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Top 5 Famous Movies based on True Stories

Mobsters, serial killers, athletes, celebrities, geniuses—movies based on true stories come in all forms. But depending on how they are produced, the actors involved, and how their stories are told, these movies can be epic or downright disappointing. Here are the best films inspired by real-life situations you should watch this upcoming holiday season.

Blackhawk Down
After Mohamed Farrah Aidid ousted the existing Somali government in 1993 and declared himself the president, the US sent a group of soldiers to take him down no matter what it took. The result was weeks of war, a black hawk chopper shot down and deaths of over 1,000 Somalis, and 19 US army soldiers.

Blackhawk Down retells this unfortunate encounter in an excellently produced movie that would go on to win two academy awards. Director Ridley Scott told the story precisely as described by journalist Mark Bowden in his 1999 book about the 1993 military raid in Somalia.

If you love films based on military wars, Blackhawk down is a must-watch film. Its academy award-winning sound mixes, talented actors and the tragic happenings of the raid will provide for some two hours of thought-provoking, tear-inducing action.

The Casino (1995)
With its seas of cash, tons of dazzling neon lights and extravagant high-roller bets, The Casino by Martin Scorsese is sure enough to tempt you to visit Las Vegas and play a game of blackjack. It doesn’t matter the film runs for three hours. Once you start watching the movie, you can’t get enough of its action.

Surprisingly, the movie is based on real-life people. The character played by Robert de Niro (Ace) was inspired by Frank Rosenthal, a man who operated three casinos in Vegas on behalf of the Chicago mafia in the 1970s and early 1980s.

Nicholas Santoro (played by Joe Pesci) and Ginger McKenna (Sharon Stone) were inspired by Anthony Spilotro, the mafia’s enforcer and showgirl Geri McGee.

Although the movie’s characters are disturbingly reckless, the film is thrilling and captivating with its well-paced action and storytelling. The fact that it showcases both the flashy and negative sides of Las Vegas makes it even more enveloping.

Coach Carter (2005)
After Samuel L. Jackson turned an offer to appear in 50 Cent's first-ever movie at the start of 2005, he had a good reason. His latest film, Coach Carter, had just come out and it was the contrast of what 50 Cent believed in.

In Coach Carter, Jackson indirectly shows young minority students in America that their success is not limited to athletics and rap but rather through good grades. Coach Carter was inspired by Ken Carter, a former basketball coach who emphasized on good grades to his students before anything else.

Of course, the movie doesn't entirely revolve around the coach lecturing his athletes to work on their grades. But it's excellent at displaying an inspiring, talented coach who can go overboard to instil discipline and motivate his players to work hard.

Trial by Fire (2018)
What happens when society condemns a man to die based on shallow evidence and false witnesses? Brilliant journalists step up to tell the world why exactly court systems must never sign an execution on a person until they are proven guilty beyond doubt.

Journalist David Grann of the New York Times did his bit to highlight the story of Cameron Willingham, a Texas man sentenced to death for allegedly murdering his three daughters in 1991. David's shocking revelation of how Texas ruined Cameron's trial before executing him in 2004 eventually inspired a movie.

Titled ‘Trial by Fire,' the movie was named after David's article and showed the shoddy job done by Texans prosecutors in great detail. It also shows a regrettable aspect of society. In the trial, Willingham was depicted as a man hated by his neighbours for his love for heavy metal, among other things. Due to that, the witnesses blamed Willingham for the situation despite admitting he tried to rescue his children during the fire accident.

Hotel Mumbai (2018)
Not everyone might agree with the timing of Hotel Mumbai as it was released immediately after the New Zealand terror attack and only ten years after the story it portrays happened. But the movie portrayed its heroic characters precisely the way the world expected of them.

They are compassionate, bent on rescuing fellow human being in the wake of a terror attack and fight off terrorists bravely even if it means sacrificing their lives. Hotel Mumbai is excellently paced from the start to the end. It creates suspense brilliantly and spares no expense to familiarize the audience with its main characters.

If you love watching films where humanity stands out amid unfortunate circumstances, Hotel Mumbai delivers compassion in enormous doses. Some critics believe it may have even attempted to humanize the attackers. Its acting could also have been better. But the film's main plot revolves around the rescue mission, which it portrayed outstandingly.

Dunkirk (2017)
As far as war movies based on real-life stories go, Dunkirk ranks up there with Black Hawk down. It's bloodless, the action is limited, but it's gripping enough to keep you at the edge of your seat for one and a half hours.

For those unfamiliar with Dunkirk, it's a city in Northern France where one of the most historical events of World War II took place. In 1940, soldiers allied against the Germans retreated to the town briefly waiting for rescue or the ultimate ambush from the enemy.

As the story goes, allied soldiers fought bravely and brilliantly to keep the enemy at bay as they got rescued into Britain and other regions. But in between, bombs get dropped, aircraft run out of fuel and ships sink.

Of course, Dunkirk's goal was not to offer a feel-good story. It describes the brutalities of war nakedly and in sumptuous cinematic action. It leaves out specific events that occurred in Dunkirk, but that's because there's only too much that could be included in one film.

Published November 13, 2019

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