Biopics have become the newest flavour of Bollywood, especially after the success of Bhaag Milkha Bhaag. And with Neerja, Aligarh and even upcoming films like Raees and Dangal, the formula is not only working great but actually bringing back deserving personalities back into the limelight.
Hollywood, however, has been acing this genre since long. They've had abundant films based on real life incidents and people from all walks of life. These biopics, of course, are cinematically well made but knowing that these stories actually happened, connects us to them even more.
Here are 30 of the best biopics from Hollywood that should definitely be on every movie buffs list:
1. The Revenant (2015)
The performance that won Leonardo DiCaprio his maiden and only Academy Award, is the story of Hugh Glass who sustains life threatening injuries after getting attacked by a grizzly bear. His crew abandons him in the wilderness and Hugh, filled with vengeance, treks through the mountain to track the guys who abandoned him.
2. Erin Brockovich (2000)
Julia Roberts in her Academy Award winning performance plays the dynamic character of Erin Brockovich. A legal clerk, Erin, takes it upon herself to find evidence against a natural gas & electric company when she discovers that an entire town's groundwater is contaminated with chromium, which is the cause of cancer for the town's people. She gathers 634 plaintiffs and turns this into a major class action law suit.
3. Into the Wild (2007)
Based on the 1996 non-fiction book by the same name, the film is about the travels and the journey Christopher McCandless takes while discovering his own self. Directed by Sean Penn, this film shows Christopher's journey to reach Alaska and his discovery which happens to be completely different than what he had imagined.
4. The Imitation Game (2014)
Alan Turing, who broke the Enigma code of the Germans in the second world war, was the subject of this biopic. A cryptographer by profession, Alan is hired to decipher the code to help Britain during the war. Benedict Cumberbatch plays the title role in the film. The film also focuses on the difficulties that homosexuals faced in the British society during those times.
5. The Aviator (2004)
Howard Hughes lived a magnanimous life of a business tycoon and an aviator. This film captured his vulnerabilities, his insecurities along with highlighting his achievements and his dedication to make things happen which sounded extremely difficult. Leonardo DiCaprio's portrayal of Hughes' struggle with OCD is definitely the best part of the film.
6. Frida (2002)
This film was based on the life of surrealist painter Frida Kahlo. Salma Hayek plays the lead in this film that narrates Frida's journey when she was introduced to painting and the struggles of her personal life as well. Throughout the film each scene starts as a painting, slowly dissolving into a live-action scene with actors.
7. Milk (2012)
Harvey Milk was the first openly gay man who was elected to public office in California. This film covers his journey from being a gay activist to being elected in office. Sean Penn played Milk and received an Academy award for his performance.
8. The Pursuit of Happyness (2006)
This film, which has earned the title of a classic over the years, is based on entrepreneur Chris Gardner's life when for a year when he was homeless. Both Will Smith and Jaden Smith gave beautiful heart touching performances in this film and won many hearts.
9.Dallas Buyers Club (2013)
In the 1980s, AIDS was quite a misunderstood disease in America. It was then that Ron Woodroof, diagnosed with the disease, found the group Dallas Buyers Club to distribute drugs to treat HIV. Matthew McConaughey plays Woodroof in the film and gave one of his most memorable performances ever. While he starts the club as a money making venture, it turns out to be much more than that for him and eventually money isn't even his concern.
10. The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)
Jordan Belfort, a stock-brocker who ran a major penny stock scam, was the central character of this film. He published his memoir as a non-fiction book which was later adapted into this film. The frauds he has committed to rise up from rags to riches and his conviction by FBI form the plot of this film. The lead character was played by Leonardo DiCaprio in this film and it easily became one of the milestone movies of his career.
11.The Social Network (2010)
The story of how Facebook came into existence and the early years of Mark Zuckerberg were captured in this film. While many have criticized the portrayal of events in the film as inaccurate, the film still stands as one of the best biopics ever made.
12. Ali (2001)
Ali tells the story of American boxer Muhammad Ali's life. The film focused on various chapters of Ali's life including his winning the heavyweight championship for the first time, his conversion to Islam and his take on the Vietnam war. The events going on in his personal life in that time are also covered in the film. Will Smith played the title role of Muhammad Ali in the film and was praised widely for his performance.
13. Lovelace (2013)
This biographical film was about the porn actress Linda Boreman, better known as Linda Lovelace, who gained international recognition after the porn film, Deep Throat. The narrative of this film is quite unique as each of the events shown in the film are shown twice. The first portrayal shows her life as perfect and just too good to be true while the second gives out the true story of what actually happened including how she was domestically abused by her husband. Amanda Seyfried plays Linda Lovelace in the film and does a fantastic job.
14. Trumbo (2015)
This film is based on the life of Hollywood screenwriter, Dalton Trumbo, who was blacklisted along with ten other screenwriters, producers and directors (known as 'The Hollywood Ten') for refusing to answer questions about their alleged involvement with the Communist Party in 1947. Trumbo wrote some of the best screenplays while he was blacklisted and hence wasn't given any credit for it. Bryan Cranston plays Trumbo in the film. Rest, as they say, is history.
15. The Iron Lady (2011)
The film was based on the life of Margaret Thatcher, the longest serving Prime Minister of United Kingdom. Though her life in the Parliament was depicted with some historical inaccuracy but Meryl Streep's performance was highly praised and overshadowed a lot of criticism. The theme that recurs in the film at constant intervals is the personal price Thatcher had to pay for her career. This is still considered as one of the best performances in Streep's long and illustrious career.
16. The Theory of Everything (2014)
Starring Eddie Redmayne, this film was based on the life of theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking. The film showed his journey from the time when he was diagnosed with ALS to his tremendous success in physics. A major part of the film covered the events that happened in his personal life, how he met his first wife and how they eventually got divorced.
17. Steve Jobs (2015)
After the disappointment that Jobs (2013) was, this film based on the Steve Jobs' life was just outstanding. Michael Fassbender played Jobs and did it with perfection.
18. A Beautiful Mind (2001)
Based on the life of a Nobel Laureate in Economics, John Nash, the film was inspired by a book of the same name by Sylvia Nasar. In the film, Nash begins to develop paranoid schizophrenia and endures delusional episodes while watching the burden his condition brings on his wife and friends. The film was criticized for some inaccuracies while portraying Nash's personal life. Russell Crowe played the lead role in the film and did quite a good job with it.
19. Goodfellas (1990)
The film narrates the rise and fall of mob man Henry Hill and his friends from the 1950s to the 1980s. Directed by Martin Scorsese, this film is often regarded as one of the greatest films of all times and it totally deserves all the praise it gets. Henry's dangerous and exciting life of being a mob associate is told brilliantly in the film. It's one of those films where the villain and the good guy are the same man and yet you start to care for him.
Richard Attenborough’s Gandhi had Ben Kingsley playing the title role. The film narrates his journey from the time when he was thrown off a train in South Africa that was meant for "whites only" to the phase when he led the struggle for independence of our country through non-violence.
21.Walk the Line (2005)
One of Joaquin Phoenix's best performances, Walk The Line is based on the life of singer Johnny Cash's life. Cash didn't live to see the finished film. Phoenix met Cash only once and the performance he delivered in the film would leave you spellbound. Reese Witherspoon played June Carter and was even a step ahead of Phoenix's Cash.
22. Lincoln (2012)
Daniel Day-Lewis played President Abraham Lincoln in this film directed by Steven Spielberg. The film focuses on the final four months of the President's life.
23. Capote (2005)
Truman Capote, known for writing Breakfast at Tiffany's, once read an article about a family that was murdered in Kansas. Intrigued by the case, he heads out to Kansas with author Harper Lee, who, back then, was yet to win a Pulitzer Prize for her book, To Kill A Mockingbird. The events shown in the film were translated by Capote in his novel, In Cold Blood. Philip Seymour Hoffman played Capote in the film and it was one of the best performances of the late actor's career.
24. Malcolm X (1992)
Malcolm X has been called one of the greatest and most influential African-Americans in history. In the film, Denzel Washington, plays the title role and does a wonderful job. The film narrates his childhood events in flashbacks and highlights the key events- his criminal career, his incarceration, his conversion to Islam, his political career, his marriage, his pilgrimage and his assassination.
25. Schindler's List (1993)
This epic historical drama film is based on the life of Oskar Schindler, a German businessman who saved the lives of more than a thousand Jewish refugees during the Holocaust by employing them in his factories. Directed by Steven Spielberg, this film stars Liam Neeson, Ralph Fiennes and Ben Kingsley. This film is often listed as one of the best films ever made.
26.The Fighter (2010)
The film centers on the lives of professional boxer Micky Ward, played by Mark Wahlberg and his older half-brother Dicky Eklund, played by Christian Bale. The story revolves around Micky's retreat from the world of boxing and his eventual return that his encouraged by his family and Dicky's struggle in trying to get away from crack cocaine and getting his life back together.
27. Ed Wood (1994)
This period film stars Johnny Depp as the filmmaker, Ed Wood. The film focuses on the strange approach that Ed took towards film-making. Wood was a transvestite and the film is about him wanting to direct a project on the same issue. Tim Burton (director) said that it was not a hardcore realistic biopic but Depp's performance was quite fun to watch. Burton did not include the dark side of Wood's life in the film.
28. Raging Bull (1980)
One of the most praised sports biopics, it follows the turbulent life of boxing champ Jake LaMotta played by Robert De Niro. Martin Scorsese directed this film and it is considered as one of his best works.
29. Silkwood (1983)
Karen Silkwood was a nuclear whistle-blower and a labor union activist who died in a suspicious car accident while investigating an alleged wrong-doing at the Kerr-McGee plutonium plant where she worked. The film received critical acclaim and was a box office success and Meryl Streep's act as Karen Silkwood was highly appreciated.
30. My Left Foot (1989)
Daniel Day-Lewis won his first Oscar as Christy Brown, a man with cerebral palsy who uses his left foot, his only movable body part, to interact with those around him.