Best Biopic Movies

WTOP Film Critic Jason Fraley ranks the best biopics of all time in the gallery below.

Not seeing your favorite movie? It’s probably in a different genre! Check out the full list here.

30. ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ (2018) – Dexter Fletcher

This rock biopic of Queen frontman Freddie Mercury is worth watching alone for Rami Malek’s Oscar-winning recreation of Live Aid in 1985.

29. ‘Straight Outta Compton’ (2015) – F. Gary Gray

Rap group N.W.A. explodes onto the scene with Oshea Jackson Jr. as Ice Cube, Corey Hawkins as Dr. Dre and Jason Mitchell as Eazy E.

28. ‘Captain Phillips’ (2013) – Paul Greengrass

Tom Hanks improvised an authentic state of shock, while the script showed sympathy to the Somali pirates: “I am the captain now.”

27. ‘Dallas Buyers Club’ (2013) – Jean-Marc Vallee

The director of “Big Little Lies” tackled this true story of experimental HIV drugs that won Oscars for both Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto.

26. ‘Fruitvale Station’ (2013) – Ryan Coogler

Before becoming a blockbuster powerhouse with “Creed” and “Black Panther,” Ryan Coogler directed this harrowing biopic in the era of #BlackLivesMatter.

25. ‘The Queen’ (2006) – Stephen Frears

Before Meryl Streep won Best Actress as British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, Helen Mirren won the Oscar for Best Actress as Queen Elizabeth II, who grapples with the aftermath of Princess Diana’s death.

24. ‘Darkest Hour’ (2017) – Joe Wright

After such costume dramas as “Pride & Prejudice” and “Atonement,” Joe Wright delivered this Winston Churchill biopic that finally won the Oscar for Gary Oldman.

23. ‘Downfall’ (2004) – Oliver Hirschbiegel

German star Bruno Ganz nails this portrait of Adolf Hitler’s tense final days in his Berlin bunker, while the film itself has been parodied numerous times in viral videos.

22. ‘The King’s Speech’ (2008) – Tom Hooper

Colin Firth won an Oscar for his stuttering portrayal of King George VI during Britain’s life-or-death struggle in World War II.

21. ‘The Imitation Game’ (2014) – Morten Tyldum

Benedict Cumberbatch shines as math genius Alan Turing, who cracked the German’s Enigma code to allow Allied victory in World War II.

20. ‘A Beautiful Mind’ (2001) – Ron Howard

This Best Picture champ cast Russell Crowe as mathematician John Nash, who pioneered “game theory” with dark personal consequences.

19. ‘My Left Foot’ (1989) – Jim Sheridan

Daniel Day Lewis won his first of three Best Actor Oscars as Christy Brown, who fights cerebral palsy to paint and write with just his left foot.

18. ‘Lust for Life’ (1956) – Vincente Minnelli

Kirk Douglas may be over the top, but he is unforgettable as tortured painter Vincent Van Gogh in Vincente Minnelli’s classic biopic.

17. ‘The Elephant Man’ (1980) – David Lynch

David Lynch’s most mainstream flick featured William Hurt’s most captivating role as a disfigured man insisting, “I am not an animal!”

16. ‘The Miracle Worker’ (1962) – Arthur Penn

Anne Bancroft and Patty Duke both won Oscars for this inspirational account of the blind, deaf and mute Helen Keller.

15. ‘The Diary of Anne Frank’ (1959) – George Stevens

After filming the liberation of concentration camps during World War II, George Stevens directed this biopic based on Holocaust victim Anne Frank.

14. ‘The Gospel According to St. Matthew’ (1964) – Pier Paolo Pasolini

Of all the depictions of Jesus on screen, this film might come the closest to the truth, painting Christ as a Marxist avant-la-lettre.

13. ‘Coal Miner’s Daughter’ (1980) – Michael Apted

After bursting on the scene in “Carrie,” Sissy Spacek won an Oscar as country legend Loretta Lynn, rising from poverty to stardom.

12. ‘Walk the Line’ (2005) – James Mangold

Reese Witherspoon won a Best Actress Oscar as the June Carter to Joaquin Phoenix’s Johnny Cash in this gem of a country music biopic.

11. ‘Ray’ (2004) – Taylor Hackford

Jamie Foxx won an Oscar for his portrayal of Ray Charles, playing the piano and singing “Georgia on My Mind.”

10. ‘Hidden Figures’ (2016) – Theodore Melfi

Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer and Janelle Monae exposed the historically hidden heroes of NASA’s space program.

9. ‘Apollo 13’ (1995) – Ron Howard

Tom Hanks, Kevin Bacon and Bill Paxton clawed for survival as NASA astronauts realizing, “Houston, we have a problem.”

8. ‘The Right Stuff’ (1983) – Philip Kaufman

This adaptation of Tom Wolfe’s novel charted American innovation from Chuck Yeager (Sam Shepard) to John Glenn (Ed Harris).

7. ‘Norma Rae’ (1979) – Martin Ritt

Sally Field won her first of two Oscars as a blue-collar textile worker who climbs onto her desk with a protest sign reading “UNION.”

6. ‘The Social Network’ (2010) – David Fincher

Jesse Eisenberg was born to play fast-talking Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg with an Aaron Sorkin script and a David Fincher lens.

5. ‘Lincoln’ (2012) – Steven Spielberg

Daniel Day Lewis won his third Best Actor Oscar by mastering the look and manner of President Abraham Lincoln amid the Civil War.

4. ‘Selma’ (2014) – Ava DuVernay

David Oyelowo shined as Martin Luther King Jr. passing the Voting Rights Act, backed by Common and John Legend’s Oscar-winning song “Glory.”

3. ‘Gandhi’ (1982) – Richard Attenborough

Ben Kingsley won his only career Oscar as Mahatma Gandhi fighting peacefully for India’s independence against British colonizing forces.

2. ‘Malcolm X’ (1992) – Spike Lee

Denzel Washington actually appears possessed by the spirit of Malcolm X throughout Spike Lee’s epic civil rights masterpiece.

1. ‘Schindler’s List’ (1993) – Steven Spielberg

Liam Neeson’s Oskar Schindler saved 1,200 Jews from Nazi concentration camps run by Ralph Fiennes’ terrifying Amon Goeth.

Check out the other genres below!

Action | Adventure | Animation | Biopic | Comedy | Coming of Age | Courtroom | Crime | Documentary | Drama | Epic | Family Comedy | Family Drama | Fantasy | Film Noir | Gangster | Horror | Musical | Mystery | Politics & Media | Prison | Romance | Romantic Comedy | Science Fiction | Showbiz | Silent | Sports | Thriller | War | Western

Jason Fraley

Hailed by The Washington Post for “his savantlike ability to name every Best Picture winner in history," Jason Fraley began at WTOP as Morning Drive Writer in 2008, film critic in 2011 and Entertainment Editor in 2014, providing daily arts coverage on-air and online.

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