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The Very Best Biopics About Real People

Updated August 28, 2020 17.7k votes 1.3k voters 57.5k 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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  • 1
    The King's Speech is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Very Best Biopics About Real People
    357
    121

    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 on Wikipediaamazon buy button
  • 2
    Chaplin is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Very Best Biopics About Real People
    246
    91

    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 on Wikipediaamazon buy button

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  • 3
    Stan & Ollie is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Very Best Biopics About Real People
    167
    63

    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 on Wikipediaamazon buy button
  • 4
    Schindler's List is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Very Best Biopics About Real People
    349
    209

    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 on Wikipediaamazon buy button
  • 5
    Goodfellas is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Very Best Biopics About Real People
    310
    202

    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 on Wikipediaamazon buy button

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  • 6
    Walk the Line is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Very Best Biopics About Real People
    288
    199

    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 on Wikipediaamazon buy button
  • 7
    Bohemian Rhapsody is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Very Best Biopics About Real People
    409
    309

    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 on Wikipediaamazon buy button

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  • 8
    The Pianist is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Very Best Biopics About Real People
    131
    77

    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 on Wikipediaamazon buy button

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  • 9
    The Mercy is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Very Best Biopics About Real People
    146
    93

    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 on Wikipediaamazon buy button
  • 10
    The Imitation Game is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Very Best Biopics About Real People
    73
    32

    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 on Wikipediaamazon buy button

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  • 11
    Catch Me If You Can is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Very Best Biopics About Real People
    226
    172

    Catch Me If You Can

    Leonardo DiCaprio, Amy Adams

    Released2002

    Directed bySteven Spielberg

    Catch Me If You Can is a 2002 American biographical crime drama film based on the life of... more on Wikipediaamazon buy button

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  • 12
    Ray is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Very Best Biopics About Real People
    231
    178

    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 on Wikipediaamazon buy button

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  • 13
    Coal Miner's Daughter is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Very Best Biopics About Real People
    125
    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 on Wikipediaamazon buy button

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  • 14
    Rocketman is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Very Best Biopics About Real People
    100
    61

    Rocketman

    Taron Egerton, Jamie Bell

    Released2019

    Directed byDexter Fletcher

    Rocketman is a 2019 British-American biographical musical film directed by Dexter Fletcher.... more on Wikipediaamazon buy button
  • 15
    Braveheart is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Very Best Biopics About Real People
    193
    154

    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 on Wikipediaamazon buy button
  • 16
    Gandhi is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Very Best Biopics About Real People
    172
    135

    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 on Wikipediaamazon buy button

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  • 17
    A Beautiful Mind is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Very Best Biopics About Real People
    198
    162

    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 on Wikipediaamazon buy button

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  • 18
    12 Years a Slave is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Very Best Biopics About Real People
    137
    104

    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 on Wikipediaamazon buy button
  • 19
    Amadeus is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Very Best Biopics About Real People
    158
    127

    Amadeus

    Jeffrey Jones, Cynthia Nixon

    Released1984

    Directed byMiloš Forman

    Amadeus - Directors Cut is a 1984 biography drama film written by Peter Shaffer and directed... more on Wikipediaamazon buy button
  • 20
    Lincoln is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Very Best Biopics About Real People
    178
    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 on Wikipediaamazon buy button

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  • 21
    Casino is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Very Best Biopics About Real People
    105
    76

    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 on Wikipediaamazon buy button
  • 22
    Elizabeth is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Very Best Biopics About Real People
    125
    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 on Wikipediaamazon buy button
  • 23
    A Beautiful Day in the Neighbo is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Very Best Biopics About Real People
    35
    8

    Released2019

    Directed byMarielle Heller

    A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood is a 2019 American drama film directed by Marielle Heller.... more on Wikipediaamazon buy button
  • 24
    Patton is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Very Best Biopics About Real People
    132
    107

    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 on Wikipediaamazon buy button
  • 25
    Brian's Song is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Very Best Biopics About Real People
    84
    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 on Wikipediaamazon buy button

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