Film The Very Best Biopics About Real People  

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List of the best biopics ever made, as ranked by film critics and movie fans. History is filled with remarkable individuals and stories that are worth telling over and over. People write books and create amazing art works depicting these incredible people and their lives, but no medium is more memorable than biographical films. This movie genre has been around since movies could be made, with Jeanne d’Arc in 1900. Some of the most memorable films of all times are biopics, as well as the most beloved and critically recognized performances. 

This list is the answer to the question, “What are the best biographical movies of all time?” Movies like Schindler’s List, Raging Bull, and Lawrence of Arabia are often put on lists of the best movies ever made. Without even knowing about the history behind the movies, they’re as enjoyable as any made up story. Newer films like The Social Network and Lincoln swept at award shows because of their mesmerizing performances and great directing. Of course, you'll find a range of options on the list below, from inspiring athlete stories to the best African American biopics

The films on this list range from 1928 to 2012, covering subjects like great leaders of wars to amazing musicians, and even LGBTQ+ biopics. The movies that made the list are among the best of all time in any genre.

list ordered by

1
101 39
Schindler's List is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Very Best Biopics About Real People
Liam Neeson, Ralph Fiennes, Ben Kingsley Schindler's List is a 1993 American epic historical period drama, directed and co-produced by Steven Spielberg and scripted by Steven Zaillian. It is based on the novel Schindler's Ark by Thomas ...more

2
71 29
The King's Speech is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Very Best Biopics About Real People
Helena Bonham Carter, Colin Firth, Guy Pearce The King's Speech is a 2010 British historical drama film directed by Tom Hooper and written by David Seidler. Colin Firth plays King George VI who, to cope with a stammer, sees Lionel Logue, an ...more

3
97 48
Bohemian Rhapsody is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Very Best Biopics About Real People
Rami Malek, Ben Hardy, Gwilym Lee Bohemian Rhapsody is a 2018 American-British biographical drama film directed by Bryan Singer. A chronicle of the years from the formation of Queen and lead singer Freddie Mercury (Rami Malek) ...more

4
78 36
Goodfellas is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Very Best Biopics About Real People
Robert De Niro, Samuel L. Jackson, Joe Pesci Goodfellas is a 1990 American crime film directed by Martin Scorsese. It is a film adaptation of the 1986 non-fiction book Wiseguy by Nicholas Pileggi, who co-wrote the screenplay with Scorsese. ...more

5
82 39
Walk the Line is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Very Best Biopics About Real People
Reese Witherspoon, Joaquin Phoenix, Ginnifer Goodwin Walk the Line is a 2005 American biographical drama film directed by James Mangold and based on the early life and career of country music artist Johnny Cash. The film stars Joaquin Phoenix, ...more

6
43 15
On the Basis of Sex is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Very Best Biopics About Real People
Felicity Jones, Armie Hammer, Justin Theroux On the Basis of Sex is a 2018 American biographical drama film directed by Mimi Leder. Young lawyer Ruth Bader Ginsburg (Felicity Jones) teams with her husband Marty (Armie Hammer) to bring a ...more

7
61 30
Raging Bull is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Very Best Biopics About Real People
Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci, Martin Scorsese Raging Bull is a 1980 American biographical black-and-white sports drama film directed by Martin Scorsese, produced by Robert Chartoff and Irwin Winkler and adapted by Paul Schrader and Mardik ...more

8
63 32
The Wolf of Wall Street is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Very Best Biopics About Real People
gschwayze added Leonardo DiCaprio, Matthew McConaughey, Margot Robbie The Wolf of Wall Street is a 2013 American biographical black comedy film directed by Martin Scorsese. The screenplay by Terence Winter is adapted from the eponymous memoir by Jordan Belfort and ...more

9
47 21
Green Book is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Very Best Biopics About Real People
Viggo Mortensen, Mahershala Ali, Linda Cardellini Green Book is a 2018 comedy-drama film directed by Peter Farrelly. A bouncer (Viggo Mortensen) at a New York nightclub takes a job as a pianist's (Mahershala Ali) chauffeur during a tour in the ...more

10
58 30
A Beautiful Mind is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Very Best Biopics About Real People
Jennifer Connelly, Russell Crowe, Ron Howard A Beautiful Mind is a 2001 American biographical drama film based on the life of John Nash, a Nobel Laureate in Economics. The film was directed by Ron Howard, from a screenplay written by Akiva ...more

11
40 16
Catch Me If You Can is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Very Best Biopics About Real People
Leonardo DiCaprio, Amy Adams, Jennifer Garner Catch Me If You Can is a 2002 American biographical crime drama film based on the life of Frank Abagnale, who, before his 19th birthday, successfully performed cons worth millions of dollars by ...more

12
61 33
Ray is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Very Best Biopics About Real People
Kerry Washington, Jamie Foxx, Terrence Howard Ray is a biographical film focusing on 30 years in the life of rhythm and blues musician Ray Charles. The independently produced film was written, produced and directed by Taylor Hackford, and ...more

13
39 17
First Man is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Very Best Biopics About Real People
Ryan Gosling, Claire Foy, Corey Stoll First Man is a 2018 American historical biographical drama film directed by Damien Chazelle. A look at the life of the astronaut, Neil Armstrong (Ryan Gosling), and the legendary space mission ...more

14
35 14
The Favourite is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Very Best Biopics About Real People
Olivia Colman, Emma Stone, Rachel Weisz The Favourite is a 2018 biographical historical film directed by Yorgos Lanthimos. The close relationship between Queen Anne (Olivia Colman) and Sarah Churchill (Rachel Weisz) is threatened by ...more

15
49 26
Amadeus is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Very Best Biopics About Real People
Jeffrey Jones, Cynthia Nixon, Christine Ebersole Amadeus - Directors Cut is a 1984 biography drama film written by Peter Shaffer and directed by Milos Forman.

16
47 25
The Elephant Man is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Very Best Biopics About Real People
Anthony Hopkins, John Hurt, Anne Bancroft The Elephant Man is a 1980 American-British biographical film about Joseph Merrick, a severely deformed man in 19th century London. The film was directed by David Lynch and stars John Hurt, ...more

17
7 0
The Mercy is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Very Best Biopics About Real People
Colin Firth, Rachel Weisz, David Thewlis The Mercy is a 2017 British biographical drama film directed by James Marsh. Amateur sailor Donald Crowhurst (Colin Firth) attempts to circumnavigate the globe alone as his family awaits his

18
32 14
Mary Queen of Scots is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Very Best Biopics About Real People
Saoirse Ronan, Margot Robbie, David Tennant Mary Queen of Scots is a 2018 British-American historical drama film directed by Josie Rourke, based on John Guy's biography My Heart Is My Own: The Life of Mary Queen of Scots. After failing to ...more

19
51 31
The Aviator is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Very Best Biopics About Real People
Kate Beckinsale, Leonardo DiCaprio, Gwen Stefani The Aviator is a 2004 American biographical drama film directed by Martin Scorsese, written by John Logan and produced by Michael Mann, Sandy Climan, Graham King, and Charles Evans, Jr.. It ...more

20
27 11
At Eternity's Gate is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Very Best Biopics About Real People
Willem Dafoe, Rupert Friend, Oscar Isaac At Eternity's Gate is a 2018 American drama film directed by Julian Schnabel. Vincent van Gogh (Willem Dafoe) spends his final days in Arles.

21
59 39
Lincoln is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Very Best Biopics About Real People
Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Daniel Day-Lewis, Sally Field Lincoln is a 2012 American epic historical drama film directed by Steven Spielberg, starring Daniel Day-Lewis as United States President Abraham Lincoln and Sally Field as Mary Todd Lincoln. The ...more

22
57 38
Gandhi is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Very Best Biopics About Real People
Daniel Day-Lewis, Ben Kingsley, Martin Sheen Gandhi is a 1982 epic biographical film which dramatises the life of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, the leader of India's non-violent, non-cooperative independence movement against the United ...more

23
28 13
My Dinner with Hervé is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Very Best Biopics About Real People
Peter Dinklage, Jamie Dornan, Andy García My Dinner with Hervé is a 2018 American television drama film directed by Sacha Gervasi. A look at the life of French actor Hervé Villechaize (Peter Dinklage), co-star of the hit ...more

24
47 31
Malcolm X is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Very Best Biopics About Real People
Denzel Washington, Al Sharpton, Nelson Mandela Malcolm X is a 1992 American biographical drama film about the African-American activist Malcolm X. Directed and co-written by Spike Lee. The film dramatizes key events in Malcolm X's life: his ...more

25
40 26
Ali is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Very Best Biopics About Real People
Will Smith, Jamie Foxx, Jada Pinkett Smith Ali is a 2001 American biographical film directed by Michael Mann. The film tells the story of the boxer Muhammad Ali, played by Will Smith, from 1964-74 featuring his capture of the heavyweight ...more

26
31 18
12 Years a Slave is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Very Best Biopics About Real People
Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael Fassbender, Benedict Cumberbatch 12 Years a Slave is a 2013 period drama film directed by Steve McQueen, based on the 1853 memoir by Solomon Northup In the antebellum United States, Solomon Northup (Chiwetel Ejiofor), a free ...more

27
44 32
Patton is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Very Best Biopics About Real People
George C. Scott, Karl Malden, Paul Frees Patton is a 1970 American epic biographical film about U.S. General George S. Patton during WWII. It stars George C. Scott, Karl Malden, Michael Bates and Karl Michael Vogler. It was directed by ...more

28
41 30
Lawrence of Arabia is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Very Best Biopics About Real People
Omar Sharif, Peter O'Toole, Alec Guinness Lawrence of Arabia is a 1962 British epic adventure drama film based on the life of T. E. Lawrence. It was directed by David Lean and produced by Sam Spiegel. The film stars Peter O'Toole in the ...more

29
27 18
Straight Outta Compton is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Very Best Biopics About Real People
O'Shea Jackson Jr., Corey Hawkins, Jason Mitchell Straight Outta Compton is a 2015 American biographical film directed by F. Gary Gray. The group NWA emerges from the mean streets of Compton in Los Angeles, California, in the mid-1980s and ...more

30
26 20
Elizabeth is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Very Best Biopics About Real People
Cate Blanchett, Daniel Craig, Lily Allen Elizabeth is a 1998 biographical film written by Michael Hirst, directed by Shekhar Kapur, and starring Cate Blanchett in the title role of Queen Elizabeth I of England, alongside Geoffrey Rush, ...more

31
19 13
Braveheart is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Very Best Biopics About Real People
MaximilianoAmaral added Mel Gibson, Sophie Marceau, Brendan Gleeson Braveheart is a 1995 epic historical medieval war drama film directed by and starring Mel Gibson. Gibson portrays William Wallace, a 13th-century Scottish warrior who led the Scots in the First ...more

32
32 27
Capote is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Very Best Biopics About Real People
Philip Seymour Hoffman, Chris Cooper, Catherine Keener Capote is a 2005 biographical film about Truman Capote, following the events during the writing of Capote's non-fiction book In Cold Blood. Philip Seymour Hoffman won several awards, including ...more

33
28 23
The People vs. Larry Flynt is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Very Best Biopics About Real People
Courtney Love, Edward Norton, Woody Harrelson The People vs. Larry Flynt is a 1996 American biographical drama film directed by Miloš Forman and starring Woody Harrelson, Courtney Love, and Edward Norton. It chronicles the rise of magazine ...more

34
28 23
Coal Miner's Daughter is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Very Best Biopics About Real People
Tommy Lee Jones, Sissy Spacek, Beverly DAngelo Coal Miner's Daughter is a 1980 biographical film which tells the story of country music legendary singer Loretta Lynn. It stars Sissy Spacek as Loretta, a role that earned her the Academy Award ...more

35
28 23
The Last Emperor is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Very Best Biopics About Real People
Peter O'Toole, Joan Chen, Vivian Wu The Last Emperor is a 1987 biographical film about the life of Puyi, the last Emperor of China, whose autobiography was the basis for the screenplay written by Mark Peploe and Bernardo ...more

36
26 21
Ed Wood is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Very Best Biopics About Real People
Johnny Depp, Sarah Jessica Parker, Bill Murray Ed Wood is a 1994 American period comedy-drama biopic directed and produced by Tim Burton, and starring Johnny Depp as cult filmmaker Ed Wood. The film concerns the period in Wood's life when he ...more

37
26 21
JFK is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Very Best Biopics About Real People
Ferry73 added Kevin Costner, Gary Oldman, Kevin Bacon JFK is a 1991 American historical legal-conspiracy thriller film directed by Oliver Stone. It examines the events leading to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy and subsequent ...more

38
12 7
American Gangster is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Very Best Biopics About Real People
MaximilianoAmaral added Denzel Washington, Russell Crowe, Idris Elba American Gangster is a 2007 American biographical crime film directed and produced by Ridley Scott and written by Steven Zaillian. The film is based on the criminal career of Frank Lucas, a ...more

39
31 27
Into the Wild is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Very Best Biopics About Real People
sebbzor added Kristen Stewart, Vince Vaughn, Zach Galifianakis Into the Wild is a 2007 American biographical drama survival film written and directed by Sean Penn. It is an adaptation of the 1996 non-fiction book of the same name by Jon Krakauer based on ...more

40
31 27
The Doors is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Very Best Biopics About Real People
Meg Ryan, Val Kilmer, Kelly Hu The Doors is a 1991 American biopic about the 1960-70s rock band of the same name which emphasizes the life of its lead singer, Jim Morrison. It was directed by Oliver Stone.

41
27 23
The Last King of Scotland is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Very Best Biopics About Real People
Kerry Washington, Gillian Anderson, James McAvoy The Last King of Scotland is a 2006 British fiction drama film based on Giles Foden's novel of the same name, adapted by screenwriters Peter Morgan and Jeremy Brock, and directed by Kevin ...more

42
25 21
Brian's Song is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Very Best Biopics About Real People
Dick Butkus, James Caan, Billy Dee Williams Brian's Song is a 1971 ABC Movie of the Week that recounts the details of the life of Brian Piccolo, a Wake Forest University football player stricken with terminal cancer after turning pro, ...more

43
25 22
Boys Don't Cry is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Very Best Biopics About Real People
Hilary Swank, Chloë Sevigny, Natalie Zea Boys Don't Cry is a 1999 American independent romantic drama film directed by Kimberly Peirce and co-written by Andy Bienen. The film is a dramatization of the real-life story of Brandon Teena, ...more

44
20 17
The Pianist is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Very Best Biopics About Real People
Adrien Brody, Thomas Kretschmann, Emilia Fox The Pianist is a 2002 historical drama film co-produced and directed by Roman Polanski, scripted by Ronald Harwood, and starring Adrien Brody. It is based on the autobiographical book The ...more

45
12 9
Casino is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Very Best Biopics About Real People
MaximilianoAmaral added Sharon Stone, Robert De Niro, James Woods Casino is a 1995 American drama film directed by Martin Scorsese. It is based on the non-fiction book of the same name by Nicholas Pileggi, who also co-wrote the screenplay for the film with ...more

46
11 8
The Theory of Everything is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Very Best Biopics About Real People
MaximilianoAmaral added Eddie Redmayne, Felicity Jones, Harry Lloyd The Theory of Everything is a 2014 British biographical coming of age romantic drama film directed by James Marsh and adapted by Anthony McCarten from the memoir Travelling to Infinity: My Life ...more

47
31 30
Milk is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Very Best Biopics About Real People
James Franco, Sean Penn, Josh Brolin Milk is a 2008 American biographical film based on the life of gay rights activist and politician Harvey Milk, who was the first openly gay person to be elected to public office in California, ...more

48
39 39
The Social Network is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Very Best Biopics About Real People
Justin Timberlake, Rashida Jones, Rooney Mara The Social Network is a 2010 American drama film directed by David Fincher and written by Aaron Sorkin. Adapted from Ben Mezrich's 2009 book The Accidental Billionaires: The Founding of ...more

49
26 25
Man on the Moon is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Very Best Biopics About Real People
Courtney Love, Jim Carrey, Danny DeVito Man on the Moon is a 1999 American biographical comedy–drama film about the late American entertainer Andy Kaufman, starring Jim Carrey. The film was directed by Miloš Forman and also features ...more

50
12 10
Notorious is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Very Best Biopics About Real People
MaximilianoAmaral added Angela Bassett, Anthony Mackie, Derek Luke Notorious is a 2009 American biographical film about the life of Christopher Wallace, an American rapper better known by the stage name The Notorious B.I.G. The film stars Jamal Woolard as ...more