10 Best True Crime Movies

The ten best true crime movies can be documentaries, biopics or feature films based on the events of a true crime figure. These movies feature unsolved crimes and, in some cases, involve criminals that remain under investigation. Many of these films received Academy Awards, while at least one helped a wrongly accused man finally find freedom.

  1. “Zodiac” – David Fincher directed this 2007 best true crime movie about the Zodiac Killer, a serial killer from the late ‘60s and early ‘70s who police never caught. Fincher based the movie on a novel by journalist Robert Graysmith and the author's belief of who the killer might have been.
  2. “Capote” – Philip Seymour Hoffman won the Oscar for Best Actor for his portrayal of Truman Capote. This, one of the best true crime movies, shows Capote as he meets Perry Smith, a man accused of murder, and writes a true crime novel about the murders of a family in Kansas.
  3. “The Thin Blue Line” – “The Thin Blue Line” is a documentary about a man found guilty of the murder of a Dallas police officer. The courts sentenced the accused man to death after a flawed court case. Director Errol Morris made this movie, and the evidence he discovered got the accused man released from prison, all charges dropped, making this one of the best true crime movies ever made.
  4. “All the President’s Men” – Based on the book by journalists Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, “All the President’s Men” tells the story of the men who helped expose President Richard Nixon as a criminal and brought him to justice. The movie is one of the best true crime movies, winning four Academy Awards.
  5. “Goodfellas” – Directed by Martin Scorsese, “Goodfellas” is one of the best true crime movies ever made. It tells the story of a gangster who turns evidence on his mafia family and ends up in witness protection. Scorsese based his movie on the true crime novel “Wiseguy” by Nicholas Pileggi.
  6. “The Untouchables” – Kevin Costner plays government agent Eliot Ness and Robert De Niro plays gang leader Al Capone in this, one of the best true crime movies. The movie, directed by Brian De Palma and written by David Mamet, won an Oscar for Sean Connery for Best Supporting Actor.
  7. “Paradise Lost” – Much like “The Thin Blue Line,” “Paradise Lost” is one of the best true crime movies, attempting to tell the story of someone possibly wrongly accused of murder. In this, one of the best true crime movies, courts find three teenage boys from Arkansas guilty of murdering a young child. As of 2010, the teenagers remain imprisoned after seventeen years.
  8. “Dog Day Afternoon” – Directed by Sydney Lumet, “Dog Day Afternoon” is one of the best true crime movies, telling the story of two men who robbed a Brooklyn bank in 1972. Al Pacino starred as one of the bank robbers, and the movie received five Oscar nominations, winning for Best Original Screenplay.
  9. “Serpico” – “Serpico” is one of the best true crime movies ever made, based on the real life of New York City police officer Frank Serpico. The movie stars Al Pacino as the police officer who goes undercover to expose corruption in the police force. Pacino won a Golden Globe for his performance.
  10. “Donnie Brasco” – Johnny Depp and Al Pacino star in this, one of the best true crime movies, about Joseph D. Pistone, an FBI agent who goes undercover in a major crime family under the name Donnie Brasco. The movie received an Oscar nomination for Best Screenplay.
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