Some films are so shocking that they leave you gripping the edge of your seat. It hits you even more when you find out that they were based on a true story. Oh, how we all wish this were true for the Harry Potter series. While there are always some differences between a story and how it was portrayed on film, it’s pretty interesting to see how Hollywood brings a story to life, from who they cast to how pivotal scenes are executed. In case you have no plans this summer (or maybe you do and just want to ditch), these are the best films based on true stories to watch this summer.
1. Braveheart (1995)
An epic war film which won five Academy Awards, it covers the story of William Wallace, a simple villager turned warrior who led the Scottish in the first War of Scottish Independence against the King of England.
2. The Imitation Game (2014)
The Imitation Game revolves around the story of cryptanalyst Alan Turin, who was a vital asset of the Allies during WWII. You’ll get a look into the decryption of the Enigma Machine, but ultimately Turin’s legacy, and some of the events that led up to his groundbreaking contributions during WWII.
3. American Sniper (2014)
Based loosely on American Sniper: The Autobiography of the Most Lethal Sniper in U.S. Military History by Chris Kyle, this war drama follows the events in Kyle’s life, and how and when he became the deadliest sniper in US history. You’ll understand the gray areas of war, and see both sides of an existing conflict. You’ll also be introduced to how war permeates all aspects of life and the after-effects that linger long after the battle is over.
4. Snowden (2016)
This film really makes you rethink what you know about national security, privacy, and right from wrong. The film depicts a decade in the life of Edward Snowden, a former CIA agent who made headlines in 2013 when he leaked classified information about surveillance practices. Snowden is only enhanced by Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s performance, who transforms from an ignorant and lovesick character in 500 Days of Summer to a highly intelligent computer professional with deep rooted political ideologies. One of the take aways, cover up your webcams when you’re not face-timing.
5. Hidden Figures (2016)
A Golden Globe nominee, this film sheds light on three women who should’ve been talked about much earlier. Based on the book of the same title by Margot Lee Shetterly, Hidden Figures tells the story of Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan, and Mary Jackson during the Space Race. The three African-American women made history as NASA mathematicians and broke boundaries racially and scientifically. You’ll get a look at one of the most important decades in history and the women who dared to help change them.
6. Hacksaw Ridge (2016)
In this WWII drama, you’ll follow the life of Desmond Doss, a pacifist that many believed had no place in the military. A Christian who refused to carry firearm or weapons, Doss proved wrong those around him and earned the Medal of Honor for miraculously saving the lives of fellow soldiers. You’ll see just how far one will go to defend their beliefs.
7. A United Kingdom (2016)
Based on the interracial love story of Sir Seretse Khama and Ruth Williams Khama, A United Kingdom follows the trials and tribulations of the relationship an African heir and a British female. Thought to threaten relations between South Africa and Britain, the relationship is tested by their strength, and the stigmas that surround them.
8. The Lost City of Z (2017)
Based on the 2009 novel by David Grann, the film depicts the adventures of British explorer Percy Fawcett. His fate is still unknown to this day after his disappearance from searching for an ancient city in the Amazon. As many as 100 have died while hunting for Fawcett after his presumed death. The film shows us that not everything gets an answer, and illustrates the human fascination with what we don’t understand.
9. Dunkirk (July 21, 2017)
Dunkirk is set to be different from traditional war movies. With a lack of a typical amount of dialogue, you’ll be able to fully appreciate the cinematic effects and soundtrack of Hans Zimmer. Revolving around the Dunkirk evacuation during WWII, director Christopher Nolan set the story to be told from land, air, and water. It’ll also be Harry Style’s acting debut, need I say more?
10. The Glass Castle (August 11, 2017)
Based on the 2005 first-person memoir of the same name by Jeannette Walls, the story discusses the story of Walls’ nontraditional childhood, shaped by her dysfunctional, nomadic parents and her current success as a journalist and writer. Walls is portrayed by Golden Globe winner Brie Larson.