True crime stories are booming like never before, from podcasts to docuseries to the constant influx of deeply researched new books on murders, heists, kidnappings, and more. Everyone has their own preferred method of consuming these stories, but in the hands of the right filmmaker and the right cast, a based-on-a-true-story project can gain new meaning and force, giving us a reflection of the real world through immersive, troubling tales.
Thankfully, many of the very best of these films are out there on a major streaming service, meaning they’re just a click away. Here are 10 of the best true crime movies you can stream right now.
All the President’s Men (1976)
Runtime: 138 min | IMDb: 7.9/10
Based on Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein’s book of the same name, Alan J. Pakula’s film about two dogged reporters who broke the Watergate scandal wide open remains one of the great political dramas in all of cinema. But for true crime nerds, it’s the detective story that lingers, from the cloak-and-dagger secrecy of Woodward’s meetings with “Deep Throat” to Bernstein’s pure, relentless pursuit of every lead and every secret. Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman are absolutely magnetic as the two reporters, and the result is an American classic.
Bonnie and Clyde (1967)
Runtime: 111 min | IMDb: 7.7/10
Infamous upon its release in 1967 for its graphic violence, Arthur Penn’s depiction of the legendary doomed love story between Clyde Barrow (Warren Beatty) and Bonnie Parker (Faye Dunaway) is equal parts American folk tale and true crime masterwork. Through dark comedy, raw sexuality, and bluegrass-driven mythmaking, Penn simultaneously depicts the rise of the Bonnie and Clyde legend and the internal strife of the couple, as they slowly start to realize their crime spree can only end one way. Nearly 60 years later, it’s still an effective, bittersweet masterpiece.
Runtime: 114 min | IMDb: 7.3/10
Truman Capote’s 1965 nonfiction novel In Cold Blood is one of the foundational texts of modern true crime, and Bennett Miller’s film is both an examination of why the text was so formative, and how it came to be. Starring Philip Seymour Hoffman in an Oscar-winning role, Capote examines both the crime behind In Cold Blood and the author’s dark fascination with it, merging the two stories into a thoughtful, haunting meditation on our public obsession with human darkness. Hoffman is incredible in the title role, and supporting performances from Catherine Keener, Clifton Collins Jr., and Chris Cooper turn the film into an ensemble tour de force.
Catch Me if You Can (2002)
Runtime: 141 min | IMDb: 8.1/10
Steven Spielberg’s Catch Me If You Can follows Frank Abagnale Jr. (Leonardo DiCaprio) through his own self-described spree (in his autobiography) of cons and getaways in the 1960s, giving Spielberg plenty of opportunities for both a grand tour of a richly textured American decade and for witty visual flourishes. DiCaprio is great in the leading role, Tom Hanks is equally great as the man pursuing him, and the film gets added brilliance from the notion that Abagnale may or may not have lied about all of the details. So, whether the story is true or the story was an elaborate lie that was eventually made into a feature film, we’ve just been taken in by a great con man.
Dog Day Afternoon (1975)
Runtime: 125 min | IMDb: 8.0/10
Sidney Lumet’s film based on a Life Magazine article about a bank robbery gone wrong features legendary work from Al Pacino and John Cazale. It’s a tense, deeply human chronicle of desperation, emotion, and white-knuckle fury, all filtered through the lens of the particular American darkness of the 1970s. Whether you’ve seen it once or you’ve seen it a dozen times, it’s one of those movies that just keeps living up to its own hype and remains a truly indispensable piece of American cinema.
Runtime: 146 min | IMDb: 8.7/10
Martin Scorsese has made several great works of American true crime, from Casino to The Wolf of Wall Street, but it doesn’t get any better than his 1990 ensemble triumph. Based on Nicholas Pileggi’s book Wiseguy, about the life of mobster Henry Hill, the film is a decades-long chronicle of a tight-knit group of friends as they rise and fall through the mafia. Built on Ray Liotta’s wonderful central performance as Hill, the film also features some all-time great work from Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci (who won an Oscar for the film), Paul Sorvino, and Lorraine Bracco. Throw in a killer soundtrack, Thelma Schoonmaker’s fearless editing, and some of the boldest choices of Scorsese’s iconic directorial career, and this is a ca n’t-miss classic.
Runtime: 190 min | IMDb: 7.3/10
Charlize Theron won an Oscar for her transformative work as serial killer Aileen Wuornos in this film, and while her physical transformation grabbed headlines, it’s the emotional depth of the change that still strikes a chord. Theron disappears into Wuornos for Patty Jenkins’ brutal film, embodying the rage, resentment, and desperation of one of America’s most fascinating serial killers. It’s no wonder that no less a cinema luminary than Roger Ebert called her work one of the best performances in all of cinema.
Pain & Gain (2013)
Runtime: 129 min | IMDb: 6.4/10
You don’t usually think of “true crime” when you think of Michael Bay, but the action director extraordinaire tried his hand at the genre, and knocked it out of the park, with this film about a trio of bodybuilders (Mark Wahlberg, Dwayne Johnson, and Anthony Mackie) who went on a gobsmacking crime spree in the 1990s. The sheer mayhem of the story is perfectly suited to Bay’s filmmaking style, and the merging of the true-crime reality of the narrative with the “Bayhem” visuals creates a uniquely jaw-dropping portrait of American excess.
Runtime: 125 min | IMDb: 8.1/10
Inspired by the Boston Globe’s Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalism that broke open the Catholic Church sexual abuse scandal in the U.S., this Best Picture winner is both a thrilling detective story and a chronicle of sheer human determination. A clear cinematic successor to All the President’s Men, Tom McCarthy’s film makes even better use of an ensemble cast to tell its story. Led by Michael Keaton, Mark Ruffalo, and Rachel McAdams, the film’s performances are both tremendous exercises in restraint and deeply emotional chronicles of what happens to investigators when they keep drawing closer to an abyss of subsumed suffering.
Runtime: 157 min | IMDb: 7.7/10
Some true crime stories simply don’t have neat solutions, and the mystery of the Zodiac Killer looms large in that category. So, it’s no wonder that David Fincher’s film adaptation of Robert Graysmith’s book is both the story of Zodiac’s real-life crimes and the story of Graysmith’s (Jake Gyllenhaal) own relentless pursuit of a truth that might never fully surface. Even when Zodiac answers certain questions within its own version of events, it’s a film about how mysteries consume us the closer we get to them. Shot with haunting precision by Fincher and featuring a slew of unforgettable performances, Zodiac’s mystery just might consume you too.