Entertainment The Very Best Biopics About Real People  

Ranker Film
8.2k votes 714 voters 32.4k 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
188 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
92 23
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 19
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
158 135
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
173 158
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
126 129
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
124 135
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
85 95
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
56 63
The Social Network is listed (or ranked) 9 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
10
42 46
Into the Wild is listed (or ranked) 10 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
11
51 57
Ali is listed (or ranked) 11 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
12
69 79
Amadeus is listed (or ranked) 12 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.
13
77 89
Gandhi is listed (or ranked) 13 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
14
45 50
JFK is listed (or ranked) 14 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
15
45 50
Straight Outta Compton is listed (or ranked) 15 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
16
86 100
The Aviator is listed (or ranked) 16 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
17
42 47
The Last King of Scotland is listed (or ranked) 17 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
18
64 74
Malcolm X is listed (or ranked) 18 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
19
90 106
A Beautiful Mind is listed (or ranked) 19 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
20
46 52
Coal Miner's Daughter is listed (or ranked) 20 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
21
94 111
The Wolf of Wall Street is listed (or ranked) 21 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
22
85 100
Lincoln is listed (or ranked) 22 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
23
50 57
Lawrence of Arabia is listed (or ranked) 23 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
24
50 57
12 Years a Slave is listed (or ranked) 24 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
25
98 116
Ray is listed (or ranked) 25 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