What is a biopic, you ask? In the word biopic, as they are usually called, emphasis must be placed on “bio”, since a biopic is a contraction coined in the 40s, of “biographical” and “image” in English.
Therefore, this is the definition: a biopic is a film that dramatizes a life, usually all or a substantial part of it. A biopic is, therefore, something less than a film based on a true story and something more a film based on many true stories ( Apollo 13 , for example, is a true story; for its part, First Man (The first man ) is a biopic).
As such, these movies have traditionally stuck to the facts, as there isn’t much that can be done when it comes to real lives. That being said, lately biographies have become less strict in their execution and have included more elements of fantasy or editorialization. Like Rocketman , a movie about the life of Elton John that’s close to the truth, except for the fantasy dance sequences.
Below we’ve rounded up some of the best biographies in film history.
Although biopics with music have skyrocketed after the success of Bohemian Rhapsody , and although we too enjoy that final recreation of the Wembley concert, Elvis has been the first really interesting film of this recent wave. Yes, because Baz Lurhman, the director of Moulin Rouge or The Great Gatsby , triggers Elvis’s aesthetics and his rhythm in all sections of the film, from the artistic direction to the editing. In addition, the strange and lying narrative of him through the character of Tom Hanks plays and, at the same time, admits the fictional and partial nature of this type of legendary narrations about a real person.
Raging Bull (1980)
We shouldn’t have to say much about one of Martin Scorsese’s masterpieces to justify its presence on this list. It is, after all, one of the best films in the history of cinema. To share some more information with you, we will tell you that Jake la Motta himself went to see it at its premiere and asked his ex-wife if it was really like that, to which she replied no, that it was much worse. Maybe Scorsese fell short, but for us he hit the nail on the head.
The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)
In the hectic pace of this story of economic rise and fall, it’s easy to forget that we’re talking about a true story. Jordan Belfort and his ex-wife aren’t as hot as DiCaprio and Robbie, and we doubt his best friend is as funny as Jonah Hill, but that’s the movie magic we’re so thankful for. Scorsese said that Marvel cinema was not cinema but roller coasters. Well, right here he gave us the example that you can be both things at the same time.
The director Pablo Larraín has returned to represent the life of a female icon as he already did in Jackie with the widow of John F. Kennedy. This time it’s about Diana Frances Spencer’s biopic, Lady Di. It has just been released and it is already being said that Kristen Stewart could win an Oscar for her portrayal of the Princess of Wales.
Larrain and Stewart have focused Lady Di’s personality on a painful vacation with the royal family, that weekend when the princess decided her marriage to Prince Charles wasn’t working and began to question her future as the next queen. A Diana on the edge, broken, in one of the most surprising biopics of recent years.
Mank is David Fincher‘s dramatization of the whiskey-drenched life of screenwriter Herman J. Mankiewicz, the interloper-turned-Hollywood outsider who burned so many bridges he was forced to sacrifice the sole merit of writing the screenplay for Citizen Kane , is a metabiopia; Orson Welles’ masterpiece was a keynote film about media mogul – and Mankiewicz’s sparring partner – William Randolph Hearst. Fincher adds extra layers of veracity by shooting in period-appropriate black-and-white, and stuffing his film with Citizen Kane easter eggs.
A Question of Gender (2018)
Even before Felicity Jones became the late United States Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, this remarkable woman had already earned cult status as an equal rights advocate. This film shows how, against all odds, this young woman came to win her title by hand. Those who want to learn more about it should continue with the equally excellent documentary RBG , which was released that same year, and shows how Ginsburg’s fight remained intact even at the end of her life.
Malcolm X (1992)
Denzel Washington received his third Oscar nomination for his portrayal of civil rights icon Malcolm X. His performance, like the film, is epic in scope, as it tells the story of the black nationalist leader from his early years as a small-time gangster. to his years as a religious minister and his enduring influence in the fight for black equality as a member of the Nation of Islam.
An Extraordinary Friend (2019)
This incredibly moving film about Mr. Rogers, one of America’s most beloved television characters, was inspired by “Can You Say … Hero?” , an Esquire US article by Tom Junod. The film weaves Junod’s story into a look into the life of a beloved American icon, played by another much-loved American icon: Tom Hanks.
My Left Foot (1989)
As our understanding of identity and representation has evolved, films in which non-disabled actors play disabled people can feel dated at best and exploitative at worst (the movie of the Last year The Family of Your Choice , which starred an actor with Down syndrome, Zack Gottsagen as a character with Down syndrome, demonstrated how unnecessary these kinds of casting choices are).