Biopic films are among some of my very favorites. They're not quite documentaries, but almost. There are a ton of great ones – moving, entertaining, inspirational, and enlightening. To be really good, I think a biopic film needs to stay as close to true life as possible, otherwise it's just entertainment, and then what's the point? A few fictionalized details are okay, of course, you even see those in memoirs, after all. The biopic movies I've picked for this list meet that criteria, I think – and they're all really good films in the bargain.
Amadeus is more than just a great biopic, it's a great movie in general. It's completely irreverent, both moving and funny, and although much of it is fictionalized (okay, so I just contradicted myself), it highlights Mozart's genius. It also sheds light on how hard it must have been to be brilliant in that time and place.
Ben Kingsley as Gandhi was remarkable. Wonderful as Gandhi was, there are parts of his life story that weren't always so interesting. The movie, however, is a beautiful revelation. It shows Gandhi as a human, a man, not just a saint.
3. The Social Network
Ah, Mark Zuckerberg. Why is this biopic on the list? Because it was entertaining, both on screen and behind the scenes. Who knows what the real story is? I tend to believe that Mark is at least somewhat as relentless as he's depicted. Besides, Justin Timberlake's performance was stellar.
4. Boy's Don't Cry
This movie breaks my heart. Hilary Swank did such justice to Brandon Teena. Mind you, I refer to him as that because that was how he identified, and I have complete respect for that. The story is a tragic one, and it's especially relevant today, with bullying and bashing far too prevalent in the LGBT community.
5. The King's Speech
My rampant love for Colin Firth initially made me interested in this biopic. However, the story of King George VI is incredibly fascinating as well. It's powerful, as is the depicted relationship between George and Lionel Logue, who actually kept notes which were discovered and inserted into the movie.
This is one of my favorite films, hand's down. Harvey Milk was an icon, a brave man, and a beacon. And Sean Penn proves that, whatever happens in his personal life, he's an amazing actor. James Franco is a welcome addition to the film, but it's Harvey's struggles and untimely death that really grab you.
7. Walk the Line
The story of Johnny Cash makes an incredible biopic. Joaquin Phoenix was equally fantastic, and I'm so glad he made this before buying a tick onto the crazy train. This actually made me take a closer look at Cash's life, and to appreciate his music on a whole different level.
8. My Left Foot
Christy Brown is a huge inspiration. Can you imagine learning to paint and write using just your left foot? The man was profane, not given to sentimentality, and so fiercely, completely determined that you're left thinking that of course he learned to do all of this with just one foot. How could he fail?
9. Malcolm X
Spike Lee's biopic about Malcom X is extremely revealing. Denzel Washington's performance is just – there are no words. He's more than passionate, he managed to capture the fevered essence of Malcolm X's activism in a way that leaves you speechless and breathless.
A lot of the biopic films listed here are on my list of favorite movies as well. Tom Hulce as Mozart, for example, will always be one of my faves. He was so cute! Biopics are great for getting you interested in people, they can make you want to go out and dig up as much material on the central character as possible. What are some of your favorite biopic films, and why?
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