Out of all the movie genres, "biographical" is the one that houses some of the best movies made.  It may have something to do with directors being afraid of being stampeded on by an angry mob for mis-portraying historically significant individuals, or it may be the fact that actors get to play real people rather that shallow fictional characters. Here are some of the best biographical movies made:

A Beautiful Mind (2001):
 I have yet to meet a person who did not think this movie is one of the most compelling pieces of film ever made. The movie depicts the life of John Nash, a Nobel Laureate in Economics. A movie about a mathematician? Probably not that interesting. However, this particular one was struggling with paranoid schizophrenia. The director does a great job of toying with the viewer's mind putting you in the same state as Nash where you can't differentiate between reality and fantasy. Russell Crowe delivers a stunning performance that earned an Oscar nomination. I have to mention that this is probably not the most accurate portrayal of Nash's life but it is a terrific film.



Walk the Line (2005): If you're up for watching the complicated personal life and career of a musician then this movie is for you. Joaquin Phoenix plays the role of  one of the most popular country singers, Johnny Cash. The movie chronicles the life of Cash from his younger years up to his fame, heroin addiction and turbulent relationship with June Carter who later becomes his wife. There's a lot of drama and fighting involved, but it is still a terrific movie with good music and a stunning performance by Reese Witherspoon.




Catch Me if You Can (2002): Leonardo Di Caprio as a con man. What more can you ask for? Frank Abagnale Jr. was a man who by the age of 19 successfully conned millions by pretending to be a pilot, doctor, and prosecutor. The movie is a very intricate game of hide and seek as Abagnale tries to elude the FBI. This is definitely one of the lighter films on this list but it has great emotional depth making it just the perfect combination of drama, action, and comedy.




Malcolm X (1992): One of Spike Lee's masterpieces! The movie focuses on Malcolm's early beginnings as a criminal and his incarceration leading up to his conversion to Islam and his rise to become one of the most important figures in American history. The 3 hours movie shines a light on the side of Malcolm that is usually downplayed in most biographies. This is definitely a must watch if you're interested in learning about him.




Ray (2004):  The critically acclaimed movie that was nominated for 8 Oscars about the life of beloved musician Ray Charles who was blinded at the age of 7. The movie focuses on thirty years of his life as he revolutionized music, fought a heroin addiction, and used his talents to fight segregation. The portrait of this musical genius is enhanced by Jamie Foxx's performance who committed to the role by wearing prosthetics so that he was unable to see and playing all the piano scenes in the film himself.




The Pursuit of Happyness  (2006): One of Will Smith's most emotional roles. I can tell you from experience that by the end of this movie most of the audience at the cinema were wiping their tears. Unlike most movies on this list, this movie focuses on one year instead of a whole lifetime. Chris Gardner's inspirational rags to riches story will definitely tug at your heartstrings as you see his struggle with balancing raising a son while being homeless and working through an internship that later guarantees him a better life. Jaden. Smith. will. make. you. cry.



La Vie en Rose (2007): The Um Kulthum of France, Edith Piaf, is without a doubt France's greatest singer. The movie is the perfect representation of quirky Piaf and focuses a lot on her earlier years as a child. La Vie en Rose, titled after her signature song, is the third highest grossing French film made. It was met with great reviews that were mainly attributed to the great emotional depth portrayed by Marion Cotillard which earned her an Oscar, marking her as the first actress to receive the award in a French  movie.




Hotel Rwanda (2004): The movie depicts the story of how Rwandan hotel manager Paul Rusesabagina saved the lives of 1,000 refugees during the 1994 Rwandan genocide. Probably not the lightest movie you'll ever see but it will definitely change your perspective on media and how the world can choose to turn its back on suffering when it doesn’t suit it. Some of the violence and real life footage was used to show the horror of the genocide and what happened.




Into The Wild (2007): This incredible story stood out in 2007 because it posed many questions about the world we know and live in. After graduating from university, Christopher McCandless gives up all his money and possessions and sets out to live in the Alaskan wilderness. The movie depicts his journey and the people he meets along the way as he struggles to understand himself and the world around him.




Bonnie and Clyde: Not the best movie on the list, but it earned its spot for its significant contribution to cinema. The film cause controversy when it was released in 1967 for the level of violence that was never before seen in movies. Regardless of the controversy, the film was later cited as an influence for iconic films such as "The Godfather." The movie is also "loosely" based on bank robbing Bonnie and Clyde whose relationship was typically romanticized by the script as is the fate of many other Hollywood movies.



Honorable mentions:

Ghandi, The Young Victoria, Ali, Elizabeth, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, Raging Bull, Cinderella Man, Capote.

– Haya Al-Farhan

Images: IMDb.com

  1. You should have put the elephant man on this list.
    Made me cry, and watch it alot, and read the book twice, and watched the movie three time and going for a fourth. So good it is a very emotional film that really engages viewers.

  2. You should have put the elephant man on this list.
    Made me cry, and watch it alot, and read the book twice, and watched the movie three time and going for a fourth. So good it is a very emotional film that really engages viewers.

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