Top Ten Tuesday: Biographical Films

Who doesn’t love a good list?
In the first post of our new weekly feature, Top Ten Tuesday, Sam Hawxwell discusses her Top 10 Biographical Films.

Biographical films are one of the most popular of specific genres, most tend to have an audience ready for them and the story is already there, but telling the story right and making an impact is the more difficult part of it. To have a film made about you, you have to be pretty noteworthy and a director needs to tell the story in a way to make the audience realise why they deserve their life to be portrayed on the silver screen, some fail while others make some incredible movies.

10. The Frozen Ground

Some people may differ on moral opinions as to whether a film based on a serial killer should be made, does it glorify them? Or does it give an insight to unspeakable crimes? Whatever your opinion these films are still going to be made, in fact Zac Efron will soon be starring in biopic about the infamous Ted Bundy. The Frozen Ground is a film starring Nicholas Cage (trust me, it is good) and John Cusack, who plays the serial killer Robert Hanson. The truth in the film lays more in Robert Hanson’s crimes and Robert Hanson himself, how a family man went unsuspected for so long because he just didn’t “seem” like a serial killer. The film ends with showing images of all of Hanson’s known victims and is dedicated to those who died at his hands.


9. Donnie Brasco

Donnie Brasco’s story was more than deserving of a feature length film, and was portrayed brilliantly by Johnny Depp alongside his costar Al Pacino, because what is a gangster film without Al Pacino? Donnie Brasco follows the true story of an FBI agent who went undercover to infiltrate the Bonanno Family, a mafia family that ran in New York during the 1970s. Without giving too much away Brasco makes friends with gang member Lefty (played by Pacino) who vouches for him, Brasco struggles with working in the crime family and possibly the death of his friend. Brasco was successful though, and saw the arrest of several of the gang members, and to this day has a $500,000 hit on his head.

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8. 24 Hour Party People

The first of the two music biopics on this list, 24 Hour Party People is a British made film about Tony Wilson, one of most important figures of Madchester and owner of the famous Hacienda. 24 Hour Party People boasts a plethora of British actors and comics as the biopic takes us through the music world of the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s and Tony Wilson’s journey from being a nobody to being one of the Godfathers of Rave Culture.


7. Goodfellas

Martin Scorsese directed this epic in 1990, but the story told is based over 1955 to 1980. The film follows the real life of Henry Hill and his mobster friends, starting off as a young boy Henry couldn’t see himself being anything but a gang member and worked his way up in the ranks, later spending most of his time in the Copacabana Night Club and then going on to be a cocaine dealer. Watching the rise and demise of Henry Hill, Goodfellas is one of the most famous gangster biopics and movie history and definitely worth a watch.


6. Changeling

Although this film is considered a thriller, Clint Eastwood did base the story on a real crime; the Wineville Chicken Coop Murders to be exact, and the script was mostly based on thousands of documents about the crime. It’s a heartbreaking story told in the 1920’s where a single mother’s young son is abducted, LAPD are accused of being corrupt and not handling the case properly, and how do they reply? By giving the mother back a boy who quite obviously isn’t her son. The film tells the plight that Angelina Jolie’s character had to go through when she argued that this boy wasn’t her son, it’s a heartbreaking story but very eye opening.

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5. The Doors

Val Kilmer gives a brilliant portrayal of The Doors’ frontman Jim Morrison in this biopic. The film follows Jim Morrison from a memory in his childhood to his eventual tragic death in Paris, at age 27, focusing on Jim as a poet and his personal relationships with drugs, his wife, and his band in between.


4. Casino

Martin Scorsese is the master of the mobster films, and Casino is one of his most popular with a line-up similar to Goodfellas. Robert Deniro’s character is based on Frank Rosenthal (but is named Sam ‘Ace’ Rothstein in the film), a Jewish gambler who is hired by the mob to oversee their casino in Las Vegas. Nicky Santoro (played by Joe Pesci) is sent to look after Sam but the both of them end up in hot water once they begin letting the casino slip and counters begin taking money for themselves. The film ends with Nicky Santoro being buried alive and Sam being “back where he started”.


3. Chaplin

Another person so noteworthy that a film was based on their entire life is Charlie Chaplin, with the film titled Chaplin. This, personally, is one of my favourite films and is a brilliant adaptation of the life of one of silent movie’s most important figures, giving an in depth look into Chaplin’s life coming from a working house to being one of the most famous people who ever lived.


2. Aviator 

The third and final Martin Scorsese film on this list (seriously, this guy makes some epic films) is Aviator, which sees Leonardo Dicaprio playing the role of film director and pilot Howard Hughes. Aviator shows the troubling demise of Henry Hughes who had severe OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) and how his illness worsened over the years until he basically locked himself in his home and became a hermit.

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1. Rush

Although some people who aren’t a fan of sports or racing would turn their nose up at this film, I know a lot of people (including myself) in the same boat who absolutely adored this film. The film follows the feud of F1 racers James Hunt and Niki Lauda, watching them go from F2 drivers to competing against each other in the F1 Grand Prix, the main focal point of the film is the 1976 Grand Prix where Niki Lauda got into a near-fatal accident that left him severely burnt. An excellent film and my favourite biopic.