We’ve rounded up the actors and the real-life roles they brought to life on-screen. In some cases, it’s easy to see why a certain actor was chosen to play their real-life counterparts, considering their strong physical resemblance. In other cases, the viewer’s imagination, or makeup, helped them pull off the part.
Famous Mexican artist Frida Kahlo is portrayed by Salma Hayek in this film that depicts both her relationships with different men and women, as well as the arduous process of recovery she had to endure after being in a terrible accident at age 18.
The film grossed over $55 million against the budget of just $12 million and holds a 75% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes, based on the opinion of more than 155 critics. Frida won two Academy Awards, Best Makeup, and Best Original Score, and Hayek was nominated for her performance.
Al Pacino stars in this 1973 neo-noir crime biography about New York police detective Frank Serpico, who spent more than a decade working to expose corruption within the force. The film dives into his experiences while working as a whistleblower.
The film was released just one week before the Academy Awards in 1974, where it was nominated for both Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Actor for Pacino’s performance. The actor won the Golden Globe that year for his work on the film, which was also up for Best Motion Picture (Drama) at the Globe
Julie & Julia (2009)
Film icon Meryl Streep plays legendary culinary star, Julia Childs, in this 2009 dramedy directed by Nora Ephron. The screenplay is based on two books, including Childs’ autobiography, and tells the story of a young Julia Child, along with another young woman, Julie Powell, who made it her goal to cook all of Child’s recipes in just 365 days. Julia Child was a popular TV cook who gained recognition for bringing French Cuisine to America.
Meryl Streep was nominated for dozens of awards for her performance in the role, which included Best Actress at the Golden Globes, Oscars, and the BAFTAs. Nora Ephron was also nominated for a few awards, including Best Adapted Screenplay at the Writers Guild of America.
Woman in Gold (2015)
Helen Mirren stars in this 2015 biographical drama as Maria Altmann, a Jewish refugee living in Los Angeles, and trying to recover stolen piece of art that she’s been battling the government of Austria for over a decade for after it was taken from her family by the Nazis. The Austrian-American Jewish refugee from Austria became recognized for a successful legal campaign to reclaim her family-owned paintings by Gustav Klimt which were stolen by the Nazis during World War II.
The film opened to mostly positive reviews and saw over $61 million returned on its budget of $11 million. Mirren earned a nomination at the Screen Actors Guild Awards for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor and a Leading Role.
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (2019)
This 2019 film as written and directed by Quentin Tarantino, includes a star-studded cast, including Leonardo DiCaprio, Margot Robbie, and Brad Pitt. It tells the story of an actor, Rick Dalton, and his stunt double, working to adjust to the changes in Hollywood during its Golden Age while living next door to the ill-fated Sharon Tate (Robbie.) Unlike the film, Sharon Tate was tragically killed in her home by the cult members of the Charles Manson gang. She was pregnant at the time and married to Roman Polanksi.
It received the number of accolades, including 10 nominations that year’s Academy Awards, among them, Best Picture, and a win for Pitt as Best Supporting Actor. The film also earned a Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture (Musical or Comedy.)
Brian’s Song (1971)
Brian’s Song is a made for TV movie from 1971, which premiered as an ABC Movie of the week, and tells the story of former Chicago Bears player, Brian Piccolo. Piccolo, portrayed by James Caan, played pro in the 1960s, and in 1965, was diagnosed with a terminal form of cancer, which resulted in his death in 1970.
The movie is widely regarded as being one of the best television films in history and holds a 92% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes. It won several awards and was nominated for many more, including eight Emmys and the Golden Globe for Best Miniseries or Television Film.
Without Limits (1998)
Without Limits is a 1998 biographical sports drama about record-breaking runner Steve Prefontaine, played by Billy Crudup, along with his coach, Bill Bowerman (Donald Sutherland,) who would go on to become the co-founder of Nike. Tom Cruise worked as a producer on the picture, which was distributed by Warner Bros.
The film was received fairly well from critics and audiences. Although it won no major awards, it holds nearly an 80% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes. Unfortunately, it flopped at the box office crossing less than $800,000 against a $25 million-dollar budget.
Soul Surfer (2011)
AnnaSophia Robb stars in this 2011 biographical drama based on the life of Bethany Hamilton. Hamilton was a surfer who, in 2003 at the age of 13, was horrifically attacked by a shark, which caused her to lose her left arm and more than 60% of her blood. She survived to tell the tale. Helen Hunt and Dennis Quaid share the screen with Rob for the production which grossed nearly $48 million on an $18 million budget.
Although the film did well at the box office, the receipt mixed reviews from audiences and critics alike. As of now, it sits at just a 46% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The film was most popular with young audiences, which resulted in two nominations at the Teen Choice Awards.
Charlie Chaplin was a legend in the film industry. Most famous for his work on silent film, Chaplin tells the story of the British entertainer’s life, told in the form of flashbacks from the words of his own mouth as he talks to the editor of his autobiography. The actor and filmmaker created the iconic "tramp" character of the silent era. He then went onto create more hugely famous films like "The Great Dictator" and "Limelight."
Robert Downey Jr. plays the grownup version of the comedian in the motion picture, which in ’72 at the end of the movie, we see receive a Lifetime Achievement award. The film was nominated for several awards, including three Academy Awards, Best Actor, Best Art Direction, and Best Original Score.
Lady Sings the Blues (1972)
Sidney J. Furie directs this 1972 film that tells the story of the life of Billie Holliday, portrayed by Diana Ross. It centers around her struggles and heavy drug use, throughout the majority of her young life. Nicknamed Lady D, Holiday had a major influence on jazz music and pop singing. Her vocal style, strongly by jazz instrumentalists.
The film was produced by Motown Productions, and was based on her 1956 autobiography of the same name. It earned over $9 million and received mostly positive reviews, with Roger Ebert giving it three out of four stars and saying that Ross gave one of the best performances of the year.
First Man (2018)
Ryan Gosling stars as Neil Armstrong in this 2008 biographical drama that tells the story of the astronaut’s years leading up to his 1969 mission to the moon. Initially, Clint Eastwood was scheduled to direct the film back in 2003, though after that fell through, Damien Chazelle picked it up, with Steven Spielberg acting as executive producer. The real man was Neil Armstong who landed on the moon. He spent years training before he landed together with his fellow astronauts Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins.
Although it had many positive reviews, it flopped at the box office, grossing just $105 million against a $60 million budget. It was nominated for several awards, including two Golden Globes, and winning for Best Original Score.
The Glorias (2020)
This new film, which was just released earlier this year, tells the tale of feminist and political activist Gloria Steinem’s life over a two-decades-long period of time. Steinem is played by both Julianne Moore and Alicia Vikander, as well as two more actresses to portray her childhood and her teenage years. Today at 80 years of Steinhem is one of the most prominent feminists in the western world. She rose to prominence after her major expose on Hugh Hefner.
The film premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January, after beginning production just a year before. There are not a ton of reviews for the film yet, though it does hold a 73% approval on Rotten Tomatoes, based on just 15 critic’s reviews.
Clint Eastwood produces and directs this 1988 biographical film based on the life of saxophonist Charlie “Bird” Parker. The film follows the musician’s (played by Forest Whitaker,) life from childhood through his death at the young age of 34. Parker was one of the most highly influential soloists in history and the leading figure in the development of bebop, a form of jazz
The film received mostly positive reviews and holds an 80% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Whitaker earned the award for Best Nctor at the Cannes film Festival in 1988 for his impressive performance in the role, and Eastwood won the Golden Globe for Best Director, among several other accolades the film received..
Flash of Genius (2008)
Greg Kinnear stars in this 2008 film that tells the story of Robert Kearns, an inventor who goes up against the Ford Motor Company in court when they develop a part based on his idea, and work he’d already patented. Robert Kearns an American engineer, educator, and inventor finally got the recognition he deserved for inventing intermittent windshield wiper systems used on most cars from 1969 to the present.
The film opened to mixed reviews and holds a 60% critic’s approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Roger Ebert said it was, “faithful and often moving detail,” while Peter Travers at Rolling Stone wrote, “Kinnear takes the star spot in Flash of Genius and rides it to Glory.” He wound up winning the Best Actor Award at the Boston Film Festival that year.
I, Tonya (2017)
Margo Robbie stars as former Olympic figure skater Tonya Harding in this biographical crime drama. The 2017 film tells the tale of the athlete, who infamously knocked out competitor Nancy Kerrigan’s kneecap with a baseball bat in the 1990s, leading to her ruin. The film also goes into deep detail about Tonya's tragic life and heavily abusive relationship.
The film grossed over $53 million worldwide and holds a 90% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes. It received a number of awards, including a Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actress for Allison Janney’s role as the skater’s harsh mother. Robbie was nominated for Best Actress for her performance as well
The Greatest Showman (2017)
Hugh Jackman plays the role of P.T. Barnum in this 2017 musical produced with a budget of nearly $85 million. The film follows the man behind one of the largest old-world circuses, Barnum & Bailey. Zack Efron, Michelle Williams, and Zendaya also appear in the biographical drama. Barnum was an American showman, politician, and businessman and rose to prominence for his celebrated hoaxes and the founding of the Barnum & Bailey Circus.
The Greatest Showman received a number of accolades, including the Golden Globe award for Best Original Song. It was nominated for two more Globes, which included the best actor for Jackman’s work in the film.
Channing Tatum, Mark Ruffalo, and Steve Carell start in and this 2014 sports crime drama that centers around a deranged and wealthy wrestling superfan, John E. Du Pont (Carell,) who starts his own team in the ‘80s, with the help of naïve up-and-coming wrestler Mark Schultz (Tatum.) Du Pont was an ornithologist, philatelist, conchologist, and sports enthusiast who was convicted for murdering Schulz. He sentence was 30 years and he died in prison.
The film has an 87% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, with all of the star’s performances being praised. Carell and Ruffalo were nominated for Academy Awards for their work, and Bennett Miller was up for Best Director.
The Pursuit of Happyness (2006)
Will Smith stars as Chris Gardner, a salesman who is homeless, and down on his luck. But that all changes when he worked his way up in the world of sales. Gardner published an autobiography detailing his experiences in 2006, and ultimately became a producer on the film later that same year.
Initially, Gardner wasn’t happy with the casting choice when it came to portraying his own life, but his daughter felt differently, saying, “if Smith can play Muhammad Ali, he can play you!” And that he did, winning a number of awards and been nominated for several more for his performance.
Beyond the Sea (2004)
Kevin Spacey plays singer-actor, Bobby Darin, based on the entertainer's rise to success in the midst of Hollywood’s Golden age. Preproduction work on the film began in the 1980s, when Barry Levinson initially intended to direct the film himself. Those several years later, Spacey picked it up and completed the project with the help of Darin’s son, Dodd.
The film opened to mixed reviews, holding just a 42% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, and a 46/100 on Metacritic. Roger Ebert said, “Kevin Spacey believes he was born to play Bobby Darin, I believe he was born to play more interesting characters.”
Ghosts of Mississippi (1996)
Alec Baldwin, Whoopi Goldberg, and James Woods star in this 1996 biographical drama that tells the story of Medgar Evers, an African American civil rights activist who was murdered by a white supremacist in 1963. The film follows the Evers family’s fight for justice, which is a long and hard road.
The film takes place mainly in the courtroom, which dives into the scenes of two trials, both of which ended and hung juries. It wasn’t until 1994 that the murderer, Byron De La Beckwith, was finally brought to justice, giving closure to Evers’ widow.
Patton is a 1970 war film that dives into the life of Gen. George S Patton, who loses command after making controversial remarks about politics. Franklin J Schaffner directs the film, which is based on the 1963 biography Patton: Ordeal and Triumph, by Ladislas Farago, as well as A Soldier’s Story, by Omar Bradley. Patton led the US army into the invasion of Normandy in June 1944, one of the most iconic battles in World War II.
The film won a whopping seven Academy Awards, including the esteemed Best Director and Best Picture award. In 2003, it was added to the United States national film registry by the Library of Congress, on the grounds of being culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.
My Left Foot (1989)
This 1989 biographical drama tells the story of a man named Christy Brown, played by Daniel Day-Lewis, who was born into an incredibly large family with a disease that only allowed him to control his left foot, rendering him unable to walk or talk. Christy Brown was in 1932 into working-class Irish. Doctors discovered that he had severe cerebral palsy, a neurological disorder that left him almost entirely spastic in his limbs. His autobiography My Left Foot became a literary sensation and inspired the movie.
The film opened to mostly positive reviews, including from Roger Ebert, who gave it a four out of four-star rating. Both Daniel Day-Lewis and Brenda Fricker, who played Christy’s mother, won an Oscar for their performances. The Hollywood Reporter put out a story in 2015, claiming that My Left Foot should’ve won for Best Picture over Driving Miss Daisy.
Party Monster (2003)
McCauley Culkin stars in this 2003 biographical drama, about infamous NYC party boy and club promoter, Michael Alig. Alig was known as “king of the Club Kids,” and rose to fame in the underground scene after James St. James (played by Seth Green,) showed him the wonderful and wild world of clubbing. The famed clubber was convicted of killing his roommate and served 17 years in prison.
Unfortunately, the film was a box office flop, grossing less than $750,000, against a $5 million budget. It is based on the memoir of James St. James, titled Disco Bloodbath, which details the relationship between the two men after Alig moved to the city when he was young.
Almost Famous (2000)
Almost Famous is a 2000 dramedy film that stars Kate Hudson and Billy Crudup and tells the tale of a promising young journalist who’s working for Rolling Stone in the 1970s. Roger Ebert called the production, “funny and touching in so many ways.” The film is based on the childhood of the director of the film, Cameron Crowe.
Writer and director Cameron Crowe pulled inspiration from several actual musicians and groupies in the ‘70s to create the film, which was ranked the 79th greatest of all time in a 2014 list put out by the Hollywood Reporter.
Girl, Interrupted (1999)
This 1999 psychological drama stars Wynona Rider and Angelina Jolie as fellow patients in a mental hospital in the late 1960s. Rider plays an 18-year-old who suffers a nervous breakdown and winds up in a facility meant for serious mental illness, where she winds up making friends with a lot of the other girls. The film is based on Susanna Kaysen who relates her experiences as a young woman in a psychiatric hospital in the 1960s.
Brittany Murphy and Elisabeth Moss also make appearances in the film, which opened the mixed reviews, but won several awards. Jolie won the Academy Award, Critics’ Choice Award, and Golden Globe Award for best-supporting actress.
Born On The Fourth Of July (1989)
Ron Kovic was a young man who served with the U.S Marines in Vietnam. Played by Tom Cruise in the film, his duty turns into a disaster when he accidentally kills his fellow Marine and is later paralyzed from the middle of his chest and down. After writing his book, Kovic became well a known anti-war activist. His memoir published in 1976, Born on the Fourth of July, because the book on which the film is based.
The film was praised by critics, and hit at the box office, cruising over $160 million dollars around the world. It won four Golden Globe Awards, including all of the majors: Best Actor, Best Screenplay, and Best Director for Oliver Stone’s efforts on the picture.
Not Without My Daughter (1990)
Sally Fields plays a distraught wife and mother Betty Mahoody, who’s married to an Iranian doctor, who tricks her and her daughter into staying in Iran after leading them to believe it would be a short trip. Then, after his family is stuck, he becomes abusive, and Betty has to get their daughter and escape back home to the U.S.
Luckily, the two make it back. The film grossed just $15 million at the box office and holds just a 50% approval on esteemed review site, Rotten Tomatoes. Field’s performance got her nominated for the 1991 Razzie for Worst Actress of the year. Yikes.
Mommie Dearest (1981)
Faye Dunaway stars in this 1981 docudrama, based on the life of abusive mother Joan Crawford. While the film was a huge success at the box office, grossing nearly $40 million against a $5 million budget, it’s based on a sad true story of abuse and manipulation. The memoir and exposé that was written by Christina Crawford, the adopted daughter of actress Joan Crawford was published in 1978.
Unfortunately, the only awards the film won were a number of Razzie awards, including Worst Picture, Worst Screenplay, and Worst Actress for Dunaway, who tied with Bo Derek for her work in Tarzan, The Ape Man. Dunaway later blamed the film for her decline of work in Hollywood.
The Untouchables (1987)
This star-packed film came out in 1987, and stars Kevin Costner as Prohibition agent, Elliot Ness, who worked to bring down Al Capone via his team, The Untouchables. Directed by Brian De Palma, the film was nominated for four Oscars, including a win for Best Supporting Actor for Sean Connery. His co-authorship of a popular autobiography, The Untouchables, which was published soon after his death, propelled many television and motion picture portrayals that established Ness' posthumous reputation as a crime fighter.
As the true story took place in Chicago, the film was shot in and around the city to provide historical accuracy. Aside from the Academy Awards, it received a number of other accolades and nominations. Connery won a whopping nine awards for his role as Jim Malone.
Schindler’s List (1993)
This historical American drama is directed by film icon Steven Spielberg and follows a German businessman, Oskar Schindler, played by Liam Neeson, and his wife as they save more than a thousand people from the Holocaust during WWII, by employing them at his enamelware factory in Poland.
The film won an impressive seven Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Adapted Screenplay (it was adapted from the 1982 Austrian novel, Schindler’s Ark.) Neeson was nominated for Best Actor but was beat out by Tom Hanks for his role in Philadelphia.
Bonnie and Clyde (1967)
Everyone knows the story of the young and in-love couple who went on a crime spree in the 1930s that ended in a blaze of gunfire, and the death of both parties. The 1967 film’s directed by Arthur Penn and is regarded as a landmark in Hollywood history, marking the beginning of the New Hollywood era.
Bonnie and Clyde were one of the first 100 films preserved in the U.S. National Film Registry for being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.” It was up for 10 Academy Awards, winning two, including Best Supporting Actress for Estelle Parsons.
Malcolm X (1992)
Denzel Washington stars as minister and human rights activist, Malcolm X, who is best remembered for his work for the Nation of Islam, in this 1992 biographical drama. The film follows X through his teachings, until his religious conversion, and right through until his 1965 assassination. Malcolm X became an iconic figure in pan-Africanism during the civil rights struggle. He was tragically shot dead (in front of his bodyguards) while preparing to address a crown at OAAU in Manhattan's Audubon Ballroom.
Roger Ebert ranked the film as his favorite of the year, and Washington’s performance was praised by critics everywhere. Washington was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor, but lost to Al Pacino, a decision that was criticized by more than a few people.
Donnie Brasco (1997)
Johnny Depp plays FBI agent Joseph D. Pistone, who’d infiltrated the mafia, and ended up forming an actual friendship with some of the most infamous members in history, like Lefty Ruggiero (Al Pacino.) Born Joseph D. Pistone, the former FBI agent went undercover between 1976 and 1982 as part of a massive take-down of the Bonnano crime family as well as the Colombo family, two of the five most powerful mafia families in New York of the time.
88% of critics agree that the film is a great one, and it earned nearly $125 million against a budget of just $35 million. For several awards including the Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay. Reviews were mainly positive, especially regarding the performances of Pacino and Depp, both of which were called “in top form,” by Salon.com.
Man on the Moon (1999)
Jim Carrey stars as the late eccentric entertainer Andy Kaufman in this 1999 biographical dramedy. The story retraces the stars steps from childhood to fame, as he started appearing on major shows like SNL , and Taxi . The comedian was known for his bizarre performances and his criticism of the whole "fake" idea of performance. His most notable performance was when he loaded an entire audience on a bus, gave them milk and cookies, and then continued with the show on the following day on the Staten Island Ferry.
Carrie won the Golden Globe award for Best Actor for his work on the film, which made it his second in a row after acting in The Truman Show. Reviews seem to be a pretty mixed bag, and it only holds a 63% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, and a 58/100 on Metacritic.
La Bamba (1987)
This 1987 biography follows Lou diamond Phillips as Chicano rock-star Ritchie Valens. The film follows the stars rise from typical high school boy to Billboard chart-topper, along with his relationship with his girlfriend at the time, who inspired his song, “Donna.” The American musician who was of Mexican descent was heavily influenced by Mariachi music and ultimately pioeereed the genre of Chicano rock music. His hit "La Bamba" will always be a beloved favorite.
Valens’ life, like the movie, ended tragically – in a fiery plane crash that left no survivors. The film grossed more than $50 million dollars in the US, and received mostly positive reviews, including a 91% approval from critics on Rotten Tomatoes.
Jennifer Lopez stars in her breakthrough role in this 1997 biographical drama about late popstar, Selena. She was an up-and-coming musician, with a promising future ahead of her. Unfortunately, her life ended in tragedy, when someone very close to her turns on her and ultimately kills her. Selena Quintanilla-Perez was the queen of Latin music and. She rose to fame after his father discovered her amazing vocal and rhythmic talent. She was only 23 at the time of her death.
We had no idea at the time how bright of a star Lopez would be in her own right, but she nailed the role of Selena and was even nominated for the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress in a Musical or Comedy.
Dog Day Afternoon (1975)
In the early 1970s, a man named John Wojtowicz committed to robbing a bank to pay for his boyfriend's sex-change operation. Unfortunately, things didn’t go the way he hoped, and it all got a little bit out of hand, so much so that it results in a standoff with multiple law enforcement organizations. Wojtowicz was born in New York City in 1945 and led basically normal life. After returning from his service in Vietnam he began working for Chase Manhattan Bank.
Dog Day Afternoon was released in 1975 and stars Al Pacino as Wojtowicz. Nominated for seven Golden Globes and six Academy Awards, and winning for Best Original Screenplay, the film was preserved by the Library of Congress in 2009.
Stanley Kubrick directs this 1960 historical drama that stars Kirk Douglas in the title role, the leader of a revolution Third Servile War. The film is the only one of Kubrick’s in which he wasn’t given complete creative control, and yet it still won four Academy Awards and is the highest-grossing film in Universal Studio's history. The Thracian gladiator led a slave revolt with an army of tens of thousands of men. He defeated Roman forces over half a dozen times, as he marched his people up and down the Italian peninsula. He was killed in April 71 B.C
Spartacus won the Oscar for Best Cinematography, Costume Design, Art Direction, and Supporting Actor, for Peter Ustinov’s work as Lentulus Batiatus. In 2017 the Library of Congress dubbed it culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant, and preserved it in the United States National Film Registry.
Raging Bull (1980)
Raging Bull is a 1980 biographical sports drama directed by film legend, Martin Scorsese. The film was adapted from a novel of the same name published in 1970 by Jake LaMotta and tells the tale of a troubled professional boxer with serious rage control issues (LaMotta.)LaMotta was a rough fighter and was even accused of being a bully. He was constantly caught up in brawls and unruly fights outside the rings,
In the film, LaMotta is played by Robert De Niro, who won both the Academy Award and the Golden Globe award for Best Actor for his performance in the picture. The movie also won the Academy Award for Best Film Editing and was nominated for six more, along with a number of other awards.
The Sound of Music (1965)
Julie Andrews stars in this 1965 classic directed by Robert Wise. It tells the tale of Baroness von Trapp, who worked as a governess for an Austrian military captain and wound up finding much more than she’d initially thought. She falls in love with both him and his children, and the two get married. All of this is happening, of course, in the middle of the war, which they are trying to escape.
The film won five Academy Awards, including the award for Best Director and the esteemed Best Picture award. It has been preserved in the National Film Registry for being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.”
Lawrence of Arabia (1962)
This 1962 British historical epic drama is based on T. E. Lawrence’s life. Lawrence, played by Peter O’Toole, was a diplomat and army officer who’s well-known for his attacks on Damascus and Aqaba during the First World War, which the film dives into. Thomas Edward Lawrence was the British officer who was credited with leading the Arab revolt against the Turks during World War I. There has however been a lot of debate about his role
Lawrence of Arabia was nominated for ten Oscars in ’63, winning a whopping seven, including the award for Best Director and Best Picture. It also won the Golden Globe that year for Best Motion Picture. In 2004, a poll of industry leaders called it the Best British film of all time.
Escape From Alcatraz (1979)
Clint Eastwood stars in this 1979 thriller that tells the tale of the 1962 escape from the maximum-security prison on Alcatraz Island in San Francisco Bay. Eastwood plays prisoner Frank Morris, who makes friends with other prisoners and eventually hatches an escape plan that leads to the infamous event. Morris was convicted at 13, and by his late teens was in and out prison over narcotics possession and armed robbery. Morris was considered missing and presumed to have drowned after the great escape attempt from Alcatraz.
The film was widely regarded as one of the best of the year, and reviews were mainly all glowing. On Rotten Tomatoes, 23 critics have given the film a 96% approval rating – higher than most others on the list.
An icon playing an icon in this 2009 film that stars Morgan Freeman as Nelson Mandela, freshly released from prison after nearly three decades behind bars for crimes he didn’t commit. Matt Damon also stars in the movie that follows the events around the 1995 Rugby World Cup, and the racial tension that surrounded it. On his release from prison, Mandela, as the head of the ANC, became the president of South Africa and led the nation out of the dark and painful era of Apartheid.
The film was met with mostly positive reviews from critics and sits at a 76% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Both Morgan Freeman and Matt Damon were nominated for Academy Awards for their work in the movie.d.
The Express (2008)
This 2008 American sports film tells the tale of the first African American to win the Heisman Trophy. Ernie Davis is played by Rob Brown, in this film that dives into racism and discrimination within professional athletics in this certain period of time.
Unfortunately, the film grossed just less than $10 million dollars against a $40 million budget, though it received mostly positive reviews from critics. The general consensus on Rotten Tomatoes is that it’s just above average with the 6.2 out of 10 approval rating. It sits around at the same on Metacritic, at just 58.
Che: Part One (2008)
Benicio Del Toro stars as Argentian doctor turns revolutionary, Che Guevara, in part one of this to part 2008 film. Part one is known as The Argentine and earned del Toro the award for Best Actor at that year’s Cannes Film Festival. The film follows Che's downfall in Bolivia. The revolutionary was executed by the Bolivian army in 1967. Since his death, he has been regarded as a hero for Marxists and the fight against ant-imperialism.
The film has mixed reviews among critics and audiences alike, with USA Today writing, “with its lyrical beauty and strong performances, the film can be riveting. It’s the excessive length and rambling scenes also make it maddening.” The movie only has about a 67% approval on Rotten Tomatoes, based on over 130 reviews.
Eddie the Eagle (2015)
Hugh Jackman leads the charge in this 2015 film based on the life of Michael “Eddie” Edwards, a British Olympics ski jumper who, in 1998 became the first competitor in several decades to represent Great Britain in ski jumping at the Olympics. Taron Egerton plays Edwards, while Jackman plays coach Bronson Peary.
The film became the highest grossing of the year in the UK with nearly $13 million, and over $45 million worldwide. With nearly 200 reviews on Rotten Tomatoes, it holds a steady 82% approval rating. Taron Egerton was nominated for a Teen Choice Award in 2016 for his work on the film.
Remember the Titans (2000)
Remember the Titans is a 2000 film based on the story of Herman Boone, portrayed by film icon Denzel Washington. Boone is one of the first African American coaches on a (newly integrated) high school football team in the early 1970s. The film follows along as he fights to do the best he can to coach while enduring racism from all angles.
Washington won the 2001 BET Award for Best Actor, as well as the same year’s Black Reel Award. Reviews of the film were mixed but mainly positive, and it went on to earn more than $115 million at the box office.
Clint Eastwood directs this 2016 biographical film that tells the story of retired pilot Chelsey Sullenberger, played by Tom Hanks. It follows the harrowing events of US Airways Flight 1549, on which the pilot had to perform an emergency landing and wound up saving over 150 lives. The plane was hit by birds, but the calm Sully successfully landed the plane atop New York’s Hudson River.
Sully grossed more than $240 million at the box office and received mostly positive reviews from critics. It also holds an 85% fresh score on Rotten Tomatoes, based on more than 335 reviews. Tom Hanks won the Hollywood Film Award for his work in the role in November of 2016.
The Aviator (2004)
The Aviator stars Leonardo DiCaprio as Howard Hughes. Directed by Martin Scorsese and packed with a star-studded cast (including Cate Blanchett as Katharine Hepburn and Kate Beckinsale as Ava Gardner. The film gives the very true to life account of the billionaire, filmmaker and aviation tycoon Howard Hughes and his affairs with some of the most high-profile women in Hollywood at the time and his tormented phobias.
Nominated for eleven Academy Awards, the film follows Hughes (DiCaprio,) the record-setting pilot and director on his journey to success, from 1927 until 1947. It also gives insight into the decline of his mental health, due to his battle with severe OCD. DiCaprio won the Oscar for Best Actor for his work in the film, which won and was nominated for several more prestigious accolades.
Captain Phillips (2013)
This 2013 movie depicts Tom Hanks as a merchant mariner whose boat was hijacked by Somali pirates in 2009. It did well at the box office, pulling in over $218 million against a $55 million budget. The real-life captain was a merchant mariner and author who served as captain of the MV Maersk Alabama during its hijacking by Somali pirates in 2009.
Captain Phillips has an impressive 93% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, and was nominated for six Academy Awards, and four Golden Globes including Best Picture, and Best Actor for Hanks’ performance. Those who were really aboard the Maersk Alabama when it was hijacked say the film depicts the captain as being much more heroic than he actually was.
John Lithgow stars as disgraced former Fox News chairman Roger Ailes, who was forced to resign from the network after being accused of sexual harassment by several of the women who worked for him. Margot Robbie, Charlize Theron (who plays Megyn Kelly), and Nicole Kidman (who plays Gretchen Carlson) star opposite Lithgow. Theron is eerily close to Megyn Kelly. The famed anchorwoman was one of the key figures in the #metoo movement and was involved in completely rearranging the management at Fox.
The movie just came out in 2019, and received a number of major award nominations, including the Academy for Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress for both Theron and Robbie’s work in the film. The make-up and hair stylists won the Academy Award for Best Makeup and Hairstyling.
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (2007)
This 2007 French biographical film dives into the true story of Jean-Dominique Bauby, journalist and editor of an esteemed fashion magazine, Elle. The French biographical drama stars Mathieu Almaric as the editor who’s left suffering from locked-in syndrome after having a stroke. The film is based on the very book Bauby wrote while "locked in." He used a method of blinking in order to communicate the words he wanted to write.
The film won a number of prestigious awards and was nominated for several more, at the Golden Globes, the Cannes film Festival, and the BAFTAs, among others. It is widely regarded by many critics as one of the best films of the decade and, on Rotten Tomatoes, it has nearly a 95% fresh score.
Cinderella Man (2005)
This 2005 and film tells the tale of Boxer James Braddock, played by Russell Crowe. Braddock was a promising contender in the 1920s, but his career was cut short after an injury. But in the 1930s he made a surprising comeback, which was good news for a country desperate for it in the midst of the Great Depression. Braddock became famous for his deadly counterpunching style, mighty right hand, and his chin of iron.
The film grossed over $100 million at the box office and received three Academy Award nominations. It holds an 80% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, a 69% on Metacritic, and opened to mostly positive reviews.
The Big Sick (2017)
Zoe Kazan stars in this Judd Apatow romantic drama about a young couple who come from very different worlds and must face incredible hardships together. Kazan plays grad student Emily V Gordon, who falls in love with a man from a traditional Muslim family in the Oscar-nominated picture. While Kazan plays Gordon, Kumail Nanjiani actually plays himself in biographical account of his relationship with his now-wife.
The Big Sick premiered at Sundance in 2017, and was nominated for a number of awards, including the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay. It won the 2018 Critics Choice Award for Best Comedy. It grossed $56 million against a budget of $5 million and was one of the most critically acclaimed films of the year.
The Farewell (2019)
This 2019 dramedy (comedy-drama) follows a Chinese American family (based on writer/director Lulu Wang’s experiences,) who work hard to get together one last time with their grandmother when they learn that she has little time left on earth, due to a case of terminal lung cancer. Actress Awkwafina channels the true experiences of the director Wang and her journey to China to bid farewell to her dying grandmother. Fun fact. Wang's grandmother is still alive.
The film had a budget of $3 million and managed to earn more than $22 million back at the box office. It holds a whopping 98% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, one of the highest on the list so far. Awkwafina won the Oscar for Best Actress for her work as Lulu in the film.
Apollo 13 (1995)
This 1995 film stars Tom Hanks as one of the astronauts on the ill-fated Apollo 13 mission to the moon. The film tells the tale of the 1970 lunar mission, headed up by astronaut Jim Lovell, (Hanks). Although it seems the mission will end in disaster, the men make it home safely, but not before dealing with chaos in space.
It grossed more than $355 million in the box office and has a 96% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes. It one a number of awards including two Oscars for Best Sound and Best Film Editing, and it was nominated for seven more.
Reversal of Fortune (1990)
This film, based on a 1985 book and released in 1990, tells the strange tale of an attempted murder and an unexplained coma. Claus von Bulow’s socialite wife, Sunny, winds up in a coma Claus, who’s played by Glenn Close, is the main suspect.
Infamous defense attorney Alan Dershowitz is called in but initially turns down the case because he’s convinced Claus is guilty as well. However, he winds up taking it on and employing some of his law students to help him. The film won was nominated for several awards and holds a 92% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
Hidden Figures (2016)
This 2016 film tells the story of the unsung heroes behind John Glenn’s journey into space. It stars Taraji P. Henson as Katherine Johnson, as well as Octavia Spencer, and Janelle Monáe. The three women worked as mathematicians for NASA and were responsible for creating the codes that set the whole mission into play in 1962. The mathematician fought racism and sexism while at the same time working on the calculations necessary for the initial space shuttle launches in the 1950s and ’60s. An entire building was named after Katherine Johnson at NASA’s Langley Research Center.
The film grossed nearly $170 million and was the highest-grossing film included in the Best Picture nominees at the 89th Academy Awards, where it was up for three total awards, which also included a nomination for Best Supporting Actress for Spencer’s work in the production.
Out of Africa (1985)
Meryl Streep stars as Karen Blixen and this three-hour-long 1985 romantic drama. But although it may be super long hit 17 Academy Awards including best director for Sydney Pollack. Blixen, a wealthy unmarried woman is taken advantage of by her new husband who goes behind her back and spends her money on a coffee plantation.
Street meets up with a handsome hunter, Denys, played by Robert Redford and starts up a steamy affair. Unfortunately, Denys doesn’t turn out to be quite the person Blixen’s hoping for, either, so, though it’s categorized as a romance, it isn’t necessarily one that has a happy ending.
Truman Capote was an American playwright and novelist responsible for creating a number of literary classics. Perhaps one of his most famous pieces is the 1958 novella, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, which would become the basis of the legendary film starring Audrey Hepburn. Capote's early writing extended the Southern Gothic genre. His works such as "In Cold Blood" and "Breakfast at Tiffany "have been hugely influential in American literature.
Capote follows the writer, played by Philip Seymour Hoffman, through his work on another piece, Cold Blood. The film was released in 2005 on Capote’s birthday and won a number of awards and nominations. Hoffman won over a dozen awards for his performance in the film alone, including the Oscar for Best Actor.
The Pianist (2002)
Roman Polanski produces and directs this 2002 biographical war drama based on a 1946 book of the same name, which is a Holocaust memoir by pianist and composer, Władysław Szpilman. The pianist while keeping the music alive managed to keep hidden from the nazis but tragically lost his entire family to the concentration camps. Szpilman is played by Adrien Brody, who was praised for his work in the role.
The film itself also received multiple awards and nominations including it’s win for Best Director at the 75th fifth Academy Awards, where Brody also received the award for Best Actor. Brody was also nominated for that year’s Golden Globe. It grossed over $120 million at the box office against a budget of $35 million.
American Sniper (2014)
Bradley Cooper portrays US Navy seal Chris Kyle in this 2014 film directed by Clint Eastwood. The movie, which is based on Kyle’s autobiography, follows the marksman who is regarded as the deadliest in military history, with a recorded 255+ kills in his four tours of duty.
American Sniper was nominated for six different awards at the 87th seventh Academy Awards, including Best Actor for Cooper’s work in the film. It grossed over $547 million, making it the highest-grossing film of the year, and also the director’s highest-grossing film to date. On Google, more than 92% of users liked the movie.
A Beautiful Mind (2001)
Russell Crowe stars as John Nash in this 2001 film about the Nobel Laureate and Abel prize winner for his notable work on game theory. Directed by Ron Howard and written by Akiva Goldsman it was inspired by a 1998 best-selling book by Sylvia Nasar that was nominated for a Pulitzer.
The film went on to win four Academy Awards including Best Director, Picture, Adapted Screenplay, and Supporting Actress. Crowe was up for Best Actor for his performance as well. Jennifer Connelly also received a number of accolades for her work in the film.
Midnight Express (1978)
Brad Davis stars as Billy Hayes, an ill-fated young student who’s arrested after being busted attempting to smuggle drugs internationally. The film shows the hardships he endured in a Turkish prison, where he was unfortunately trapped for a very long time.
Though he was originally sentenced to four years, a corrupt court adds several decades on to his sentence, pushing him into agreeing to go along with an escape attempt. The attempt fails, and things only get worse for Billy, who winds up losing his mind and going to the prison’s ward for the insane.
127 Hours (2010)
In this gripping biographical film, James Franco plays mountain climber Aron Ralston, who finds himself in a pretty horrifying situation in a canyon in Utah in 2003. The adventurer was exploring the area when a boulder trapped him in a narrow, isolated slot – and he hadn’t told anyone where he was going. What he does to get out of there is truly horrifying. Though thankfully he lived to tell the tale.
The film follows Ralston’s (Franco’s) struggles to stay alive in the extreme heat with nothing but a single bottle of water to keep him going. It was nominated for three Golden Globes and has a 93% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
My Week With Marilyn (2011)
This 2011 drama stars Michele Williams, playing the role of Marilyn Monroe in the late 50s over a week-long period while honeymooning with her new husband, the famed playwright Arthur Miller. Despite being in the idyllic countryside, showbiz stresses drive the actress into a dangerous state of exhaustion.
The film’s reviews were, for the most part, positive, with nearly everyone praising Williams’ performance. Aside from her Golden Globe, she won a number of other awards for playing the sultry superstar, including the 2011 Hollywood Film Festival award for best actress, and she was nominated for several more.
“Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee,” said Muhammad Ali, one of the greatest boxers the world’s ever seen, though also someone who, like most humans, dealt with his fair share of inner demons. The film follows Ali on his quest to find God, which leads him to convert to Islam (which is in fact how he got his famous name.)
Will Smith plays the boxer on screen in the 2001 movie, which was met with positive reviews, but not too many ticket sales. Smith was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor, as was co-star Jon Voight.
This 2012 film stars Anthony Hopkins as legendary director Alfred Hitchcock and follows his relationship with his wife, played by Helen Mirren. The film depicts the "Master of Suspense" and the boldest choice of his career, directing "Psycho." The director famously financed his own film and almost destroyed his marriage in the process.
Even though the movie was both about, and starring, industry icons, it didn’t do very well at the box office. Critics and audiences were mixed in their reviews, as it currently sits at around 60% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes. It’s been called a “feel-good frolic,” and “smart and entertaining.” It was nominated for a number of awards, including the Academy award for Best Makeup and Hairstyling.
The Blind Side (2009)
Sandra Bullock stars in this award-winning film based on the life of football player Michael Oher, played by Quinton Aaron, and the woman who stood behind him through it all, Leigh Ann Tuohy (Bullock,) and helped get his career in professional football off the ground.
The film was released in 2009 and was adapted from a 2006 novel of the same name by Michael Lewis. Bullock won an Academy Award for her performance as Tuohy, and The Blind Side itself was up for Best Picture. It grossed more than $300 million at the box office.
The Doors (1991)
This 1991 film centers around the life of Jim Morrison, played by Val Kilmer, along with the rest of The Doors, and their rock-and-roll lifestyle that included plenty of drugs, sex, and alcohol. The actual band members weren’t very pleased when the film came out, because they didn’t appreciate the way Morrison was portrayed. So much for Kilmer's attempt!
Meg Ryan shares the screen with Kilmer to play Morrison’s former companion, Pamela Courson, in the production. with Grossing just $34 million against a $38 million budget, the movie definitely flopped at the box office, though it still gained some traction later on and has become somewhat of a cult film.
Erin Brockovich (2000)
Julia Roberts stars in the 2000 film based on the life of Erin Brockovich, who worked to expose the wrongdoings of energy giant, Pacific Gas & Electric Company. Brockovich had found evidence that the corporation was responsible for people in the area getting sick and did everything she could from her position as a law clerk to show the public what they were up to.
Roberts won an Oscar for her performance in the title role, though the film received mixed reviews. Still, it wound up grossing more than $257 million at the box office..
Into The Wild (2007)
In this 2007 film, written and directed by Sean Penn, Emile Hirsch stars as rich kid turned wanderer, Christopher McCandless. McCandless was born into a wealthy family and graduated at the top of his class from an Ivy League university. But he gives it all up to trek through the Alaskan wilderness on a soul search.
The wanderer literally burns the rest of his cash and takes off down the Colorado River, ready to begin his new life in the wild. But, ill-prepared and starving, he accidentally eats a poisonous plant and dies in his sleeping bag in an abandoned bus.
This 1991 political thriller is directed by Oliver Stone, and dives into the events leading up to the assassination of the former president, John F. Kennedy. The film stars Kevin Costner as New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison, who headed up the investigation against Lee Harvey Oswald. Amidst the investigation, Jim Garrison faces a surprising amount of government resistance, causing him to shut it down but reopen it later.
JFK was adapted from the 1988 book, On the Trail of the Assassins, written by Jim Garrison. Although it was seen as somewhat controversial is received critical acclaim and was nominated for eight Academy Awards, including Best Director and Best Picture. It was the sixth highest-grossing film of the year in 1991.
I Shot Andy Warhol (1996)
This 1996 film is based on the life of the radical feminist writer, Valerie Solanas. Actress Lili Taylor portrays Solanas during the dark and troubling time in her life that led her to murdering Andy Warhol. The story goes that after Solanas felt rejected by Warhol, she then tried to get her book published by French publisher Maurice Girodias. After confusion over the rights, she felt compelled to kill Warhol after feeling that him and Giordas were conspiring against her.
After a mental health evaluation, Solanas was declared mentally unstable and transferred to the prison ward of Elmhurst Hospital. The film was first screened in 1996 at Cannes, opening up to mainly positive reviews, and holds a 75% approval rating from critics on Rotten Tomatoes. It holds the same score on fellow review site, Metacritic.
Angelina Jolie stars as an aspiring supermodel, Gia Marie Carangi, in this 1998 made-for-TV HBO film. The movie follows as Carangi moves to the city from Philadelphia and immediately catches a big break. Unfortunately, the life she finds comes along with drug addiction, which leads her down a dark path that ends in her catching AIDS from shooting up Heroin. Much of the film reveals the real life of Gia who, at the height of her career during the 70s and 80s spiraled downwards from drug addiction. She tragically died from AIDS-related complications.
Angelina Jolie won a Golden Globe for her performance, as did supporting actress Faye Dunaway, who played the role of famed modeling agent, Wilhemina Cooper. The film also won the Emmy for Outstanding Single-Camera Picture Editing in a Miniseries or Movie.
Great Balls of Fire! (1989)
Dennis Quaid plays Jerry Lee Lewis in this 1989 film about the music star’s rise to rock-and-roll fame – and his incestuous and highly controversial marriage to his cousin, played by Winona Ryder, – who was just 13-years old at the time of the nuptials (which took place in Mississippi.) Aside from his highly publicized and controversial marriage, Lewis was once dubbed the face of rock'n'roll and one of the most influential pianists of the 20th century.
Lewis actually rerecorded several of his songs from the 1950s for the film soundtrack including the title track, Great Balls of Fire. Ryder won an award for best young artist starring a motion picture at the Young Artist Awards in 1990. It flopped at the box office, grossing just over $13 million worldwide.ife.
Charlie Wilson’s War (2007)
Tom Hanks plays 1980s party boy Congressman Charlie Wilson in this 2007 biographical dramedy, also starring Julia Roberts and Philip Seymour Hoffman. The film was adapted from a novel titled: Charlie Wilson’s War: The Extraordinary Story of the Largest Covert Operation in History, written by George Criley III in 2003. Charlie Wilson worked together with the CIA operative Gust Avrakotos in order to formulate Operation Cyclone, a program that was created to organize and support the Afghan jihadists during the Soviet-Afghan War
Although the film was nominated for seven Academy Awards, and five Golden Globe awards, including Best Motion Picture, it didn’t win for any of the categories. It was nominated for a number of other awards as well and holds an eighty-two percent approval on Rotten Tomatoes..
J. Edgar (2011)
Leonardo DiCaprio stars in this 2011 biographical drama about J. Edgar Hoover, head of the FBI for nearly five decades. Hoover first gained control of the organization in 1919, and the film follows his rise to power and his troubled personal life. The real-life Hoover was director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) for 48 years and was regarded as the architect of the FBI. The organization was initially a rather weak wing of the federal government, but through his work, it became one of the strongest investigative agency.
Directed by Clint Eastwood, the film also includes Naomi Watts, Josh Lucas, Judi Dench, and Armie Hammer. DiCaprio earned a Golden Globe nomination, and both he and Hammer received nods at the Screen Actors Guild Awards. The film also made the Top Ten list at the National Board of Review.
Mark Wahlberg stars in this athletic drama about a 30-year-old bartender/high school teacher named Vince Papale, who realizes his lifelong dreams of becoming a professional football player when he gets the chance to play for the Philadelphia Eagles. While Papale never actually scored an NFL touchdown as the movie portrays, he was obviously good enough that he impressed the Eagles coach.
Unfortainely, pro football aside, Papale leads a fairly average life, but sees himself as a failure, as does his wife, who decides to leave him. Afterward, he scores a spot as kicker on the Eagles, who proceed to lose the first six games of the preseason with their new kicker. The film holds a 72% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
This 2006 film was made with a budget of just $4.3 million, $1.3 million of which went to star, Jet Li’s, salary. The film is directed by Ronnie Yu, and features Li as a master martial artist, and co-founder of the Chin Woo Athletic Association in Shanghai, Huo Yuanjia. The martial arts expert became a hero in China for defeating foreign fighters in highly publicized competitions during a time when Chinese independence was under threat by foreign imperialism.
Critics and audiences for the most part regard the film as a success, and it holds a 73% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The descendants of Huo Yuanjia weren’t happy with the way it made their ancestors seem violent, however. In fact, they were so unhappy that they decided to sue filmmakers.
This 2003 American sports film is based on the 1995 best-selling book by the same name written by Laura Hillenbrand. The movie is directed (and written) by Gary Ross, and centers around a champion racehorse named Seabiscuit, during the Great Depression. The legendary horse was overlooked and completely underestimated and never considered an adequate racehorse. After his unexpected success, he became a symbol of hope and strength during the Great Depression.
The film stars Tobey Maguire Jeff Bridges and Chris Cooper, and features Elizabeth Banks. It was nominated for seven Academy Awards, including the award for Best Picture, and Best Writing. The film's cinematography received plenty of its own accolades, including an Oscar nomination, and a win from the American Society of Cinematographers.
Lonely Hearts (2006)
Todd Robinson writes and directs this 2006 neo-noir film based on the story of the “Lonely Hearts Killers”, Martha Beck and Raymond Fernandez. Jared Leto stars as Fernandez, opposite Salma Hayek as Beck, to portray the couple who terrorized the country on a crime spree murdering over a dozen women in the 1940s. While the couple was ultimately convicted of only one murder, they were suspected of being responsible for 20 victims during the spree between 1947 and 1949.
Unfortunately, the movie made less than $3 million dollars at the box office, not too much more than one of the star’s salary alone. John Travolta also appeared in the film playing one of the detectives who is hot on the couple’s heels.
Angelina Jolie stars in this 2008 film produced by Clint Eastwood. The film tells the strange tale of a woman named Christine Collins, who lives in California in the 1920s. When her missing son is returned to her, she realizes that it isn’t in fact her son, but when she tries to explain this to authorities, she is labeled as insane and locked up in a mental hospital. The real Christine Collins rose to prominence after her story made national headlines. It was discovered during the Trial Testimony of Gordon that her son was ultimately killed in the Wineville Chicken Coop Murders led by a man named Gordon Stewart Northcott. He was executed in San Quentin in 1930.
The film premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in 2008, where it opened to critical acclaim. It was nominated for several awards at the 81st Academy Awards, including Best Capital Actress in a Leading Role for Jolie’s portrayal of Collins.
The Imitation Game (2014)
This historical drama stars Benedict Cumberbatch as Alan Turing, a cryptanalyst who worked for the British government decrypting German intelligence messages during WWII. The film follows his endeavors in trying to crack a Nazi code that is regarded to be uncrackable. The renowned code-breaking war hero, essentially pioneered considered computer science and artificial intelligence. As a homosexual, he was also criminally convicted and faced terrible treatment under U.K.'s homophobic law.
Instead of jail time, he opted for hormone therapy and chemical castration. As the final screen on the film reveals, however, after a year of therapy, he committed suicide at 41-years old.
The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)
Leonardo DiCaprio, who also helped to produce the movie, stars in this 2013 production as stockbroker, Jordan Belfort. The film follows along to tell the tale of the banker turned criminal, who got wrapped up in fraud and corruption on Wall Street, leading him down a dark path that ended behind bars. The real Belfort was involved in some outlandish scenarios that are eerily close to the way they are depicted in the film.
Margot Robbie plays the conman’s wife, and Jonah Hill costars as his partner and friend. It grossed nearly $117 million at the box office, and was nominated for five Academy Awards, including Best Picture, and Best Director for Martin Scorsese’s work on the film.
Charlize Theron is nearly unrecognizable on screen in her role as Florida prostitute turned serial killer, Aileen Wuornos in Monster. The biographical drama follows the troubled woman along in her endeavors as she’s beaten, battered and bruised to a point that turns her into a killer. It's a tragic story that raises questions about the American justice system and the treatment of women.
Aside from following her abuse and string of murders, it tells the tale of her falling in love with another woman, played by Christina Ricci. Wuornos was ultimately executed by the state of Florida for her crimes, while Theron received an Oscar for her performance in the role.
The Theory of Everything (2014)
This biographical romantic drama stars Eddie Redmayne as legendary physicist extraordinaire, Stephen Hawking. The English genius was a theoretical physicist, cosmologist, and author who was director of research at the Centre for Theoretical Cosmology at the University of Cambridge at the time of his death. The film was adapted from a 2007 novel, based on the scientist’s relationship with his wife, Jane, titled: Travelling to Infinity: My Life with Stephen .
The Theory of Everything follows Hawking’s rise in science, along with his diagnosis and decline of health. It received a number of positive reviews, as well as five Oscar nominations. At the British Academy Film Awards, it was up for ten accolades. In the film, Redmayne shares the screen with Felicity Jones, Charlie Cox, Emma Watson, and Harry Lloyd, among others.
The Social Network (2010)
In this 2010 hit, Jesse Eiesenberg stars as Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, before he found his fortune. Today, Zuckerberg has a net worth of over $88 billion, but the film dives into the fact that some of his old classmates at Harvard sued him, claiming that the idea that led to what is now known as Facebook was stolen from them. The film reveals the darker side to Zuckerberg and his unmatched ambition.
The Social Network managed to bag eight Academy Award nominations and won for three, including Best Adapted Screenplay. It was also voted 27 out of 100 on a list of the best films of the century, created by 117 different critics.
Bohemian Rhapsody (2018)
Bohemian Rhapsody is a 2018 film, with the same title as one of the most popular songs of the band/lead singer that it’s based around. Rami Malek plays Freddie Mercury, the frontman of the legendary band Qeen who’s dealing with both inner and outer turmoil in his shortlived career, as well as his struggles with the AIDS virus.
Malek earned an Oscar for his role in the picture, which grossed over $900 million at the box office, making it the highest-grossing film of all time, at the time of its release. The film received mixed reviews from critics and audiences alike, as it only holds a 60% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
Harvey Milk was the first openly gay politician in California’s history. Milk didn’t get involved in politics, nor reveal his orientation until he was 40-years old. Actor Sean Penn dove into the portrayal of Milk and his quest to transform his area into a haven for LGBT folks during the 70s. The politician initially opened a camera shop in the Castro District before going into politics. In 1977 he became the nation's first openly gay in public office.
In the 2008 film, he’s played by Sean Penn, who the Academy Award for Best Actor for his performance. Josh Brolin plays Milk’s predecessor in office, Dan White, who ultimately winds up murdering the activist, motivated by his hatred for those with different sexual preferences. The film was made with a modest $1 million budget and received a number of awards and nominations, including a whopping 8 Oscars.
Steve Jobs was one of the wealthiest men in the world before his death in 2011. In this film, the Apple co-founder and CEO was portrayed by Ashton Kutcher. It follows Jobs on his rise to success and shows how it all affected his personal life. Jobs is widely known as a pioneer of the PC or personal computer revolution of the 1970s and 1980s. As most of us know, the leaders of this game were him and Bill Gates.
Although the Business Insider described the film’s $6.7 million openings as a flop, and it only holds a 26% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, many critics spoke very highly of it. And, even those who weren’t big fans of the film itself gave Kutcher kudos for his performance.
I’m Not There (2007)
I’m Not There takes an interesting approach to portray superstar Bob Dylan. Rather than having one actor play him throughout, they use different stars for different stages of his life. Cate Blanchett, Christian Bale, Heath Ledger, Richard Gere, and Marcus Carl Franklin all come together to play “the many lives of Bob Dylan.” Bob Dylan, in case you didn't know, was one of the most influential songwriters in modern music history.
The title of the 2007 film was pulled from Dylan’s 1967 Basement Tape recording of the same name. Blanchett won a Golden Globe for her performance and was nominated for several others, though the film only ultimately saw about $20 million in revenue at the box office.
Gorillas in the Mist (1988)
Sigourney Weaver stars as Diane Fossey, one of the best primatologists in the world, who travels around studying great apes and working to protect animals from poachers. Unfortunately, the poachers get to Fossey (Weaver) to murder her in her sleep. She is buried in the same graveyard as many of the apes she’s worked within the past.
The film received mixed reviews, but it won a number of awards, including two Golden Globes: Best Actress and Best Original Score. Weaver was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role for her work in the film.
Saving Mr. Banks (2013)
This 2013 picture stars Tom Hanks as the infamous Walt Disney and centers around the development of his 1964 masterpiece, Mary Poppins. The film follows Disney's 20-year battle to get the rights for Mary Poppins. Emma Thompson plays the author P.L. Travers. The writer was extremely against letting her beloved novel gett caught up in a Hollywood production but eventually agrees, though quite reluctantly.
Saving Mr. Banks received a number of nominations at the 67th British Academy Film Awards and received a nomination for Best Original Score at the 86th Academy Awards. And, even though the film wasn’t up for Best Picture or Best Actress that year, it was widely regarded as being a front-runner for both.
Catch Me If You Can (2002)
Well, if you want to talk box office hits, let’s talk about Catch Me If You Can , which grossed more than $350 million at the box office in 2002. The star-studded film is directed by Steven Spielberg and stars Leonardo DiCaprio as conman Frank Abagnale who was one of the most notorious impostors to have ever lived. It's been claimed that Abagnale assumed no less than eight identities, including an airline pilot, a physician, a U.S. Bureau of Prisons agent, and a lawyer.
Also in the film are Tom Hanks, Christopher Walken, Nathalie Baye, and Martin Sheen. On Rotten Tomatoes, it has a cool 96% fresh rating, and Roger Ebert gave it a glowing review, saying, “This is not a major Spielberg film, but it’s an effortlessly watchable one.”
Ray Liotta stars as mafia man Henry Hill in this major hit, directed by the legendary Martin Scorsese. Henry Hill was a notorious mobster who was involved in one of the greatest mafia takedowns in history when he became an FBI informant, The film was based on the book Wiseguy , by Nicholas Pileggi, and is arguably one of the best gangster movies of all time. It took 12 drafts for Scorsese and Pileggi to come up with the final script.
The film grossed nearly $47 million at the box office and holds over a 95% fresh rating on the famous review site, Rotten Tomatoes. Critics and audiences both praised the film, and everyone involved, and it won (and was nominated for) several accolades.
Steven Spielberg directed and produced this 2012 biographical historical drama, which stars Daniel Day-Lewis as the former president in the midst of the Civil War. With a nation filled with bloodshed, the president must go ahead with his legacy-defining move of abolishing slavery and uniting the nation. Sally Field played first lady Mary Todd Lincoln, who tries her best to support her husband through troubled times.
Day-Lewis won several awards for his role in the film, including the 2013 Golden Globe and Academy Award for Best Actor. It was nominated for a total of seven Golden Globes and 12 Oscars. The film grossed more than $275 million at the box office – not bad, compared to the $65 million budget.
Ray Charles, AKA the Genius, or, Brother Ray, to those who knew him best, was a soul musician who lost his eyesight during childhood due to glaucoma. The musician has been credited for basically pioneering soul music during the 1950s by combining blues, jazz, rhythm and blues, and gospel into his music. In the 2004 film, Jamie Foxx portrays the legend, who wounded up with three number one hits on Billboard’s Hot 100 during the course of his 30-year career in music.
The film debuted just a few months after the musician passed away in 2004. Jamie Foxx won a number of awards for his work in the lead role, including both the Academy Award and Golden Globe Award for Best Actor.
The King’s Speech (2010)
This historical drama stars Colin Firth as Prince Albert (eventually George VI). The film follows the true story behind the future king's speech therapy and how he famously conquered his speech impediment with eccentric Australian actor and speech therapist, Lionel Logue. The royal managed to conquer it and give Britain the sense of spirit she needed before entering World War II. The two developed an incredible friendship.
Firth won the Academy Award for Best Actor at the 83rd Academy Awards, where the movie also won for Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Original Screenplay. It received a whopping 12 Oscar nominations, more than any other picture of that year. The film holds the 2010 record for the highest-grossing film of the year.
Walk the Line (2005)
In this 2005 film, Joaquin Phoenix stars as a legendary musician, Johnny Cash. Cash was one of the greatest American country singers that ever lived and ended up selling over 90 million records worldwide. The film follows his life and is actually based on two of Cash’s autobiographies and follows his romance with June Carter (played by Reese Witherspoon,) along with his rise into superstardom.
The actor enrolled himself into a self-made "rock'n' roll boot camp. He taught himself guitar and took rigorous vocal lessons, often embarrassing himself on the mic. His transformation did not happen overnight! Walk the Line grossed over $187 million at the box office, $23 million of which came on the opening weekend alone. It won several awards and was nominated for many more which included five Oscars. Witherspoon won the Oscar for best actress, and Phoenix won the Golden Globe Award for Best Actor.