14 Fall Films Based on Unbelievable True Events

You can find roots of true life in just about any film, but only the most potent plots can transform a true tale into a big-screen blockbuster. Fall 2018 brings a myriad of movies that find inspiration in the heroic, complicated, and sometimes scandalous (but always fascinating) lives of ordinary people. With tales that range from a celebrity journalist caught in a forging scandal to a Supreme Court Justice who is still making history, these flicks are so compelling, filmgoers will want to reexamine that age-old question of "Does art imitate life, or does life imitate art?" Hard to say — but one thing we know for sure is that you'll love these 14 movies based on true stories.

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Based on Henri Charrière's memoir of the same name, Papillon tells the tale of a Perisian safecracker framed for murder and condemned to a prison camp on Devil's Island in French Guiana, South America. Eager to make his escape, Charrière forms a shaky alliance with a counterfeiter (Rami Malek) who agrees to finance his attempt at freedom.

The word "papillon" is French for "butterfly" and refers to the butterfly tattoo inscribed on Charrière's chest. This film stars Charlie Hunnam in the role of Charrière, famously played by Steve McQueen in the 1973 version of the film.

Release Date: Aug. 24

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Operation Finale

The film follows a team of real-life Israeli secret agents in their pursuit of SS Officer Adolf Eichmann, an architect of the Nazi Holocaust, 15 years after World War II. Nick Kroll stars as team leader Rafi Eitan, Oscar Isaac is playing Peter Malkin, and Ben Kingsley plays Eichmann.

Release Date: Aug. 29

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White Boy Rick

This real-life crime drama tells the story of 14-year-old Richard Wershe, Jr., an undercover informant for the FBI in 1980s Detroit, who ultimately receives a drug-trafficking charge and a lifetime prison sentence despite being a minor. The film stars Richie Merritt as Rick, Matthew McConaughey as his father, and Jennifer Jason Leigh as one of the FBI agents along for the wild ride.

Release Date: Sept. 14

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Written and directed by Angie Wang, this semiautobiographical story (previously titled Cardinal X) is the filmmaker's commentary on class consciousness. Set in 1984, the film tells the tale of a damaged girl eager to replace her tough childhood with the status that comes from acceptance into a prestigious university. But when her financial aid evaporates, she's forced to make some fast cash and decides to synthesize ecstasy in her school's organic chemistry lab. Things eventually spiral out of control, and her infatuation with the high life leads to a tragedy with serious repercussions.

Release Date: Sept. 14

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Monsters and Men

Inspired by stories ripped from the headlines, Monsters and Men reimagines the 2014 choking death of Eric Garner in Staten Island at the hands of the police, the fatal shooting of two Brooklyn cops parked in their vehicle, and Colin Kaepernick's silent protest against police brutality. Each scenario unfolds through the perspective of someone close to the event — the witness who filmed the police brutality, the African-American officer concerned about his brothers in blue, and the high-school athlete inspired to take a stand. What's noteworthy, however, is the skill with which the writer-director Reinaldo Marcus Green shapes these real-life elements into a fictional narrative that illuminates the moral complexities of our current socio-political climate.

Release Date: Sept. 28

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The Old Man and the Gun

This crime comedy tells the true-life story of career criminal Forrest Tucker (Robert Redford) and his daring escape from San Quentin at age 70. The script is based on David Grann's 2003 New Yorker article of the same name. Redford announced his retirement from acting in August 2018, and this is set to be his final role.

Release Date: Sept. 28

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Beautiful Boy

This highly anticipated biographical drama from Amazon Studios delves into the gripping challenges of relapse and recovery as one family copes with the complications of addiction over several years. Based on a set of companion memoirs by father and son duo David and Nic Sheff, much of the action focuses on their tumultuous relationship as played by Steve Carell and Timothée Chalamet.

Release Date: Oct. 12

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First Man

Based on James Hansen's biography First Man: The Life of Neil Armstrong, this film is the true story of NASA's race to space in the 1960s. Ryan Gosling stars as Armstrong and Claire Foy plays his dauntless wife, Janet.

Release Date: Oct. 12

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Can You Ever Forgive Me?

When celebrity biographer Lee Israel's work falls out of fashion with current trends, she begins forging documents and passing them off as the literary artifacts of prominent writers. Based on Israel's memoir of the same name, this true-life dramedy stars Melissa McCarthy and Richard E. Grant.

Release Date: Oct. 19

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Bohemian Rhapsody

This biopic chronicles Queen's development in the years leading up to their legendary performance at the Live Aid Concert in London on July 13, 1985. Rami Malek plays Queen's lead singer, Freddie Mercury.

Release Date: Nov. 2

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Boy Erased

Based on Garrard Conley's memoir of the same name, the film recounts the story of Jared, the son of a Baptist preacher, who is outed by his parents and forced to make an impossible choice: attend gay conversion therapy or face exile from the community he loves.

Release Date: Nov. 2

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Mary Queen of Scots

Saoirse Ronan stars as Mary Stuart, whose attempt to overthrow her cousin Queen Elizabeth I (played by Margot Robbie) leads to years of imprisonment and eventually an execution by beheading.

Release Date: Dec. 7

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Welcome to Marwen

When a violent ambush destroys Mark Hogancamp's memories, he attempts to rebuild his life by creating a miniature model town where he can play hero and healer. Based on the 2010 documentary Marwencol, this 2018 feature film uses motion capture action to bring Hogancamp's fictitious town to life with the voice efforts of Steve Carell, Leslie Mann, and Diane Kruger.

Release Date: Dec. 21

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On the Basis of Sex

"If the law differentiates on the basis of sex, when will men and women ever be equal?" asks a young Ruth Bader Ginsburg (Felicity Jones) in the trailer for On the Basis of Sex.

Set in 1975, the movie recounts Ginsburg's work as an attorney on Weinberger v. Wiesenfeld — a case she successfully argued before the Supreme Court. Her efforts led to the unanimous decision that the gender bias under the Social Security Act, which permitted widows but not widowers to collect special benefits while caring for minors, violated the right to equal protection under the Fifth Amendment.

Fans should note, this movie opens in time to celebrate Justice Ginsburg's 25th anniversary on the Supreme Court.

Release Date: Dec. 25