Top 5 Biographical Films

Simply put, I am a fan of a well-made biographical film. It seems that they provide a sort of entertainment that isn’t necessarily available in a fictional film. I really can’t explain why this is, and it isn’t always necessarily the case – which is why I’ve decided to come up with a list of my top 5 biographical films.


5. Catch Me If You Can

Steven Spielberg, Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hanks – what a captivating combination, and I believe they lived up to expectations with their film based on the life of Frank Abignale Jr, an incredibly successful (until the latter part of his “career”) conman. DiCaprio delivers a stellar performance as the swindler who undertakes several identities to obtain huge sums of money – and his performance is one that I believe allowed him to completely shed his “pretty-boy” stereotype once and for all.


4. Cinderella Man

Cinderella Man is a great film inspired by the life of heavyweight boxing champion, James J. Braddock. Ron Howard of such masterpieces as Apollo 13, A Beautiful Mind and Frost vs. Nixon, directed this excellent film, and Russell Crowe continuing his run of successful films (The Insider, Gladiator, A Beautiful Mind and Master and Commander), gives a very moving performance as Braddock. Cinderella Man is a great film.


3. The Pianist

Roman Polanski created a heart wrenching, depressing film when he made The Pianist – yet he did it with what appeared to be such conviction that it can only be praised as an exceptional piece of work. It is an adaptation of an autobiography by the Polish musician, Władysław Szpilman. Adrien Brody gives a very moving performance as the lead role, and is the only actor in this list who won an Oscar for his respective film. This is a great piece of cinema.


2. The Aviator

When looking at his career, it appears Leonardo DiCaprio is as big of a fan of biographical films as myself (he also has another in production based on the life of J. Edgar Hoover coming out soon). This Martin Scorsese film is fascinating, in that it doesn’t necessarily have a flowing story line, but really only portrays significant events of Howard Hughes’ life – and the fact that Scorsese makes this film amazing speaks levels of genius to me. When thinking about this film, it’s crazy to think how many huge performers are in it, whether for a single scene, or all throughout. This film to me is a masterpiece.


1. Diving Bell and the Butterfly

There have been a few debates of the accuracy of this film, some stating it is 100% correct, and other’s stating it alters a few characters and events dramatically. Either way, it is a brilliant film. It follows the life of Jean-Dominique Bauby after he was left with “locked-in syndrome,” whereby he is paralysed from the neck down, with only the ability to blink his eyes. The way the director, Julian Schnabel handles the script and conveys what it could be like to be someone with this condition is remarkable, and for that reason alone, it could take the number one spot. But the film goes above and beyond with captivating performances, brilliant cinematography and a wonderfully written script. If you haven’t seen this film, I highly recommend it.


There is no shortage of biographical films, so I’m sure that many of you would have other films you’d include on this list. If so, let me know what you’d put in instead in the comment section below.

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One Comment on “Top 5 Biographical Films”

  1. Karen Says:

    A biographical film I enjoyed very much was La Vie en Rose, about the french singer Edith Piaf. Marillon Cotillard played Piaf and was amazing – such a haunted person with incredible talent – she pulled it off so well.
    Another I liked was Walk the Line, the life story of Johnny Cash – Joaquin Phoenix as Johnny was sensational and very believable from what I knew of Cash.
    An older, and possibly slightly more creepy was The Deliberate Stranger, about American serial killer Ted Bundy. Mark Harmon played Bundy in a very low-key and convincing performance. He looked startlingly like Bundy too


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