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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
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sid and nancy
THE KOBAL COLLECTION/ZENITH-INITIAL/GOLDWYN

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BEST: 'Sid and Nancy' (1986)

You couldn't make a clean, tidy biopic of the Sex Pistols bassist and posterboy for punk nihilism Sid Vicious; it had to be ragged, unkempt, as filthy as lucre and spat gobs. Alex Cox certainly delivered a film that met that criteria, one that captures the early spirit-of-77 punk vibe in London that produced a star like El Sid. He was also smart enough to cast someone like a young, hungry Gary Oldman as the feral musician, a move which made all the difference — the actor throws himself into the part with an all-or-nothing gusto that shows the bright flame and the burning out all at once. (Pity poor Chloe Webb, who gives a great parasitic performance as Nancy Spungen then virtually disappeared for a long while.) Johnny Rotten thought the movie was "the lowest form of life," saying the film glorified heroin usage (well, no) and that the ride-into-the-heavens ending was truly phony (okay, we'll give you that). But before that false final note, Cox's movie hits its notes far more than the often-unplugged bassist ever did. DAVID FEAR

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