Throughout the years, biopics have delivered many memorable portrayals of the most legendary historical and contemporary figures. Often these films are criticised because of historical inaccuracy or by a director using too much artistic licence.
However, now and again, there pops up a biopic, which is not only successful, bringing awards to the performers, but the memory of it hangs around for a little longer.
5. Meryl Streep: The Iron Lady (2011)
There are many biopics about politicians. There are also many films, allowing a glimpse at the life of Margaret Thatcher at different moments of her career, from its very start to the most notable moments of her time as British Prime Minister. However, none of these allow a look at her private life the way Phyllida Lloyd’s film does. Meryl Streep portrays the Iron Lady with all her strengths and weaknesses, revealing the person behind the legend.
4. Julia Roberts: Erin Brockovich (2000)
Even to this day, many people often don’t realise that Julia Roberts’s street smart, fast-talking, completely broke, mother of three, former Miss Wichita character really exists. Well, she does exist and continues with her work as President of Brockovich Research and Consulting. Even though Steven Soderbergh’s film didn’t pay much attention to the rest of the characters in the story, reducing them to figures in Erin’s life, it focused completely on its protagonist, who captures the audience from the monologue in the very opening – winning Julia Roberts an Academy Award.
3. Robert Downey Jr: Chaplin (1992)
Although it didn’t get Robert Downey Jr an Academy Award, his portrayal of Charlie Chaplin turned into a legendary, widely acknowledged performance, which still gets mentioned once and again among his credits, somewhere between Iron Man and Sherlock Holmes. At the time, many critics noted that Chaplin lived too long a life, difficult to replicate on film. Nevertheless, Richard Attenborough’s take on the iconic comic actor, director, and cultural figure is still the only one to have managed to staple itself in the minds of the audiences.
2. Joaquin Phoenix & Reese Witherspoon: Walk the Line (2005)
Although it is very hard to imagine anyone embodying only a part of the spirit of Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash, Joaquin Phoenix and Reese Witherspoon somehow managed it in James Mangold’s 2005 film. At first, it seems like Phoenix has simply dressed like Cash, but when he stands on the stage, squares his shoulders, and speaks in a low voice, resembling Cash’s too much, you can’t imagine anyone playing Cash except him. As for Witherspoon, her portrayal as June Carter Cash received a nod from the Academy, so, despite the controversy about accuracy, she must have done something right.
1. Jesse Eisenberg: The Social Network (2010)
OK, this portrayal of a rather popular person didn’t get an Oscar, but then how do you portray the guy who invented Facebook? After holding open auditions in various corners of the United States, it was announced that Jesse Eisenberg would play Mark Zuckerberg in David Fincher’s film. Even though he wasn’t awarded by the Academy, no one can deny that his portrayal of the real-life computer genius as the incredibly interesting and intriguing person. His eyes almost unblinking, delivering Aaron Sorkin’s dialogue mind-blowingly fast, as only someone who is super-intelligent like Zuckerberg would, Jesse Eisenberg’s performance will not be forgotten soon.