Biopics are having a moment in the world of entertainment right now, with plenty of exciting films heading to cinemas and streaming platforms this year. Here are seven that you definitely won’t want to miss.
Of all the challenges an actor can take on in their career, becoming someone else is surely one of the most daunting. Get it right, and you’re on a straightforward path to Oscars glory. Get it wrong, and a career can plummet into obscurity.
There are plenty of actors who have captured the spirit of a person so perfectly that you don’t really needing to know anything about them before watching the film. Think of Margot Robbie’s transformation into professional figure skater Tonya Harding in I, Tonya, Taron Egerton as Elton John in Rocketman, Benedict Cumberbatch as code breaker Alan Turing in The Imitation Game or even Lily James and Sebastian Stan’s recent performances in Pam & Tommy, and it’s easy to forget that you’re watching a fictionalised persona.
And the era of the great biographical drama is only just beginning. This year sees the dramatisation of the lives of some of our favourite public figures, by actors who are sure to become strong contenders during the next awards season. From Ana de Armas’ turn as Hollywood icon Marilyn Monroe and Naomi Ackie’s tribute to Whitney Houston, to Austin Butler’s portrayal of the King of Rock ’n’ Roll Elvis Presley, there are plenty of unmissable films coming to our screens this year. Below, we’ve rounded up the best ones to keep an eye on in the months to come.
Set to be released on Netflix this year, Blonde tells the story of one of the most famous women of the 20th century, Marilyn Monroe.
Based on the book of the same name by Joyce Carol Oates and starring the latest Bond girl, Ana de Armas, the film will give a fictionalised account of Monroe’s life, including her childhood, rise to fame, and controversial marriages and relationships. It’s generated plenty of buzz recently for becoming the streaming platform’s first NC-17 movie, and the first-look images of Armas with Monroe’s blonde curls certainly capture the resemblance of the Hollywood icon. Not only that, but Oates herself has seen a rough cut of the film and claims that it’s a “startling, brilliant, very disturbing and [perhaps most surprisingly] an utterly ‘feminist’ interpretation”. Consider us very excited indeed.
Written and directed by larger-than-life producer Baz Luhrmann, known for his colourful adaptations of Romeo + Juliet and Moulin Rouge!, long-awaited musical biopic Elvis pays tribute to one of America’s most famous and tragic figures, Elvis Presley.
Starring Austin Butler in the titular role, the film follows the relationship between the King of Rock ’n’ Roll, and his manager Colonel Tom Parker (Tom Hanks) who saw the singer through over 20 years of ups and downs. Having premiered to a standing ovation at the Cannes Film Festival this week, critics are raving about Butler’s magnetic performance, who not only takes on Elvis’ drawl but plays the guitar, too. Get ready for a burst of star-spangled showmanship.
The film is set to be released in cinemas on 24 June 2022.
Upcoming biopic Oppenheimer has the potential to become one of the biggest blockbusters of recent times. Not only is it helmed by the Oscar-nominated director Christopher Nolan, but it tells the story of the father of the atomic bomb who would come to be known by the infamous words, “Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds”: J Robert Oppenheimer.
Upcoming biopic Oppenheimer has the potential to become one of the biggest blockbusters of recent times. Not only is it helmed by the Oscar-nominated director Christopher Nolan, but it tells the story of J Robert Oppenheimer, the father of the atomic bomb who would go on to famously quote from the book of Hindu scriptures, the Bhagavad Gita: “Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds.”
Based on Kai Bird and Martin Sherwin’s Pulitzer Prize-winning biography American Prometheus: The Triumph And Tragedy Of J Robert Oppenheimer, exact plot details for Nolan’s twelfth feature film aren’t known at this time, although the book’s synopsis describes “a brilliant physicist who led efforts to build the atomic bomb for his wartime country, only to be confronted later with the moral consequences of scientific progress”.
What we do know, however, is that half of Hollywood is lined up to appear in the film. Alongside Cillian Murphy as the eponymous scientist, the cast reads like a roll call of the biggest names in the industry right now: Kenneth Branagh, Florence Pugh, Gary Oldman, Robert Downey Jr., Emily Blunt, Matt Damon, Devon Bostick, Josh Peck, Rami Malek, Gustaf Skarsgård, Michael Angarano, Jack Quaid, Jason Clarke, Josh Hartnett, Olivia Thirlby, Alex Wolff, David Dastmalchian, Benny Safdie, Matthew Modine and James D’Arcy, who round out this star-studded ensemble.
Oppenheimer is set for release on 21 July 2023.
I Wanna Dance With Somebody
Ten years after the tragic death of Whitney Houston, a new biopic will explore the epic life and music of the legendary singer.
Directed by Kasi Lemmons (Harriet) and starring Naomi Ackie (Star Wars) as the musical icon, I Wanna Dance With Somebody will be “very frank about the price that super-stardom exacted” while also being “the moving tale of a simple Jersey girl trying to find her way back home”, according to a press release. A poster released last month shows a first look at Ackie’s Houston dressed in a black leather jacket, a white T-shirt and jeans in a memorable pose from the singer’s iconic So Emotional video.
The film will also star Ashton Sanders as Whitney’s ex-husband Bobby Brown, Bria Danielle Singleton as the former couple’s late daughter Bobbi Kristina Brown, Nafessa Williams as Whitney’s former assistant Robyn Crawford and Stanley Tucci as Clive Davis.
I Wanna Dance With Somebody is set to be released in cinemas on 21 December.
Not all biopics centre on high-profile figures from the world of entertainment. But when Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein was exposed for his decades-spanning history of sexual assault and harassment in 2017, two New York Times reporters deservedly gained the spotlight – and now, the story of how Megan Twohey and Jodi Kantor took down the disgraced producer is coming to the big screen.
Adapted from the reporting duo’s book, She Said: Breaking The Sexual Harassment Story That Helped Ignite A Movement, upcoming film She Said follows Twohey and Kantor’s tireless investigation into Weinstein’s history of sexual misconduct.
Not only were the reporters, who will be played by Carey Mulligan and Zoe Kazan, the first to break the story of Weinstein, but their explosive exposé launched the #MeToo movement, helping to drive much-needed change around the subject of sexual assault in Hollywood. Thanks to their efforts, Weinstein was eventually sentenced to 23 years in prison on charges of sexual assault and third-degree rape.
She Said is expected to hit cinemas on 18 November.
With stories of the struggle for racial equality more relevant than ever right now, upcoming movie Till looks set to be one of the most important releases of the year.
Based on extensive research by award-winning filmmaker Keith Beauchamp and directed by Chinonye Chukwu, who helmed the critically acclaimed film Clemency, Till tells the story of Mamie Till-Mobley’s fight for justice for her 14-year-old son, Emmett Louis Till, who was kidnapped, tortured and lynched in 1955 in what remains one of the most horrifying instances of racist violence in America’s history.
Starring Danielle Deadwyler (Watchmen) as Mamie Till-Mobley and Whoopi Goldberg as Till’s grandmother Alma Carthan, Till chronicles Mamie’s decision to have an open casket at Emmett’s funeral and to allow Jet magazine publish David Jackson’s funeral photos in order to ensure people everywhere saw the true horrors of her son’s murder. The decision from the grieving mother was a galvanising moment that led to the creation of the civil rights movement.
Till is expected to be released in cinemas on 7 October 2022.
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Christobel Hastings is Stylist's Entertainment Editor whose specialist interests include pop culture, LGBTQ+ identity and lore.