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'True story' movies grow in popularity

enemies

Sam Rockwell, Babou Ceesay and Taraji P. Henson, from left, star in “The Best of Enemies.”

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Friday, April 19, 2019

Best of Enemies is the recent release based on the true story of an unlikely relationship between Ann Atwater, an outspoken civil rights activist, and C.P. Ellis, a local Ku Klux Klan leader.

Set in Durham, N.C., during the racially charged summer of 1971, Atwater and Ellis come together to co-chair a community summit on the desegregation of schools. The ensuing debate and battle lead to surprising revelations that change their lives. The first feature-length film based on a true story was “The Kelly Gang,” a western made in 1900 about the outlaw Ned Kelly.

The movie is among hundreds based on trues stories, according to the Ranker website, including an avalanche of true-life films made since 2000.

Between 1900 and 2000, there were a total of 211 films with the distinction of being based on a true story, the website said. Between 2000 and 2013, there have been 221. So, in the past 13 years Hollywood has made more “true story” films than in the 100 years prior.

Note: According to the True Stories Database, there have been close to 150 additional films based on actual events since that 2013 Ranker count.

Following are the Top 10 movies “based on a true story” as selected by Ranker. They note, “The films on this list dove deep, did the research, and created a film as honest and true to the facts as possible.”

10) “American Sniper” (2014) — Cranky but patriotic Clint Eastwood gives us this tragic story about Chris Kyle (Bradley Cooper), the Navy SEAL sniper who served four tours in Iraq, but died by bullet on a Texas practice range.

9) “Tombstone” (1993) — Wyatt Earp (Kurt Russell) and his brothers join Doc Holliday (Val Kilmer) for the shootout at the O.K. Corral. As Doc says, “I’m your huckleberry …”

8) “Walk the Line” (2005) — That Man in Black, Johnny Cash (Joaquin Phoenix), sings his way to stardom with his gravelly voice.

7) “Braveheart” (1995) — Blue-faced William Wallace (Mel Gibson in kilt) leads a revolt against King Edward I of England.

6) “A Beautiful Mind” (2001) — Brilliant mathematician John Nash (Russell Crowe) goes down the rabbit hole while convincing himself he’s on a secret assignment.

5) “Black Hawk Down” (2001) — More than 100 US troops (Josh Hartnett, Ewan McGregor, etc.) get trapped behind enemy lines in Somalia.

4) “Catch Me If You Can” (2002) — A tireless FBI agent (Tom Hanks) pursues Frank Abagnale Jr., a master imposter (Leonardo DiCaprio).

3) “Goodfellas” (1990) – Martin Scorsese recounts life in the mob for wise guy Henry Hill (Ray Liotta).

2) “Apollo 13” (1995) – US Astronauts Jim Lovell, Fred Haise and Jack Swigert (Tom Hanks, Bill Paxton and Kevin Bacon) face danger when their spaceship malfunctions.

1) “Schindler’s List” (1993) – Steven Spielberg created a masterpiece when telling the story of Oskar Schindler (Liam Neeson), a German industrialist who saved 1,200 Jews from the Nazis during World War II.

True stories, all. But what about “12 Years a Slave,” “Titanic,” “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid,” Hidden Figures” or “Bohemian Rhapsody”?

Which ones would you add to the Ranker list?

Shirrel Rhoades is a former executive with Marvel Entertainment, a writer, publisher, professor and filmmaker. He is from North Carolina and lives in Florida. Contact him at srhoades@aol.com.

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