15 Movies On Netflix That Are Based On Actual IRL Events

The Weinstein Company

Some of Hollywood's most memorable movies are based on real-life stories, which make them all the more captivating. It's fun to track the real events, Google-while you watch, and see how the actors stack up against the real people. If that's your thing, there a ton of true story movies on Netflix you probably haven't already viewed that are worth a watch.

Films based on real-life events often verge on being depressing and heartbreaking, but Netflix’s selection is much more varied than that. It does include some weepy, devastating dramas like 37, First They Killed My Father, and Fruitvale Station, but it also has some thrillers like All Good Things, and even a horror movie The Exorcism of Emily Rose fits the bill (yes, it’s based on a true story).

Netflix's true story selection even includes some of the most notable Academy Award-nominated dramas of recent years, like Dallas Buyers Club, Lion, Lincoln, The Imitation Game, and Spotlight. If you’ve missed any of these throughout the years, now’s the best time to go ahead and watch. Each of these movies is powerful in its own way, whether it’s telling an unbelievable true story about familial bonds or portraying an important historical event. So next time you're not sure what to watch, check out these flicks and find yourself totally transported.

'Fruitvale Station'

If you loved Michael B. Jordan in Black Panther, you'll love him just as much in this standout role. The actor plays Oscar Grant, who was killed in 2009 by a BART police officer in the Fruitvale district station. It's a heartbreaking film that highlights the issue of police brutality, and is definitely worth watching.

'Walt Before Mickey'

If you're looking for something more lighthearted, this Walt Disney biopic delves into the story of how he became the pioneer of the animation industry and one of America's most influential creative geniuses.


You've probably heard of Kitty Genovese's story at some point, but might not know much else about her tragic life. This biopic looks into how Genovese was raped and murdered outside her home in front of 37 witnesses without anyone stopping to help.

'First They Killed My Father'

You might not have watched this one yet, but probably heard about it when it made headlines after Angeline Jolie's controversial interview with Vanity Fair. For this movie, Jolie cast local Cambodian children with no previous acting experience and asked them to connect their own painful experiences with those presented in the movie.

While opinions may differ on whether she made the correct choice or not in her casting process, the film does heartbreakingly portray the story of Khmer Rogue survivor Loung Ung, who co-wrote the screenplay.

'8 Mile'

Who can forget 8 Mile? Whether you watched it while growing up or never had the chance to see it, you can probably recall the impact that Eminem's biopic had at the time. If you haven't watched it yet but still remember all the words to "Lose Yourself," now's the time to do so.

'Into The Wild'

You've probably heard of Christopher McCandless or even read the non-fiction book of the same title that Into the Wild is based on. But if you haven't watched the movie already, now's your chance. It tells the story of McCandless' journey into the wilderness and how his adventure cost him his life.


Spotlight was one of the films to receive the most attention during the 2016 Oscars, winning Best Picture. It tells an empowering story about the importance of journalism, as well as the power in hearing victims of sexual abuse and bringing their stories to light.


Lion is another film that made waves at the Oscars, receiving six nominations in 2017. It tells the touching true story of a young Indian boy, Saroo, who gets lost on a train which takes him thousands of miles across India, away from home and family. After being lost and left to fend on his own, he is adopted by an Australian couple. With only a distant memory of his family, he sets out to find his birth parents more than two decades later.


Changeling tells a true story that is so unbelievable that screenwriter J. Michael Straczynski didn't even believe it at first. Christine Collins, a single mother experiences the biggest nightmare a mother could ever imagine: her son goes missing. Months later, a boy returns to her home pretending to be him. Changeling shows the ordeal Collins had to experience while trying to prove this impostor was not her son, only to uncover the horrifying news of what truly happened to Walter.

'Dallas Buyers Club'

Dallas Buyers Club was the film that earned Michael McConaughey an Oscar back in 2014 with his portrayal of Ron Woodroof, an AIDS patient who smuggled unapproved pharmaceutical drugs meant to help AIDS victims into Texas. Becoming the main distributer, he formed the "Dallas Buyers Club."


Daniel Day-Lewis fully transforms into Abraham Lincoln in this standout role that was a game-changer for presidential biopics.

'The Imitation Game'

The Imitation Game tells the story of Alan Turing (played by Benedict Cumberbatch), who played a large role in history by cracking Nazi codes that were previously thought to be unbreakable. He becomes a hero, but years later, authorities discovered that he was gay, and he suffered greatly as a result.

'All Good Things'

If you watched The Jinx on HBO, you're going to enjoy All Good Things. It's the movie that inspired the docu-series and looks into the story of Robert Durst, who allegedly murdered his wife Kathie, his neighbor Morris Black, and friend Susan Berman.

'City Of God'

Even though it came out in 2002, City of God has become a modern cinematic classic. It's loosely based on real events that occurred in Rio de Janeiro, looking into the stories of two poor young boys in the '60s as they choose between different paths in life.

'The Exorcism Of Emily Rose'

You probably weren't expecting a Hollywood horror movie to be part of this list, but The Exorcism of Emily Rose is even more terrifying when you think about how it's actually based on a true story. Although a lot of it is sensationalized further to make it scarier, the story is based on Annelise Michel, a young woman who began to experience hallucinations in the '70s.

If you haven't watched most of these yet, now is the perfect time to do so.

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