Entertainment

The Very Best Biopics About Real People  

Ranker Film
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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
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
Chaplin is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Very Best Biopics About Real People
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
3
Stan & Ollie is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Very Best Biopics About Real People
Steve Coogan, John C. Reilly, Nina Arianda
Stan & Ollie is a 2018 British biographical film directed by Jon S. Baird. Stan Laurel (Steve Coogan) and Oliver Hardy (John C. Reilly), the world's most famous comedy duo, attempt to ...more
4
The Mercy is listed (or ranked) 4 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
5
Schindler's List is listed (or ranked) 5 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
6
The Imitation Game is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Very Best Biopics About Real People
maeveahouston added Keira Knightley, Benedict Cumberbatch, Mark Strong
The Imitation Game is a 2014 historical thriller film directed by Morten Tyldum, with a screenplay by Graham Moore loosely based on the biography Alan Turing: The Enigma by Andrew Hodges. It ...more
7
Goodfellas is listed (or ranked) 7 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
8
Rocketman is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Very Best Biopics About Real People
Taron Egerton, Jamie Bell, Richard Madden
Rocketman is a 2019 British-American biographical musical film directed by Dexter Fletcher. The life of Elton John (Taron Egerton) is tracked from his years as a prodigy at the Royal Academy of ...more
9
Bohemian Rhapsody is listed (or ranked) 9 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
10
The Pianist is listed (or ranked) 10 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
11
The Happy Prince is listed (or ranked) 11 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
12
Walk the Line is listed (or ranked) 12 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
13
Catch Me If You Can is listed (or ranked) 13 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
14
Molly's Game is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Very Best Biopics About Real People
Jonna Crez Stendahl added Jessica Chastain, Idris Elba, Kevin Costner
Molly's Game is a 2017 American drama film written and directed by Aaron Sorkin. Based on the memoir by Molly Bloom, the film tells the true story of an Olympic-class skier (Jessica Chastain) ...more
15
Casino is listed (or ranked) 15 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
16
Braveheart is listed (or ranked) 16 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
17
Ali is listed (or ranked) 17 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
18
12 Years a Slave is listed (or ranked) 18 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
19
American Gangster is listed (or ranked) 19 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
20
Elizabeth is listed (or ranked) 20 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
21
Ford v. Ferrari is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Very Best Biopics About Real People
Christian Bale, Matt Damon, Jon Bernthal
Ford v. Ferrari is a 2019 action biographical drama film directed by James Mangold. An eccentric, determined team of American engineers and designers, led by automotive visionary Carroll Shelby ...more
22
Honey Boy is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Very Best Biopics About Real People
Noah Jupe, Shia LaBeouf, Lucas Hedges
Honey Boy is a 2019 American drama film directed by Alma Har'el, based on Shia LaBeouf's childhood and relationship with his father.
23
A Beautiful Mind is listed (or ranked) 23 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
24
The Theory of Everything is listed (or ranked) 24 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
25
My Week with Marilyn is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Very Best Biopics About Real People
Emma Watson, Michelle Williams, Judi Dench
My Week with Marilyn is a 2011 British drama film directed by Simon Curtis and written by Adrian Hodges. It stars Michelle Williams, Kenneth Branagh, Eddie Redmayne, Dominic Cooper, Julia ...more