Unspeakable Crimes The Best Criminal Biopics  

Ranker Film
2.3k votes 424 voters 31.5k views 31 items

List Rules Vote up the best biographical movies about any type of criminal, white collar to violent.

Plenty of big names appear on this list of the best criminal biopics. We have famous actors playing famous criminals, and famous directors lurking behind the scenes, bringing the gritty lives of these crime legends to the silver screen.

Any discussion of criminal biopics has to start with Martin Scorsese and Goodfellas. The story of real-life mobster Henry Hill, played by Ray Liotta, tells the story of an epic heist for which one of the participants was just put on trial in 2015.


Leonardo Dicaprio appears on this list as real-life con man Frank Abagnale in the film
Catch Me If You Can. The film was a hit with fans and critics, and not least, with Frank Abagnale himself. Other notable actor-criminal pairings on this list of the top criminal biopics include Johnny Depp as John Dillinger in Public Enemies, Denzel Washington as Frank Lucas in American Gangster, and Johnny Depp as Whitey Bulger in Black Mass. Vote up the best criminal biopics below, and be sure to let us know what you think in the comment section. 

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Goodfellas is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Criminal Biopics
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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Public Enemies is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Criminal Biopics
Johnny Depp, Christian Bale, Channing Tatum Public Enemies is a 2009 American film directed by Michael Mann and written by Mann, Ronan Bennett and Ann Biderman. It is an adaptation of Bryan Burrough's non-fiction book. Set during the ...more

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Blow is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Criminal Biopics
Johnny Depp, Penélope Cruz, Emma Roberts Blow is a 2001 American biopic about the American smuggler George Jung, directed by Ted Demme. David McKenna and Nick Cassavetes adapted Bruce Porter's 1993 book for the screenplay. It is based ...more

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Monster is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Criminal Biopics
Charlize Theron, Christina Ricci, Rose Byrne Watch for Free with Amazon Prime Free Trial Monster is a 2003 drama film about Aileen Wuornos, who was executed in Florida in 2002 for taking six men's lives in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Wuornos was played by Charlize Theron, and ...more

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The Wolf of Wall Street is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Criminal Biopics
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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Catch Me If You Can is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Criminal Biopics
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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American Gangster is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Criminal Biopics
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

8
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Bonnie and Clyde is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Criminal Biopics
Gene Hackman, Faye Dunaway, Gene Wilder Bonnie and Clyde is a 1967 American biographical film directed by Arthur Penn and starring Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway as the title characters Clyde Barrow and Bonnie Parker. The film ...more

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Black Mass is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Criminal Biopics
Kevin Bacon, Joel Edgerton, Jesse Plemons

10
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Zodiac is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Criminal Biopics
Robert Downey Jr., Jake Gyllenhaal, Mark Ruffalo Zodiac is a 2007 American mystery-thriller film directed by David Fincher and based on Robert Graysmith's non-fiction book of the same name. Zodiac tells the story of the manhunt for a person ...more

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Butch Cassidy and the Sundance... is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Criminal Biopics
Paul Newman, Robert Redford, Cloris Leachman Watch for Free with Amazon Prime Free Trial Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid is a 1969 American Western film directed by George Roy Hill and written by William Goldman. Based loosely on fact, the film tells the story of Wild West ...more

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Serpico is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Criminal Biopics
-6 added Al Pacino, Judd Hirsch, Abraham Murphy Serpico is a 1973 American crime drama film directed by Sidney Lumet and starring Al Pacino. Waldo Salt and Norman Wexler wrote the screenplay, adapting Peter Maas's biography of NYPD officer ...more

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Alpha Dog is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Criminal Biopics
Olivia Wilde, Amanda Seyfried, Amber Heard Alpha Dog is a 2006 American crime drama film written and directed by Nick Cassavetes, first screened at the Sundance Film Festival on January 27, 2006, with a wide release the following year on ...more

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The Iceman is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Criminal Biopics
James Franco, Winona Ryder, Chris Evans The Iceman is an American crime thriller film based on the true story of longtime notorious hitman Richard Kuklinski. Released in 2013 at the Venice Film Festival, the film was directed by Ariel ...more

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In Cold Blood is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Criminal Biopics
Robert Blake, John Forsythe, Will Geer In Cold Blood is a 1967 film based on Truman Capote's book of the same name. Richard Brooks prepared the adaptation and directed the film. It stars Robert Blake as Perry Smith, Scott Wilson as ...more

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The Assassination of Jesse Jam... is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Criminal Biopics
Brad Pitt, Zooey Deschanel, Jeremy Renner This film is a 2007 American western drama film written and directed by Andrew Dominik. Adaptated from Ron Hansen's 1983 novel of the same name, the film dramatizes the relationship between ...more

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Summer of Sam is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Criminal Biopics
Mira Sorvino, Jennifer Esposito, Adrien Brody Summer of Sam is a 1999 American thriller film that recounts the Son of Sam. It was directed and produced by Spike Lee and stars John Leguizamo, Adrien Brody, Mira Sorvino, and Jennifer

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Bronson is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Criminal Biopics
Tom Hardy, Amanda Burton, James Lance Bronson is a 2008 British fictionalised biographical psychological drama film co-written and directed by Nicolas Winding Refn and starring Tom Hardy. The film follows the life of notorious ...more

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The Boston Strangler is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Criminal Biopics
Henry Fonda, Tony Curtis, George Kennedy Watch for Free with Amazon Prime Free Trial The Boston Strangler is a 1968 American film based on the true story of the Boston Strangler and the book by Gerold Frank. It was directed by Richard Fleischer, and stars Tony Curtis as Albert ...more

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Kill the Irishman is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Criminal Biopics
Val Kilmer, Christopher Walken, Linda Cardellini Kill the Irishman is a 2011 biographical crime thriller film directed by Jonathan Hensleigh and starring Ray Stevenson, Vincent D'Onofrio, Christopher Walken and Val Kilmer. The film is based on ...more

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The Old Man and the Gun is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Criminal Biopics
Robert Redford, Casey Affleck, Sissy Spacek The Old Man and the Gun is a 2018 American crime film directed by David Lowery, based on the 2003 New Yorker article by David Grann. The true story of Forrest Tucker (Robert Redford), from his ...more

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White Boy Rick is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Criminal Biopics
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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Ranker Video
bigcraig added Tom Hardy

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Gotti is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Criminal Biopics
Gotti John Travolta, Kelly Preston, Stacy Keach Gotti is a 2018 American biographical crime drama film directed by Kevin Connolly. The story of crime boss John Gotti (John Travolta) and his son (Spencer Lofranco).

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Chopper is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Criminal Biopics
Eric Bana, Daniel Wyllie, Vince Colosimo Chopper is a 2000 Australian crime film written and directed by Andrew Dominik and based on the autobiographical books by Mark "Chopper" Read. The film stars Eric Bana as the title ...more

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Bugsy is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Best Criminal Biopics
Annette Bening, Ben Kingsley, Warren Beatty Bugsy is a 1991 American drama film directed by Barry Levinson which tells the story of mobster Bugsy Siegel. It stars Warren Beatty, Annette Bening, Harvey Keitel, Ben Kingsley, Elliott Gould, ...more

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Ned Kelly is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Best Criminal Biopics
Naomi Watts, Orlando Bloom, Heath Ledger Ned Kelly is a 2003 Australian historical drama film directed by Gregor Jordan from a screenplay by John Michael McDonagh. The film portrays the life of Ned Kelly — a legendary bushranger in ...more

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The Assassination of Richard N... is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Best Criminal Biopics
Naomi Watts, Sean Penn, Don Cheadle The Assassination of Richard Nixon is a 2004 American film, directed by Niels Mueller. It stars Sean Penn, Don Cheadle and Naomi Watts, and is based on the story of would-be assassin Samuel ...more

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Mr. Nice is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Best Criminal Biopics
bigcraig added Chloë Sevigny, Crispin Glover, Elsa Pataky Mr. Nice is a 2010 film directed by Bernard Rose. "The true story of Howard Marks. He was Britain's most wanted man. He spent seven years in America's toughest penitentiary. You'll like ...more

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Buster is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Best Criminal Biopics
bigcraig added Phil Collins, Julie Walters, Anthony Quayle Buster is a 1988 British romantic comedy-drama crime film based on characters and events from the Great Train Robbery. It stars musician Phil Collins, Julie Walters, Larry Lamb and Sheila ...more

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The Wee Man is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Best Criminal Biopics
bigcraig added John Hannah, Patrick Bergin, Martin Compston The Wee Man is a 2013 Scottish gangster film directed by Ray Burdis which depicts the true life story of Scottish criminal Paul Ferris. It stars Martin Compston and John Hannah. The film was ...more