces during World War II.

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Vote count 1,182 Vote avg 72 Release date 2014-12-25

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Walk the Line (2005)

Drama Music Romance
Love is a burning thing.

A chronicle of country music legend Johnny Cash's life, from his early days on an Arkansas cotton farm to his rise to fame with Sun Records in Memphis, where he recorded alongside Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins.

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Vote count 606 Vote avg 73 Release date 2005-09-13

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Apocalypse Now (1979)

Drama War
This is the end...

At the height of the Vietnam war, Captain Benjamin Willard is sent on a dangerous mission that, officially, "does not exist, nor will it ever exist." His goal is to locate - and eliminate - a mysterious Green Beret Colonel named Walter Kurtz, who has been leading his personal army on illegal guerrilla missions into enemy territory.

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Vote count 1,610 Vote avg 80 Release date 1979-08-15

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JFK (1991)

Drama Thriller History
The story that won’t go away.

New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison discovers there's more to the Kennedy assassination than the official story.

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Vote count 417 Vote avg 75 Release date 1991-12-20

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Paths of Glory (1957)

Drama War
It explodes in the no-man's land no picture ever dared cross before!

During World War I, commanding officer General Broulard (Adolphe Menjou) orders his subordinate, General Mireau (George Macready), to attack a German trench position, offering a promotion as an incentive. Though the mission is foolhardy to the point of suicide, Mireau commands his own subordinate, Colonel Dax (Kirk Douglas), to plan the attack. When it ends in disaster, General Mireau demands the court-martial of three random soldiers in order to save face.

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Vote count 430 Vote avg 81 Release date 1957-09-18

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Everest (2015)

Adventure Drama
The Storm Awaits.

Inspired by the incredible events surrounding a treacherous attempt to reach the summit of the world's highest mountain, "Everest" documents the awe-inspiring journey of two different expeditions challenged beyond their limits by one of the fiercest snowstorms ever encountered by mankind. Their mettle tested by the harshest of elements found on the planet, the climbers will face nearly impossible obstacles as a lifelong obsession becomes a breathtaking struggle for survival.

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Vote count 1,487 Vote avg 67 Release date 2015-09-10

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The Battle of Algiers (1966)

Drama War History
The Revolt that Stirred the World!

Tracing the struggle of the Algerian Front de Liberation Nationale to gain freedom from French colonial rule as seen through the eyes of Ali from his start as a petty thief to his rise to prominence in the organisation and capture by the French in 1957. The film traces the rebels' struggle and the increasingly extreme measures taken by the French government to quell the revolt.

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Vote count 143 Vote avg 78 Release date 1966-09-08

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Bridge of Spies (2015)

Thriller Drama
In the shadow of war, one man showed the world what we stood for.

During the Cold War, the Soviet Union captures U.S. pilot Francis Gary Powers after shooting down his U-2 spy plane. Sentenced to 10 years in prison, Powers' only hope is New York lawyer James Donovan, recruited by a CIA operative to negotiate his release. Donovan boards a plane to Berlin, hoping to win the young man's freedom through a prisoner exchange. If all goes well, the Russians would get Rudolf Abel, the convicted spy who Donovan defended in court.

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Vote count 2,165 Vote avg 71 Release date 2015-10-15

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Spotlight (2015)

Drama Thriller History
Break the story. Break the silence.

The true story of how The Boston Globe uncovered the massive scandal of child molestation and cover-up within the local Catholic Archdiocese, shaking the entire Catholic Church to its core.

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Vote count 2,171 Vote avg 78 Release date 2015-11-06

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The Big Short (2015)

Comedy Drama
This is a true story.

The men who made millions from a global economic meltdown.

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Vote count 2,132 Vote avg 73 Release date 2015-12-11

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Pawn Sacrifice (2015)

Drama
On the board he fought the Cold War. In his mind he fought his madness.

American chess champion Bobby Fischer prepares for a legendary match-up against Russian Boris Spassky.

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Vote count 215 Vote avg 67 Release date 2015-09-16

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Straight Outta Compton (2015)

Drama Music
The Story of N.W.A.

In 1987, five young men, using brutally honest rhymes and hardcore beats, put their frustration and anger about life in the most dangerous place in America into the most powerful weapon they had: their music. Taking us back to where it all began, Straight Outta Compton tells the true story of how these cultural rebels—armed only with their lyrics, swagger, bravado and raw talent—stood up to the authorities that meant to keep them down and formed the world’s most dangerous group, N.W.A. And as they spoke the truth that no one had before and exposed life in the hood, their voice ignited a social revolution that is still reverberating today.

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Vote count 1,160 Vote avg 76 Release date 2015-08-13

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Trumbo (2015)

Drama
Are you now or have you ever been...

The career of screenwriter Dalton Trumbo is halted by a witch hunt in the late 1940s when he defies the anti-communist HUAC committee and is blacklisted.

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Vote count 419 Vote avg 73 Release date 2015-10-27

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In Cold Blood (1967)

Crime Drama

A 1967 film based on Truman Capote's book of the same name. After a botched robbery results in the brutal murder of a rural family, two drifters elude police, in the end coming to terms with their own mortality and the repercussions of their vile atrocity.

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Vote count 76 Vote avg 74 Release date 1967-12-14

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Inherit the Wind (1960)

Drama History
It's all about the fabulous "Monkey Trial" that rocked America!

This gripping adaptation of the Jerome Lawrence-Robert E. Lee play examines an issue that still causes great controversy: the role religion should play in the schools.

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Vote count 81 Vote avg 75 Release date 1960-06-24

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