In this brave new world of post-truth politics and fake news stories, Hollywood is enjoying a boom in reality-based movies. From biopics to true-crime thrillers to state-of-the-nation docudramas, stories based on real people and events look certain to dominate the Oscar nominations in January.
But reality can be overrated, and truth inconvenient. The worst true-story movies often are those most faithful to the surface facts: prosaic procedurals, boiled-down biographies and schematic attempts to impose narrative logic on complex lives. Such films show the price of everything and the value of nothing.
The best of them, like great fairy tales, mix facts with a shot of artistic license. "Art is the lie that tells the truth," Pablo Picasso once said. Or was that quote invented by a screenwriter?