9 New Movies Based on True Stories to Watch in 2023

maestro l to r carey mulligan as felicia montealegre and director bradley cooper as leonard bernstein in maestro cr jason mcdonaldnetflix
9 New Movies Based on True Stories for 2023Jason McDonald/Netflix

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Does art imitate life or does life imitate art? Don't think too hard about that age-old question right now, because we're just going to go with the first option when it comes to this year's movies that are based on true stories.

Of course, films being based on or inspired by real life events are a very common occurrence. Just look to every biopic, every movie based on a non-fiction book or article, and every movie a director makes that's inspired by their own life. The list goes on and on. This year's slate includes movies based on historical figures, on outrageous news stories, on true crimes of the past, and on the lives of iconic writers, musicians, and more.

Some of the biopics coming out this year are about Wuthering Heights author Emily Brontë, film and stage composer Leonard Bernstein, and 18th century French conductor Joseph Bologne. There are also films about more unlikely subjects, such as the man who claims he created Flamin' Hot Cheetos and a bear that ate a bunch of cocaine in the 1980s. (Naturally, those movies are titled Flamin' Hot and Cocaine Bear.)

So, if you're ready to get your "must watch" list ready for 2023 and are a fan of movies that will immediately send you down a Wikipedia hole for more info after you're done viewing them, check out the list below.

(By the way, if you're behind on your movies from 2022, check out last year's list of movies based on true stories. They included films about Weird Al, women warriors in 19th century Africa, the #MeToo movement, and Elvis Presley—that one's Elvis, obviously.)


In theaters February 17

Emily is a biopic about Emily Brontë, the author of the 1847 novel Wuthering Heights and the sister of writers Anne and Charlotte Brontë, who died at only 30. Part-fiction, the movie focuses on a love story between Emily (Emma Mackey) and William Weightman (Oliver Jackson-Cohen), Emily's writing, and her relationship with her sisters.

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Cocaine Bear

In theaters February 24

Nope, it's not a mistake. A movie about a bear that ingests a bunch of cocaine and goes on a killing spree is on the list of movies based on true stories. It's just that the film from Elizabeth Banks exaggerates what actually happened: In 1985, a bear did eat a lot of cocaine after coming across a bag of it, but sadly, the real life bear overdosed and died. The comedy-thriller film is much more outlandish.

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Boston Strangler

uk premiere of charlotte jewish film festival, london
Suzan Moore - PA Images - Getty Images

On Hulu March 17

True crime fans may want to check out Boston Strangler. Keira Knightley stars as reporter Loretta McLaughlin, who broke the story of the so-called "Boston Strangler," a man who killed 13 women in Boston in the 1960s. Carrie Coon co-stars as fellow reporter Jean Cole.


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In theaters April 5

Best friends and collaborators Ben Affleck and Matt Damon join forces once again for Air, which stars both actors and is also directed by Affleck. The movie is about Sonny Vaccaro, a Nike executive who signed Michael Jordan to his sneaker deal with the company, launching the hugely popular Jordan sneakers line. Interestingly enough, while real-life couple Viola Davis and Julius Tennon will play Jordan's parents in the film, the basketball legend will not be portrayed on screen, according to The Hollywood Reporter.


In theaters April 21

Kelvin Harrison Jr. stars in Chevalier as Joseph Bologne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges, a Black violinist and composer who came to fame in 18th century France. The film depicts racism Chevalier faced, as well as his connection to the French upper class and royalty, including Marie Antoinette, who is played by Lucy Boynton.

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Flamin' Hot

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David Crotty - Getty Images

On Hulu June 9

If you're thinking, "No way is this movie about Flamin' Hot Cheetos," why, yes, it is. Eva Longoria makes her feature film directorial debut in this film about Richard Montañez (Jesse Garcia), a Frito-Lay janitor, who claims he invented the spicy snack.


In theaters July 21

Christopher Nolan's latest movie Oppenheimer tells the story of physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer, who developed the atomic bomb during World War II. Cillian Murphy stars in the title role with co-stars including Emily Blunt, Robert Downey Jr., Matt Damon, and Florence Pugh.

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maestro director bradley cooper as leonard bernstein in maestro cr jason mcdonaldnetflix
Jason McDonald/Netflix

Release date TBD

After directing A Star Is Born, Bradley Cooper returns for another music-based movie. Cooper directs and stars in Maestro, which is about composer Leonard Bernstein. The movie will focus particularly on his relationship with his wife, actor Felicia Montealegre, who is played by Carey Mulligan.

Killers of the Flower Moon

lily gladstone and leonardo dicaprio in killers of the flower moon
Apple TV+

Release date TBD

Get ready for awards season 2024. Martin Scorsese regulars Leonardo DiCaprio and Robert De Niro both star in the director's latest movie, Killers of the Flower Moon. It's based on the book of the same name by David Grann and is about the FBI's investigation into several murders of members of the Osage Nation in the 1920s. Co-stars include Lily Gladstone and Jesse Plemons.

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