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The Very Best Biopics About Real People

Updated April 30, 2021 17.6k votes 1.4k voters 59.9k views151 items

List RulesVote up the top biographical movies & films

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.

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    The King's Speech

    Helena Bonham Carter, Colin Firth
    The King's Speech is a 2010 British historical drama film directed by Tom Hooper and written...  more

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    #1 of 14 Pretty Good Movies About Historical Royals#115 of 341 The Best Political Films Ever Made

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    Chaplin

    Robert Downey Jr., Milla Jovovich
    Chaplin is a 1992 British-American biographical comedy-drama film about the life of British...  more
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    Schindler's List

    Liam Neeson, Ralph Fiennes
    Schindler's List is a 1993 American epic historical period drama, directed and co-produced by...  more

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    #106 of 112 Movies That Need Sequels#15 of 225 The Best Black and White Movies Ever Made

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    Goodfellas

    Robert De Niro, Samuel L. Jackson
    Goodfellas is a 1990 American crime film directed by Martin Scorsese. It is a film adaptation...  more

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    15 Behind-The-Scenes Stories From The Making Of 'Goodfellas'#23 of 63 Movies Set in Brooklyn

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    Stan & Ollie

    Steve Coogan, John C. Reilly
    Stan & Ollie is a 2018 British biographical film directed by Jon S. Baird. Stan Laurel (Steve...  more
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    Walk the Line

    Reese Witherspoon, Joaquin Phoenix
    Walk the Line is a 2005 American biographical drama film directed by James Mangold and based...  more

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    #373 of 549 The Greatest Epic Movies Ever Made#2 of 291 The Greatest Soundtracks of All Time

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    Catch Me If You Can

    Tom Hanks, Leonardo DiCaprio
    Catch Me If You Can is a 2002 American biographical crime drama film based on the life of...  more

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    Ray

    Kerry Washington, Jamie Foxx
    Ray is a biographical film focusing on 30 years in the life of rhythm and blues musician Ray...  more

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    #305 of 1,195 Every Oscar Winning Film Ever#21 of 666 The Best Black Movies Ever Made, Ranked

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    Bohemian Rhapsody

    Rami Malek, Ben Hardy
    Bohemian Rhapsody is a 2018 American-British biographical drama film directed by Bryan Singer....  more

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    The Real Bohemian Rhapsody Ending: What Actually Happened To Queen After Their Live Aid Performance#4 of 195 The Best Movies About Music

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    The Imitation Game

    Keira Knightley, Benedict Cumberbatch
    The Imitation Game is a 2014 historical thriller film directed by Morten Tyldum, with a...  more

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    #195 of 557 The Greatest Film Scores of All Time#152 of 222 The Greatest World War II Movies of All Time

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    Coal Miner's Daughter

    Tommy Lee Jones, Sissy Spacek
    Coal Miner's Daughter is a 1980 biographical film which tells the story of country music...  more

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    #879 of 1,506 The Most Rewatchable Movies#183 of 512 The Greatest Movies Of The 1980s, Ranked

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    Casino

    Sharon Stone, Robert De Niro
    Casino is a 1995 American drama film directed by Martin Scorsese. It is based on the...  more

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    #114 of 376 The Best Movies Based On Books#206 of 306 The Best Ensemble Movies

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    The Pianist

    Adrien Brody, Thomas Kretschmann
    The Pianist is a 2002 historical drama film co-produced and directed by Roman Polanski,...  more

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    #108 of 376 The 50+ Best War Movies Ever Made, Ranked#5 of 173 The Most Utterly Depressing Movies Ever Made

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    A Beautiful Mind

    Jennifer Connelly, Russell Crowe
    A Beautiful Mind is a 2001 American biographical drama film based on the life of John Nash, a...  more

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    #38 of 46 Movies That Won Best Picture at the Oscars and Golden Globes#28 of 93 The Very Best Oscar-Winning Movies For Best Picture

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    Amadeus

    Jeffrey Jones, Cynthia Nixon
    Amadeus is a 1984 American period biographical drama film directed by Miloš Forman and adapted...  more

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    #36 of 54 The Best Movies Where the Bad Guy Wins#2 of 135 The Best Movies Based On Plays

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    Rocketman

    Taron Egerton, Jamie Bell
    Rocketman is a 2019 British-American biographical musical film directed by Dexter Fletcher....  more

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    All Of The Inaccuracies In 'Rocketman'#46 of 357 The Best Musical Movies Of All Time

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    Braveheart

    Mel Gibson, Sophie Marceau
    Braveheart is a 1995 epic historical medieval war drama film directed by and starring Mel...  more

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    11 Behind-The-Scenes Stories From ‘Braveheart’#9 of 440 Your Favorite Movies of the 1990s

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    12 Years a Slave

    Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael Fassbender
    12 Years a Slave is a 2013 period drama film directed by Steve McQueen, based on the 1853...  more

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    #7 of 23 23 Disturbing, Brutal Movies Based on Real-Life Atrocities#18 of 139 The Best Movies You Never Want to Watch Again

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    Gandhi

    Daniel Day-Lewis, Ben Kingsley
    Gandhi is a 1982 epic biographical film which dramatises the life of Mohandas Karamchand...  more

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    #1 of 21 21 Movies With Surprising Guinness World Records#130 of 152 Movies That Should Never Be Remade

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    Patton

    George C. Scott, Karl Malden
    Patton is a 1970 American epic biographical film about U.S. General George S. Patton during...  more

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    #121 of 306 The Greatest Movie Themes#72 of 451 The Best Movies For Guys

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    Lincoln

    Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Daniel Day-Lewis
    Lincoln is a 2012 American epic historical drama film directed by Steven Spielberg, starring...  more

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    #21 of 99 The Most Patriotic Movies of All Time#3 of 12 Movies That Would Be Perfect If They Ended Five Minutes Earlier

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    Brian's Song

    Dick Butkus, James Caan
    Brian's Song is a 1971 ABC Movie of the Week that recounts the details of the life of Brian...  more

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    #37 of 85 The Greatest African American Biopics#25 of 204 The Best Sports Movies Ever Made

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    The Wolf of Wall Street

    Leonardo DiCaprio, Matthew McConaughey
    The Wolf of Wall Street is a 2013 American biographical black comedy film directed by Martin...  more

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    #5 of 37 The Best Martin Scorsese Movies#1 of 64 The Greatest Movies About Making Money

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    Elizabeth

    Cate Blanchett, Daniel Craig
    Elizabeth is a 1998 biographical film written by Michael Hirst, directed by Shekhar Kapur, and...  more

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    #381 of 782 The Greatest Chick Flicks Ever Made#3 of 55 The Best Biopics About Women

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    A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood is a 2019 American drama film directed by Marielle Heller....  more

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    #18 of 54 The Best Movies "Loosely" Based on True Stories#3 of 50 2020 Golden Globes Nominations: The Biggest Snubs