Search This Blog

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Ten Biopic favourites

It is quite fascinating how we revel in the joys of watching the portrayal of someones life through a television screen. Who would of ever thought, without sticking to fictional guidelines, a writer or director could eventually break the boundaries and construct a movie based on someones human antics whether that theme is inspirational, or downright violent. We have witnessed some extraordinary tales based on extraordinary people, from musicians, Gangsters, serial killers, career achievements and inspiring individuals, past and present.

Below is a list of my favourite biopic movies...ten to be exact! Without choosing those with the biggest award cabinet, this list of movies are significant in terms of how I felt watching them and the enjoyment and memories from both young and old. Indeed most of my list consist of characters and stories that I always had an interest in, describing the movies that helped me widen my knowledge in particular areas and the overall characters of these movies.  

Ray (2004)
Based on the life and times of Ray Charles; a blind musician known more importantly for the gifted pianist he once was. Taking the leading role of the Georgia based icon was Jamie Foxx who was seeking to match his talent for singing with his not-so acting skills. Upon its release in 2004, Jamie turned in a magnificent performance, revealing a frightening resemblance of Ray Charles himself. I adored this movie in every sense. In what was almost a full on musical, the combined characters of Ray's life was achieving success in terms of the emotionality, revealing the highs and lows of a black solo artist in the 1960's.

Dragon; The Bruce Lee story (1993)
Based on a brief childhood, reaching the pinnacle of his career with "The Big Boss", Dragon also focuses on the harsh reality of a china man caught up in an era of racist America. Jason Scott Lee gave the performance of his career, unfortunately one that never reached full establishment, never the less, he proved his worth in representing the greatest martial artist of all time. In what has been labelled a biopic swarmed with more Hollywood fiction than actual facts, Dragon brought to life an icon filled with emotion and ambition, revealing the humble personality he was known to have. Upon its release in 1993, the fight scenes were fantastic to watch and still are, taking into account the lack of real-life sequences in many movies of that era. A favourite of mine growing up and will continue to be.

What's love got to do with it (1993)
Directed by Darren Gibson, the movies visual concept and apparent facts were summoned from Tina's book, "I". Starring Angela Bassett as Anna Mae/Tina Turner, the film takes you through the upbringing of then Anna Mae, to the iconic name she would be forever recognised. The film invites you to follow her infamous relationship with abusive husband and founder of her vocal abilities, Ike. The biopic was criticised for its one-sided biased portrayal of Ike, played by Laurence Fishburne. To me, the music and overall history between Ike and Tina makes this movie enjoyable every time. If it's just for the sing-along, What's Love Got to do with it perfectly juggles both the drama and inspiration, while reaching out to those facing the harsh reality of an abusive relationship. Tina Turner is the perfect role model for those seeking to free themselves without destroying the ambitions in life. Although Just like many Biopics, this also faced the critics, but most couldn't ignore the sensational performance from Angela Bassett.

Michael Collins (1996)
Responsible for finding the Irish free state in 1921, leading the IRA against the British rule, Michael Collins would lead the life of a warrior who was later portrayed as "The Lion of Ireland". Michael Collins involved his republican persona into something that would lead to his death through the cross-hairs of an anonymous shooter. Liam Neeson took up the role of the cork based hero resulting in one of the finest performances from Irish Soil. It does not get more in dept than the tale of the 1916 rising providing a story that would provide significant results. Definitely one of my favourite Biopics that changed the visual of movies not only independently, but globally.

Monster (2003)
Charlize Theron played the demented role of Aileen Wurnos, one of the first female serial killers to stamp American soil with her sadistic ways. Rather than the origin of Aileen, the film focuses on a nine month period which would be most significant in terms of the relationship between her and girlfriend Elby, played by Christina Ricci. A heartbreaking yet pitiful story of one struggling to survive, although her haunting childhood tends to affect her views on society, leading to numerous murders through-out the year of 1989-90. The past of Aileen would forever go on to haunt the highways of Florida where she would act as a prostitute, manipulating customers, resulting in their last image being the barrel of a revolver. A magnificent and scary performance from Charlize, the folks behind the scene accomplished a fantastic job in creating what becomes the soul of Aileen Wurnos, visually and mentally. A chilling tale that seems to grab my attention every time.

Goodfellas (1990)
Continuing with the 90's which saw the arrival of possibly one of the greatest mobster movies ever made. Based on the Book "Wiseguys" by Nicholas Pileggi, Ray Liotta plays the role of Henry Hill. The movie follows the origin of Henry and his association with the Lucchese crime family leading to an obsession he shares for hierarchy alongside the psychotic Tommy Devitto (Joe Pesci). To help keep the two on the straight and narrow is James Conway (Robert De Niro) who completes an element of a sensational cast resulting in a cult classic. Not many words can describe the feeling every time I watch this movie other than it being an epic experience in itself.

Walk the Line (2005)
Joaquin Phoenix was at the peak of his career following the success of Gladiator in 2000. Taking the characteristics of Johnny Cash, Joaquin took up a role which was in my opinion the sign off to his acting career. Reinventing the soul of Johnny cash, Joaquin delivers a fantastic performance, investing everything he had mentally and physically resulting in a tremendous biopic portrayal. The relationship between June Carter (Reese Witherspoon) is seen as a delightful blend through-out as both showed the sheer dedication which was witnessed by the audience gazing into the musical sequences that would quickly lead to emotional drama. The story of Johnny Cash is both heartbreaking and excitingly tearful as the film resurrects a concept that explains the obsessiveness of what the fans had originally seen in the musical and personal history of the Arkansas based icon.

Chopper (2002)
While serving jail time for probably one of numerous convictions, Mark "Chopper" Read wrote his autobiography which led an audience into witnessing the portrayal of Chopper Reid through (Eric Bana) who is also born on Australian soil. Without having much knowledge on Bana's career prior to "Chopper", he was convincing as the unconvicted murderer slash Australian Icon to be. The overall movie is extremely disturbing with a collection of tense scenes that try selling you the life that Mark Reid once ruled. Pushing fear on the pedestrians of Australia, Chopper, who confesses to so much, strangely found a knack for playing with both the law and his apparent victims hoping to be acknowledged as some-what a legend of his homeland. Eric Bana offers a fantastic performance as the movie gradually carries you to the point where Eric has not only inherited the look of Chopper, but the frightening dish he serves the audience using the mental persona of the man himself. Definitely one of my favourites.

Ah yes, the birth of the social network apparently began through the brains of Harvard computer genius Mark Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg). I say apparently because that is the keyword to the plot that follows as the result of a revolution in communication leads to a concurrent court battle between a set of twin brothers who had claimed that Mark stole their idea. What starts as a film of ambition and friendship, the invention and global success of Facebook disturbs the personality of both Mark and the people around him as he tries to juggle his sense of greed while trying to deceive the Co Founder and friend Eduardo (Andrew Garfield) out of the business.

The General (1998)
Hailed as a folk hero carrying the reputation of a criminal mastermind, Martin "The General" Cahill (Brendan Gleeson) gained the name through-out the success of two armed robberies. The name Martin Cahill also coincided with a mythical gangster reputation that only the underworld could speak on, with stories including severe torture of enemy run-ins. The film captures more of Cahill the family man, painting a comedic character that knew all to well on how to play both the law and the media. While Martin is facing the possibility of the cops identifying his antics, it becomes all too much as he fights off the intrusion of both the IRA and members of his own team. Gleeson blew the gate wide open for independent actors as he later admitted to arriving into the industry quite late, although his performance proved that thankfully, it was better late than never. The General is always fun on a comedic and knowledgeable sense, digging into the past of one of Dublin's original criminals.

Have you any favourites that you feel should have been included? I too can be curious, so comment below. :)


  1. Great topic, good read, woulda had Goodfellas at 1 myself!

    Other great biopics to check out if you haven't already: 'Larry Flynt Vs The People', and 'I'm Not There'.

    Keep posting!

  2. Cheers for the read bro. I seen Larry Flynt and to be honest I didnt know that was a true story. I'm not there? as in the many actors that play Bob Dylan? I must see that one.