Biopic films are a brilliant way of learning more about your favourite historical figures. Packed with drama and fascinating insight into the lives of icons and celebrities, they can be a source of endless entertainment as well as the ideal way to delve into the past.
With new films such as Back to Back and Bob Marley: One Love set to be released later this year, we’ve compiled a list of the eight best biopics to watch while you wait.
Based on the incredible life of the French leader Napoleon Bonaparte, this epic historical drama will transport you straight to the Battle of Waterloo.
From the portrayal of Napoleon and Josephine’s relationship – brought to life by stars Joaquin Phoenix and Vanessa Kirby – to the intense cavalry charges, this biopic will have you on the edge of your seat.
You can watch Napoleon now on AppleTV+.
2. 12 Years a Slave
Inspired by the memoir of the same name, 12 Years a Slave follows the true story of Solomon Northup. After being kidnapped from his home in 1841, he was sold into slavery on the plantations of Louisiana for 12 years before finally being released.
This powerful and emotional biopic was nominated for nine Academy Awards and won three. Steve McQueen was the first Black British producer and director to win Best Picture in Oscar history, and since its release, the film has been named one of the greatest films since 2000.
You can find 12 Years a Slave on Netflix.
3. One Life
Sir Nicholas Winton, an average British stockbroker, left for Czechoslovakia in 1938 to assist the British Committee for Refugees. He helped to facilitate the Kindertransport rescue, where over 10,000 mostly Jewish children were able to relocate to the UK before the second world war broke out.
Winton alone is credited with saving the lives of 669 children who were moved from their homes before the Nazi occupation. One Life celebrates his incredible humanitarian effort, and stars Sir Anthony Hopkins alongside Lena Olin and Helena Bonham Carter.
One Life is still available to watch in cinemas.
Oppenheimer was at the epicentre of pop culture in July last year after it was released on the same day as Barbie. The biopic follows J. Robert Oppenheimer (played by Cillian Murphy) and his involvement in the Manhattan Project as he leads a team to create the atomic bomb.
With stunning music and sound design, an impressive cast, and a fascinating history, Oppenheimer is a modern biopic masterpiece. If you want to experience it for yourself, you can rent it on Amazon Prime Video now.
5. Hidden Figures
Not every person vital to NASA’s efforts during the space race was credited for their work. Hidden Figures, based on the book of the same name, celebrates the lives of three mathematicians who helped change the world.
Mary Jackson and Dorothy Vaughan were NASA’s first female African American engineer and supervisor respectively. And Katherine Goble calculated the trajectories for the Apollo 11 and space shuttle missions and has been awarded a Presidential Medal of Freedom.
You can learn more about their fascinating story by watching Hidden Figures on Disney+.
Taron Egerton embodies Elton John brilliantly in this entertaining jukebox musical retelling of his life. An amazing celebration of a beloved icon, Rocketman explores Elton John’s friendship with Bernie Taupin, his rise to fame, and his struggles with drugs and alcoholism.
Rocketman is available to rent from Amazon Prime Video.
Sofia Coppola responded to the success of Elvis in 2022 with her film focused on his tumultuous relationship with Priscilla Presley. They first started dating when Elvis was 24 and Priscilla was 14, and the age gap – among other problems – are explored in Priscilla.
With Priscilla Presley serving as an executive producer and Cailee Spaeny bringing the titular role to life, this biopic is a heart-wrenching rollercoaster from beginning to end. You can still catch Priscilla in cinemas.
8. Can You Ever Forgive Me?
Melissa McCarthy stars as Lee Israel in this comedic biopic detailing the true story of how she tried to revitalise her failing writing career by forging letters from dead authors and playwrights. Adding juicy details to raise her prices, Lee and her partner in crime, Jack (played by Richard E. Grant), go to increasingly extreme lengths to convince people the forgeries are real.
A perfect balance between hilarity and poignant moments, Can You Ever Forgive Me? is a witty film about an unexpected career criminal. You can watch it now on Disney+.