Top 10 Best Biopic Movies of All Time

Let us look at the below list of Top 10 Best Biopic Movies of All Time till 2017. The biographical motion picture—better known in industry lingo as a biopic—has long tradition of success of success in Hollywood. In addition to a proven track record of commercial viability, the biopic has consistently remained one of the most popular genres for Academy Awards voters. Every year at least one or two biopics is guaranteed to be a strong competitor for Best Picture and actors love to take on these real life role that often bring them Oscar gold. With that in mind, consider that choosing the top 10 best biopic movies of all time is likely to be a lot harder than you suspect and contain a lot more of your favorite movies than you might expect.

List of Top 10 Best Biopic Movies of All Time till 2017

10. Danton

Danton Top Most Biopic Movies of All Time

The leeway provided in representing historical figures on film can be exploited by a creative mind to such unbelievable effect that even what seems to be a technical failing can instead be a concerted effect to provide modern day resonance to events which took place long ago. Danton is a French-Polish co-production about the French Revolution made at a time when the seeds of revolution against Soviet influence in Poland was beginning to gain ground. By dubbing the French dialogue being spoken by Polish actors, the film replicates thematically the political occupation of Poland by a foreign government and thus transforms it from merely being a biopic of Danton into a commentary on political revolutions taking place centuries apart in two different countries.

9 Frost/Nixon

Frost Nixon Top Popular Biopic Movies of All Time

You’ve got Oliver Stone’s Nixon which tries to tell the story of Richard Nixon’s tenure in the White House and falls victim to the Greatest Hits failure (see below). Then you’ve got Frost/Nixon which investigates much of the same psychological territory as Stone’s film. In narrowing the focus down to eventually the single moment in time in which the psychological flaw at work in Nixon’s mind is revealed, this becomes the ultimate biopic yet made of Pres. Nixon…and he’s already out of office by the time it begins.

8. Ed Wood


Ed Wood made the classic bad cult film Plan 9 from Outer Space among other equally inept cinematic works. If genius is very difficult to portray on film, try making an inspirational film about the opposite of genius. It would be wonderful to imagine that the Ed Wood memorably brought to the screen by Johnny Depp was an accurate representation, but it is hardly a requisite for enjoying the movie. As an extra bonus, Ed Wood is also partially a biopic about the last years of the life Bela Lugosi.

7. 24 Hour Party People

24 Hour Party People Top Best Biopic Movies of All Time

Not every biopic has to necessarily be a biographical portrait of just one figure. While Factory Records head Tony Wilson is the central historical figure throughout 24 Hour Party People, this film is more a biographical portrait of a special moment in time: the rise of Factory Records and the Manchester music scene, focusing primarily on the band Joy Division and its rebirth as New Order following the suicide of lead singer Ian Curtis.

6. I am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang


The names were changed to protect the guilty, but this harrowing story of man sentenced to a work on a chain gang and then forced back to prison when state official lie to him after he had managed to escape and become a solid and respectable citizen is entirely true. Robert Elliott Burns is the real figure who inspired this example of a semi-fictionalized biopic that is still more factual than many films proudly claiming to be based on a true story.

5. The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford


Another great power of the biopic is to reconstitute a familiar character so that this story becomes relevant to the time period it was made. More than 50 movies have been made about Jesse James and the man who shot him, but the finest is the first one to situate their strange relationship within the modern-day concept of the cult of celebrity and the fanboy stalker. Eschewing the more common components of a Jesse James movie that focus on daring bank robberies and train hold-ups, this is a far more reflective outlaw trying to figure out how to deal with being famous for being infamous. Brad Pitt as Jesse and Casey Affleck as Robert Ford give the performances of their careers so far.

4. Amadeus


The question of historical accuracy always dogs the biopics. Some are far more egregiously contemptible of the facts than others, but every biopic is going to take dramatic license. Amadeus is based on a Broadway play that purports to tell the true account of how a minor composer named Salieri was so overcome with jealousy of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart that he essentially played an indirect part in the premature death of the genius. Turns out almost none of that is actually true, but who care? It could be true and it certainly feels like it much of it may have been true and even if completely untrue, it’s a wonderfully entertaining fantasy that doesn’t adversely result in a negative impact upon a basic understanding of history like Oliver Stone’s JFK which is a biopic that gets only one fact right: Pres. Kennedy was assassination.

3. Lincoln

Lincoln Top Biopic Movies of All Time

There are two approaches to making a biopic. One is the Greatest Hits of a Lifetime approach that attempts to fit in the entire life span of its subject from birth to death. In the attempt to replicate each of the highlights that gave meaning to that life, it paradoxically winds up stripping all meaning out of those events. Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln is an excellent example of the other type: the biopic that focuses on one specific aspect or time period of its character, thus providing far more room for nuance and depth of character analysis. Lots of movies have attempt to tell the story of Pres. Abraham Lincoln but so far only Spielberg has made one that provides real insight.

2. Schindler’s List


The real power of a biopic is the way it can reach a mass audience to tell a story that has somehow remained buried in the archives of history of most. Schindler’s List and Lincoln deepen and enhance the widely acknowledged truth that Steven Spielberg may well be simply be the finest storyteller in the history of film. Among all the other qualities that make Schindler’s List such a great movie is that Spielberg tells it in a way easily accessible to millions, thus making the name Oskar Schindler every bit as recognizable as Adolf Hitler.

1. Raging Bull

Raging Bull Top Most Popular Biopic Movies of All Time

Raging Bull brought home a Best Actor Oscar to Robert DeNiro for his powerful portrayal of 1940s middleweight boxer Jake LaMotta. Clearly, Martin Scorsese should have won for Best Director because you will never see a movie directed with such flourish and artistic abandon and an intense Expressionist sense of realism as the biopic that is now routinely considered the greatest film of the 1980s.

It is a shame that when most people hear the world biopic they tend to think of those Greatest Hits highlights reels of the genre that attempt only to recreate famous moments in history without lending the any context or analysis. In the right hands, a biopic can speak just as strongly about the period in which it was made as it does about the period in which it central figure lived. Surely, it must say something about the elasticity of the genre that a movie about a really bad film director can join a film about a heroic figure during the Holocaust on a list of the top 10 biopic movies of all time till 2017.

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