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The Very Best Biopics About Real People

Updated August 28, 2020 18.5k votes 1.4k voters 59.1k views150 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 Speech1
    362
    127

    The King's Speech

    Helena Bonham Carter, Colin Firth

    Released2010

    Directed byTom Hooper

    The King's Speech is a 2010 British historical drama film directed by Tom Hooper and written...  more
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  • Chaplin2
    245
    97

    Chaplin

    Robert Downey Jr., Milla Jovovich

    Released1992

    Directed byRichard Attenborough

    Chaplin is a 1992 British-American biographical comedy-drama film about the life of British...  more
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  • Stan & Ollie3
    172
    72

    Stan & Ollie

    Steve Coogan, John C. Reilly

    Released2018

    Directed byJon S. Baird

    Stan & Ollie is a 2018 British biographical film directed by Jon S. Baird. Stan Laurel (Steve...  more
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  • Schindler's List4
    360
    207

    Schindler's List

    Liam Neeson, Ralph Fiennes

    Released1993

    Directed bySteven Spielberg

    Schindler's List is a 1993 American epic historical period drama, directed and co-produced by...  more
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  • Goodfellas5
    331
    196

    Goodfellas

    Robert De Niro, Samuel L. Jackson

    Released1990

    Directed byMartin Scorsese

    Goodfellas is a 1990 American crime film directed by Martin Scorsese. It is a film adaptation...  more
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  • Walk the Line6
    310
    195

    Walk the Line

    Reese Witherspoon, Joaquin Phoenix

    Released2005

    Directed byJames Mangold

    Walk the Line is a 2005 American biographical drama film directed by James Mangold and based...  more
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  • Bohemian Rhapsody7
    404
    305

    Bohemian Rhapsody

    Rami Malek, Ben Hardy

    Released2018

    Directed byBryan Singer

    Bohemian Rhapsody is a 2018 American-British biographical drama film directed by Bryan Singer....  more
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  • Ray8
    244
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    Ray

    Kerry Washington, Jamie Foxx

    Released2004

    Directed byTaylor Hackford

    Ray is a biographical film focusing on 30 years in the life of rhythm and blues musician Ray...  more
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  • The Imitation Game9
    81
    33

    The Imitation Game

    Keira Knightley, Benedict Cumberbatch

    Released2014

    Directed byMorten Tyldum

    The Imitation Game is a 2014 historical thriller film directed by Morten Tyldum, with a...  more
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  • Catch Me If You Can10
    239
    172

    Catch Me If You Can

    Tom Hanks, Leonardo DiCaprio

    Released2002

    Directed bySteven Spielberg

    Catch Me If You Can is a 2002 American biographical crime drama film based on the life of...  more
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  • Rocketman11
    118
    70

    Rocketman

    Taron Egerton, Jamie Bell

    Released2019

    Directed byDexter Fletcher

    Rocketman is a 2019 British-American biographical musical film directed by Dexter Fletcher....  more
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  • Coal Miner's Daughter12
    134
    85

    Coal Miner's Daughter

    Tommy Lee Jones, Sissy Spacek

    Released1980

    Directed byMichael Apted

    Coal Miner's Daughter is a 1980 biographical film which tells the story of country music...  more
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    #182 of 522 The Greatest Movies Of The 1980s, Ranked#232 of 372 'Old' Movies Every Young Person Needs To Watch In Their Lifetime

  • The Pianist13
    128
    81

    The Pianist

    Adrien Brody, Thomas Kretschmann

    Released2002

    Directed byRoman Polanski

    The Pianist is a 2002 historical drama film co-produced and directed by Roman Polanski,...  more
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    #108 of 374 The 50+ Best War Movies Ever Made, Ranked#69 of 221 The Greatest World War II Movies of All Time

  • Casino14
    115
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    Casino

    Sharon Stone, Robert De Niro

    Released1995

    Directed byMartin Scorsese

    Casino is a 1995 American drama film directed by Martin Scorsese. It is based on the...  more
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  • Amadeus15
    172
    127

    Amadeus

    Jeffrey Jones, Cynthia Nixon

    Released1984

    Directed byMiloš Forman

    Amadeus is a 1984 American period biographical drama film directed by Miloš Forman and adapted...  more
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  • A Beautiful Mind16
    204
    156

    A Beautiful Mind

    Jennifer Connelly, Russell Crowe

    Released2001

    Directed byRon Howard

    A Beautiful Mind is a 2001 American biographical drama film based on the life of John Nash, a...  more
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  • The Mercy17
    141
    100

    The Mercy

    Colin Firth, Rachel Weisz

    Released2018

    Directed byJames Marsh

    The Mercy is a 2017 British biographical drama film directed by James Marsh. Amateur sailor...  more
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  • Braveheart18
    202
    158

    Braveheart

    Mel Gibson, Sophie Marceau

    Released1995

    Directed byMel Gibson

    Braveheart is a 1995 epic historical medieval war drama film directed by and starring Mel...  more
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  • 12 Years a Slave19
    145
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    12 Years a Slave

    Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael Fassbender

    Released2013

    Directed bySteve McQueen

    12 Years a Slave is a 2013 period drama film directed by Steve McQueen, based on the 1853...  more
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  • Gandhi20
    168
    132

    Gandhi

    Daniel Day-Lewis, Ben Kingsley

    Released1982

    Directed byRichard Attenborough

    Gandhi is a 1982 epic biographical film which dramatises the life of Mohandas Karamchand...  more
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  • A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood21
    45
    14

    Released2019

    Directed byMarielle Heller

    A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood is a 2019 American drama film directed by Marielle Heller....  more
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  • Patton22
    138
    105

    Patton

    George C. Scott, Karl Malden

    Released1970

    Directed byFranklin J. Schaffner

    Patton is a 1970 American epic biographical film about U.S. General George S. Patton during...  more
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  • Elizabeth23
    129
    96

    Elizabeth

    Cate Blanchett, Daniel Craig

    Released1998

    Directed byShekhar Kapur

    Elizabeth is a 1998 biographical film written by Michael Hirst, directed by Shekhar Kapur, and...  more
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    #481 of 781 The Greatest Chick Flicks Ever Made#2 of 55 The Best Biopics About Women

  • Brian's Song24
    90
    58

    Brian's Song

    Dick Butkus, James Caan

    Released1971

    Directed byBuzz Kulik

    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#21 of 204 The Best Sports Movies Ever Made

  • Lincoln25
    177
    147

    Lincoln

    Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Daniel Day-Lewis

    Released2012

    Directed bySteven Spielberg

    Lincoln is a 2012 American epic historical drama film directed by Steven Spielberg, starring...  more
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