Top 10 Romance Movies Based on True Stories

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Top 10 Romance Movies Based on True Stories

VOICE OVER: Kirsten Ria Squibb WRITTEN BY: Savannah Sher
The fact that these romance movies are based on true stories only makes them better. Our countdown includes "A Beautiful Mind," "The Notebook," "The Big Sick," and more!
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Top 10 Romance Movies Based on True Stories


Welcome to MsMojo, and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 Romance Movies Based on True Stories.

For this list, we’ll be looking at big screen love stories that were at least loosely based on real life events.

Did you know these films were based on real stories? Let us know in the comments!

#10: “It Could Happen to You” (1994)


Starring Bridget Fonda and Nicolas Cage, “It Could Happen to You” tells the story of a NYPD cop who wins the lottery and shares the money with a waitress who he met a day earlier. The two end up falling in love as he goes through the process of divorcing his greedy wife. The tale is based on Robert Cunningham, a real-life police officer who split a lottery ticket with pizzeria waitress Phyllis Penzo in 1984. He shared the winnings with her despite the fact that she had completely forgotten about their arrangement. While the story may be true, the romance, unfortunately, is not.

#9: “Fever Pitch” (2005)


While this Hollywood movie may have strayed from its source material, it was still based on the real life of well-known author Nick Hornby. Hornby published the essay “Fever Pitch: A Fan's Life” in 1992, which looks at his obsession with football, also known as soccer. The essay was adapted into a 1997 British film, which served as the inspiration for the 2005 American movie starring Jimmy Fallon and Drew Barrymore as the love interests. However, in the latter, the sport in question was swapped for baseball. Meanwhile, in the British version, the main character is played by none other than Colin Firth.

#8: “A Beautiful Mind” (2001)


The Oscar-winning movie “A Beautiful Mind” is based on the life of mathematician John Forbes Nash Jr, who was known for his work on game theory. While the film explores his battle with mental illness, there’s also a major focus on his relationship with his wife, Alicia, which is why it’s made the list. The biographical drama implies that, despite the difficulties that his paranoid schizophrenia brings to their life together, Alicia stays to support him throughout his career. In real life, the couple were divorced in 1963, but they remarried in 2001. Tragically, they were both killed in a traffic accident in 2015.

#7: "Southside with You" (2016)


This one shouldn’t come as a surprise, considering the fact that the two main characters are based on two of the most well-known political figures in the modern world. "Southside with You" looks at the early days of Barack and Michelle Obama’s relationship, specifically exploring their first date. It’s a treat to see a fictional depiction of this love story between the former President of the United States and his much-admired wife. The two go to an art exhibit and see a screening of Spike Lee's “Do the Right Thing”, the latter of which reflects tidbits of their real first date that they’ve shared in interviews.

#6: “The Theory of Everything” (2014)


Eddie Redmayne won an Academy Award for his portrayal of famed theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking in “The Theory of Everything”, which co stars Felicity Jones as Jane Hawking. The film looks at the love story between the couple and is based on Jane’s 2007 memoir, “Travelling to Infinity: My Life with Stephen”. While the filmmakers certainly took dramatic liberty in adapting this real life tale, the events shown in the movie still reflect the essence of Jane’s experiences at the time. The biographical romantic drama was released in 2014 and Stephen Hawking passed away four years later.

#5: “The Notebook” (2004)


“The Notebook” is one of the most beloved romance movies of the century so far, yet even the most dedicated fans may not realize that it’s actually based on a real life couple. The author of the novel that the film is based on, Nicholas Sparks, was inspired to write the story after meeting his then-wife’s grandparents. He said that the pair seemed very much in love after decades of marriage, and he wanted to represent their story on the page. Rachel McAdams stars in another true story adaptation in “The Vow”, which is based on the terrible events that took place in Kim and Krickitt Carpenter’s lives.

#4: “Walk the Line” (2005)


“Walk the Line” focuses on the tumultuous relationship between renowned songwriter Johnny Cash and the woman who becomes his second wife, June Carter. The events of the film are based on “Man in Black: His Own Story in His Own Words” from 1975 and “Cash: The Autobiography” from 1997, which are two autobiographies that Cash himself wrote. It looks at the earlier years of Cash’s life, culminating in his proposal to June. The movie was both a critical and financial success, receiving five Oscar nominations at the Academy Awards in 2006. These included Best Actress for Reese Witherspoon, which she won.

#3: “Out of Africa” (1985)


One of Meryl Streep’s most iconic roles is playing Karen Blixen in “Out of Africa” opposite Robert Redford. The film is based on Blixen’s real life, which she chronicled in the memoir of the same name that was published under the pen name, Isak Dinesen. While the story is loosely based in fact, the film does depart from history on a number of occasions. It plays down some of the darker instances that took place on Blixen’s farm as well as the timeline of her relationship with big-game hunter, Denys Finch Hatton.

#2: “The Big Sick” (2017)


Kumail Nanjiani stars in “The Big Sick”, which was released in 2017, but what you may not realize is that the actor also wrote the screenplay alongside his wife, Emily V. Gordon. Not only that, but also the script is based on their real life love story. The events of the romantic comedy mirror their relationship, in which Nanjiani bonded with Gordon’s family after she fell ill. While it’s described as being semi-autobiographical, the creators have admitted that many scenes in the film were actually taken from their real life. For example, they really did meet when Gordon went to one of Nanjiani’s comedy shows and heckled him.

#1: “Loving” (2016)


“Loving” is based on the true forbidden love story of two famous figures from American history. Richard and Mildred Loving, played by Joel Edgerton and Ruth Negga, achieved notoriety because of their involvement in the Supreme Court case Loving v. Virginia, which ended up overturning laws that prohibited interracial marriage. The story told in the film is based on a documentary called “The Loving Story”, which was released in 2011. While the biographical romantic drama changed some historical details, director Jeff Nichols attempted to remain as faithful to the couple’s real story as possible.
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