10 Best Movies Based On Non-Fiction Books, According To Ranker

With the release of the upcoming Killers Of The Flower Moon on the horizon, it looks like Martin Scorsese has returned to bring another non-fiction book to life. While the movie, which stars Leonardo DiCaprio, promises to be a mix of true crime and period drama, there have been many other excellent films based on non-fiction books. The cinephiles over at ranker made sure to pick their favourites.

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Some of the absolute best and most iconic films ever made were based on non-fiction novels, even if audiences were unaware of it at the time. These classics are considered to be captivating and engaging stories, but these films based on true stories could surprise audiences.

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Donnie Brasco (1997)


Donnie Brasco is a crime drama about an undercover FBI agent infiltrating the mob and discovering he has more in common with the mafia life than he might have anticipated. The film features incredible performances from the legendary cast, including Al Pacino, Johnny Depp, and Michael Madsen as well as being directed by Mike Newell.

Donnie Brasco is based on the novel of the same name by Joseph D. Pistone and is an incredibly underrated gangster movie.

Escape From Alcatraz (1979)


Frank Morris with other inmates Escape from Alcatraz

Escape From Alcatraz is a classic action crime movie about three daring men attempting to escape from one of the most infamous and secure prisons in the world. The film is directed by Don Siegel and stars Patrick McGoohan, Jack Thibeau, and features an iconic performance from Clint Eastwood.


Escape From Alcatraz is often cited as one of the best prison escape films ever made. The film is based on the novel of the same name by J. Campbell Bruce, which is a must-read for anyone interested in the unsolved case.

Casino (1995)


casino is one of Martin Scorsese’s iconic crime epics about two friends moving to Las Vegas and competing with one another over a gambling empire as well as a beautiful and fast-talking socialite. The film has an all-star cast with iconic performances from Joe Pesci, Don Rickles, and Sharon Stone as well as one of Robert De Niro’s best performances of all time.

casino is based on the book, Casino: Love And Honor In Las Vegas by Nicholas Pileggi. It’s one of many Scorsese films adapted from a successful novel.


The Blindside (2009)


Michael Oher (Quinton Aaron) and Leigh Anne Tuohy (Sandra Bullock) in

The Blindside is a sports drama about Michael Oher, a traumatized and homeless young boy who became an All-American football player with a successful career in the NFL with the help of a woman and her family. The film was adapted and directed by John Lee Hancock and stars Sandra Bullock, Tim McGraw, and Quinton Aaron.

The Blindside is often cited by fans as one of the best athlete biopics ever made and was based on the book, The Blind Side: Evolution Of A Game byMichael Lewis.

The Wolf Of Wall Street (2013)


The Wolf Of Wall Street is a crime comedy about the life of Jordan Belfort covering his rise to a wealthy stockbroker living the high life to his fall involving corruption, crime, and the federal government. The film is directed by legendary filmmaker, Martin Scorsese, and stars Leonardo DiCaprio, Jonah Hill, Margot Robbie, and Kyle Chandler.


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The Wolf Of Wall Street is based on the novel of the same name by Jordan Belfort. It remains an outstanding addition to Scorsese’s iconic list of films based on non-fiction books.

The Perfect Storm (2000)


the-perfect-storm-george clooney

The Perfect Storm is an action/adventure drama about an unusually aggressive storm pattern catching a group of commercial fishermen unaware and putting them all in extreme danger. The film is directed by Wolfgang Petersen and has an incredible cast featuring George Clooney, Diane Lane, Mark Wahlberg, and John C. Reilly.

The Perfect Storm is based on the novel of the same name by Sebastian Junger and is often cited as one of the best fishing movies ever made.


Apollo 13 (1995)


Apollo 13 is an adventure drama about NASA being tasked with returning Apollo 13 to earth safely after the aircraft undergoes massive internal damage putting the lives of the three astronauts on board at risk. It makes sense that the film has gone on to become a classic space movie due to the iconic performances from Tom Hanks, Bill Paxton, and Kevin Bacon as well as the incredible direction from legendary filmmaker Ron Howard.

Apollo 13 is based on the book, Lost Moon: The Perilous Voyage Of Apollo 13 written by astronaut Jim Lovell and Jeffrey Kluger.

Catch Me If You Can (2002)


Catch Me If You Can 2002

Catch Me If You Can is a crime drama about a young con artist using his skills in forgery to pass as a doctor, lawyer, and pilot as well as the FBI agent obsessed with tracking down and catching the con man. The film is directed by legendary filmmaker Steven Spielberg and stars Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hanks, and Christopher Walken.

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Catch Me If You Can is based on the novel, Catch Me If You Can: The Amazing True Story Of The Youngest And Most Daring With Men In The History Of Fun And Profit written by Frank Abagnale Jr. and Stan Redding.

Goodfellas (1990)


Goodfellas Henry Hill Ray Liotta

Goodfellas is a classic and iconic Martin Scorsese crime drama about the story of Henry Hill and his life in the mob as well as his relationship with his wife and partners in crime in the Italian-American crime syndicate. The film features unforgettable performances from Robert De Niro, Ray Liotta, and Joe Pesci, and is arguably the best gangster film ever put on screen.

Goodfellas is adapted from the novel wiseguy by author Nicholas Pileggi, the same person who wrote the novel casino was adapted from.

Schindler’s List (1993)


Schindler's List

Schindler’s List is a classic historical drama set during World War II about an industrialist becoming concerned for his Jewish workforce after their persecution by the Nazis. The film is directed by Steven Spielberg and is an outlier in his iconic filmography as the filmmaker does not often tackle historical biographies.

Schindler’s List features incredible performances from Liam Neeson, Ralph Fiennes, and Sir Ben Kingsley, and is adapted from the novel of the same name by Thomas Keneally.


Next: 5 Best Book-To-Movie Adaptations (& 5 That Didn’t Impress) From Martin Scorsese

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