Actor Peter O'Toole stars as T. E. Lawrence in the 1962 biopic 'Lawrence of Arabia.'

100 best biopics of all time

The grand sweep of history is perhaps more easily told through a narrower lens, which is one reason why biopics (biographical pictures)—which can tell the story of a movement, era, or idea through one individual's life—have become so popular in recent years. Filmmakers have increasingly preferred to work in the genre over the past several decades, finding that the unique challenges in condensing a life can embolden creativity and experimentation, resulting in extraordinary movies. Take "Persepolis," for example: The 2007 film explores the Iranian revolution through the life of an ordinary teenage girl via cartoons, weaving snapshots of an ordinary lift in the midst of social upheaval to make one of the most impactful and influential films of the decade.

While the genre has turned out some truly excellent films, not all biopics are created equal. The biggest criticism leveled against them is that they often blend fiction with fact in an irresponsible or misleading manner. J.R.R. Tolkien's estate essentially disowned the 2019 film "Tolkien," feeling the author's character and related facts were misrepresented. Another frequent complaint is that the movies trot out only the best-known facts about an individual's life, failing to offer anything new or revelatory, as with the Grace Kelly biopic "Grace of Monaco." So, which movies in this high-risk, high-reward genre are worth a watch?

Stacker compiled data on biopics to come up with a Stacker score—a weighted index split evenly between IMDb and Metacritic scores. To qualify, the film had to be listed as "biography" on IMDb and have a Metascore. Ties were broken by Metascore, and further ties were broken by IMDb user rating. Every film on the list has been considered within the context of the history and development of the genre.

Whether it's a gangster epic like "Goodfellas," a royal family drama like "The Queen," or one of the many chronicles of the lives of artists and musicians like "Endless Poetry" or "Amadeus," biopics offer something for everyone. Click through to discover the best cinematic portraits of extraordinary lives.

#100. Donnie Brasco (1997)

- Director: Mike Newell - Stacker score: 83.6 - Metascore: 76 - IMDb user rating: 7.7 - Runtime: 127 minutes

Undercover FBI agent Donnie Brasco (real name Joseph D. Pistone) infiltrates the legendary Bonanno crime family in 1970s New York City in this true crime drama. Starring Al Pacino and Johnny Depp, the film was based on Pistone's book , "Donnie Brasco: My Undercover Life in the Mafia." It's believed that Pistone's long career as an undercover agent generated over 200 indictments and 100 convictions of Mafia members.

#99. The Last Emperor (1987)

- Director: Bernardo Bertolucci - Stacker score: 83.6 - Metascore: 76 - IMDb user rating: 7.7 - Runtime: 163 minutes

Bernardo Bertolucci's " The Last Emperor " follows the life of Pu Yi, who took the throne when he was 3 years old and abdicated when he was 7. The film, shot entirely on location in China and its ancient Forbidden City palace complex, follows a country's move from feudalism through revolution to a peaceful republic, all through the lens of one man's life.

#98. Philomena (2013)

- Director: Stephen Frears - Stacker score: 83.6 - Metascore: 77 - IMDb user rating: 7.6 - Runtime: 98 minutes

Philomena Lee (Judi Dench) spends 50 years searching for her forcibly adopted son with the help of a journalist, Martin Sixsmith (Steve Coogan). The film won four Oscar nominations and took home several trophies at the 2013 Venice Film Festival. While the film is certainly a tearjerker , it is balanced both by comedic moments and the real Ms. Lee's inspirational fortitude in the face of so much loss and grief.

#97. Lorenzo's Oil (1992)

- Director: George Miller - Stacker score: 83.6 - Metascore: 80 - IMDb user rating: 7.3 - Runtime: 129 minutes

In the 1980s, Augusto and Michaela Odone experience every parent's worst nightmare when their son Lorenzo is diagnosed with an incurable nerve disease that will eventually paralyze and kill him. Failing to receive the help they needed from doctors, the Odones begin a desperate search for a cure themselves, eventually stumbling upon an oil they believe could reverse the most devastating effects of their son's illness. Nick Nolte and Susan Sarandon star in this film about one couple's desperate struggle to save their family.

#96. A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (2019)

- Director: Marielle Heller - Stacker score: 83.6 - Metascore: 80 - IMDb user rating: 7.3 - Runtime: 109 minutes

Tom Hanks stars as one of TV's most beloved personalities, Fred Rogers, in this 2019 biopic. Based on a 1998 Esquire article, the film doesn't delve into Roger's life story but rather focuses on the friendship between Rogers and the troubled journalist Tom Junod (renamed Lloyd Vogel in the film). The real-life Mrs. Joanne Rogers makes a brief cameo in the film, and it's a quote from her that reminds viewers that her late husband wasn't a saint, just an ordinary man who tried very, very hard to be better and kind.

#95. A Beautiful Mind (2001)

- Director: Ron Howard - Stacker score: 84.2 - Metascore: 72 - IMDb user rating: 8.2 - Runtime: 135 minutes

John Nash Jr., a Nobel Prize winner, was one of the greatest mathematicians the world has ever seen. He also struggled with schizophrenia. " A Beautiful Mind ," based on an unauthorized biography of the same name written by acclaimed journalist Sylvia Nasar, tells Nash's incredible, inspirational life story. Directed by Ron Howard and starring Russell Crowe, the movie won four Academy Awards including Best Picture and grossed over $313 million at the box office.

#94. Into the Wild (2007)

- Director: Sean Penn - Stacker score: 84.2 - Metascore: 73 - IMDb user rating: 8.1 - Runtime: 148 minutes

Written, directed, and produced by Sean Penn, "Into the Wild" tells the story of Christopher McCandless, a loner who cashed in his law school fund and took off for the Alaskan wilderness in the 1990s. At first charmed by the slower pace of life, McCandless eventually found himself disillusioned with nature and attempted to return to society before making a grave mistake that would cost him everything. The story is based on a nonfiction book written by Jon Krakauer, as well as information from McCandless' surviving sister, Carine McCandless.

#93. The Sea Inside (2004)

- Director: Alejandro Amenábar - Stacker score: 84.2 - Metascore: 74 - IMDb user rating: 8.0 - Runtime: 126 minutes

A Spanish-language drama, " The Sea Inside " tells the story of Ramon Sampedro, a man who became a quadriplegic after a diving accident in the 1960s and fought for 30 years for the legal right to end his own life through euthanasia. Javier Bardem stars as Sampedro in an incredibly moving performance that focuses on one individual's definition of dignity. The film won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language film in 2004.

#92. American Gangster (2007)

- Director: Ridley Scott - Stacker score: 84.2 - Metascore: 76 - IMDb user rating: 7.8 - Runtime: 157 minutes

Denzel Washington and Russell Crowe co-star in " American Gangster ," a film that chronicles the life of Fred Lucas, a gangster who smuggles heroin into the United States, essentially instigating the drug epidemic that swept Harlem and all of New York City in the 1970s. Although the film brought in $266 million at the box office, those who were connected with the case in real life, including Lucas himself , have argued that it takes too many liberties and strays pretty far from the truth.

#91. The Killing Fields (1984)

- Director: Roland Joffé - Stacker score: 84.2 - Metascore: 76 - IMDb user rating: 7.8 - Runtime: 141 minutes

Nominated for seven Oscars at the 57th Academy Awards, " The Killing Fields " tells the story of two journalists, American Sydney Schanberg and Cambodian Dith Pran, who are covering the country's civil war and find themselves trapped when Pol Pot begins his bloody Year Zero cleansing campaign. Critics loved the film, including Adrian Turner from Radio Times , who wrote, "Few feature films have captured a nation's agony more dramatically."

#90. Birdman of Alcatraz (1962)

- Directors: John Frankenheimer, Charles Crichton - Stacker score: 84.2 - Metascore: 76 - IMDb user rating: 7.8 - Runtime: 147 minutes

One of the looser retellings on our list, "Birdman of Alcatraz" is about a man (Burt Lancaster) serving a life sentence for murder who becomes an expert on birds while behind bars. The movie was based on Thomas E. Gaddis' book about Robert Stroud, the titular "birdman," and was nominated for four Academy Awards. The real Stroud died a year after the film was released, without ever seeing it .

#89. Endless Poetry (2016)

- Director: Alejandro Jodorowsky - Stacker score: 84.2 - Metascore: 78 - IMDb user rating: 7.6 - Runtime: 128 minutes

Surrealist filmmaker Alejandro Jodorowsky tells his own life story in " Endless Poetry ." The second installment of his cinematic memoir, the film is set in 1940s Chile, when Jodorowsky is a young man just breaking into the country's artistic circles. Very experimental in its form, the film doesn't accommodate casual viewing but offers a fascinating story for those willing to pay close attention.

#88. An Angel at My Table (1990)

- Director: Jane Campion - Stacker score: 84.2 - Metascore: 79 - IMDb user rating: 7.5 - Runtime: 158 minutes

The story of New Zealand author Janet Frame's life, " An Angel at My Table " is based on Frame's three autobiographies and uses three different actresses to portray her at different points in her life, from her impoverished childhood through her time at a mental institution (wrongly diagnosed with schizophrenia) to the beginning of her wildly successful writing career. The film swept awards in New Zealand and won a Special Jury Prize at the Venice Film Festival.

#87. Rabbit-Proof Fence (2002)

- Director: Phillip Noyce - Stacker score: 84.2 - Metascore: 80 - IMDb user rating: 7.4 - Runtime: 94 minutes

From 1910 to 1970, Australia had an official child-removal policy that took biracial Aboriginal children from their homes and placed them in state-run schools and indentured servitude. " Rabbit-Proof Fence " tells the true story of three children from the Stolen Generation who escape their school and walk some 1,500 miles home, all while being pursued by police officers and trackers. Peter Gabriel provided the soundtrack for the heart-wrenching film.

#86. Love & Mercy (2014)

- Director: Bill Pohlad - Stacker score: 84.2 - Metascore: 80 - IMDb user rating: 7.4 - Runtime: 121 minutes

For years, Brian Wilson, leader of the Beach Boys, struggled with mental illness , even spending a length of time in a controversial 24-hour therapy program. "Love & Mercy" chronicles Wilson's struggles in a way that Wilson himself called "very factual." Paul Dano and John Cusack both play the musician at different points in his life, and Elizabeth Banks gives an inspired performance as Wilson's second wife, Melinda.

#85. Good Night, and Good Luck (2005)

- Director: George Clooney - Stacker score: 84.2 - Metascore: 80 - IMDb user rating: 7.4 - Runtime: 93 minutes

" Good Night, and Good Luck " demonstrates the immense power for change that journalists are capable of wielding in the United States. Directed by and starring George Clooney, the film is set in the 1950s, when a fear of communism led by Senator Joseph McCarthy was sweeping the nation. It tells the story of heroic reporter Edward R. Murrow and producer Fred W. Friendly, who used their news show to stand up to McCarthy and remove his cancerous lies from the public eye. The film and its message remain incredibly relevant to today's political polarization.

#84. Il Divo (2008)

- Director: Paolo Sorrentino - Stacker score: 84.2 - Metascore: 81 - IMDb user rating: 7.3 - Runtime: 110 minutes

"Il Divo" translates to "The Divine Performer," a fitting title for this 2008 film that explores the life of seven-time Italian Prime Minister Giulio Andreotti, who had alleged ties to the Mafia. The story begins in 1992 as Andreotti is elected for the seventh time, then covers his failed presidency bid and bribe scandal, ultimately ending with his trial in 1995. The Guardian called the movie " a macabre masterpiece ."

#83. The General (1998)

- Director: John Boorman - Stacker score: 84.2 - Metascore: 81 - IMDb user rating: 7.3 - Runtime: 124 minutes

Martin Cahill was an Irish criminal who managed to pull off two incredibly daring robberies (totaling about $60 million), a feat that turned him into a bit of a folk hero. " The General " tells the story of his life, including his murder by a member of the Irish Republican Army after he became involved in politics. While Cahill (played by Brendan Gleeson) was far from a good man, the 1998 movie will make you admire the way he stuck to his morals, even when they were questionable.

#82. Steve Jobs (2015)

- Director: Danny Boyle - Stacker score: 84.2 - Metascore: 82 - IMDb user rating: 7.2 - Runtime: 122 minutes

Since his death in 2011, there have been several movies and documentaries about Apple co-founder and tech guru Steve Jobs, but this 2015 biopic is among the best . Michael Fassbender brings the turtleneck-loving visionary to life in the film, which covers three different product launches that took place between 1984 and 1998. Unlike many other Jobs films, this movie also focuses on his relationship with his daughter, Lisa, whom he had with ex-girlfriend Chrisann Brennan and refused to support for many years, despite his massive wealth.

#81. Vincere (2009)

- Director: Marco Bellocchio - Stacker score: 84.2 - Metascore: 85 - IMDb user rating: 6.9 - Runtime: 128 minutes

Ida Dalser may be, in many ways, one of history's most important women, but her name and memory have largely been forgotten by the general public. Italian dictator Benito Mussolini's first wife and the mother of his son Benito Albino, Dasler financed a newspaper in which Mussolini shared and expounded on his political views, garnering support for his fascist platform. Although the film occasionally steps away from the facts of the story, it's still a wonderful primer for those who wish to know more about the rise of the politician and those who shaped him.

#80. Rush (2013)

- Director: Ron Howard - Stacker score: 84.7 - Metascore: 74 - IMDb user rating: 8.1 - Runtime: 123 minutes

The first sports film on our list, " Rush " chronicles the 1970s rivalry between two of Formula One's best-known drivers, James Hunt and Niki Lauda. The real Lauda has publicly stated that the film holds true to the reality of their lives, in spite of the fact that it omits the close friendship the men shared later in life. It also received accolades for the accuracy with which it portrays F1 racing and culture.

#79. Control (2007)

- Director: Anton Corbijn - Stacker score: 84.7 - Metascore: 78 - IMDb user rating: 7.7 - Runtime: 122 minutes

Joy Division's late singer Ian Curtis is the focus of this 2007 biopic co-produced by his widow, Deborah. The film chronicles the rise of the band as well as Ian and Deborah's relationship, his epilepsy diagnosis, and the fallout from his affair with journalist Annik Honore. Debuting at the Cannes Film Festival, the movie picked up several awards in the festival circuit and took home a British Academy Film Award.

#78. Missing (1982)

- Director: Costa-Gavras - Stacker score: 84.7 - Metascore: 78 - IMDb user rating: 7.7 - Runtime: 122 minutes

In September 1973, American journalist Charles Horman disappeared during the Chilean coup that disposed of then-president Salvador Allende. " Missing " recounts the desperate search Charles' father and wife undertook to learn of his fate and their eventual realization that the United States government had not only aided the coup but had washed their hands of Horman. The Academy Award-winning drama stars Jack Lemmon and Sissy Spacek.

#77. Selma (2014)

- Director: Ava DuVernay - Stacker score: 84.7 - Metascore: 80 - IMDb user rating: 7.5 - Runtime: 128 minutes

Ava DuVernay directed this historical film that chronicles the 1965 voting rights march from Selma to Montgomery that was led by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., John Lewis, and Hosea Williams. Covering a three-month period leading up to the march, the film largely focuses on King's role in the events without discrediting the role the other leaders had in shaping this important piece of American history. The film features the Oscar-winning song "Glory" by John Legend and Common.

#76. The End of the Tour (2015)

- Director: James Ponsoldt - Stacker score: 84.7 - Metascore: 82 - IMDb user rating: 7.3 - Runtime: 106 minutes

" The End of the Tour " tells the famous story of Rolling Stone reporter David Lipsky's five-day interview with novelist David Foster Wallace. Based on Lipsky's 2011 book "Although of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself," the movie is set just after the release of Wallace's epic novel "Infinite Jest," when the duo set off on a road trip. Wallace's estate and many of his living friends objected to the film , saying that it didn't capture the famous writer as he really was.

#75. The Happiest Day in the Life of Olli Maki (2016)

- Director: Juho Kuosmanen - Stacker score: 84.7 - Metascore: 83 - IMDb user rating: 7.2 - Runtime: 92 minutes

Immensely talented Finnish boxer Olli Maki has a shot at the World Featherweight title in 1962, something he's been training for his entire life. But when the small-town boy falls in love with a local girl named Raija, he begins to question his dedication to the brutal sport. " The Happiest Day in the Life of Olli Maki ," Finland's entry for the 2016 Academy Awards, features a cameo from the retired fighter and won the Un Certain Regard prize at the Cannes Film Festival.

#74. Catch Me If You Can (2002)

- Director: Steven Spielberg - Stacker score: 85.2 - Metascore: 75 - IMDb user rating: 8.1 - Runtime: 141 minutes

A runaway commercial success, " Catch Me If You Can " tells the stranger-than-fiction story of con man turned FBI assistant Frank Abagnale. The Steven Spielberg film, which stars Leonardo DiCaprio and is based on the con artist's 1980 book, grossed more than $352 million at the box office. Abagnale himself makes a cameo as the officer who arrests DiCaprio's character on Christmas Eve, 1969.

#73. Inherit the Wind (1960)

- Director: Stanley Kramer - Stacker score: 85.2 - Metascore: 75 - IMDb user rating: 8.1 - Runtime: 128 minutes

While it changes the names of all of the key players, 1960's " Inherit the Wind " is clearly about the Scopes Monkey Trial, which argued the legality of teaching evolution over creationism. Based on the play of the same name, the film starred veteran actors Spencer Tracy, Gene Kelly, and Fredric March. In spite of the fact that the storyline of the film varies substantially from real-life events, it's had an outsized impact on the general public's opinion and beliefs about the case, inspiring debate over a biopic's obligation to stick to the hard facts of its topic.

#72. Glory (1989)

- Director: Edward Zwick - Stacker score: 85.2 - Metascore: 78 - IMDb user rating: 7.8 - Runtime: 122 minutes

A stalwart of high school history classes, " Glory " tells the story of the first all-Black regiment in the Civil War, the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry. Starring big names like Matthew Broderick, Denzel Washington, and Morgan Freeman, the movie was an instant success with critics despite a middling performance at the box office. Historians agree that the film, which is based on Captain Robert Gould Shaw's personal letters, adheres pretty closely to the historical record.

#71. The Damned United (2009)

- Director: Tom Hooper - Stacker score: 85.2 - Metascore: 81 - IMDb user rating: 7.5 - Runtime: 98 minutes

"The Damned United" is another biopic whose adherence to real events is highly questionable . The film is based on a novel loosely inspired by Brian Clough's 44-day tenure as the manager of English football team Leeds United, and the Clough family has alleged that the film bears little resemblance to reality.

#70. The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)

- Director: Martin Scorsese - Stacker score: 85.8 - Metascore: 75 - IMDb user rating: 8.2 - Runtime: 180 minutes

It's no secret that Wall Street is full of would-be fraudsters and schemers, but few hold a candle to 1990s trader Jordan Belfort, whose company, Stratton Oakmont, engaged in corruption and fraud at never-before-seen levels. Martin Scorsese's smash hit " The Wolf of Wall Street " tells the true story of the unparalleled misconduct laid bare in Belfort's memoir of the same name. An awards season darling, the movie was nominated for five Oscars and won a Golden Globe for star Leonardo DiCaprio.

#69. Pride (2014)

- Director: Matthew Warchus - Stacker score: 85.8 - Metascore: 79 - IMDb user rating: 7.8 - Runtime: 119 minutes

One of history's more unlikely events, the Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners campaign is chronicled in the British drama " Pride ." In the 1980s, both the U.K.'s LGBTQ+ community and its coal miners were being threatened by Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and her Conservative Party, a fact that inspired them to join together and fight for their rights, an unlikely alliance that paid off for both groups. This film would make an excellent watch for those interested in lesser-known corners of history.

#68. The Fighter (2010)

- Director: David O. Russell - Stacker score: 85.8 - Metascore: 79 - IMDb user rating: 7.8 - Runtime: 116 minutes

Junior welterweight boxer "Irish" Micky Ward fights his way out from under the shadow of his older, more successful, and troubled brother Dicky Eklund in the sports drama " The Fighter ." The intense flick contains some extraordinary acting, as Mark Wahlberg shines as Micky, while Christian Bale and Amy Adams give Oscar-winning turns as brother Dicky and girlfriend Charlene, respectively.

#67. Frost/Nixon (2008)

- Director: Ron Howard - Stacker score: 85.8 - Metascore: 80 - IMDb user rating: 7.7 - Runtime: 122 minutes

In 1977, three years after he left office, former President Richard Nixon agreed to a single, tell-all interview with British television personality David Frost. It is assumed that Nixon thought he'd be able to outfox the Brit, but he eventually found himself backed into a corner by questions about the Watergate scandal. This 2008 film tells the whole story of the legendary Frost-Nixon interviews and was based on a stage play of the same name, which also starred Frank Langella (Nixon) and Michael Sheen (Frost).

#66. 127 Hours (2010)

- Director: Danny Boyle - Stacker score: 85.8 - Metascore: 82 - IMDb user rating: 7.5 - Runtime: 94 minutes

Academy Award winner Danny Boyle directed "127 Hours," an intense film about a hiker named Aron Ralston who found himself trapped by a boulder in a remote canyon in Utah. Over the course of his ordeal, Ralston examines his life and finds that he is willing to do whatever it takes to escape—even if it means cutting off his own arm. The real-life Ralston (played by James Franco) has said that the movie is incredibly true to his harrowing experience, if a little less gruesome .

#65. First Man (2018)

- Director: Damien Chazelle - Stacker score: 85.8 - Metascore: 84 - IMDb user rating: 7.3 - Runtime: 141 minutes

On July 20, 1969, Neil Armstrong became the first man to walk on the moon. This drama chronicles the decade of Armstrong's life leading to that historical moment, including the loss of his daughter and much of his intense training. Ryan Gosling stars in the film, which was nominated for major awards at the Golden Globes, Academy Awards, Critics Choice Awards, and British Academy Film Awards.

#64. Before Night Falls (2000)

- Director: Julian Schnabel - Stacker score: 85.8 - Metascore: 85 - IMDb user rating: 7.2 - Runtime: 133 minutes

An episodic look at the life of Cuban poet, novelist, and Castro supporter-turned-critic Reinaldo Arenas, " Before Night Falls " was based on the man's own autobiography. An openly gay man, Arenas spent much of his life under careful watch by the government and did several stints in jail before managing to escape to the United States in 1980, where he'd eventually die of AIDS. Javier Bardem and Johnny Depp both have leading roles in this visually arresting picture.

#63. Il Postino (1994)

- Directors: Michael Radford, Massimo Troisi - Stacker score: 86.3 - Metascore: 81 - IMDb user rating: 7.7 - Runtime: 108 minutes

A fictional tale peppered with facts, "Il Postino" follows the friendship that develops between a lowly Italian postman and the Chilean poet Pablo Neruda, who has been exiled from his home country for political reasons. Massimo Troisi, who played the postman, died of a heart attack the day after the film wrapped and was never able to bask in its critical and commercial success. He was, however, awarded a posthumous Oscar for his work.

#62. Hunger (2008)

- Director: Steve McQueen - Stacker score: 86.3 - Metascore: 82 - IMDb user rating: 7.6 - Runtime: 96 minutes

A dramatic retelling of the hunger strike that took place in Northern Ireland's Maze Prison in 1981, " Hunger " follows the final days and death of Bobby Sands, an IRA member and the first prisoner to die in the strike. By turns unflinching and abstract, the film won the Camera d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival. Steve McQueen directed the intense, harrowing picture, with Michael Fassbender starring as Sands.

#61. Henry V (1989)

- Director: Kenneth Branagh - Stacker score: 86.3 - Metascore: 83 - IMDb user rating: 7.5 - Runtime: 137 minutes

Shakespeare's classic historical play " Henry V '' was brought to the screen in this 1989 film. Directed by Kenneth Branagh, who also stars as the king, the movie chronicles the events of the 15th-century Battle of Agincourt, in which the English continued their Hundred Years' War against the French.

#60. BlacKkKlansman (2018)

- Director: Spike Lee - Stacker score: 86.3 - Metascore: 83 - IMDb user rating: 7.5 - Runtime: 135 minutes

In another stranger-than-fiction tale, African American detective Ron Stallworth infiltrated a Colorado Springs branch of the Ku Klux Klan in the late 1970s. Wowed by Stallworth's story , Spike Lee set out to bring it to life, casting John David Washington as the young detective, Adam Driver as his Jewish colleague assisting in the sting, and Topher Grace as Grand Wizard David Duke. The finished project was widely praised by critics and won several prestigious awards, including Cannes' Grand Prix and the Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay.

#59. Seraphine (2008)

- Director: Martin Provost - Stacker score: 86.3 - Metascore: 84 - IMDb user rating: 7.4 - Runtime: 125 minutes

A self-taught French painter who holds down a day job as a housekeeper and walks the line between genius and mentally ill is the subject of this 2008 French film. Today, Seraphine Louis' works hang in museums around the world, but her life was far from a happy one, and she died in the early 20th century in a mental institution, destitute and alone. This simple, subtle biopic, which stars Yolande Moreau, won seven Cesars (the French equivalent of the Academy Award).

#58. 24 Hour Party People (2002)

- Director: Michael Winterbottom - Stacker score: 86.3 - Metascore: 85 - IMDb user rating: 7.3 - Runtime: 117 minutes

In the 1970s, Tony Wilson established Factory Records , which signed bands like Joy Division and the Happy Mondays and sparked a musical revolution, eventually leading to the development of the legendary Hacienda dance club in Manchester, England. A blend of real events, newsreel footage, urban legends, and completely fictional tidbits, this movie expertly tells the raucous story of a man, city, and movement that made up the rules as they went along.

#57. Can You Ever Forgive Me? (2018)

- Director: Marielle Heller - Stacker score: 86.3 - Metascore: 87 - IMDb user rating: 7.1 - Runtime: 106 minutes

Melissa McCarthy stepped away from her typical comedic roles in " Can You Ever Forgive Me? " She plays Lee Israel, a failing writer who tries to revitalize her career by selling forged letters from dead celebrities. While the movie certainly has funny moments, it's a true crime tale that features an unlikable heroine, a gamble that paid off when McCarthy and co-star Richard E. Grant were nominated for their performances at the Academy Awards and Golden Globes.

#56. The Elephant Man (1980)

- Director: David Lynch - Stacker score: 86.9 - Metascore: 78 - IMDb user rating: 8.1 - Runtime: 124 minutes

Set in Victorian London, " The Elephant Man " chronicles the relationship that formed between a surgeon named Dr. Frederick Treves and John Merrick, a severely disfigured man who earns his living as a freak-show performer called the Elephant Man. Adapted from two different books, one written by Treves himself, the story garnered praise for the way it handled disability and difference. It also inspired the creation of the Academy Award for Best Makeup and Hairstyling after industry insiders complained that the film's incredible work wasn't given enough recognition.

#55. Gandhi (1982)

- Director: Richard Attenborough - Stacker score: 86.9 - Metascore: 79 - IMDb user rating: 8.0 - Runtime: 191 minutes

The life of civil rights leader Mahatma Gandhi has been portrayed in numerous ways via several media since his death in 1948, but perhaps never as movingly as in this 1982 biopic. The story begins with Gandhi being thrown off a South African train in 1893 and concludes with his assassination some 55 years later. Ben Kingsley played Gandhi and won an Academy Award (one of eight the film took home) for his efforts.

#54. Milk (2008)

- Director: Gus Van Sant - Stacker score: 86.9 - Metascore: 84 - IMDb user rating: 7.5 - Runtime: 128 minutes

The life of an openly gay activist who becomes the first LGBTQ+ person elected to public office in California is the subject of " Milk ." Using archival footage of Harvey Milk's life, the movie covers the time period from Milk's 40th birthday until his shocking assassination in 1978. Sean Penn's performance as the title character was awe-inspiring and earned him the Academy Award for Best Actor.

#53. The Long Day Closes (1992)

- Director: Terence Davies - Stacker score: 86.9 - Metascore: 85 - IMDb user rating: 7.4 - Runtime: 85 minutes

Terence Davies' autobiographical film follows a boy named Bud as he comes of age in 1950s Liverpool, fearing the ever-present eye of the Catholic Church and realizing both his love for cinema and his homosexuality. The film doesn't follow a straightforward narrative but rather jumps back-and-forth through time, infusing each moment with precisely chosen pieces of popular music and cinema.

#52. Lincoln (2012)

- Director: Steven Spielberg - Stacker score: 86.9 - Metascore: 86 - IMDb user rating: 7.3 - Runtime: 150 minutes

The final four months of U.S. president Abraham Lincoln's life are explored in detail in Steven Spielberg's 2012 historical smash "Lincoln." Starring Daniel Day-Lewis as the gentle, gangly leader, it primarily focuses on Lincoln's determination to abolish slavery and pass the 13th Amendment. Sally Field co-stars as Mary Todd Lincoln, with Joseph Gordon-Levitt as the 16th president's son, Robert. The movie was nominated for 12 Academy Awards, winning two, including Best Actor for Day-Lewis.

#51. Hotel Rwanda (2004)

- Director: Terry George - Stacker score: 87.4 - Metascore: 79 - IMDb user rating: 8.1 - Runtime: 121 minutes

Tackling tough topics like genocide, violence, and political corruption, " Hotel Rwanda " is set during the Rwandan genocide of 1994, when members of the Tutsi ethnic group were hunted down and murdered by armed militias. The movie brings to life the true story of a hotel manager named Paul Rusesabagina, a Hutu who offers shelter to over 1,000 Tutsis in the Hotel des Mille Collines. While the Academy Award-winning film finishes on a relatively happy note, real life wasn't so kind: In late 2020, the real Rusesabagina was charged with "terrorism, complicity in murder, and forming an armed rebel group" by a Rwandan court.

#50. Dallas Buyers Club (2013)

- Director: Jean-Marc Vallée - Stacker score: 87.4 - Metascore: 80 - IMDb user rating: 8.0 - Runtime: 117 minutes

Ronald Woodroof was a womanizing, drug-using, homophobic electrician from Texas living a carefree life when his doctor announced that he had HIV/AIDS and would likely die in 30 days. After researching his illness, Woodroof uncovered an experimental drug that would potentially prolong his life and established the Dallas Buyers Club, whose mission was to import the drug from Mexico so that it could be easily accessible to everyone who needed it. Along the way, Woodroof (played by Matthew McConaughey in an Oscar-winning performance) became a compassionate friend and advocate for the legal rights of those with the disease.

#49. Captain Phillips (2013)

- Director: Paul Greengrass - Stacker score: 87.4 - Metascore: 82 - IMDb user rating: 7.8 - Runtime: 134 minutes

In 2009, for the first time in 200 years, a U.S. container ship was hijacked by a group of Somali pirates some 145 miles off the Somali coast. This thriller, inspired by those events , stars Tom Hanks as the American captain of the ship and chronicles the tense relationship that develops between him and the pirate captain who holds him hostage, played by newcomer Barkhad Abdi. While Hanks' character is hailed as a hero in the film, the real-life crew of the ship argues that this wasn't the case in reality.

#48. Fruitvale Station (2013)

- Director: Ryan Coogler - Stacker score: 87.4 - Metascore: 85 - IMDb user rating: 7.5 - Runtime: 85 minutes

" Fruitvale Station " tells the true story of Oscar Grant, a Bay Area resident and young Black man who was killed by Oakland Police officers on New Year's Eve 2008. His murder would inspire protests and unrest in the California town, events that fall outside the scope of this film but testify to the heated controversy of the incident. Michael B. Jordan stars in the movie, which made its debut at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival and collected a number of prizes there and elsewhere.

#47. Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters (1985)

- Director: Paul Schrader - Stacker score: 88 - Metascore: 81 - IMDb user rating: 8.0 - Runtime: 120 minutes

Inspired by the life of Japanese author Yukio Mishima , this biopic freely weaves fact, fiction, and portions of Mishima's own writing to create a stunning picture of the artist's life and death. Francis Ford Coppola and George Lucas worked as executive producers on the film, which earned director Paul Schrader a special prize at Cannes.

#46. The Wind Rises (2013)

- Director: Hayao Miyazaki - Stacker score: 88 - Metascore: 83 - IMDb user rating: 7.8 - Runtime: 126 minutes

The first animated movie on this list, " The Wind Rises " follows the life of Jiro Horikoshi, the designer of several of Japan's fighter planes during World War II. The anime film by Studio Ghibli became Japan's highest-grossing film in 2013, bringing in $116.1 million at the domestic box office. It was widely appreciated outside of Japan as well, winning Academy Awards, Golden Globes, and other animation prizes.

#45. Boys Don't Cry (1999)

- Director: Kimberly Peirce - Stacker score: 88 - Metascore: 86 - IMDb user rating: 7.5 - Runtime: 118 minutes

Brandon Teena was a trans man from rural Nebraska who was passionately in pursuit of his true self and true love before becoming the victim of a vicious hate crime perpetrated by two male acquaintances. " Boys Don't Cry " is a harrowing depiction of Teena's fate starring Hillary Swank and featuring Chloe Sevigny as Teena's girlfriend, Lana. While the movie was critically acclaimed, several people with links to the case, including the real Lana (who has been alleged to have been a part of the hate crime) have spoken out against it, saying that the on-screen story doesn't match the facts.

#44. Capote (2005)

- Director: Bennett Miller - Stacker score: 88 - Metascore: 88 - IMDb user rating: 7.3 - Runtime: 114 minutes

Philip Seymour Hoffman won multiple awards, including an Oscar, for his portrayal of author Truman Capote in this 2005 biopic . The events of the film center around the time period in which Capote was writing "In Cold Blood" and include the friendship he developed with Perry Smith, one of the killers who is on death row. The movie marked Bennet Miller's directorial debut.

#43. The Madness of King George (1994)

- Director: Nicholas Hytner - Stacker score: 88 - Metascore: 89 - IMDb user rating: 7.2 - Runtime: 110 minutes

It is believed that King George III suffered from mental illness, a malady highly misunderstood in 1788 but that drove him to act erratically and rendered him unfit to rule a country. " The Madness of King George " focuses on the monarch's decline as well as the troubled relationship he shared with his son, the Prince of Wales. Rupert Graves and Helen Mirren both lent their talents to the acclaimed British production.

#42. Ford v Ferrari (2019)

- Director: James Mangold - Stacker score: 88.5 - Metascore: 81 - IMDb user rating: 8.1 - Runtime: 152 minutes

In "Ford v Ferrari," American car designer Carroll Shelby and fearless British driver Ken Miles come together under the Ford Motor Company banner with hopes of defeating the dominant Ferrari racing team at the 24 Hours of Le Mans race in France. The movie, which tells the twisty story of the most bitter rivalry in auto racing history, stars Matt Damon and Christian Bale as Shelby and Miles, respectively.

#41. The Insider (1999)

- Director: Michael Mann - Stacker score: 88.5 - Metascore: 84 - IMDb user rating: 7.8 - Runtime: 157 minutes

An industry insider appears on a "60-Minutes" expose on Big Tobacco, risking his own safety as well as the safety of his CBS producer in " The Insider ". Accurate in its broad strokes, the film demonstrates the influence of journalism as well as the power of those who choose to stand up for what's right. Director Michael Mann martialed an abundance of star power for this intense drama, casting Al Pacino, Russell Crowe, and Christopher Plummer in leading roles.

#40. Coal Miner's Daughter (1980)

- Director: Michael Apted - Stacker score: 88.5 - Metascore: 87 - IMDb user rating: 7.5 - Runtime: 124 minutes

Based on country music star Loretta Lynn's biography, " Coal Miner's Daughter " spans from Lynn's birth into poverty and marriage at 13 to her emergence as one of the genre's leading voices. Sissy Spacek, who plays Lynn, accompanied the singer on tour in order to better embody the country queen's mannerisms and demeanor—a move that paid off when she won the Oscar for Best Actress for her performance.

#39. Richard III (1955)

- Director: Laurence Olivier - Stacker score: 88.5 - Metascore: 88 - IMDb user rating: 7.4 - Runtime: 161 minutes

Another adaptation of a Shakespeare play, " Richard III " famously relates how and why Richard, Duke of Gloucester, stole the crown from his brother, King Edward IV. One of three films directed by Laurence Olivier to bring Shakespeare's work to the screen, the Criterion Collection deems it "ravishing" and "visually inspired."

#38. Mr. Turner (2014)

- Director: Mike Leigh - Stacker score: 88.5 - Metascore: 94 - IMDb user rating: 6.8 - Runtime: 150 minutes

The story of the last 25 years in the life of the talented, eccentric Romantic painter J.M.W. Turner (played by Timothy Spall) is explored in this drama. The New York Times described Mike Leigh's portrait as "loving" and "unsentimental," one that "patiently and thoroughly demolishes more than a century's worth of mythology about what art is and how artists work."

#37. Argo (2012)

- Director: Ben Affleck - Stacker score: 89.1 - Metascore: 86 - IMDb user rating: 7.7 - Runtime: 120 minutes

No movie emphasizes the power of Hollywood quite like "Argo," which tells the story of a harebrained CIA scheme that sought to rescue six American diplomats from Iran (during the Iran hostage crisis) under the guise of shooting a science fiction movie. Based on the real-life accounts of the CIA operative Tony Mendez in his book "The Master of Disguise," the movie stars Ben Affleck, who also directs. 

#36. Moneyball (2011)

- Director: Bennett Miller - Stacker score: 89.1 - Metascore: 87 - IMDb user rating: 7.6 - Runtime: 133 minutes

Professional sports are as much games of money as they are of talent, which means that the poorest teams are often the least competitive. One exception is the 2002 Oakland Athletics baseball team. " Moneyball " tells the truly impressive story of A's general manager Billy Beane, who uses statistical data to scout and pick players, creating an aggressively competitive team despite having the lowest salary constraints in Major League Baseball.

#35. Searching for Bobby Fischer (1993)

- Director: Steven Zaillian - Stacker score: 89.1 - Metascore: 89 - IMDb user rating: 7.4 - Runtime: 109 minutes

" Searching for Bobby Fischer " focuses on Josh Waitzkin, a 7-year-old chess prodigy who loses his love for the game under a ruthless and strict coach, then finds it again with a much more relaxed tutor. Based on a book written by Waitzkin's father, the movie struck Roger Ebert as "a film of remarkable sensitivity and insight" and was nominated for an Academy Award for its Best Cinematography.

#34. Funny Girl (1968)

- Director: William Wyler - Stacker score: 89.1 - Metascore: 89 - IMDb user rating: 7.4 - Runtime: 151 minutes

Loosely based on the life and career of Broadway star Fanny Brice and her relationship with Nicky Arnstein, "Funny Girl" was the highest-grossing film of 1968 . Barbra Streisand, in her feature film debut, won an Oscar for her portrayal of Brice.  

#33. The Tale (2018)

- Director: Jennifer Fox - Stacker score: 89.1 - Metascore: 90 - IMDb user rating: 7.3 - Runtime: 114 minutes

Jennifer Fox's semiautobiographical " The Tale " explores long-buried, darker aspects of her relationships with two of her childhood coaches, which came to light as she worked on a documentary about child rape victims. Laura Dern stars as Fox in the movie, which made its debut at the Sundance Film Festival before receiving a wider release on HBO.

#32. Topsy-Turvy (1999)

- Director: Mike Leigh - Stacker score: 89.1 - Metascore: 90 - IMDb user rating: 7.3 - Runtime: 160 minutes

The musical " Topsy-Turvy " depicts the relationship between Victorian-era theatrical partners Sir Arthur Sullivan and W.S. Gilbert. After their show "Princess Ida" flops, the duo consider going their separate ways but agree to complete at least one more production, "The Mikado," which ends up becoming one of their greatest successes. An unexpectedly delightful period piece, the movie explores the difficult reality of the creative professions.

#31. Downfall (2004)

- Director: Oliver Hirschbiegel - Stacker score: 89.6 - Metascore: 82 - IMDb user rating: 8.2 - Runtime: 156 minutes

Set during WWII's Battle of Berlin, " Downfall " recounts Adolf Hitler's final days, spent in a bunker miles below the city. Based on a memoir by Traudl Junge, a secretary for Hitler, the movie brings Hitler's mental decline, which Junge observed firsthand, to life in a way few others have ever been able to. The movie sparked a serious conversation about the moral and ethical questions involved in portraying Hitler, one of the most monstrous villains in world history, with even a hint of humanity.

#30. The Miracle Worker (1962)

- Director: Arthur Penn - Stacker score: 89.6 - Metascore: 83 - IMDb user rating: 8.1 - Runtime: 106 minutes

Annie Sullivan, a "half-blind Yankee schoolgirl," manages to teach the deaf, blind, and mute Helen Keller how to communicate in " The Miracle Worker ." An instant critical success in 1962, both Anne Bancroft, who played Annie Sullivan, and Patty Duke, who played Helen Keller, took home Academy Awards for their performances. The movie was adapted from the Broadway play of the same name, which also starred the same actresses.

#29. All the President's Men (1976)

- Director: Alan J. Pakula - Stacker score: 89.6 - Metascore: 84 - IMDb user rating: 8.0 - Runtime: 138 minutes

The dramatic events surrounding Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein's unveiling of the Watergate scandal lie at the center of " All the President's Men ." The award-winning political thriller was based on the 1974 book of the same name written by the two journalists, portrayed by Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman, respectively.

#28. Bonnie and Clyde (1967)

- Director: Arthur Penn - Stacker score: 89.6 - Metascore: 86 - IMDb user rating: 7.8 - Runtime: 111 minutes

Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway bring America's most notorious crime couple to life in this 1967 telling of the Bonnie and Clyde story. A landmark film and one of the first of the New Hollywood era, the movie became famous for the groundbreakingly realistic way it depicted violence and sex, something that wasn't done in cinema at the time. Upon its release, Roger Ebert even predicted that it will come to be seen as the "definitive film of the 1960s."

#27. Shine (1996)

- Director: Scott Hicks - Stacker score: 89.6 - Metascore: 87 - IMDb user rating: 7.7 - Runtime: 105 minutes

Geoffrey Rush's breakout role was as pianist David Helfgott in the Australian drama "Shine." Rush's depiction of the musician, who was afflicted by schizophrenic disorder and spent years living in institutions, won him an Oscar and launched a successful, decades-long career. While the film was a critical success, Helfgott's real-life siblings were more divided in their reception of it, with one actively campaigning against it and the other two happy with its portrayal of their sibling and his tumultuous family life.

#26. Serpico (1973)

- Director: Sidney Lumet - Stacker score: 89.6 - Metascore: 87 - IMDb user rating: 7.7 - Runtime: 130 minutes

In " Serpico ," a New York City cop blows the whistle on the corruption that runs rampant within the NYPD, which prompts an investigation by the Knapp Commission. Al Pacino plays Frank Serpico , who in real life experienced ostracization and hate from those both inside and outside the force, and saw his act as shameful rather than heroic.

#25. Mutiny on the Bounty (1935)

- Director: Frank Lloyd - Stacker score: 89.6 - Metascore: 87 - IMDb user rating: 7.7 - Runtime: 132 minutes

One of the biggest hits of the 1930s, " Mutiny on the Bounty " may not be historically accurate, but it sure is fun to watch. The movie retraces the classic tale of the HMS Bounty, whose first mate (played by Clark Gable) launches a mutiny against the tyrannical Captain Bligh (Charles Laughton) on an 18th-century voyage from Tahiti. The movie won the Academy Award for Best Picture in 1935.

#24. American Splendor (2003)

- Directors: Shari Springer Berman, Robert Pulcini - Stacker score: 89.6 - Metascore: 90 - IMDb user rating: 7.4 - Runtime: 101 minutes

A blend of documentary, animation, and live action, as well as fact and fiction, " American Splendor " relays the complicated story of Harvey Pekar, the creator of the titular comic book series. In spite of its complicated-sounding setup, the film is a mesmerizing, absorbing watch full of delightful details. Paul Giamatti plays Pekar and Hope Davis his wife, Joyce—except when the real-life couple steps in for various scenes.

#23. The Queen (2006)

- Director: Stephen Frears - Stacker score: 89.6 - Metascore: 91 - IMDb user rating: 7.3 - Runtime: 103 minutes

Beginning with the death of Diana, Princess of Wales, " The Queen " depicts Elizabeth II's struggle to publicly react to the news appropriately, as she realizes just how drastically the culture of her country has shifted, leaving her without a clear role. Helen Mirren won an Oscar and received exorbitant praise for her performance in the leading role, with the Queen herself praising her work and inviting her to dinner .

#22. In the Name of the Father (1993)

- Director: Jim Sheridan - Stacker score: 90.2 - Metascore: 84 - IMDb user rating: 8.1 - Runtime: 133 minutes

The Guildford Four were a group of men who were wrongly convicted of the politically motivated 1974 Guildford pub bombings that killed several people. " In the Name of the Father " explores this complicated story and the way it impacted the lives of the four men, as well as those of others connected to them. Daniel Day-Lewis turns in an impressive early performance as one of the accused, Gerry Conlon, whose autobiography " Proved Innocent " provides the basis for the film.

#21. Reversal of Fortune (1990)

- Director: Barbet Schroeder - Stacker score: 90.2 - Metascore: 93 - IMDb user rating: 7.2 - Runtime: 111 minutes

A courtroom drama, " Reversal of Fortune " follows the real-life case of Claus von Bulow, a wealthy husband accused of trying to murder his socialite wife by giving her an overdose of insulin. Told from the perspective of the husband's lawyer, Alan Dershowitz, who struggles with his own questions of the husband's innocence, the film's smart script was derived primarily from Dershowitz's memoir. The film stars Glenn Close, Jeremy Irons, and Ron Silver.

#20. Spartacus (1960)

- Director: Stanley Kubrick - Stacker score: 90.7 - Metascore: 87 - IMDb user rating: 7.9 - Runtime: 197 minutes

Hailed as an intellectual epic, " Spartacus " features a hero who is denied a typical victory and is instead consoled with the promise that his ideas will survive in his stead. The down-ending movie is about a Thracian slave who leads a violent revolt against the Roman Empire but ends up paying dearly for his actions. Although a huge moneymaker for Universal Studios and a critical success, director Stanley Kubrick hated the film and never included it in his canon.

#19. Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942)

- Director: Michael Curtiz - Stacker score: 90.7 - Metascore: 89 - IMDb user rating: 7.7 - Runtime: 126 minutes

George M. Cohan was one of Broadway's biggest stars, a playwright, composer, actor, dancer, and singer who wrote his own shows in the earliest years of the 20th century. "Yankee Doodle Dandy" is a musical that honors the performer's life, though it strays pretty far from the truth despite Cohan himself briefly serving as a consultant.

#18. The Favourite (2018)

- Director: Yorgos Lanthimos - Stacker score: 90.7 - Metascore: 91 - IMDb user rating: 7.5 - Runtime: 119 minutes

A multiple award-winner and a box-office smash, "The Favorite" follows the rivalry between two cousins, Sarah, Duchess of Marlborough, and Abigail Masham, a lady's maid, who are vying for the position of Queen Anne's court favorite. While some of the film's historical accuracy has been questioned, including the sexual and romantic relationships that exist between the women, the broad strokes of the film are certainly true to life. Olivia Colman, Rachel Weisz, and Emma Stone star in the period black comedy.

#17. Young Mr. Lincoln (1939)

- Director: John Ford - Stacker score: 91.3 - Metascore: 91 - IMDb user rating: 7.6 - Runtime: 100 minutes

The second film on the list about Abraham Lincoln, "Young Mr. Lincoln" focuses on the early years of the 16th president's life, rather than his final months. The first collaboration between John Ford and lead Henry Fonda, the movie focuses on a definitive court case (the "Almanac Trial") in which the novice lawyer finds himself wrapped up, laying the groundwork for the philosophy and morality which would guide him as one of American history's most important figures.

#16. Quiz Show (1994)

- Director: Robert Redford - Stacker score: 91.3 - Metascore: 92 - IMDb user rating: 7.5 - Runtime: 133 minutes

Robert Redford directed the docudrama set in the 1950s about a young lawyer who discovers that quiz shows like "Twenty-One" are being fixed and begins to investigate, focusing on two former contestants, a working-class Jewish man from Queens and a member of one of America's leading literary families. A critical success, the movie was a commercial failure when it was released in 1994.

#15. The King's Speech (2010)

- Director: Tom Hooper - Stacker score: 91.8 - Metascore: 88 - IMDb user rating: 8.0 - Runtime: 118 minutes

"The King's Speech" tells the story of the friendship that existed between King George VI and his speech therapist, who helped the king overcome his stutter so that he could face his subjects with confidence. Earning nominations for almost every existing award, the star-studded film was far and away one of the biggest hits of 2010.

#14. In Cold Blood (1967)

- Director: Richard Brooks - Stacker score: 91.8 - Metascore: 89 - IMDb user rating: 7.9 - Runtime: 134 minutes

Based on Truman Capote's novel of the same name, "In Cold Blood" follows two drifters who murder an entire family in a robbery gone wrong. Described as a filmmaking masterclass, the movie boasts "clinically precise editing," according to the Criterion Collection, as well as evocative black-and-white cinematography and authentic, unshowy performances.

#13. The Pianist (2002)

- Director: Roman Polanski - Stacker score: 92.9 - Metascore: 85 - IMDb user rating: 8.5 - Runtime: 150 minutes

Holocaust survivor Wladyslaw Szpilman, a Polish-Jewish pianist and composer, wrote his life story in "The Pianist," which became the basis for this Roman Polanski film. As the lead in this incredibly intense story, lead actor Adrien Brody said in 2017 that he was still recovering from the emotional toll of the story, 15 years after its release. Still, the award-winning movie is an important watch for those who seek to understand just how much the Holocaust and its aftermath shaped the world.

#12. Persepolis (2007)

- Directors: Vincent Paronnaud, Marjane Satrapi - Stacker score: 92.9 - Metascore: 90 - IMDb user rating: 8.0 - Runtime: 96 minutes

"Persepolis" is the story of an outspoken teenage girl named Marji who comes of age during the Iranian Revolution. Simple in an elegant way, the film was based on a series of graphic novels Marjane Satrapi wrote about her life. Making its debut at the Cannes Film Festival, "Persepolis" was a co-winner of the Jury Prize.

#11. Patton (1970)

- Director: Franklin J. Schaffner - Stacker score: 92.9 - Metascore: 91 - IMDb user rating: 7.9 - Runtime: 172 minutes

Famous and controversial WWII tank commander Gen. George S. Patton is the subject of this 1970s biopic, which remains among the most iconic movies ever made. George C. Scott took on the role of Patton and won an Academy Award for it (one of seven the picture took home). The film was in the works for several years before production went underway, as the United States Department of Defense was not keen on signing off on the project.

#10. Amadeus (1984)

- Director: Milos Forman - Stacker score: 93.4 - Metascore: 88 - IMDb user rating: 8.3 - Runtime: 160 minutes

The premise of "Amadeus" hinges on a fictional rivalry between Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Italian composer Antonio Salieri. Though the beef between the two is contrived, the details of Mozart's life that are woven into the film are, by and large, true. Accuracy aside, the film was quickly regarded as a classic and ended up winning eight Academy Awards, including Best Picture.

#9. Raging Bull (1980)

- Director: Martin Scorsese - Stacker score: 93.4 - Metascore: 89 - IMDb user rating: 8.2 - Runtime: 129 minutes

Martin Scorsese's "Raging Bull" tells the story of prizefighter Jake LaMotta's rise and fall. The athlete's obsessive rage and animalistic appetite led him to incredible victories within the ring but destroyed almost every aspect of his life outside it. While initially a bit of a critical and commercial flop, the movie has come to be considered Scorsese's magnum opus.

#8. The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (2007)

- Directors: Julian Schnabel, Laura Obiols - Stacker score: 94 - Metascore: 92 - IMDb user rating: 8.0 - Runtime: 112 minutes

In "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly," Elle editor Jean-Dominique Bauby suffers a massive stroke that leaves him with locked-in syndrome, a condition where almost all the muscles in his body are paralyzed except for his left eye. The French film, based on Bauby's memoir, was called "a poignant reflection on what it means to be alive" by Empire's Alan Morrison .

#7. The Social Network (2010)

- Director: David Fincher - Stacker score: 94 - Metascore: 95 - IMDb user rating: 7.7 - Runtime: 120 minutes

Before Facebook became a dominant force in our lives and culture, monitoring our every move, it was a way for college students to connect and make new friends. "The Social Network" tells the story of the platform's early years, including the not-so-honorable moves of co-founder Mark Zuckerberg (played by Jesse Eisenberg). A critical and commercial success, the film was named one of the best films of 2010.

#6. The Irishman (2019)

- Director: Martin Scorsese - Stacker score: 94.5 - Metascore: 94 - IMDb user rating: 7.9 - Runtime: 209 minutes

Scorsese strikes again with "The Irishman," a gangster movie based on the book "I Heard You Paint Houses" about former mafia hitman Frank Sheeran. The film brings together some of the gangster genre's biggest heavyweights—Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, Joe Pesci, and Harvey Keitel—who earned a host of accolades for their collective work. The film was released on Netflix in late 2019.

#5. My Left Foot (1989)

- Director: Jim Sheridan - Stacker score: 96.2 - Metascore: 97 - IMDb user rating: 7.9 - Runtime: 103 minutes

Christy Brown was an Irishman born with cerebral palsy and was only able to control a single limb, his left foot. Despite his substantial physical disabilities, Brown learned how to paint and write with his foot, providing an unlikely outlet for his creativity. Daniel Day-Lewis brings the cantankerous artist to life in this Oscar-nominated film based on Brown's memoir.

#4. Goodfellas (1990)

- Director: Martin Scorsese - Stacker score: 96.7 - Metascore: 90 - IMDb user rating: 8.7 - Runtime: 146 minutes

The final Martin Scorsese picture on our list and one of the best-loved gangster films of all time, "Goodfellas" chronicles the true-life story of Henry Hill, a small-time mobster turned informant. Starring frequent Scorsese collaborator Rober De Niro as well as Ray Liotta and Joe Pesci, the movie is based on crime reporter Nicholas Pileggi's book "Wiseguy" and is widely considered one of the highest artistic peaks of Scorsese's career.

#3. 12 Years a Slave (2013)

- Director: Steve McQueen - Stacker score: 96.7 - Metascore: 96 - IMDb user rating: 8.1 - Runtime: 134 minutes

Solomon Northup was a New York-born free Black man who was kidnapped into slavery in 1841 and spent 12 years enslaved on plantations in Louisiana before being released. "12 Years a Slave," a realistic and violent depiction of Northup's experience, was based on his memoirs. The award-winning movie did what many before it failed to do: it demolished, once and for all, the idea that slavery was anything but a horrific, unjust, and unfair practice whose sins remain in America to this day.

#2. Schindler's List (1993)

- Director: Steven Spielberg - Stacker score: 100 - Metascore: 94 - IMDb user rating: 8.9 - Runtime: 195 minutes

A success on every level, Steven Spielberg's Holocaust masterpiece "Schindler's List" is, at its heart, two parallel character studies. On the one hand, there's Amon Goeth (played by Ralph Fiennes), a purely evil psychopath, and on the other Oskar Schindler (Liam Neeson), a greedy businessman turned unlikely humanitarian. Haunting and powerful, the film insists that goodness and truth can prevail, even in some of humanity's darkest moments.

#1. Lawrence of Arabia (1962)

- Director: David Lean - Stacker score: 100 - Metascore: 100 - IMDb user rating: 8.3 - Runtime: 228 minutes

The best biopic of all time? This 1962 epic chronicling the life of British Lieutenant T.E. Lawrence, who's tasked with serving as a liaison between Prince Faisal and the British government during their fight against the Turks. Earning 10 Oscar nominations, the movie is widely regarded as one of the most important and influential films in cinematic history . Still, there are always haters: Lawrence's brother A.W. reportedly hated the film so much that he refused to let David Lean use the title of T.E.'s memoir, " Seven Pillars of Wisdom. "

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The 140+ Best Biography Movies

Ranker Film

Biographical films explore the fascinating lives of historical figures and cultural icons. The best biography movies offer viewers a captivating look into the lives of these people, skillfully recreating stories that have shaped history and left a lasting impact on the world. With unforgettable narratives to explore, you will find these films showcase exceptional storytelling, nuanced performances, and unparalleled cinematic vision. 

The best biography movies offer not just boring history, but gripping, groundbreaking, and original narratives. For instance, films like Catch Me If You Can follow the high-stakes exploits of a charming con artist, blending thrilling action with compelling character development. Schindler's List, on the other hand, tackles the harrowing subject of the Holocaust, masterfully capturing the heroic efforts of one man to save lives during a dark time in history. Then there's A Beautiful Mind, which delves into the complex life of renowned mathematician John Nash, showcasing the challenges and triumphs associated with his brilliance. These films are but a few examples of the best biographical movies that excellently capture the essence of their subjects and the genre. 

The lasting impact of these movies demonstrate how well they resonate with audiences, transcending time and cultural boundaries. Biographical movies not only accurately depict the lives of their subjects, but they also elevate the art of storytelling by blending truth with cinematic dramar. Through these exceptional films, viewers gain fresh perspectives on the world, history, and the individuals who have shaped it, marking these biographical movies as the very best in their field. 

Catch Me If You Can

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Schindler's List

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Great Movies Based on True Events

From 'Elvis' to 'The Pianist': 20 Best Biopic Movies of the 21st Century (So Far)

Telling incredible true stories.

Read update

Oppenheimer , Christopher Nolan 's most anticipated biopic will soon hit theaters this summer (July 21), marking not only Nolan's return but also the newest installment in the biopic genre, which is currently popular in Hollywood. In the meantime, there are tons of great biopics of the 21st century that fans can watch.

What is a biopic? A biopic (short for "biographical picture") is a non-fictional film that depicts the tale of a real person's life. Biopic movies are usually about a historical figure or a well-known individual. However, they can be about anyone as long as the subject exists. A biopic film must focus on a single protagonist and portray the narrative of that person's life across many years (rather than simply one event or era in their life).

Biopics are the goldmines of Hollywood movies, regardless of whose life they show. Many of these films served as stepping stones in the careers of their filmmakers and actors, helping to launch them to stardom. Even though many excellent biopics are produced each year, a special few have gone above and beyond after the turn of the millennia.

Updated on March 30, 2023, by Jessie Nguyen:

20 'bohemian rhapsody' (2018).

Bohemian Rhapsody tells the story of the British rock band Queen and their lead singer, Freddie Mercury , played by Rami Malek . The film traces the band’s rise to fame, from their early days playing small gigs to their legendary performance at Live Aid in 1985. It also explores Mercury’s relationships with his bandmates, as well as his romantic ones and his struggle with his sexuality.

Bohemian Rhapsody nevertheless serves as a good reminder of the band's musical brilliance and Freddie's singular stage presence owing to the film's aesthetically stunning musical moments and Malek's dominating leading role. Despite its limitations, the movie is still an exquisite tribute to the band and its dedicated fans.

Watch on Hulu

19 'A Beautiful Mind' (2001)

Inspired by the 1998 biography of the same name by Sylvia Nasar , A Beautiful Mind chronicles the life of John Forbes Nash Jr. ( Russell Crowe ), who went through it all – from fame's pinnacles to its darkest abysses. He was a mathematical prodigy who was on the verge of receiving international renown when he made an astounding discovery early in his career. Yet he quickly finds himself embarking on a torturous and terrifying quest of self-discovery.

A Beautiful Mind has become one of the most engaging and well-liked movies of all time, despite issues with tone and structure as well as some significant absences from Nash's real life. Because Nash's life is the focus of the film rather than his mental health , and because of Russell Crowe's stirring portrayal, Nash is given a second chance to relive both his success and his failure.

Watch on Prime Video

18 'Elvis' (2022)

Elvis chronicles the life story of American music legend Elvis Presley , played by Austin Butler , from his youth to his 1950s rise to rock and roll stardom while retaining a complicated bond with Colonel Tom Parker ( Tom Hanks ), his manager.

Butler's spectacular portrayal of Elvis humanized the legend by bringing down the spotlight from his physical gestures to the enormous, gruff voice to reveal the troubled man hiding behind the timeless God of Rock. In addition, the wild singing, set design, reenactment of iconic incidents, and compelling performers give the impression that audiences are viewing a documentary instead.

Watch on Max

17 'Ray' (2004)

Ray tells the story of the legendary musician Ray Charles ( Jamie Foxx ) and his struggles with blindness, poverty, and addiction, as well as his relationships with the women in his life. It also delves into Charles' musical career, including his experimentation with different genres such as R&B, gospel, and country, and his collaborations with other musicians.

Ray is a moving and inspiring film that offers a window into the life of one of the most influential musicians of the 20th century, and the struggles and triumphs that shaped his extraordinary career. Also, the acting is strong, the directing is deft, the storyline is insightful, and Foxx gives an outstanding performance.

Watch on Netflix

16 'The Wolf of Wall Street' (2013)

The story of 1990s stock trader Jordan Belfort , whose company, Stratton Oakmont, participated in unprecedented levels of corruption and fraud, is told in Martin Scorsese 's smash biopic The Wolf of Wall Street .

Scorsese's picture is the ultimate of excess, with Leonardo DiCaprio as Belfort giving a truly outrageous performance. As they are in many of Scorsese’s films , the sins are visited upon the sinner, but the "Wolf" warns us at the end that no number of cautionary stories will prevent future generations from engaging in short-sighted, amoral, selfish ambitions.

Watch on Fubo

15 'A Hidden Life' (2019)

Based on the true story of Franz Jägerstätter , an Austrian farmer who refused to fight for the Nazis during World War II, The Hidden Life follows Franz ( August Diehl ) as he lives a quiet life with his family in the small village of St. Radegund. When war breaks out, Franz is called up to serve in the German army, but he refuses to swear allegiance to Hitler and fight for the Nazis.

Through a genuine account of faith, family, and the indomitable human spirit in the face of extreme persecution, director Terrence Malick presents the viewers with a rare image of a special kind of hero. Additionally, it serves as an engaging and oftentimes moving example of how regular people respond to the ills of the world.

14 'Lincoln' (2012)

Lincoln follows the 16th President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln ( Daniel Day-Lewis ), as he navigates the political landscape of the Civil War era, trying to garner support for the amendment from both Republicans and Democrats. It also focuses on the final months of his presidency and his efforts to pass the 13th Amendment to the Constitution, which would abolish slavery.

Lincoln is one of Steven Spielberg 's most methodical efforts as a director, and it is undeniably a respectable, absorbing film. Additionally, despite having a history lesson at its center, it is deftly concealed by one outstanding performance and a number of steadfast supporting characters.

13 'Capote' (2005)

Capote tells the story of Truman Capote ( Philip Seymour Hoffman ), a famous American writer, as he travels to Kansas to investigate and write about the brutal murders of the Clutter family in 1959, which later becomes the basis for his novel, In Cold Blood . The film explores Capote’s relationship with the murderers, Richard ‘Dick’ Hickock ( Mark Pellegrino ) and Perry Smith ( Clifton Collins Jr. ), as he spends them with them in jail.

Hoffman offers a captivating portrayal of and perspective on a troubled character who is nonetheless regarded by many as one of America's best authors. Moreover, Bennett Miller was able to convey the complexity of human brains and relationships, as well as the source of artistic inspiration, thanks to a fantastic screenplay.

Watch on Roku

12 'I, Tonya' (2017)

After her husband ordered an assault on her opponent, Nancy Kerrigan , Tonya Harding ( Margot Robbie ) went from one of the most skilled athletes in the country to a worldwide laughingstock. Her troubles as an outcast, her dysfunctional family, and her outspoken nature were all depicted in the film.

Craig Gillespie 's film does more than convey Harding's story, it completely reframes the narrative and rewrites her as the hero of her own story in a complicated but persuasive way. I, Tonya also provides Robbie with her first opportunity to demonstrate her entire range as an actor, and she is radiant.

11 'Dallas Buyers Club' (2013)

Dallas Buyers Club follows Ronald Woodroof ( Matthew McConaughey ), a philandering, drug addict, and homophobic electrician from Texas, living a carefree life until his doctor diagnoses him with HIV/AIDS, which will likely kill him in 30 days. Woodroof discovers an experimental medicine that can potentially prolong his life and establishes the titular "Dallas Buyers Club" to import the drug from Mexico to anyone who needs it.

The combination of sharp character study and moving pharmaceutical docudrama is lively and memorable at just under two hours. Moreover, McConaughey and Jared Leto ’s transformative performances are the reason to visit this biopic. Not only do they successfully give voice to the disaffected of the 1980s, but to everyone who is suddenly confronted with unfathomable challenges.

10 'Hidden Figures' (2016)

Loosely based on the 2016 non-fiction book of the same name by Margot Lee Shetterly , Hidden Figures chronicles the story of a group of female Black mathematicians (played by Taraji P. Henson , Octavia Spencer , and Janelle Monáe ) who played crucial roles in NASA during the early stages of the US space program.

With its recognizable period-piece perspective on a neglected moment in space history, Hidden Figures maintains optimism for what science and technology may accomplish when the sharpest minds work together. Moreover, the film respectfully honors the unheralded female heroines of history by featuring three exceptional performances from the three leads.

Watch on Disney+

9 'Milk' (2008)

Milk is about the life of an openly gay activist and politician, Harvey Milk (played by Sean Penn ), who became the first LGBTQ+ person elected to public office in California. The film chronicles the period from Milk's 40th birthday until his horrific killing in 1978, using archival footage from his life.

The film, directed by Gus Van Sant and written by Dustin Lance Black , immerses us in the political process as Penn's brilliant performance captures Milk's playful intellectual personality. Furthermore, by combining 1970s news footage with newly shot sequences, Van Sant constructed his film around some massive, screen-filling set pieces, making the audience feel as if they had stepped inside the story.

8 'The King's Speech' (2010)

When Albert "Bertie" George 's father, King George V , dies and his brother King Edward VIII chooses love over the kingdom, he is compelled to crown himself king. The King's Speech depicts the narrative of King George VI 's friendship with his speech therapist, who helped the king overcome his stutter to confidently address his subjects.

Instead of being a film about a monarch triumphantly leading his folks to victory, it is about a would-be king battling to find his voice and the strength to lead his people through one of the most challenging periods in their history. Colin Firth as Bertie also imbues his restrained character with complexity, dignity, and wit, making a lasting impression.

Watch on Plex

7 '12 Years a Slave' (2013)

Solomon Northup (played by Chiwetel Ejiofor ) was a free Black man from New York who was kidnapped and sold into slavery in 1841. For a dozen terrifying years, he was subjected to various forms of torture and wickedness before being free once more.

Though 12 Years a Slave is full of intriguing characters, Ejiofor steals the show by maintaining the character's dignity throughout. Moreover, director Steve McQueen immerses the spectators in an unforgivably hideous era from which there is no way out. It's about as intense as a biopic can go and many viewers deem this movie to be too heartbreaking for a second screening .

6 'The Pianist' (2002)

Based on the autobiographical book of the same name by a Polish-Jewish pianist, composer, and Holocaust survivor, Władysław Szpilman , The Pianist follows Szpilman ( Adrien Brody ), who after being forced into the Warsaw Ghetto, loses contact with his family as a result of Operation Reinhard. He then hides in various places among the rubble of Warsaw from this point until the captives of the concentration camps are released.

The unflinching anti-war film is a masterpiece about the struggle between good and evil, the tenacity and mercy of art, and the horrific personal toll left by one of history's worst moments. Like many films about the Holocaust, The Pianist can be difficult to see, but it's important to remember what happened and Brody was mesmerizing in it.

5 'The Social Network' (2010)

Though it wasn’t perfectly accurate, The Social Network covers the narrative of Facebook's early years and its founder, Mark Zuckerberg ’s ( Jesse Eisenberg ) initial social decline, starting with the break-up of his romantic relationship with Erica Albright ( Rooney Mara ) and concluding with the tragic end of his friendship with co-founder Eduardo Saverin ( Andrew Garfield ).

The film is one of the best performing and acclaimed films of 2010 , thanks to screenwriter Aaron Sorkin 's typical quick-witted writing and Jesse Eisenberg's riveting portrayal of the renowned social network creator. Moreover, everyone in the film is on the verge of snapping, which adds to the film's authenticity and realism.

4 'Catch Me If You Can' (2002)

Catch Me If You Can follows Frank Abagnale Jr. (played by Leonardo DiCaprio), a skilled con man who pretended to be a doctor, lawyer, and pilot while only being 21 years old. Meanwhile, Tom Hanks ' FBI agent Carl Hanratty gets obsessed with finding Frank and later succeeds in persuading Frank to become an FBI assistant for atonement.

The story was brought to life by Steven Spielberg's skill as a filmmaker, exquisite cinematography, elegant editing, brilliant script, and a beautiful score by John Williams . Not to mention DiCaprio and Hanks' incredible chemistry and performances resulting in a gentle, charmingly adventurous film that makes you feel wonderful.

3 'BlacKkKlansman' (2018)

Based on Ron Stallworth ’s 2014 memoir Black Klansman , BlacKkKlansman takes place in the 1970s in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and follows the city's first Black detective ( John David Washington ) as he attempts to infiltrate and out the local Ku Klux Klan chapter.

BlacKkKlansman is timely because it engages in a crucial national dialogue that is full of metaphors and juxtapositions. Moreover, the chemistry between Washington and Adam Driver is crucial to keep the film's rhythm enjoyable as the movie alternates between comedy and crime . Also, through their characters, viewers feel like they have just walked through the lane of history in over two hours.

2 'Can You Ever Forgive Me?' (2018)

Melissa McCarthy plays Lee Israel , a struggling writer who seeks to revive her career by selling counterfeit letters from celebrities who have died. Can You Ever Forgive Me? by Marielle Heller is one of the finest contemporary films on economic hardship and ethical compromise.

The biopic is an intellectually interesting drama due to the contradiction between blatant deception, undeniable necessity, and a group of victims who, presumably, can afford to be fooled. Moreover, McCarthy's impressive performance is both fierce and compassionate at the same time, constantly improving the material and stealing every scene she is in.

1 'Selma' (2014)

Selma was praised for its historical authenticity as it followed Martin Luther King Jr. as he fought for Black voting rights. The film follows King's frenetic three months leading up to the march from Selma to Montgomery in 1965. Their efforts directly contributed to President Lyndon B. Johnson signing the 1965 Voting Rights Act.

The film focuses primarily on King's role in the events without diminishing the importance of the other leaders' contributions to molding this pivotal moment in American history. Moreover, the screenplay by Paul Webb and David Oyelowo ’s performance as King gives us a profound, gratifying depiction of King as a man capable of errors, self-doubt, and pain.

Watch on Showtime

NEXT: Great Biopics That Got Surprisingly Dark

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The best biopics of 2021, ranked according to imdb.


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1 Subtle Cobb Detail In Inception Answers The Ending's Debate

Michelle rodriguez's poorly-reviewed 2006 horror movie is getting a remake, "we would never do that": dwayne johnson's fiery action scenes in $304m movie get poor score from firefighter.

With every passing year, new biopics dominate cinema, and 2021 was no exception. The year produced some enthralling biographical films, ranging from the sports drama King Richard to the musical Tick, Tick…Boom! This year also proved to be a year of “couple biopics” with House of Gucci , The Eyes of Tammy Faye and Being The Ricardos all covering the lives of high-profile couples. 

RELATED:  The Most Underrated Movies Of 2021, According To Reddit

While some of the 2021 biopics like The United States vs. Billie Holiday and Judas and the Black Messiah already made their mark in the awards ceremonies, recent releases like Spencer and King Richard seem to carry enough weight for the upcoming awards season.

The United States Vs. Billie Holiday - 6.3

The United States vs. Billie Holiday not only covers the legendary jazz singer's musical career but also an undercover sting operation against her by the Federal Bureau of Narcotics. Matters grow complicated when she starts having an affair with an agent from the same Bureau.

Along with this central storyline, the movie also touches upon the relevance of Holiday's music in a political sense. Even though the critical reactions were mixed, Andra Day drew most of the acclaim for her starring performance and she even managed to win a Golden Globe in early 2021 .

Respect - 6.6

Starring American Idol  alum Jennifer Hudson as soul legend Aretha Franklin, Respect mainly revolves around the first two decades of the singer's life. The plot includes her younger days as a musical prodigy as well as the constraints of an abusive marriage that she went through later. Thrown in the middle are scenes that cover her musical inspirations as well as the phase when she got around recording her magnum opus Amazing Grace .

Hudson had already made her mark as a musical actress with her Oscar-winning debut in Dreamgirls. But  Respect gives her the perfect opportunity to display a more dramatic side of her acting while retaining her musical roots.

The Eyes Of Tammy Faye - 6.7

Tammy Faye Bakker along with her husband Jim created a massive televangelical empire in the 1970s. Characterized by their flamboyant antics, everything seemed to be going according to plan for the couple until a scandal rocked the foundation of their business.

RELATED:  10 Best Jessica Chastain Movies, According To IMDb

The Eyes of Tammy Faye documents this rise and eventual fall of the duo with Jessica Chastain and Andrew Garfield playing Tammy and Jim respectively. With both actors having considerable biopic experience, the movie benefits greatly from the over-the-top energy of its two leads.

Being The Ricardos - 6.7

Being The Ricardos follows an unconventional biopic approach as rather than focusing on the entire lives of its protagonists, its narrative centers on one specific week. Giving a behind-the-scenes look at the sitcom I Love Lucy 's production, the movie explores the personal and professional issues that the show's stars Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz are going through.

Writer-director Aaron Sorkin proves his ability to reinvent the biopic genre as Being The Ricardos feels stylistically similar to Steve Jobs in which Sorkin captured the Apple founder's life through a similar behind-the-scenes storyline. As for the  major performances in Being The Ricardos , Nicole Kidman and Javier Bardem are in their A-game, playing the titular couple.

House Of Gucci - 6.9

Led by a star-studded ensemble, House of Gucci is the story of Maurizio Gucci and Patrizia Reggiani's troubled marriage and the fashion empire that they created along the way. The Ridley Scott-directed movie is riddled with some over-the-top dramatic and historical inaccuracies but it still packs the punch, thanks to a much-acclaimed lead performance by Lady Gaga.

Apart from being a biopic, the movie also serves as a crime thriller as it provides the context behind Gucci's death which was orchestrated by Reggiani herself.

Spencer - 6.9

There are many movies based on Princess Diana's life but Spencer is an unconventional take on the British royal. Focusing on the days preceding her divorce, Spencer paints a troubled portrait of its titular character as she confronts motherhood, an eating disorder, and a general air of claustrophobia in the royal family.

Right from the start, the movie clarifies that it is "a fable from a true tragedy". Hence, Spencer is filled with metafictional and surrealist elements to recreate the emotional strain that Diana felt. Drawing rave reviews from critics, the major highlight of the movie was Kristen Stewart's captivating performance.

The Mauritanian - 7.5

The Mauritanian recounts the tragic tale of Mohamedou Ould Slahi, a detainee at Guantanamo Bay who is suspected to be a terrorist involved in 9/11 Captured without proof and subjected to illegal torture, the so-called "Mauritanian" still hopes for his long-delayed freedom. A larger conspiracy is unearthed with the efforts of a defense attorney who agrees to represent him.

RELATED:  The 10 Best Quotes From The Mauritanian

Anchored by a moving lead performance by Tahar Rahim, the movie exposes the legal drawbacks and prevalent Islamophobia in a post-9/11 America.

Judas And The Black Messiah - 7.5

Judas and the Black Messiah turned heads with its shockingly true story of Black Panther Party leader Fred Hampton and his assassination. This isn't just a movie on Hampton's activism but also the dual life of Bill O'Neal, the Black Panther insider used by the FBI to track Hampton's activities.

More than just a formulaic biopic, Judas and the Black Messiah is a socio-political thriller that touches upon issues like racism and police brutality. Actor Daniel Kaluuya's powerful role as Hampton drew much acclaim with the actor even winning the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor.

King Richard - 7.6

Documenting the prodigal rise of tennis heavyweights Serena and Venus Williams, King Richard offers a glimpse at their early life from the perspective of their father. The husband-wife duo of Richard and Brandi Williams devised an early plan to train their daughters despite all odds. And their effort does yield fruit as the two starts showing their tennis skills right from a young age.

RELATED:  10 Best Movies Like King Richard

Having acted in biopics like Ali and The Pursuit of Happyness , Will Smith offers one of his career-best performances as Richard Williams. He brims with positive energy, especially in the scenes that find him delivering motivational speeches to his daughters.

Tick, Tick... Boom! - 7.6

Tick, Tick... Boom! is a sort of meta-biopic as it is based on Rent creator Jonathan Larson's semi-biographical musical of the same name. Shifting between Larson's reality and his musical daydreams, the movie charters his pre-fame days as he struggles to get sponsors for his plays. In the face of crumbling personal relationships and a dearth of creative ideas, Larson still finds hope at the end of the road.

The Netflix musical drew a lot of buzz as it marked the directorial debut of Hamilton alumnus Lin-Manuel Miranda. Then, the star of the show is, of course, Andrew Garfield who acts and sings as Larson with a certain charm and naivety.

NEXT:  10 Movies And TV Shows Where You've Seen The Cast Of Tick, Tick... Boom!

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Marisa Abela in Back to Black (2024)

The life and music of Amy Winehouse, through the journey of adolescence to adulthood and the creation of one of the best-selling albums of our time. The life and music of Amy Winehouse, through the journey of adolescence to adulthood and the creation of one of the best-selling albums of our time. The life and music of Amy Winehouse, through the journey of adolescence to adulthood and the creation of one of the best-selling albums of our time.

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Best Biography Movies in Theaters (2024)


  • Biography Movies
  • Drama Movies

The 15 Best Biography Movies About Actors and Actresses

biography movies imdb

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Biography movies (also known as biopics) come in all kinds of flavors, but most of them tend to be focused on musicians, politicians, soldiers, and geniuses. What about actors?

Even though Hollywood loves making movies about itself, the majority of them are fictional. If you dig around a bit, however, you'll find several great biography films about real actors and actresses.

Here are my picks for the best biographical movies that give a peek into the Hollywood industry, where famous actors toil behind the scenes with work, love, heartbreak, family, and addiction.

15. Mommie Dearest (1981)

biography movies imdb

Directed by Frank Perry

Starring Faye Dunaway, Diana Scarwid, Steve Forrest

Biography, Drama (2h 9m)

6.6 on IMDb — 48% on RT

A quick Google search might show you that Mommie Dearest is considered one of the worst films ever made, but hear us out! For this movie to be labeled so extremely is proof of its lasting impact.

In fact, Mommie Dearest is so bad that it's good—if you watch it as a comedy rather than a drama—even if lead actress Faye Dunaway still regrets taking the part, haunted by the soul of Joan Crawford who's "just hanging around... as if she couldn't rest."

While Mommie Dearest doesn't show Crawford's whole life, it does show the part where she becomes an abusive, controlling mother. And while her daughter Christiana has said that Joan deserved to go to jail, even she found Frank Perry's depiction over the top...

14. Blonde (2022)

biography movies imdb

Directed by Andrew Dominik

Starring Ana de Armas, Adrien Brody, Bobby Cannavale

Drama, History (2h 47m)

5.5 on IMDb — 42% on RT

Everybody was excited for the release of Blonde . The crisp black-and white shots, the vintage square ratio, and the illustrious Ana de Armas promised a stylish biopic of the legendary Marilyn Monroe.

Although director Andrew Dominik didn't quite meet expectations, Blonde is still a refreshingly unconventional biography that's held together by visual prowess and keen acting from Armas.

Critics were mainly divided on Blonde 's fictionalization of true events. Although it certainly kept things interesting, some found the filled-in gaps of Monroe's memoirs to be exploitative.

biography movies imdb

13. The Life and Death of Peter Sellers (2004)

biography movies imdb

Directed by Stephen Hopkins

Starring Geoffrey Rush, Charlize Theron, Emily Watson

Biography, Comedy, Drama (2h 2m)

6.9 on IMDb — 69% on RT

Peter Sellers was an English actor known for his caricature style of comedy, often embodying more than one role at a time (which he did in Stanley Kubrick's Dr. Strangelove ).

Sellers is most famous for portraying the clumsy French detective in The Pink Panther movies. His specific techniques made him a master of comedic timing, parody, and improvisation, although we won't condone his use of brownface in The Party .

Years later, Geoffrey Rush embodied Peter Sellers in Stephen Hopkins's TV movie The Life and Death of Peter Sellers . It might not capture the entirety of Peter Sellers's creative genius, but it does give us a curious look behind closed doors.

12. Mahanati (2018)

biography movies imdb

Directed by Nag Ashwin

Starring Keerthy Suresh, Dulquer Salmaan, Samantha Ruth Prabhu

Biography, Drama (2h 57m)

8.4 on IMDb — 100% on RT

There's more to Indian cinema than just Bollywood. Mahanati is much closer to the narrative arcs we see in Western biopics: a rise to fame, a complicated love life, then alcoholism, illness, bankruptcy, and fall.

However, Nag Ashwin doesn't present us with just another rise-and-fall story. Instead of reducing actress Savitri to her struggles, she's celebrated and enlivened through popping colors and an acclaimed central performance from Keerthy Suresh.

Mahanati was a dazzling success, not just in India but across the globe (even if the runtime is a tad lengthy). The film isn't perfect, but the good parts were great enough to earn it multiple awards.

11. Life (2015)

biography movies imdb

Directed by Anton Corbijn

Starring Robert Pattinson, Dane DeHaan, Joel Edgerton

Biography, Drama (1h 51m)

6.0 on IMDb — 64% on RT

Director Anton Corbijn offers a small snippet into the life of James Dean, who was basically the male equivalent of Marilyn Monroe in the 1950s.

The first James Dean biography movie on our list, Life centers on Dennis Stock (Robert Pattinson), a photographer for LIFE Magazine. We get to see how his iconic photoshoot of James Dean came about, with Dean himself played by Dane DeHaan.

Like those actual photos—which are cleverly woven into the film— Life is an artistic sliver of Dean's life, with poetic narrations and a bang-on performance by DeHaan as the sensitive, soft-spoken, chain-smoking rebel without a cause.

biography movies imdb

10. My Week With Marilyn (2011)

biography movies imdb

Directed by Simon Curtis

Starring Michelle Williams, Eddie Redmayne, Kenneth Branagh

Biography, Drama (1h 39m)

6.9 on IMDb — 83% on RT

My Week With Marilyn depicts one segment of Marilyn Monroe's glamorous life: the time when she was visiting London with her famous playwright husband Arthur Miller.

She was there to film The Prince and the Showgirl but kept forgetting her lines and leaving the set. She couldn't connect to her character or her husband, so she confided in fresh-faced Oxford graduate Colin—one of many men who got to spend a week with Marilyn Monroe.

Michelle Williams and Eddie Redmayne star as the unexpected couple, taking in the British sights alongside Kenneth Branagh, Judi Dench, Emma Watson, and Dominic Cooper.

9. Elvis (2022)

biography movies imdb

Directed by Baz Luhrmann

Starring Tom Hanks, Austin Butler, Olivia DeJonge

Biography, Drama, Music (2h 39m)

7.3 on IMDb — 77% on RT

Elvis Presley was obviously more of a musician than an actor, but he starred in more films than pretty much anyone else on this list. After all, he was first and foremost a performer (which is why he was taken in by circus huckster Colonel Tom Parker).

After breaking racial barriers and rocketing to stardom, Elvis naturally transitioned to Hollywood and churned out an impressive 31 movies that started out as fun but gradually ended up soulless.

Austin Butler embodies the King of Rock in Baz Luhrmann's biopic that's even more glittery than Presley's outfits. We see the light fade from his eyes as he fake-surfs through various movie productions, pill-popping his career away to a hotel prison sentence.

biography movies imdb

8. Frances (1982)

biography movies imdb

Directed by Graeme Clifford

Starring Jessica Lange, Sam Shepard, Kim Stanley

Biography, Drama, Romance (2h 20m)

7.2 on IMDb — 67% on RT

Frances Farmer was one of those celebrities who was more famous for her private life than her professional one. The American actress appeared in a string of movies during the 1930s, but her hospitalization was the main thing to reach headlines.

Jessica Lange gives a driven performance as Frances, who was a controversial figure since childhood. As a kid, she wrote anti-God essays. As an adult, she refused to play the Hollywood game.

Frances cheats, drinks, refuses to wear makeup on screen, and is eventually committed to Kimball Sanitarium after her abusive mother becomes her legal guardian.

biography movies imdb

7. Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story (1993)

biography movies imdb

Directed by Rob Cohen

Starring Jason Scott Lee, Lauren Holly, Robert Wagner

Action, Biography, Drama (2h)

7.0 on IMDb — 73% on RT

Bruce Lee is the champion of martial arts movies. The actor/filmmaker moved from British Hong Kong to Seattle at 19 years old to open his own martial arts school before entering the film industry.

Bruce Lee was nicknamed Dragon (or "Little Dragon" when he was young) since he was born in the hour and year of the Chinese zodiac Dragon. His dual identity is explored in Rob Cohen's biography, and thankfully Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story goes beyond skin-deep.

Jason Scott Lee stars as the chiseled karate icon, delving into his Hollywood career and his relationship with Linda Lee Cadwell, all of it flourished with elements of mysticism.

biography movies imdb

6. Film Stars Don't Die in Liverpool (2017)

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Directed by Paul McGuigan

Starring Annette Bening, Jamie Bell, Vanessa Redgrave

Biography, Drama, Romance (1h 45m)

6.7 on IMDb — 81% on RT

"We never expected Gloria Grahame in our kitchen, necking a bacon butty, asking for tommy sauce." Absolutely true! We wouldn't expect the Oscar-winning starlet of Hollywood's Golden Age to be staying in a humdrum area of rainy Liverpool.

Whether or not she really did scarf down bacon butties at the local boozer, we can't be sure. However, we do know that Grahame (played by Annette Bening) spent a lot of her final years in Liverpool.

Initially there for work, she strikes up an unexpected relationship with an amateur actor 30 years younger (Jamie Bell). In Film Stars Don't Die in Liverpool , director Paul McGuigan shows us how age is just a number.

5. Man on the Moon (1999)

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Directed by Miloš Forman

Starring Jim Carrey, Danny DeVito, Paul Giamatti

Biography, Comedy, Drama (1h 58m)

7.4 on IMDb — 64% on RT

Andy Kaufman was a very different kind of actor. The "Inter-Gender Wrestling Champion" purposefully went out of his way to annoy people. Indeed, there were no Oscar ceremonies for him—but there were quite a few wrestling matches (with women only).

In Man on the Moon , Andy Kaufman is played by Jim Carrey, who famously stayed in character and went around annoying everyone on set. A whole documentary— Jim & Andy: The Great Beyond (2017)—was even made about Carrey's behavior.

Andy Kaufman was initially a stand-up comedian who made people laugh by being terrible. His Tony Clifton character was particularly grating, and he later featured in the sitcom Taxi with Danny DeVito (who plays Kaufman's manager in Man on the Moon .)

4. Stan & Ollie (2018)

biography movies imdb

Directed by Jon S. Baird

Starring Steve Coogan, John C. Reilly, Shirley Henderson

Biography, Comedy, Drama (1h 38m)

7.2 on IMDb — 92% on RT

Laurel and Hardy were an infamous comedy duo of the silent film era, mixing with the likes of Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton. Their slapstick gags were beloved around the world, with Stan Laurel playing the clumsy man-child and Oliver Hardy the mean bully.

By the 1950s, this type of cinema was dwindling. The pair were starting to age and—having spent so much time together—their friendship even started taking a toll. Clutching at straws, they embarked on a less-than-easy UK musical hall tour.

Steve Coogan and John C. Reilly flesh out the men in Stan & Ollie , moving with humor and humility. Jon S. Baird's biography doesn't try to be too heavy. It's simply sincere.

biography movies imdb

3. James Dean (2001)

biography movies imdb

Directed by Mark Rydell

Starring James Franco, Michael Moriarty, Valentina Cervi

Biography, Drama (2h)

7.1 on IMDb — 93% on RT

James Franco's depiction of another actor named James is what effectively put him on the map. Mimicking such a specific personality as James Dean? A tightwalk situation that, thankfully, worked out.

Dean's elusive and cool exterior occasionally breaks away to the chaos and anger underneath in Mark Rydell's biopic. Nobody believed Dean could make it big, but he proves them all wrong.

Dean's own indifferent father likely fueled his emotive performances in East of Eden (1955) and Rebel Without a Cause (1955), which Franco recreates seamlessly here in James Dean .

2. Judy (2019)

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Directed by Rupert Goold

Starring Renée Zellweger, Jessie Buckley, Finn Wittrock

Biography, Drama, Music (1h 58m)

6.8 on IMDb — 82% on RT

Actress Judy Garland starred in hits like A Star Is Born (1954) and Meet Me in St. Louis (1944), but she remains most famous for playing Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz (1939).

Most people already know that Judy Garland had a hard life, but few of us really understood how bad it was until we watched Judy . Heaps of horror stories have since come out about the production of The Wizard of Oz , and that's where all the trouble began for Garland.

For starters, MGM forcing her to take drugs as a teenager is likely what propelled Garland into early-life substance abuse.

While Garland's troubles are at the center of Rupert Goold's drama, Judy switches between the start and end of Garland's life (played by an unrecognizable Renée Zellweger).

biography movies imdb

1. Chaplin (1992)

biography movies imdb

Directed by Richard Attenborough

Starring Robert Downey Jr., Dan Aykroyd, Geraldine Chaplin

Biography, Comedy, Drama (2h 23m)

7.5 on IMDb — 60% on RT

Charlie Chaplin is a name everyone's heard of. Even if you took the title off Chaplin 's poster, you'd know what this film was about! The silhouette of a bowler-hatted tramp is recognizable anywhere.

Robert Downey Jr. was nominated for an Oscar for his honorable portrayal of this timeless figure. Looking eerily similar to the real Chaplin, Downey takes us on his literal rags-to-riches journey. (Chaplin went from homelessless to being one of the richest men in the world.)

Chaplin's character of The Tramp was revolutionary for many reasons—mainly for blending pathos and humor during the Keystone days—but he wasn't always so innocent in real life.

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List Challenges

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Schindler's List (1993)

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100 Significant Films of the 1970s

The Cinemaholic

15 Best Biopics on Netflix Right Now

 of 15 Best Biopics on Netflix Right Now

Biopics have now become a hot genre because there’s something about real-life stories of certain individuals that lure filmmakers. It may be an entire lifetime of a person or just a few crucial years that act as an amazing storyline for a film. It’s no surprise why biopics are able to do so well. Extraordinary stories of successful people or people who had a deeper cause to serve society, all of these inspire us to live a better life. But these stories become more impactful when they are based on the lives of real individuals. Some make us believe in ourselves and our goals while some restore our faith in humanity. The good news is that a great number of these movies are already available on Netflix. So all you have to do is scroll down and choose one of the few biopic movies that we have listed. Here’s the list of really good biopic movies on Netflix that are available to stream right now.

15. Roxanne Roxanne (2017)

biography movies imdb

Directed and written by Michael Larnell, ‘Roxanne Roxanne’ is an autobiographical musical drama film that stars Chanté Adams, Mahershala Ali, Nia Long, and Elvis Nolasco. Roxanne Shante, a young rapper from New York, has already made her reputation as one of the most feared battle emcees in the 80s. Whoever had seen her perform knew that she was all set to become a hip-hop legend. ‘Roxanne Roxanne’ recounts Shante’s inspiring story as she worked tirelessly to provide for her family and achieved musical success in the process.

14. Come Sunday (2018)

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This film is based on an episode of the public radio series called ‘This American Life’. The biopic is about an internationally renowned pastor who went by the name Carton Pearson. When Carton defied the morals of the church and started preaching that there is no hell, he found himself being ostracized by his own church and the Christian community who labeled him as an unorthodox non-conformist. The film has a lot of mixed opinions when it comes to the reviews because it goes against the religious values of a lot of people. But don’t let the reviews fool you, this film is great and has some amazing cinematography with acting.

13. Milk (2008)

biography movies imdb

Starring Sean Penn and James Franco, ‘Milk’ tells the life story of Harvey Milk starting from his 40th birthday all the way up to his death. The film traces his journey as he struggles to fight for gay rights in the country as an activist and later becomes California’s first gay elected official. The biopic also highlights his relationships with two men along the way and how the death of one really moves him. ‘Milk’ is an extremely moving film and will make you truly feel the struggles of Harvey Milk and all the gay activists of that era.

12. First They Killed My Father (2017)

biography movies imdb

Directed by Angeline Jolie , this one is the true story of a 5-year-old girl named Loung Ung and her struggles with her family when the Khmer Rouge had taken over Cambodia in the year 1975. Their terrorizing rule led to the death of over 2 million Cambodians. The film shows how Ung and her siblings were sent to Labor Camps and were trained to become soldiers at such a young and delicate age. This film holds a great amount of historical accuracy and clearly, a lot of effort has been into portraying Loung Ung’s story. It does not focus too much on showing the violence and gore prevailing at that time and instead shows the underlying terror and chaos during the time which makes this one a great watch.

11. Christine (2016)

biography movies imdb

Christine Chubbuck was a TV reporter back in the 70s. This film tells her story by narrating her struggles as a working woman, pressures from her home and also her own depression . This film has been quite under the radar but deserves more appreciation. It tends to get inside your head with its depressing characters and storyline with uncomfortable slow burn throughout. Note that this movie can be triggering for those who are already going through something but overall, it’s a very good movie with some brilliant acting.

10. Bob Ross: Happy Accidents, Betrayal & Greed (2021)

biography movies imdb

Featuring Bob Ross, Steve Ross, Vicky Ross, and John Thamm, ‘Bob Ross: Happy Accidents, Betrayal & Greed’ is a biographical documentary film directed by Joshua Rofé. As the name suggests, the movie revolves around the rise of the titular protagonist, a brilliant painter and television host, who spread love, joy, and happiness to the millions of viewers glued to his programs on their television screens from around the world. With great success came significant financial burdens. While offering a touching overview of Bob’s inspiring life, the film immediately turns its attention towards the battle for his business empire that saddened and infuriated a lot of his fans.

9. Baggio: The Divine Ponytail (2021)

biography movies imdb

Written by Ludovica Rampoldi and Stefano Sardo, ‘Baggio: The Divine Ponytail’ is a biographical sports film that stars Andrea Arcangeli, Valentina Bellè, and Thomas Trabacch. The Letizia Lamartire directorial recounts the inspiring life story of Roberto Baggio, a former footballer who dedicated 22 years of his life to the sport. From successes to his failures and regretful mistakes, the movie captures everything. It also introduces viewers to the man behind closed doors and his relationship with his loved ones. Roberto’s affinity to Nichiren Buddhism and his adherence to its philosophy is also deeply discussed.

8. Sergio (2020)

biography movies imdb

Greg Barker’s ‘Sergio’ is a biographical drama movie produced by Wagner Moura, Brent Travers, and Daniel Dreifuss. The film focuses on Sérgio Vieira de Mello, a United Nations diplomat who, after working tirelessly on several international political programs for more than three decades, decides to do something about the American invasion of Iraq in 2003. Despite warnings not to visit Baghdad in the middle of conflict, Sérgio tries to negotiate the withdrawal of American troops so that the country can achieve freedom. However, his attempts do not go as planned as he gets trapped in the basement of a hotel after a terrorist attack.

7. Mank (2020)

biography movies imdb

Directed by David Fincher, ‘Mank’ is a black-and-white biographical drama film that revolves around the development of the popular 40s film ‘Citizen Kane’ and its screenwriter Herman J. Mankiewicz. It is set in the 1930s and offers an exciting insight into the Hollywood of the time. However, the films’ focus remains on the development of the iconic movie and challenges faced by Herman along the way.

6. The Dirt (2019)

biography movies imdb

Written by Rich Wilkes and Amanda Adelson, ‘The Dirt’ is a biographical comedy-drama film that is based on Neil Strauss’s book ‘The Dirt: Confessions of the World’s Most Notorious Rock Band.’ After spending several crucial years of his early life with his abusive mother, Frank Carlton Feranna Jr. ventures into the outside world in search of his father and eventually stumbles upon the purpose of his life. When he met Tommy Lee in 1980, the musician shared his plan to form a new band, and the two joined hands to include other members in the team. After the inclusion of Mick Mars and Vince Neil, the Mötley Crüe was formed and, in just a few years’ time, became one of the most popular rock bands on the planet.

5. Dolemite Is My Name (2019)

biography movies imdb

Featuring stand-out performances by Eddie Murphy, Da’Vine Joy Randolph, Keegan-Michael Key, Mike Epps, and Craig Robinson, ‘Dolemite Is My Name’ is a biographical comedy film written by Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski. It revolves around a struggling artist named Rudy Ray Moore, who is desperately trying to get his music on the air in the 1970s. Unfortunately, he has had little success, and his future is still clouded in uncertainty. However, on one ordinary night, an unexpected encounter with a homeless man changes Rudy’s life as he discovers his true calling and ends up entertaining the world, albeit in his own humble and small way.

4. A Futile and Stupid Gesture (2018)

biography movies imdb

Inspired by Josh Karp’s 2006 non-fiction book of the same name, ‘A Futile and Stupid Gesture’ is a biographical comedy-drama film written by John Aboud and Michael Colton. The David Wain directorial follows Douglas Kenney, who, along with his classmate Henry Beard lays the foundations of a monthly magazine named the National Lampoon. The duo leaves the life-transforming opportunity of attending law school for their ambitious goal and, with Douglas’ big vision, manages to change the American comedy scene in innovative ways.

Read More: Best Christian Movies on Netflix

3. Schumacher (2021)

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Directed by Hanns-Bruno Kammertöns, Vanessa Nöcker, and Michael Wech, ‘Schumacher’ is a German sports documentary film that focuses on the inspiring career of the titular protagonist and features Corinna Schumacher, Sebastian Vettel, Mika Häkkinen, Jean Todt among many others. The movie offers an intimate understanding of German Formula One racing driver Michael’s personal and professional life using unseen videos, archive footage, and interviews. From his early go-kart career to the struggle with the death of Ayrton Senna, ‘Schumacher’ paints a moving portrait of the legendary racer with an accurate depiction of his failures, successes, and fears.

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2. Barry (2016)


Directed by Vikram Gandhi, ‘Barry’ is a drama movie that centers upon Barack Obama’s college days and gives viewers a unique perspective on his life. In the early 1980s, the 44th President of the United States reached New York as a 21-year-old exchange student to Columbia University, where he made friends with his roommate, Will. Barack participated in debates about philosophy and American society and took an active interest in political affairs. ‘Barry’ gives viewers an intimate understanding of what Obama was like during his early 20s and offers a closer look at the interests that eventually made him the leader he is today.

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1. The Most Hated Woman in America (2017)

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Tommy O’Haver’s ‘The Most Hated Woman in America’ is a biographical drama film that stars Melissa Leo, Peter Fonda, Sally Kirkland, and Rory Cochrane. The film centers upon Madalyn Murray O’Hair, an activist, atheist, and proponent for the separation of church from the state who fiercely advocated for his beliefs despite the challenges in her path. Unfortunately, she gets kidnapped in the mid-90s along with her son Garth and granddaughter Robin by people who detest her ideas which eventually ends tragically.

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New Biography Movie Release Dates

Have you been looking for a comprehensive list of every Biography movie premiering this month and in the future? Look no further, our Biography movie release date schedule below is the most up to date and comprehensive list of every Biography movie release date!

You can find our list of Biography TV series release dates here . Additionally, our full list of every TV series release date can be found here!

2024 Biography Movies

Our list was curated using data from sources such as IMDB , Wikipedia and Fandango .

Movie Reviews

Tv/streaming, collections, great movies, chaz's journal, contributors, orlando, my political biography.

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Now streaming on:

Transgender philosopher-filmmaker Paul B. Preciado's "Orlando, My Political Biography" starts with footage of the filmmaker on a city street at night, wheatpasting posters with slogans, questions, and cryptic statements, and only becomes more playfully abstruse from there. The film is "political" in that politics are personal, and less of a biography than a work of literary criticism in cinematic form and an essay on art, society, and sexual identity that roams wherever it wants or needs to. 

It's framed as a reply to Virginia Woolf 's novel Orlando , whose protagonist goes to sleep one night as a man and awakes as a woman, then moves through time that way. (Thirty years ago, Sally Potter directed a now-beloved film adaptation starring Tilda Swinton .) Preciado is fascinated by the Woolf book and respectful of its impact but also irked by how it glossed over the details of the process by which Orlando was transformed. 

The film takes an "I am Spartacus" approach to the text, casting an assortment of trans and nonbinary performers as a gallery of incarnations of Orlando or as people who give their first name as Orlando (including Oscar S Miller and Janis Sahraoui), plus one who plays the actual Woolf character. Then it puts them in dramatic or comedic sketches (and in some cases, tableaus that feel almost like art installations, sometimes with visible lighting rigs) and lets them muse on the process of transitioning and the obstacles placed in the paths of individuals trying to do it. 

One sequence shows a group of Orlandos waiting in a doctor's office who can prescribe hormones. Back in the doctor's office, one of the Orlandos is asked intrusive and leading questions about their feelings about their genitalia, and a subsequent conversation between Orlandos reveals that one has to lie to the doctor and say that you hate your genitals to get the prescription—one of many examples of how people's right to determine their own identity and presentation is held hostage by the rest of society, including the appointed gatekeepers of the medical establishment.

"Orlando, My Political Biography" is an example of the kind of movie that rarely gets made or released today, and that wasn't all that common even during the heyday of quasi-experimental arthouse cinema. Appropriately, considering the subject matter, it refuses to get pinned down to prescribed labels or meanings or even genres, leaping freely between different storytelling modes, sometimes without much of a segue to smooth over the jump. It doesn't hang together in any conventional way, and sometimes it seems to wander into a cul-de-sac and get stuck. But you always appreciate the refusal to be bound by any preexisting playbook of how cinema is supposed to do, well, anything. It's a work of fertile imagination that takes every step confidently, even if it isn't certain where it will lead.

Preciado, a Spaniard from a modest background, has an outsider's posturing energy and a low, scratchy voice that evokes the narrated essay films of the older  Jean-Luc Godard . The movie's use of text is also Godardian (the font is similar to the ones Godard used in some of his pre-80s movies). So is the willingness to throw the audience into the deep end of the pool and expect them to swim.

Introducing himself as the first of many Orlandos, Preciado tells us that somebody once asked him why he never wrote a book about his own experience. “Because f**king Virginia Woolf wrote my biography in 1928,” he replied, a statement that is both true and not true and which the film proceeds to illustrate at its own pace and on its own terms. Woolf, Preciado tells us, found a way to hint at the story of trans and genderqueer people before there were words to describe them. "You have never been as alive as now," he says.

In limited release today.

Matt Zoller Seitz

Matt Zoller Seitz

Matt Zoller Seitz is the Editor at Large of, TV critic for New York Magazine and, and a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in criticism.

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Film Credits

Orlando, My Political Biography movie poster

Orlando, My Political Biography (2023)

Oscar-Roza Miller

Yanis Sahraoui

Liz Christin

Victor Marzouk

  • Paul B. Preciado

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Vanasay Khamphommala

Ruben Rizza

Julia Postollec

Amir Baylly

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Jenny Bel'Air

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Noam Iroual

Iris Crosnier

Castiel Emery

Frédéric Pierrot

Nathan Callot

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    biography movies imdb


  1. The 50 Best Biography Movies of All Time

    My 50 personal favorite biography movies of all time. Honourable Mentions: Elvis (2022) Mank (2020) Dolemite Is My Name (2019) First Man (2018) The Disaster Artist (2017) The Danish Girl (2015) Trumbo (2015) 127 Hours (2010) Hachi (2009) Hunger (2008) The Diving Bell & The Butterfly (2007) The Basketball Diaries (1995) Quiz Show (1994) Glory (1989) My Left Foot (1989) Escape From Alcatraz ...

  2. The 25 Best Biography Movies of the 21st Century

    My 25 personal favorite biography movies from 2000-2024 Honorable Mentions: Mank (2020) Rocketman (2019) Beautiful Boy (2018) Bohemian Rhapsody (2018) The Disaster Artist (2017) Hacksaw Ridge (2016) The Founder (2016) Snowden (2016) Spotlight (2015) Trumbo (2015) The Danish Girl (2015) Straight Outta Compton (2015) The Imitation Game (2014) American Sniper (2014) Captain Phillips (2013) The ...

  3. Advanced search

    2023 1h 53m R. 6.6. Rate. When teenage Priscilla Beaulieu meets Elvis Presley, the man who is already a meteoric rock-and-roll superstar becomes someone entirely unexpected in private moments: a thrilling crush, an ally in loneliness, a vulnerable best friend. 6.

  4. 10 Best Biographical Movies of All Time, According to IMDb

    10 Best Biographical Movies of All Time, According to IMDb. By Yenyiyani Siegfried. Published Jul 30, 2022. From 'Malcolm X' to 'Braveheart', these figures have certainly left us with quite an ...

  5. 100 Best Biopics of All Time

    - Director: Bernardo Bertolucci - Stacker score: 83.6 - Metascore: 76 - IMDb user rating: 7.7 - Runtime: 163 minutes. Bernardo Bertolucci's "The Last Emperor" follows the life of Pu Yi, who took the throne when he was 3 years old and abdicated when he was 7.The film, shot entirely on location in China and its ancient Forbidden City palace complex, follows a country's move from feudalism ...

  6. The 140+ Best Biography Movies

    Vote for your personal favorite Biography films, regardless of how popular or successful they were at the box office. Latest additions: Jeanne du Barry, Amar Singh Chamkila, Scoop. Most divisive: Milk. Over 300 Ranker voters have come together to rank this list of The 140+ Best Biography Movies. Biographical films explore the fascinating lives ...

  7. 20 Best Biopic Movies of the 21st Century (So Far)

    Inspired by the 1998 biography of the same name by Sylvia Nasar, A Beautiful Mind chronicles the life of John Forbes Nash Jr. (Russell Crowe), who went through it all - from fame's pinnacles to ...

  8. The Best Biopics Of 2021, Ranked According To IMDb

    The Best Biopics Of 2021, Ranked According To IMDb. From Spencer to King Richard, 2021 was a diverse and stellar year for the biopic genre. With every passing year, new biopics dominate cinema, and 2021 was no exception. The year produced some enthralling biographical films, ranging from the sports drama King Richard to the musical Tick, Tick ...

  9. Back to Black (2024)

    Back to Black: Directed by Sam Taylor-Johnson. With Marisa Abela, Jack O'Connell, Eddie Marsan, Lesley Manville. The life and music of Amy Winehouse, through the journey of adolescence to adulthood and the creation of one of the best-selling albums of our time.

  10. Best Biography Movies in Theaters (2024)

    Bob Marley: One Love Opened Feb 14, 2024. Watchlist. 86%. 94%. Irena's Vow Opened Apr 15, 2024. Watchlist. 91%. 100%. Remembering Gene Wilder Opened Mar 15, 2024.

  11. The 15 Best Biography Movies About Actors and Actresses

    Watch on Netflix. Directed by Stephen Hopkins. Starring Geoffrey Rush, Charlize Theron, Emily Watson. Biography, Comedy, Drama (2h 2m) 6.9 on IMDb — 69% on RT. Buy on Amazon. Directed by Nag Ashwin. Starring Keerthy Suresh, Dulquer Salmaan, Samantha Ruth Prabhu.

  12. List of biographical films

    Steal This Movie! Abbie Hoffman: Vincent D'Onofrio: Anita Hoffman: Janeane Garofalo: The Three Stooges: Moe Howard: Paul Ben-Victor: Larry Fine: Evan Handler: Curly Howard: Michael Chiklis: Shemp Howard: John Kassir: Vatel: François Vatel: Gérard Depardieu: Word and Utopia: António Vieira: Lima Duarte: Take Me Home: The John Denver Story ...

  13. The 50 Best Biography Movies of All Time

    3. Lawrence of Arabia (1962) Rotten Tomatoes® 94%. 4. Raging Bull (1980) Rotten Tomatoes® 94%. 5. The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (2007) Rotten Tomatoes® 76%.

  14. Biography Movies 2021 List

    Top Biography Movies 2021. House of Gucci. Respect. Lansky. The Eyes of Tammy Faye. American Underdog. King Richard.

  15. 15 Best Biography Movies on Netflix Right Now

    15. Roxanne Roxanne (2017) Directed and written by Michael Larnell, 'Roxanne Roxanne' is an autobiographical musical drama film that stars Chanté Adams, Mahershala Ali, Nia Long, and Elvis Nolasco. Roxanne Shante, a young rapper from New York, has already made her reputation as one of the most feared battle emcees in the 80s.

  16. New Biography Movie Release Dates

    Here is a list of every major Biography movie releasing! Looking for every Biography movie coming out? Here is a list of every major Biography movie releasing! ... Our list was curated using data from sources such as IMDB, Wikipedia and Fandango. Entertainment News. Movie News; TV Show News; MCU News; Star Wars News; DC Universe News; Gaming News.

  17. Biography Movies 2022 List

    Munich - The Edge of War PG-13. Based on the international bestseller by Robert Harris. It is Autumn 1938 and Europe stands on the brink of wa… more ». Jessica Brown Findlay, Sandra Hüller, Jeremy Irons, Geo… more ».

  18. IMDb

    IMDb (an acronym for Internet Movie Database) is an online database of information related to films, television series, podcasts, home videos, video games, and streaming content online - including cast, production crew and personal biographies, plot summaries, trivia, ratings, and fan and critical reviews. IMDb began as a fan-operated movie database on the Usenet group "rec.arts.movies" in ...

  19. Orlando, My Political Biography movie review (2023)

    "Orlando, My Political Biography" is an example of the kind of movie that rarely gets made or released today, and that wasn't all that common even during the heyday of quasi-experimental arthouse cinema. Appropriately, considering the subject matter, it refuses to get pinned down to prescribed labels or meanings or even genres, leaping freely ...

  20. IMDb (@imdb) • Instagram photos and videos

    3M Followers, 812 Following, 8,122 Posts - IMDb (@imdb) on Instagram: "Helping you identify "that guy from that one movie" since 1990. Our link in bio "