Films 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.

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

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Schindler's List is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Very Best Biopics About Real People
Schindler's List 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

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Goodfellas is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Very Best Biopics About Real People
Goodfellas 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

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Walk the Line is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Very Best Biopics About Real People
Walk the Line 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

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A Beautiful Mind is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Very Best Biopics About Real People
A Beautiful Mind 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

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Raging Bull is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Very Best Biopics About Real People
Raging Bull 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

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Ray is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Very Best Biopics About Real People
Ray 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

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The King's Speech is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Very Best Biopics About Real People
The King's Speech 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

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The Aviator is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Very Best Biopics About Real People
The Aviator 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

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The Wolf of Wall Street is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Very Best Biopics About Real People
gschwayze added The Wolf of Wall Street 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

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The Elephant Man is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Very Best Biopics About Real People
The Elephant Man 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

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Amadeus is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Very Best Biopics About Real People
Amadeus Jeffrey Jones, Cynthia Nixon, Christine Ebersole Amadeus - Directors Cut is a 1984 biography drama film written by Peter Shaffer and directed by Milos Forman.

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12 Years a Slave is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Very Best Biopics About Real People
12 Years a Slave 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

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Straight Outta Compton is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Very Best Biopics About Real People
Straight Outta Compton 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

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Lincoln is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Very Best Biopics About Real People
Lincoln 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

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Gandhi is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Very Best Biopics About Real People
Gandhi 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

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JFK is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Very Best Biopics About Real People
Ferry73 added JFK 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

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Catch Me If You Can is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Very Best Biopics About Real People
Catch Me If You Can 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

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Malcolm X is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Very Best Biopics About Real People
Malcolm X 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 stars Denzel Washington in the title role, as ...more

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Lawrence of Arabia is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Very Best Biopics About Real People
Lawrence of Arabia 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 through his British company, Horizon ...more

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White Boy Rick is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Very Best Biopics About Real People
White Boy Rick Richie Merritt, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Bruce Dern White Boy Rick is a 2018 American crime drama film directed by Yann Demange. The story of teenager Richard Wershe Jr. (Richie Merritt), who became an undercover informant for the FBI during the ...more

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Elizabeth is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Very Best Biopics About Real People
Elizabeth 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

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Patton is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Very Best Biopics About Real People
Patton George C. Scott, Karl Malden, Paul Frees Patton is a 1970 American epic biographical war film about U.S. General George S. Patton during World War II. It stars George C. Scott, Karl Malden, Michael Bates and Karl Michael Vogler. It was ...more

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Ali is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Very Best Biopics About Real People
Ali 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

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Ed Wood is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Very Best Biopics About Real People
Ed Wood 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

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The People vs. Larry Flynt is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Very Best Biopics About Real People
The People vs. Larry Flynt 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 ...more

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Brian's Song is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Very Best Biopics About Real People
Brian's Song 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

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Capote is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Very Best Biopics About Real People
Capote 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

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Man on the Moon is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Very Best Biopics About Real People
Man on the Moon 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

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The Last King of Scotland is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Very Best Biopics About Real People
The Last King of Scotland 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

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Milk is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Very Best Biopics About Real People
Milk 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

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Into the Wild is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Very Best Biopics About Real People
sebbzor added Into the Wild 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

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The Pianist is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Very Best Biopics About Real People
The Pianist 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

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A Prayer Before Dawn is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Very Best Biopics About Real People
A Prayer Before Dawn Joe Cole, Vithaya Pansringarm, Panya Yimmumphai A Prayer Before Dawn is a 2017 British-French drama film directed by Jean-Stéphane Sauvaire. The true story of an English boxer (Joe Cole) incarcerated in one of Thailand's most notorious ...more

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The Doors is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Very Best Biopics About Real People
The Doors 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, and stars Val ...more

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The Last Emperor is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Very Best Biopics About Real People
The Last Emperor 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

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Coal Miner's Daughter is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Very Best Biopics About Real People
Coal Miner's Daughter 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

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Chaplin is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Very Best Biopics About Real People
Chaplin Robert Downey Jr., Milla Jovovich, Diane Lane Chaplin is a 1992 British-American biographical comedy-drama film about the life of British comedian Charlie Chaplin. It was produced and directed by Richard Attenborough and stars Robert ...more

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Boys Don't Cry is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Very Best Biopics About Real People
Boys Don't Cry 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

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The Passion of Joan of Arc is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Very Best Biopics About Real People
The Passion of Joan of Arc Antonin Artaud, Michel Simon, Renée Jeanne Falconetti The Passion of Joan of Arc is a 1928 silent French film based on the actual record of the trial of Joan of Arc. The film was directed by Carl Theodor Dreyer and stars Renée Jeanne ...more

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Notorious is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Very Best Biopics About Real People
MaximilianoAmaral added Notorious Angela Bassett, Anthony Mackie, Derek Luke Notorious is a 2009 American biographical film about the life and murder of Christopher Wallace, an American rapper better known by the stage name The Notorious B.I.G. The film stars Jamal ...more

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American Gangster is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Very Best Biopics About Real People
MaximilianoAmaral added American Gangster 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

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Finding Neverland is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Very Best Biopics About Real People
Finding Neverland Johnny Depp, Kate Winslet, Dustin Hoffman Finding Neverland is a 2004 American semi-biographical film about playwright J. M. Barrie and his relationship with a family who inspired him to create Peter Pan, directed by Marc Forster. The ...more

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Cinderella Man is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Very Best Biopics About Real People
Sam Goldberger added Cinderella Man Russell Crowe, Renée Zellweger, Paul Giamatti Cinderella Man is a 2005 American drama film by Ron Howard, titled after the nickname of heavyweight boxing champion James J. Braddock and inspired by his life story. The film was produced by ...more

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Braveheart is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Very Best Biopics About Real People
MaximilianoAmaral added Braveheart 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

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Public Enemies is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Very Best Biopics About Real People
MaximilianoAmaral added Public Enemies Johnny Depp, Christian Bale, Channing Tatum Public Enemies is a 2009 American biographical crime drama film directed by Michael Mann and written by Mann, Ronan Bennett and Ann Biderman. It is an adaptation of Bryan Burrough's non-fiction ...more

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Sid and Nancy is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Very Best Biopics About Real People
Sid and Nancy Courtney Love, Gary Oldman, Kathy Burke Sid and Nancy is a 1986 British biopic directed by Alex Cox. The film portrays the life of Sid Vicious, bassist of the seminal punk rock band the Sex Pistols, and his relationship with ...more

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The Theory of Everything is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Very Best Biopics About Real People
MaximilianoAmaral added The Theory of Everything 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

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Blaze is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Very Best Biopics About Real People
Blaze Ben Dickey, Alia Shawkat, Sam Rockwell Blaze is a 2018 American biographical drama film directed by Ethan Hawke, based on the novel Living in the Woods in a Tree: Remembering Blaze by Sybil Rosen. The life and death of Blaze Foley ...more

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The Angel is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Very Best Biopics About Real People
The Angel Marwan Kenzari, Toby Kebbell, Sasson Gabai The Angel is a 2018 American spy thriller film directed by Ariel Vromen, based on the nonfiction book by Uri Bar-Joseph. The true story of Ashraf Marwan (Marwan Kenzari), who was President ...more

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Operation Finale is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Very Best Biopics About Real People
Operation Finale Oscar Isaac, Ben Kingsley, Lior Raz Operation Finale is a 2018 historical thriller film directed by Chris Weitz. 15 years after World War II, a team of secret agents are brought together to track down Adolf Eichmann, the infamous ...more