Reality Bites: The 25 Best and Worst Biopics

From raging bulls to lizard kings, we look back at the great (and the grating) movies that took on true-life stories
raging bull the doors
TriStar Pictures/courtesy Everett Collection; Courtesy of United Artists

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When they are done right, they can make you feel you know a famous — or infamous — person intimately, garner awards for their actors and creators, and remind you of what the movies can do best. When they're done wrong, they can make you want to scream at the screen, slap your head with your palm and tempt you to throw away any beloved CDs, books, DVDS, etc., that you may associate with the subject at hand. We're talking about biopics: those films that take the real-life stories of musicians, politicians, artists, atheletes and other famous folks, and mine them for reel-life fodder.

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We wouldn't be surprised if, in the future, everyone will be the subject of a biopic for 15 minutes. But for now, it's still the domain of artists like Jimi Hendrix, whose own long-awaited biopic — Jimi: All Is By My Side, starring André 3000 and directed by Oscar-winning screenwriter John Ridley (12 Years a Slave) —  makes it's U.S. premiere at SXSW. Time will tell whether this entry enters the pantheon or its Hall of Shame, but until then, we've got 25 of the best and worst the genre has to offer.


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