Top 10 unforgettable biopics
#10 – The Iron Lady: The One That’s Not Quite British
Somehow this story of Britain’s most loathed favourite person feels pretty American. Not because the Thatch herself is played by an American, but because she’s encrusted with sugar. Only Americans would think showing someone as both a lonely old, Alzheimery woman and an idealistic young girl counts as humanizing her, and despite the fact that both the writer and director are actually from Britain, that is what has happened.
#9 – Walk the Line: The One With a Happy Ending
Sometimes you see a film about a haunted singer and his troubled life, and at the end of it, your mother turns to you and says, “It had a happy ending! I didn’t see that coming!” Because obviously drug addicted musicians are supposed to end up broken and alone. Huzzah for Johnny Cash and June Carter then! ALSO NOTABLE because both Joaquin Phoenix and Reese Witherspoon forced their voices several keys lower than is natural.
#8 – Ali: The One With the Fresh Prince
Last millennium Will Smith was known for being three things: funny, rappy, and actiony. Then he suddenly realized he was a grown up, and he wanted to be an actor, as well as a film star, and campaign solidly to play legendary boxer Muhammad Ali. Which also involved punching some people, so that’s nice.
#7 – The Queen: The One that Caused a Play
Helen Mirren (babe) playing Queen Elizabeth II was so popular that she revised her role in the West End play, The Audience. Both were written by Peter Morgan, who maybe just wants her to be the actual queen. Which, to be honest, we wouldn’t say no to. Except we would. Because then she wouldn’t have enough time to drink gin with us all the live long day.
#6 – Milk: The One About the Gays
Sean Penn has become one of those actors that, whenever news of his next role is announced, causes a wave of “He’s doing what now?” and Harvey Milk in Milk was one of those roles. Quite why playing a character whose sexual orientation is different from your own should be considered “brave” has never been satisfactorily explained, but apparently Penns’s choosing to play California’s first openly gay elected official was a “big deal.”
#5 – Pocahontas: The One That’s a Cartoon
Almost nothing that happens in Disney’s Pocahontas is actually true, which is unsurprising, as they were trying to turn a true story into a fairytale. Quite why, no one knows, as there’s plenty of drama and romance in the historical version anyway. Also notable for the fact that everyone always forgets Christian Bale’s in it.
#4 – Ed Wood: The One Where Johnny Depp Wears a Lovely Cashmere Cardigan
Never one to be concerned with making films look at all realistic,, Tim Burton is the obvious choice to direct something about a director like Ed Wood, whose special effects were spectacular in all the worst ways. Probably Burton’s best film, it’s really about paying homage to a very strange man who loved horror films, and had no idea that he had no idea what he was doing. Also notable for being probably Johnny Depp’s best performance. Remember when he used to have good performances? Remember that? Good times.
#3 – Schindler’s List: The One In Black and White
Schindler’s List is probably the single most depressing film ever made, in that it’s all about how, even if you do amazing things, like saving many, many lives, you will still be consumed with guilt over the fact that you didn’t do more amazing things, like save all the lives ever. It’s also notable for making you just bawl all over your cheese when the actors are shown with their real life counterparts. As in, the people he actually SAVED.
#2 – Braveheart: The One With the Blue Paint and Buttocks
You probably watched Braveheart in history class, solely so your teacher could prove to you how much the movies lie. And you probably enjoyed it because it’s sweeping and epic and there’s fighting and boobs. DAMN YOU, THE ENGLISH. DAMN YOU.
#1 – The King’s Speech: The One That Was Pleasant Enough
If it wasn’t for Colin and Geoffrey and Helena, this could have been a pleasant Sunday evening special on BBC Four. A nice little domestic picture of the Royal family trying to hide their ordinary foibles from the nation they’re trying to lead, while be charming and owning dogs. As it is, the whole thing’s just an extended episode of three amazing actors being brilliant at each other.
Special Mention: The Help: The One That Isn’t a Biopic
There are some movies that you assumed are biopics because they’re so, a) ridiculously sentimental, and b) retelling a story we already know, thank you very much. The Help is one of these. You assume it’s a true story because why the hell else would anyone bother, but it’s not. It’s fiction. It’s dull fiction.