10 Biopics You Simply Must Watch

Over the past few years, the biopic (a genre of film in which a real individual’s life is dramatized) has soared in popularity. There’s something about a film that demystifies the lives of our favorite historical figures - or highlights the actions of people we never knew existed - that mesmerizes us. The human stories that these films relay are often uniquely powerful in their realism, and they give life and humanity to their subjects. Although there are too many moving, fascinating, and unforgettable biopics to list, here are ten of my personal and more recent favorites in no particular order:

 

  1. On the Basis of Sex (2018) - This biopic details the education and early legal career of feminist, lawyer, Supreme Court Justice, and all-around incredible human being Ruth Bader Ginsburg (played by Felicity Jones). As a student at Harvard and Columbia University, Bader Ginsberg changed the face of law and justice by fighting for equality between the sexes. Although it is not covered in the film, Bader Ginsburg eventually went on to become the second female Supreme Court Justice in the United States. Unfortunately, this revolutionary woman passed away in September of last year. Watching this film is the perfect way to remind yourself of all Bader Ginsburg has done for humankind. 
  2. Rocketman (2019) - For all those who have belted “Bennie and the Jets” and “Crocodile Rock” at the top of your lungs, or even if you simply have an appreciation for music and empowering human stories, this 2019 biopic detailing the life of the one and only Elton John (portrayed brilliantly by Taron Egerton) is a must-see. Not only does the whimsical, colorful nature of the film perfectly capture the great performer’s spirit, but the film delves deeply into John’s challenging childhood, complex relationships, and struggle to love himself. And it’s a musical to boot! 
  3. The Theory of Everything (2014) - Eddie Redmayne won the Oscar for portraying legendary physicist Steven Hawking in this incredible biopic - and deservedly so. The film covers Hawking’s life as a college student, his ALS diagnosis, and his eventual publication of A Brief History of Time. Perhaps more importantly, however, Hawking’s relationships are examined and legacy honored in this heart-wrenching film. 
  4. The Imitation Game (2014) - I mentioned that Eddie Redmayne won the Oscar for the Best Actor category in 2014 - but Benedict Cumberbatch, the star of The Imitation Game, released in the same year, certainly gave him a run for his money. Cumberbatch portrays Alan Turing, a mathematician who worked to break the German code during WWII and essentially created the first computer. Despite Turing’s contributions to humanity, however, he was shunned and abused by society due to his homosexuality. Not only is this a beautiful movie, but it is an essential one, as it prevents this man’s legacy from becoming lost in history. 
  5. A Beautiful Mind (2001) - You may have heard of mathematician John Nash. You may have known that he won the Nobel Peace Prize for his breakthroughs in his field. But did you know that he had Schizophrenia? This film chronicles Nash’s contributions to game theory, his relationship with his wife, Alicia, and his battle with the condition that caused him to be ostracized from society. For a stellar film that celebrates a man whose life's work was invaluable to our society, watch A Beautiful Mind
  6. Official Secrets (2019) - The most recent title on my list, Official Secrets details the true story of Katharine Gun (played by the talented Kiera Knightly) who was a British intelligence specialist during the period leading up to the Iraq War. While on the job, she discovers a shocking scandal - one she and her fellow governmental employees are required to keep silent about. Unlike her colleagues, however, Gun takes a stand and leaks the information about the injustice happening behind the scenes to the press. The film explores what happens next, details Gun’s trial, and ponders questions of morality and duty. 
  7. The King’s Speech (2010) - It isn’t easy to be a leader tasked with frequent public addresses when you’re terrified of public speaking. Unfortunately for soon-to-be-King George VI (Colin Firth), he will be forced to do just that despite a speech impediment that brings him shame. However, George is aided by a speech therapist named Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush) who helps him to gain confidence as he prepares to give his most important speech yet and ascend the throne. 
  8. Vice (2018) - Think you’re familiar with the Bush presidency? Think again. This witty, quirky film starring Christian Bale overviews the political career of Dick Cheney, portrayed as a shrewd, ambitious politician and Bush’s manipulative puppeteer. If you aren’t completely sick of American politics, this is a movie that is topical, meaningful, and well-worth your time. 
  9. Collette (2018) - Her husband is famous for his best-selling novels detailing the exploits of a young girl named Claudine. The only issue? She was the one who wrote them. Kiera Knightly portrays French writer Collette who ghostwrites novels for her mercurial partner. Eventually, Colette gets tired of the lies, the manipulation, and the patriarchal and heteronormative society that seeks to control her, and struggles for ownership of her work and her life. 
  10. De-Lovely (2004) - If you’re familiar with Anything Goes or Kiss Me, Kate, then you’re familiar with the music of composer Cole Porter. This movie-musical zeroes in on the life and work of the tortured artist (Kevin Kline), his relationship with his wife, Linda (Ashley Judd), and his extramarital homosexual affairs. A film about internal struggle, human connection, and artistic power, this is one you absolutely cannot miss.