Tossin’ It Out There: What’s YOUR Favorite Biopic?

42With “42″ upcoming this weekend, I thought that it might be a good time to ask about biopics. Biographical movies… those films that tell the story of historical figures and actual people.

Whether they’re biographies of political figures, such as “The Iron Lady”, “J. Edgar”, or “Nixon”, sports figures, such as “Cobb”, “The Babe” or “Ali”, or musicians, such as “Ray” or “The Doors”, Hollywood has mined the lives of the famous and the historically important for stories ever since they began making movies.

It doesn’t have to be limited to a birth to death straight up biography, either. Recent films such as “Hitchcock”, “Lincoln” and “Moneyball” which tell the true story of a brief period in someone’s life are fine as well. (although I reserve the right to use “What’s YOUR Favorite Movie Based on a True Story?” in the future ;) )

So what’s YOUR favorite? Is it Kingsley’s “Gandhi”? Or Denzel Washington’s “Malcolm X”? There are movies you wouldn’t think of right away that should be considered… “Goodfellas” is pretty much a biopic of Henry Hill, and “Braveheart” is based on the life of William Wallace.

There’s plenty to choose from, but here’s a listing on Wikipedia if you need help!

Let’s hear it! What’s YOUR favorite biopic?!

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182 thoughts on “Tossin’ It Out There: What’s YOUR Favorite Biopic?

  1. Catch Me If You Can! So entertaining and great! I also really like Forrest Gump and Social Network is great. I really enjoy The Blind Side, too. I love biographies. I’ll have to get your Skype or something so we can have more movie chats, Fogs… I cannot wait for 42, though! It looks great. I love baseball.

    • Oh, yeah! Forgot about Social Network… that definitely is in the realm here. Nice choice.

      If you’re looking to skype with people about movies, Dan, you should sign up for the Lamb and get involved with the lambcast/start podcasting. ;)

  2. Another great toss Fogs! I love things that make the mind have to work.

    oh jeez….so many great ones to choose from.

    Off the top of my head, I have to go with Malcolm X, Raging Bull, Ray, Walk the Line, Braveheart, A Beautiful Mind, and Schindler’s List.

    Just for the record, I so want to include Rocky on here.

    I’m certain I’m undercutting a few other worthy films.

  3. Great question. Racking my brain over films, which gives me something to do!

    Ghandi’s the top of my list. Epic film. Haven’t seen it since I first saw it, but it’s one of those that has stayed with me.

    Mesrine is a fantastic French biopic. Always disappointed with how few people have seen that one.

    The Last King of Scotland. Even if it was maybe a little over dramatised, but then, which biopic isn’t?

    How about The Social Network and Frost/Nixon. Oooo, The Motorcycle Diaries. Love that film. Need to revisit it. I’d throw Argo into this category too.

    I’ll be quiet now.

    • Yeah, good. Cause I hate when people talk about movies here :roll:

      Gandhi IS a great movie, no doubt. It’s been awhile since I’ve seen it, too (though I have seen it again since its release) but you’re right, that IS one of those films that stays with you. How could you forget that perfromance?

      Last King of Scotland was pretty awesome too. Happy that Whitaker won the Oscar ;)

      I havent seen the French one, of course. :D

      • Mesrine is awesome. Split into two parts. Vincent Cassel plays Mesrine. It’s the story of France’s biggest public enemy. Think John Dilinger, but 60s/70s/80s France, if I remember correctly.

        Ghandi’s one of those films that I think is fantastic, has stayed with me, but it would take a lot for me to see again. A LOT.

        And just to add to my growing list, throw in Rescue Dawn, The Basketball Diaries and Ali. NOW I’ll be quiet ;)

  4. OK, so I got somewhat lost reading through other comments and haven’t come up with an answer of my own.
    I would like to mention Bronson, even though I’m not a massive fan of the film, Tom Hardy is fantastic in the lead role. Also a film which I would have loved to have loved is My Week With Marilyn – but as it turned out that was just disappointingly mediocre (Williams’ s great performance aside). I’m aware that I’m not really answering the question…

    • Nah, it’s cool, we’re talking movies, James, thats what counts. And they are semi-biographical, so…

      I’ve never seen Bronson, but I should. Hardy is awesome and so is Refn. The two together should have been enough to entice me to check it out, but I havent yet…

      I started My Week With Marilyn and never got into it. Since I wasn’t reviewing it, I let it slide. I guess “disappointingly medicore” sounds about right seeing as it didnt get me involved. :(

      • You should see Bronson, I mean don’t expect it to be anything like as good as Drive, but it is definitely still worth checking out.
        Yep there was a lot of talent that went into My Week With Marilyn but that didn’t save it. The Marilyn fan in me meant that I was going to watch it all the way through regardless of how good/bad it was!

  5. ‘Patton’.
    ‘Yankee Doodle Dandy’: Yes, it’s Jingoistic schlock. But it’s great Jingoistic schlock!
    ‘Truman’ and ‘Wallace’: Gary Sinise is great in both!
    ‘Kill the Irishman’: Cleavland mobsters are just as messed up as NY mobsters.
    ‘Capone’: Rod Steiger rocks in this 1950s B&W gem!

    • Heh. “Kill the Irishman”. That was a fun one, wasn’t it?

      I havent seen “Capone”, I should probably track it down and check it out though…

      General Patton is making a late comeback here, I think he’s starting to mount a threat to Raging Bull as the most mentioned here today!

  6. I’m going to go with Abel Gance’s 1927 silent masterpiece “Napoleon”. I saw it once on the big screen and have the laserdisc of it. It runs 4 hours but it is worth it. There have been rumors of extra footage and hopefully, it’ll find it’s way onto a BD.

  7. Lots to choose from here.

    Btw, I like the fact that in the original “Jackie Robinson Story”(1950), the title role was in fact played by Jackie Robinson who was still playing major league baseball for the Dodgers at the time (since we’re referencing this week’s new release of “42″).

    I’m going with the story of a teacher who started an AP calculus program in a poor high school with enormously successful results intially and exponentially larger success in subsequent years. Edward James Olmos as Jaime Escalante’s in Stand and Deliver.

    Students will rise to the level of expectation, Señor Molina.
    -Jaime Escalante (Olmos), Stand and Deliver (1988)

    • Edward James Olmos. :D

      I had a chance to meet Mr Olmos at Comic-Con in 2009. To this day, the best celeb interaction I’ve had at one of those things. He was as genial and friendly as you could ever want. We had a great conversation that… unfortunately revolved 100% around Battlestar Galactica, which had just ended. I talked with him for a good ten minutes or so because I lucked into talking to him before any lines got going or anything…

      To this day I regret not asking him about Blade Runner. *#&%$*$*$*^$%^!!! :D

      Still, great guy. Stand and Deliver’s a great flick, too.

  8. Born on the Fourth of July was great. The Education of Sonny Carson was probably the first ever biopic I’d seen, my dad made me watch it on VHS. I also liked The Hurricane and Malcolm X– so many similarities in Denzel’s portrayal of both characters, particularly in prison. The Hurricane went through criticism for its veracity, but then again that’s with most biographical films.

    I’d say my favorite, albeit a terrible and tragic story, is What’s Love Got to Do With It? The performances by Angela Bassett and Laurence Fishburne as Tina and Ike Turner were career-defining.

    • Ohhhhhhhh yeah! “Whats Love Got to Do With It”! Wow. Forgot about that one. I cant believe no one else has mentioned that Classick (I do presume its Classick with the Coldslither ID :D )

      Never saw the “Sonny Carson” one, but Born on the Fourth is a great one without a doubt. Hurricane and X are two of the best roles of Washington’s illustrious career…

    • Yeah, Milk is a good movie, I think I’ll always hold a grudge though for Penn beating out Mickey Rourke. Definitely was rooting for him to win for “The Wrestler” that year :( Penn already had an Oscar, too!

  9. An early Robert Downey Jr. role……….”Chaplin” is just sensational!
    Baseball!!!………try these…….”The Pride of the Yankees” Gary Cooper……at his humble best! And Jimmy Stewart……..I think it was called “The Stratton Story” about a pro-baseball player who blew his leg off in a hunting accident and came back (I kid you not) and still played pro-ball!
    Oh……and probably the greatest biopic ever……..”Lawrence of Arabia”……..WOW! Even the robot in “Prometheus” loved it!!

    • Must’ve missed this one yesterday, Ron, my apologies.

      As a Yankee Fan, I appreciate Pride of the Yankees. Love the speech, love the fact that Babe Ruth is actually in it. BUt as a movie fan, I have to say that’d a really slow movie. :(

      But yeah, I wont knock Lawrence of Arabia, Ron, that movie was magnificent!! :D “WOW” is right!

      • I was going to snark on some of the others (there’s definitely some fictionalization in a lot of biopics), but really, BC&SK probably does all right. Of what’s shown in the movie, the only thing that’s really known to be fictional is the identities of the men chasing them (and the allegation of LeFors going to Bolivia to continue chasing them). That they were bank robbers, train robbers, went to Bolivia, that’s all known fact. It’s debated whether they died there or not, but if they did, it was at the hands of the army (two bank robbers were killed; the identity is what’s in dispute.) Even the guy they worked for as guards in Bolivia is based on a real person (and that person was the one who identified the bodies).

      • I believe I read that over at your site. You did a “Favorite Films” on it, yes? I was just tossing you a batting practice pitch. LOL ;)

        You hit it out of the park though, nice one. :D

      • Yeah, I did a FF write-up on it. :D

        I figured there was a chance you were just ragging on me, since your opening dialogue mentions a few films that are known to have some fictionalized elements.

  10. .Gasp! Never? That’s ok. :) It’s possible I may have watched it enough times to have watched it for you, but I’d still recommend it since I think Sigourney Weaver does a fantastic job. I also just today found out that Murder in the First is actually a lot less biopic and more fiction, sadly, but the acting by Bacon and Slater was still top notch. I agree, it really did seem to fly under the radar considering how good it was.

    • Well, if it makes you feel any better, Stone, I thought Murder in the First was a true story, too. Although, you know, how could they have known what went on behind prison walls, I guess. :(

  11. Hi Fogs,
    that is a tough one. I feel that if there is one thing Hollywood movies are great in, its biopics, regardless of any inaccuracies. They’re all quite moving.
    I just saw Hitchcock the other day, which maybe is only a “part-biopic”, and thought that Anthony Hopkins was perfect in the role, even if he didn’t really look like the real life director.
    But favorite Biopic of all time, probably Gandhi followed by Lawrence of Arabia.

    • Hiya, Martin!

      Gandhi is a great movie. Total classic. This thread made me realize it’s been too long since I’ve seen it. I have to rewatch it soon. Lawrence of Arabia is another all time great. Probably one of the greatest films ever made, its a total epic. :D

      I saw Hitchock, too, and Hopkins was really good in it. I… thought he was passable at least in terms of looks. I bought it after awhile. ;)

      Thanks for chiming in!

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