Two limited-run series based on true crimes premiere this week. The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story debuts on February 2 on FX, with Madoff directly following, airing in two parts on ABC, on February 3 and 4.
The O.J. Simpson drama, starring Cuba Gooding Jr., John Travolta, Sarah Paulson, and David Schwimmer, takes us through the trial of the former NFL legend who was accused of killing his wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her presumed lover Ron Goldman in 1994. Madoff details the rise and fall of Wall Street stockbroker Bernie Madoff (Richard Dreyfuss) and the fallout that came when he was outed for orchestrating a multi-billion dollar Ponzi scheme in 2008.
Both of these tragic events and the trials that followed rattled a nation, with the rest of the world watching as the unfortunate stories rolled out.
If you’re interested in watching biographical films based on real-life events, check out these 10 films based on true crimes (organized by streaming platform) available online:
1. The Krays
Before Legend, starring Tom Hardy as both Reggie and Ronnie Kray, there was The Krays. The 1990 film depicts the twin London mobsters, ruling the streets in the 1960s. The 1990 film cast two actors, brothers Martin Kemp and Gary Kemp, who are two years apart, to portray the twin brothers.
2. All Good Things
We just mentioned the docu-series The Jinx in an earlier post on true-crime TV documentaries. The Jinx followed Robert Durst, who was accused of murder but never convicted. Prior to The Jinx airing, Ryan Gosling starred in the 2010 film All Good Things, inspired by Durst’s first marriage to his wife Kathleen (Kirsten Dunst). While the names have been changed, the story is eerily similar.
The 2012 film Bernie may come across as a comedy, but the end result isn’t too funny. Jack Black stars in the title role as a mortician who befriends a widowed neighbor (Shirley MacLaine). The two hit it off initially, but he soon finds her needy and overwhelming. We don’t want to get spoiler-y here, but with this being a true crime movie, yes, something not so pleasant happens to her. Matthew McConaughey takes on the role of District Attorney Danny Buck Davidson.
4. Devil’s Knot
The 2013 film Devil’s Knot stars Colin Firth and Reese Witherspoon. The film plays out the trial of three teenagers accused of brutally killing three young boys in 1993. The teenagers, known as the West Memphis Three, were believed to have ties to a satanic cult. Firth portrays a private investigator, with Witherspoon starring as a mother seeking justice for the killing of her 8-year-old son.
Dame Judi Dench takes on the role of Philomena Lee in the 2013 film named after the Irish woman. Philomena had spent 50 years searching for her son, who was illegally taken from her in the 1950s. At the time of his birth, Philomena was an unmarried pregnant girl sent to a convent laundry in Ireland to be hidden away. Her son, like many other children at the time, was taken from her without her permission and put up for adoption. Steve Coogan portrays journalist Martin Sixsmith who helps Philomena track her missing son.
6. Heavenly Creatures
In the 1994 film Heavenly Creatures we meet two young girls, Juliet (Kate Winslet) and Pauline (Melanie Lynskey), who are the best of mates. The girls live in their own make-believe world where it’s safe and filled with fun and lovely friends. Their alternative world becomes threatened when their parents think they are spending too much time together. The girls come up with a plan to keep things the way they are.
Charlize Theron takes on the role of serial killer Aileen Wuornos in the 2003 film Monster. Wuornos struggles to live a straight life and falls back into prostitution. She had already been attacked once by a client, and before anyone else has the chance, she attacks first. Christina Ricci portrays her lover in the film, who was based on Wuornos’ actual girlfriend.
The 2001 film Bully revolves around a group of friends passing time in South Florida in 1993. They all get along for the most part, but one of the teenage boys, Bobby Kent (Nick Stahl), is aggressive, constantly humiliating his best friend (the late Brad Renfro) and sexually assaulting the girls (Bijou Phillips, Rachel Miner) in their group. The friends have had enough of Bobby and want to get rid of him.
9. An American Crime
The 2007 film An American Crime tells the horrific story of what happened to Sylvia Likens in 1965 Indianapolis, Indiana. Likens was a 16-year-old girl, portrayed by Ellen Page, who was taken in by a seemingly friendly neighbor Gertrude Baniszewski (Catherine Keener). Likens’ mother was in jail and her father traveled for work. Likens only lived with the Baniszewskis for three months, but during that time she was forced to live in the cellar and tortured regularly. When asked about Likens, Baniszewski claimed she had been sent away.
10. The Wolf of Wall Street
The Wolf of Wall Street depicts the blue-collar crimes committed by Wall Street stockbroker Jordan Belfort (Leonardo DiCaprio) and some of his colleagues. The 2013 film is an adaptation of Belfort’s memoir of the same name. Belfort lost his high-profile job on Wall Street, but got himself back on his feet financially by selling penny stocks. He starts to make it big, but not necessarily on the up-and-up. It doesn’t take long before Belfort makes it onto the FBI’s radar. Joanna Lumley pops up in the film as Belfort’s wife’s British aunt. You can also look for Matthew McConaughey, Margot Robbie and Jonah Hill.
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