Biopics have to be one of my favourite genres of film (and I LOVE film). There’s something about (almost, sometimes vaguely) true stories being told visually and aurally that immerses you in moments of history like nothing else. This is a list of some of my favourite Biopics (I’ve used the term loosely) and why they have made an impact on me personally. At the end I have added a list of Biopics that I haven’t seen yet, but would definitely make the list if I had (and I definitely plan to watch them). The Social Network:
This is not just a film about the creation of Facebook. The film explores loneliness, jealousy, loyalty and betrayal. The film looks at Zuckerberg’s own social issues in his personal life which makes an interesting parallel to the social network giant that he created. The non-linear narrative reveals the story in an intriguing way and finishes in the most bittersweet way.
Oscar nominations: 8 Oscar wins: 3.
The Imitation Game:
This film flawed me like no film ever has. The story of Alan Turing, essentially the inventor of the computer, and his work during the second World War to break Enigma (the German coding system) and win the war. Historians estimate that Turing’s work shortened the war by 2 years, saving 14 million lives and until about 20 years ago nobody knew about any of it. After the war, Turing was found guilty of being gay and sadly took his own life. The combination of the incredible work Turing and his team did during the war, the fact that they had to keep it a secret and the way Turing was treated after the war combined to make an extremely powerful film with an extremely powerful message. If you watch nothing else from this list please watch this film.
Oscar nominations: 8 Oscar wins: 1.
The Theory of Everything:
This film is the story of one of the greatest human minds, Stephen Hawking. It is predominantly a love story between atheist Hawking and his religious wife, Joan. Stephen is diagnosed with motor neuron disease and given 2 years to live, but overcomes this challenge to write a best selling book. His marriage to Joan doesn’t last, but there are some interesting comments made in the film about faith.
Oscar nominations:5 Oscar wins: 1.
The story of William Wilberforce and the abolition of the slave trade, this film spans 15+ years, showcasing the unrelenting opposition that came against Wilberforce and his colleagues. I don’t often cry in films but I do at the end of Amazing Grace, when Wilberforce’s story comes full circle. Wilberforce was also a strong christian, with his faith being a central theme for this film.
The King’s Speech:
This film is incredibly funny, incredibly entertaining and incredibly emotional all at the same time. Following the story of ‘Bertie’ (who became King George VI) who suffered from a stammer his whole life. When his brother abdicates the throne to marry a divorcee, Bertie is suddenly King of England. With the help of Austratian Lionel Logue, Bertie overcomes his stutter to deliver one of the most important speeches of the 20th centurty. This film is full of so much heart, you really do have to see it to believe it.
Oscar nominations: 12 Oscar wins: 4.
Biopics I haven’t seen YET, but probably would have made this list:
The story set during the Holocaust is constantly called one of the best films ever made. To the point where I don’t know how I still haven’t seen it. Shot in stunning black-and-white, I can’t wait to watch a film about another incredibly important aspect of history.
Oscar nominations: 12 Oscar wins: 7.
As a musicology major, we get told all the time how terribly innacurate this film is. However, it is still on my list because of the incredible impact Mozart has had of music. (In case you didn’t know, Amadeus was Mozart’s second name and Mozart was one of the greatest composers of all time). Regardless of the liberties taken with the story, I think this will be fun to watch.
Oscar nominations: 11 Oscar wins: 8
One of the pinnacle moments of the Black Civil Rights Movement, I think this film, and this moment in history, is as important now as it ever has been.
Oscar nominations: 2 Oscar wins: 1.