Entertainment The Very Best Biopics About Real People  

Ranker Film
8.1k votes 706 voters 31.8k views 122 items

List Rules Vote 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.

list ordered by
1
184 57
The King's Speech is listed (or ranked) 1 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
2
89 22
The Mercy is listed (or ranked) 2 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
3
46 18
The Happy Prince is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Very Best Biopics About Real People
Rupert Everett, Colin Firth, Colin Morgan
The Happy Prince is a 2018 British biographical drama film directed by Rupert Everett. The untold story of the last days in the tragic times of Oscar Wilde (Rupert Everett), a person who ...more
4
156 132
Schindler's List is listed (or ranked) 4 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
5
170 154
Bohemian Rhapsody is listed (or ranked) 5 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
6
125 126
Goodfellas is listed (or ranked) 6 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
7
124 131
Walk the Line is listed (or ranked) 7 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
8
84 91
Catch Me If You Can is listed (or ranked) 8 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
9
86 96
The Aviator is listed (or ranked) 9 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
10
90 103
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
65 73
Braveheart is listed (or ranked) 11 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
12
50 55
12 Years a Slave is listed (or ranked) 12 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
13
44 48
JFK is listed (or ranked) 13 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
14
98 113
Ray is listed (or ranked) 14 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
15
68 77
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
87 100
Raging Bull is listed (or ranked) 16 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
17
28 29
Casino is listed (or ranked) 17 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
18
23 23
Public Enemies is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Very Best Biopics About Real People
MaximilianoAmaral added Johnny Depp, Christian Bale, Channing Tatum
Public Enemies is a 2009 American film directed by Michael Mann and written by Mann, Ronan Bennett and Ann Biderman. It is an adaptation of Bryan Burrough's non-fiction book. Set during the ...more
19
13 11
I Can Only Imagine is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Very Best Biopics About Real People
starwarssuperfan added J. Michael Finley, Cloris Leachman, Dennis Quaid
I Can Only Imagine is a 2018 American drama film directed by Andrew and Jon Erwin, based on the story behind the Christian song by MercyMe. Bart Millard (J. Michael Finley) finds inspiration for ...more
20
85 98
Lincoln is listed (or ranked) 20 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
21
32 34
American Gangster is listed (or ranked) 21 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
22
32 34
Brian's Song is listed (or ranked) 22 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
23
94 109
The Wolf of Wall Street is listed (or ranked) 23 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
24
46 51
Coal Miner's Daughter is listed (or ranked) 24 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
25
22 22
127 Hours is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Very Best Biopics About Real People
MaximilianoAmaral added James Franco, Kate Mara, Lizzy Caplan
127 Hours is a 2010 British-American biographical survival drama film directed, co-written and produced by Danny Boyle. The film stars James Franco as real-life canyoneer Aron Ralston, who ...more