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Biographical films or biopics are one of the hardest movie genre. These movies are based on true stories and there is hardly any space for director's imagination. Yes, some movies do stretch the truth on purpose but that is a rarity. Also, it's extremely challenging to cast actors for these movies.
And acting in biopics is a different ballgame altogether. You are not only judged on your acting, but your resemblance to the real characters as well. And that's what I like about biopics. Only the top of the league actors do such movies.
Best biopics like Schindler's List (1993)
Schindler's List is a masterpiece, a thing of beauty from Spielberg. It emulates so many emotions and excels at each one of them be it love, death, fear, humor, horror, anything. The finesse with which Spielberg has reproduced abject horrors of the holocaust is remarkable. It is one of the best movies of all time.
Here is my list of top 10 biographical movies similar to Schindler's List:
Lawrence of Arabia (1962)
A masterpiece. Lawrence of Arabia is one of the most intelligent war epic ever and one of the best biographical movies of all time like Schindler's List
Due to his knowledge of the native Bedouin tribes, British Lieutenant T.E. Lawrence is sent to Arabia to find Prince Faisal and serve as a liaison between the Arabs and the British in their fight against the Turks. With the aid of native Sherif Ali, Lawrence rebels against the orders of his superior officer and strikes out on a daring camel journey across the harsh desert to attack a well-guarded Turkish port.
A gangster classic, Goodfellas is one of the best works of Martin Scorsese topped with outstanding performance from Joe Pesci
This film views the mob lives of three pivotal figures in the 1960's and 70's New York. Henry Hill is a local boy turned gangster in a neighborhood full of the roughest and toughest. Tommy DeVito is a purebred gangster, who turns out to be Henry's best friend. Jimmy Conway puts the two of them together, and runs some of the biggest hijacks and burglaries the town has ever seen. After an extended jail sentence, Henry must sneak around the back of the local mob boss, Paulie Cicero, to live the life of luxury he has always dreamed of. In the end, the friends end up in a hell of a jam, and must do anything they can to save each other, and stay alive.
The Pianist (2002)
In one of the best biographical films of all time like Schindler's List, Adrien Brody and Roman Polanski have delivered a masterclass
The true story of Wladyslaw Szpilman who, in the 1930s, was known as the most accomplished piano player in all of Poland, if not Europe. At the outbreak of the Second World War, however, Szpilman becomes subject to the anti-Jewish laws imposed by the conquering Germans. By the start of the 1940s, Szpilman has seen his world go from piano concert halls to the Jewish Ghetto of Warsaw and then must suffer the tragedy of his family deported to a German concentration camps, while Szpilman is conscripted into a forced German Labor Compound. At last deciding to escape, Szpilman goes into hiding as a Jewish refugee where he is witness to the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising (April 19, 1943 - May 16, 1943) and the Warsaw Uprising (1 August to 2 October 1944)
Raging Bull (1980)
Based on biography of former middleweight boxing champion Jake LaMotta, this top-notch boxing drama will touch you to the core
When Jake LaMotta steps into a boxing ring and obliterates his opponent, he's a prizefighter. But when he treats his family and friends the same way, he's a ticking time bomb, ready to go off at any moment. Though LaMotta wants his family's love, something always seems to come between them. Perhaps it's his violent bouts of paranoia and jealousy. This kind of rage helped make him a champ, but in real life, he winds up in the ring alone.
The gold standard of films about journalism, Spotlight is absolutely spot-on
In 2001, the Jewish editor Marty Baron is hired by The Boston Globe and he asks the Spotlight team to investigate the priest John Geoghan that was accused of abusing children and the lawyer Mitchell Garabedian that has told that Cardinal Law knew what his priest did. Walter 'Robby' Robinson, Mike Rezendes, Sacha Pfeiffer and Matt Carroll are fully supported by Baron and their leader Ben Bradlee, Jr. to set in motion the investigation of the priest and they contact the initially reluctant Garabedian; the lawyer Eric Macleish that has defended many victims; the leader of the victims' rights organization Phil Saviano; and several victims that accept to meet them. After one year investigation, they confirm the names of twenty pedophile priests in Boston and they publish the story showing that Cardinal Law had prior knowledge of the priests' abuse of children
The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)
Superb performances from DiCaprio, Scorsese and Jonah Hill resulted in the funniest biography of all time. How in the hell DiCaprio did not win an Oscar for this!!
In the early 1990s, Jordan Belfort teamed with his partner Donny Azoff and started brokerage firm Stratford-Oakmont. Their company quickly grows from a staff of 20 to a staff of more than 250 and their status in the trading community and Wall Street grows exponentially. So much that companies file their initial public offerings through them. As their status grows, so do the amount of substances they abuse, and so do their lies. They draw attention like no other, throwing lavish parties for their staff when they hit the jackpot on high trades. That ultimately leads to Belfort featured on the cover of Forbes Magazine, being called "The Wolf Of Wall St.". With the FBI onto Belfort's trading schemes, he devises new ways to cover his tracks and watch his fortune grow. Belfort ultimately comes up with a scheme to stash their cash in a European bank. But with the FBI watching him like a hawk, how long will Belfort and Azoff be able to maintain their elaborate wealth and luxurious lifestyles?
Catch Me If You Can (2002)
Hard to believe it's a true story, Catch Me If You Can is highly likable and thoroughly entertaining
New Rochelle, the 1960s. High schooler Frank Abagnale Jr. idolizes his father, who's in trouble with the IRS. When his parents separate, Frank runs away to Manhattan with $25 in his checking account, vowing to regain dad's losses and get his parents back together. Just a few years later, the FBI tracks him down in France; he's extradited, tried, and jailed for passing more than $4,000,000 in bad checks. Along the way, he's posed as a Pan Am pilot, a pediatrician, and an attorney. And, from nearly the beginning of this life of crime, he's been pursued by a dour FBI agent, Carl Hanratty. What starts as cat and mouse becomes something akin to father and son.
12 Years a Slave (2013)
Based on the harsh truth of American history, 12 Years a Slave will leave you devastated
Based on an incredible true story of one man's fight for survival and freedom. In the pre-Civil War United States, Solomon Northup, a free black man from upstate New York, is abducted and sold into slavery. Facing cruelty personified by a malevolent slave owner, as well as unexpected kindnesses, Solomon struggles not only to stay alive, but to retain his dignity. In the twelfth year of his unforgettable odyssey, Solomon's chance meeting with a Canadian abolitionist will forever alter his life.
The King's Speech (2010)
Just like Schindler's List, this classic by Tom Hooper is as simple as a biography should be and as entertaining as a movie should be
In 1925, the Duke of York is stammerer and has troubles to speak to the public. His wife Elizabeth seeks the treatment of the speech therapist Lionel Logue that follows unconventional methods and relationship, and Bertie gives up the treatment on the first day. However, after listening to the session that was recorded by Lionel, the Bertie returns to the treatment. In the mid 30's, the Duke of York is forced to assume the throne of England as King George VI due to the abdication of his older brother King Edward VIII. Immediately after, there is a crisis in the government and England declares war to Germany. King George VI needs to make a speech to his compatriots, and his friend Lionel helps him using an unorthodox technique.
All the President's Men (1976)
If Spotlight is the gold standard of films about journalism, All the President's Men is diamond
Factual account of investigative journalists Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein of the Washington Post whose reporting of the Watergate break-in eventually led to the resignation of Richard Nixon, 37th President of the United States. The film focuses on the period from the break-in on June 17, 1972 to Nixon's re-election in November later than year. Their perseverance - and the support of their editors - revealed that the break-in at the Watergate office complex was only one small part of a much larger network of intelligence gathering activities, many of which were illegal. The story also focuses on the role of Woodward's now legendary secret source dubbed Deep Throat (since identified as FBI Deputy Director W. Mark Felt) and the encouragement he provided when the journalists hit roadblocks in their investigation.
I have decided to keep the list restricted to 10 movies. But I would still like to mention these epic movies:
- Gandhi (1982)
- A Beautiful Mind (2001)
- Amadeus (1984)
- The Aviator (2004)
- Into the Wild (2007)