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5 biopic movies that got it absolutely right
Still not over the disappointment of Jobs? Then brace yourself, as there’s another Steve Jobs movie in the pipeline which is about to serve up either redemption, or a double shot of misery and a brace of bad biopics.
Admittedly, Jobs wasn’t completely terrible, but a Rotten Tomatoes rating of 23% tells you that critics weren’t exactly bowled over either. You see, the difficulty of portraying a man that prided himself on perfection, is that audiences sort of expect it to be, well, perfect. Ashton Kutcher did his best in the trademark black polo and specs, but perfect? This was a long way off.
The good news is that Hollywood is an industry built on second chances – sequels, adaptations and reboots often make up the bulk of blockbuster season. So, less than two years after the first attempt, we’ll soon see the release of the Danny Boyle-directed Steve Jobs, starring Michael Fassbender in the titular role. Is Fassbender the man for the Jobs? (Ed – oof, sorry) We’ll have to wait and see, but take a look at the trailer below and judge for yourself, then read on for five biopic movies that got it absolutely right.
Five biopic movies that got it right;
1. The Social Network
A movie about Facebook? It was easy to dismiss The Social Network on its release in 2010, but everybody who saw it (well, almost everybody) was won over by Jesse Eisenberg’s assured performance as Mark Zuckerberg. Brilliantly handled by auteur director David Fincher, the movie pulled no punches in telling the story of Facebook’s meteoric, yet troubled and ruthless rise to dominance. Screenwriter Aaron Sorkin won one of the eight Oscars that the movie picked up, and he will also handle the script for Danny Boyle’s Steve Jobs biopic due later this year.
2. Malcolm X
The life and untimely death of Malcolm X is a mammoth undertaking for a biopic, but director Spike Lee does his subject justice in one of his very best movies. Denzel Washington is exceptional in the lead role, narrowly missing out to Al Pacino in Scent of a Woman for the coveted Best Actor Oscar. Still, the movie won plenty of plaudits, ranked by both Martin Scorcese and celebrated critic Roger Ebert as one of the ten best of the 1990s.
3. American Splendor
The subject of American Splendor may not have the glamour or historical significance of most big movie biopics, yet few are this lovingly told. Cartoonist Harvey Pekar is a grumpy everyman, filling his frames with finely observed details of simple, daily struggles. The movie – which shares the name of Pekar’s most successful comic – stars a schlubby Paul Giamatti as Pekar, as well as Pekar himself who interjects at intervals to discuss his work and how it feels to watch himself depicted on screen.
4. La Vie En Rose
Marion Cotillard is at her best acting in her native French tongue, and deservedly picked up the Oscar for her portrayal of Edith Piaf in La Vie En Rose. Following a typically linear narrative form childhood-through-death, Cotillard manages to light up the screen, bringing charisma and compassion to the life of this troubled yet magnificent performer.
Admittedly, it’s odd that two Steve Jobs biopic movies are being released so close together, and the same thing happened with Truman Capote in 2005 and 2006. Capote and Infamous both tell the story of the author’s controversial novel In Cold Blood, and while Toby Jones does a find job in the latter, it’s the late Philip Seymour Hoffman who came out on top, winning an Oscar, BAFTA, Golden Globe and Screen Writers Guild award for his pitch perfect performance.
Did we miss any of your favorite biopic movies? Let us know in the comments below.