Biopics probably belong to one of the best movie genres ever. They pay tribute to someone’s life and raise awareness of the amazing things they’ve done. These biographical films feature anyone – from celebrities to scientists to even historical figures. While a lot of these films do not exactly portray people’s lives 100% accurately (for the drama I supposed), they are still able to shed light on the most important events. These include the personal choices, pivotal experiences, and life values they uphold. So if you’re into this genre, check out some of the best biopics below!
This film is all about girl power AND overcoming racial discrimination. It features the lives of three African American female mathematicians – Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan, and Mary Jackson – working for NASA in the 1960s. Now the 1960s weren’t exactly that great for women and African Americans in the US, so these ladies kicked a lot of ass during the Space Race.
The Miracle Worker is a 2000 biographic film based on the life of author Helen Keller. The story was adapted from Helen Keller’s autobiography in 1903 which portrayed the struggles of living as a deaf, mute, and blind child in those times. Another major character in the film is Anne Sullivan, Helen’s teacher who gradually helps her to live beyond her disabilities. In real life, Helen Keller grew up to be an author, activist, and lecturer. She was also the first deaf-blind person to earn a Bachelor’s degree – an amazing feat during those times.
Temple Grandin is another inspiring film about an autistic woman who revolutionized the way of handling livestock through humane innovations. What’s great about this film is that it shows the audience how Temple took inspiration from her own surroundings and experiences.
The Two Popes
This fascinating film portrays a very pivotal moment in history in which Pope Benedict steps down from the Papacy, and is replaced by Pope Francis. Mostly showing poignant conversations between the two popes, the film shows us revealing bits from Pope Francis’ life, as well as his and Pope Benedict’s very different points of view about religion. Check out the OST here.
Frida Kahlo is an amazing artist and one of the best feminist icons we have. Fortunately, a 2002 film titled Frida exists with Salma Hayek acting as Frida Kahlo. It portrays Frida’s life: both as a surrealist painter and as a woman. The biopic takes on a unique way of telling her story, depicting scenes as part of a painting then gradually turning them into real-life settings.
If we’re going to talk about the best biopics, the 1993 Schindler’s List with Steven Spielberg as its director is at the top of the list. This haunting film follows the story of Oskar Schindler, with his wife, who manages to save thousands of Polish-Jewish people from World War II’s Holocaust. It’s a historical movie that relives the horrors of the war, but also gives small glimpses of humanity in people during that time. The film has won several awards, including Academy Award’s Best Picture, and has even received the gratitude of the Jewish community.
Milk focuses on the life of gay rights activist and politician Harvey Milk. What’s interesting about Harvey Milk is that he is the first openly gay person to be elected to public office in California. It follows his early life until his heartbreaking assassination in 1978 by former Supervisor Dan White.
Eddie Redmayne spectacularly portrays theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking in the 2014 film, Theory of Everything. The film itself is an adaptation of Stephen Hawking’s wife, Jane Hawking’s 2007 memoir, Travelling to Infinity: My Life with Stephen. This is why Theory of Everything follows Stephen’s story from his time in university to his diagnosis to his professional career. All of this intertwined with his personal relationships, most especially with Jane Hawking. Just like other films mentioned earlier, it is a story of a person rising despite of adversities.
Another great biopic is Radioactive which premiered during the 2019 Toronto International Film Festival. The film also focuses on one of the greatest scientists we know today, Marie Curie. Marie Curie is famous for her discovery of the elements, polonium, and radium. Radioactive especially highlights her personal relationships, her career as a scientist, and her struggles as a woman in a male-dominated field.
The Social Network portrays one of the most influential and powerful computer nerds in the world today, Mark Zuckerberg. A household name, Mark Zuckerberg is one of the founders of Facebook. The film depicts how the social media platform came from two brilliant minds and good friends who couldn’t overcome the success and competition Facebook gave them.
This post was first published in July 2020; updated July 2021