They say truth is often stranger than fiction, and when considering the many films that were inspired by real events, it certainly appears to be the case. Yes, some of Hollywood’s most successful releases originated from a true story, and this authenticity can make a film all the more enjoyable. So, if you’ve hit a streaming wall and don’t know which Netflix offering to invest your time in next, I’ve taken it upon myself to list the best films on Netflix UK based on a true story — because this streaming category is a great place to start your next movie marathon.
On the streaming platform, subscribers can expect to enjoy the heartwarming tale of an American football prodigy in The Blind Side, the thrilling hunt for the world’s most-wanted terrorist in Zero Dark Thirty, and much more. However, making your way through Netflix’s vast amount of content can be both tiresome and seemingly never-ending — especially if you’re as indecisive as I am. So, to make things a little easier, I’ve gone ahead and handpicked the very best films that are based on a true story for your viewing pleasure. The only caveat; while many of these are inspired by a true story, certain facts and details may have been changed for entertainment purposes. Now we’ve got that out the way, let’s get on with it.
1. ‘American Made’
American Made tells the life story of Barry Seal — the former U.S. pilot who carried out missions for the CIA. Seal later utilised his government connections when he began smuggling drugs in the 1980s for the Medellin Cartel. The 2017 flick stars Tom Cruise in the leading role, and as the film unfolds, the more genuinely unbelievable this real-life story becomes.
2. ‘The Blind Side’
The film which won Sandra Bullock her first Academy Award saw her brilliantly take on the role of Leigh Anne Tuohy, who became known as the adoptive mother of American football player, Michael Oher. The Blind Side follows Oher as he breaks free from his impoverished upbringing to become one of American football’s brightest new stars — and documents the inspiring events which led to his eventual success.
3. ‘The Big Short’
The Big Short is inspired by the 2010 book of the same name, which outlined how the 2008 financial crisis was brought on by the United States housing bubble. The film’s impressive cast includes Christian Bale, Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling, and Brad Pitt — and although the film isn’t entirely based on reality, the events that occurred most certainly are, and The Big Short provides an in-depth look into the credit-crunch which shook the world.
4. ‘The Impossible’
The devastation of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami is spectacularly retold in J. A. Beyona’s 2012 film, The Impossible. The movie follows the true story of María Belón and her family, who were ripped apart during the disaster whilst enjoying a Christmas getaway in Thailand.
The cast of The Impossible is led by Naomi Watts and Ewan McGregor — and although at times very upsetting, the film provides a fascinating look inside one of the world’s biggest natural disasters.
Moneyball is inspired by Michael Lewis’ 2003 novel of the same name, and tells the story of baseball manager Bily Beane as he attempts to craft his perfect team during Oakland Athletic’s 2002 baseball season. Moneyball stars the likes of Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill — and don’t worry, you don’t need to be a fan of the game to enjoy this award-winning release.
6. ‘Zero Dark Thirty’
The hunt for Osama bin Laden dominated the U.S. news cycle for much of the decade leading to his eventual capture, and the behind-the-scenes drama is brilliantly portrayed in Kathryn Bigelow’s Oscar-nominated film, Zero Dark Thirty. The film sparked quite a bit of controversy upon its 2012 release, however the quality of Jessica Chastain’s performance as a CIA intelligence analyst was something most could agree on.
7. ‘The Social Network’
It’s hard to believe that the world’s biggest social media platform emerged from a nerdy college student’s dorm room, but it most certainly did, and the award-winning The Social Network provides a fascinating insight into the origins of Facebook. The film stars Jesse Eisenberg as Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, and if like most of us you’re familiar with the platform, you don’t want to miss out on this brilliant adaptation.
Sully tells the true story of the retired U.S. airline captain Chesley Sullenberger who burst onto the world stage back in 2009 after the emergency landing of U.S. Airways Flight 1549 on the Hudson River. All 155 passengers and crew survived the ordeal, however, a very public investigation later took place — and Sullenberger was at the centre of it.
9. ‘The Theory Of Everything’
The professional and personal life of famed theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking is explored the 2014 biographical drama, The Theory of Everything. Starring Academy Award-winner Eddie Redmayne, the film delves into Hawkings’ rise to worldwide recognition, and portrays the often complex relationship between himself and devoted wife, Jane.
Following the oldest investigative journalist unit in America, Spotlight tells the story of The Boston Globe’s investigation into child sex abuse cases in the local area, the majority of which had been carried out by numerous Roman Catholic priests. Starring Mark Ruffalo, Rachel McAdams and Michael Keaton, the Oscar-nominated release delves deep into the infamous scandal, and sheds light on the horrific abuse faced by the victims during that time.
11. ‘Julie & Julia’
Starring the incomparable Meryl Streep, Julie & Julia tells the heartwarming story of a young New York-based writer (Amy Adams) whose increasingly stale life inspires her to whip-up all 524 recipes from Julia Child’s classic cookbook in just 365 days. Julie documents her culinary journey in an online blog, which in turn brings forward some life-changing opportunities.
12. ‘Erin Brockovich’
Erin Brockovich follows the real-life David and Goliath story of a twice-divorced single mother, who decides to take legal action against a powerful energy corporation. The film enjoyed both critical and commercial success upon its release back in 2000, and bagged lead star Julia Roberts a string of prestigious accolades — including the Academy Award for Best Actress.
13. ‘The Pursuit Of Happyness’
Based on the life of entrepreneur Chris Gardner, The Pursuit Of Happyness tells the story of a father and son who are faced with a year of homelessness after being evicted from their home. The film was adapted from the novel of the same, and stars father-son duo Will and Jaden Smith as Gardner and Christopher Jr.
So, If you decide to give this 2006 drama a try, be sure to have plenty of tissues on hand, because as you might’ve guessed, it’s a real tearjerker.
15. ‘Dallas Buyers Club’
Dallas Buyers Club follows the life story of Ron Woodroof, who was diagnosed with AIDS in the mid ’80s — a time when research into treatment of the disease was almost non-existent. However, Woodroof refuses to accept his fate, and begins to smuggle in medication from overseas. Along with co-star Jared Leto, lead star Matthew McConaughey received an overwhelmingly positive critical response, and if it isn’t up there already, make sure this heart-wrenching biographical drama is perched atop your must-watch list.