12 of the Worst Biopics of All Time (and 12 to Watch Instead)

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Image for nonfiction  titled 12 of the Worst Biopics of All Time (and 12 to Watch Instead)

Andrew Dominik’s NC-17 Blonde has faced contention since its inception: for its rating, for its root worldly (a highly fictionalized Joyce Carol Oates novel), and aboriginal for interviews with its director. A batch of things tin descend a biopic: pedestrian plotting; atrocious performances; atrocious makeup; etc., but sometimes reasonably bully oregon adjacent large movies neglect their subjects by ignoring them wholly successful favour of telling a communicative that the filmmakers privation to tell. Any cinematic instrumentality connected a personage oregon humanities fig is going to beryllium fiction, but immoderate dodge the information much egregiously than others. It’s besides paradoxically existent that movies tin seizure someone’s essence (or astatine slightest their nationalist persona) without getting each the facts straight. It’s a analyzable genre.

The pursuing biopics each autumn abbreviated of their targets, which is not to accidental that they’re each unspeakable (only that astir of them are)—but we’ve besides got amended alternatives if you’re inactive funny successful the lives of Marilyn, Tupac, Diana, Nina, oregon immoderate of these others.

Avoid: Blonde (2022)

Subject: The Blonde Bombshell herself—Marilyn Monroe

Andrew Dominik is simply a talented filmmaker, but Blonde revels successful torturing its protagonist. It’s good that overmuch of this ne'er really happened, but we’ve seen the women+sex=death communicative before; this 1 grafts Marilyn onto that communicative without being peculiarly funny successful the person.

Where to watercourse (if you choose): Netflix

3 / 26

Watch: Love, Marilyn (2012)

Watch: Love, Marilyn (2012)

Marilyn Monroe’s fable survives precisely due to the fact that the world of the pistillate truthful easy slips done our fingers. She’s not a person, but a repository for our desires and fears astir sexuality and celebrity. That’s a double-edged sword with respect to her legacy: She remains applicable sixty years aft her decease due to the fact that of that blank-slate quality, but it would beryllium bully if we could attack her, astatine slightest once, arsenic a quality being alternatively than an inevitable calamity of enactment and death. Love, Marilyn isn’t a biopic, but a documentary utilizing archival footage and celebrated voices (Glenn Close, Viola Davis, Zoe Saldana, etc.) to recreate Marilyn’s ain words, with peculiar accent connected a trove of poems, diaries, and letters that had lone conscionable been discovered. It’s conscionable astir arsenic adjacent arsenic you’ll get to proceeding the histrion talk for herself.

Where to stream: Digital rental

Avoid: All Eyes connected Me

Subject: Tupac Shakur

In spite of coagulated performances each astir (particularly from leads Demetrius Shipp Jr. arsenic Tupac and Danai Gurira arsenic Afeni Shakur), All Eyes connected Me plays similar the astir accepted of biopics, managing to debar hitting astir of the large affectional beats that immoderate telling of the rap icon’s beingness demands.

Where to watercourse (if you want): Digital rental

5 / 26

Watch: Tupac Resurrection

Watch: Tupac Resurrection

Though there’s nary effort astatine objectivity successful manager Lauren Lazin’s documentary (and that’s OK), this is an effort to archer Tupac’s communicative successful his ain words. Because helium near down truthful galore interviews and recordings, Shakur narrates from beyond the sedate (thus: “Resurrection”), creating an effect that’s some eerie and enlightening. It remains 1 of the highest-grossing documentaries successful American container bureau history, and was nominated for a Best Documentary Feature Oscar.

Where to stream: YouTube

Avoid: Diana (2013)

Subject: Diana, Princess of Wales

Naomi Watts is good here, but that’s astir it. Nothing other rises supra TV-movie adequacy.

Where to watercourse (if you choose): AMC+

Watch: Spencer (2021)

It’s not a documentary, nor adjacent a peculiarly close representation of the events of Diana’s life, but those successful the cognize have suggested powerfully that the representation connected show present captures thing of the princess that each different movie instrumentality has missed. Rather than screen her full life, Pablo Larraín’s dreamy movie takes spot implicit 1 peculiarly fraught Christmas holiday—an attack that’s often much palmy than the much emblematic biopic benignant of trying to cram everything in. Kristen Stewart is great.

Where to stream: Hulu, Kanopy

Avoid: Nina (2016)

Subject: The High Priestess of Soul—Nina Simone

Troubled from the outset by its colorist casting (lead Zoe Saldana required extended and evident prosthetics and darkening make-up to adjacent lucifer Simone), the finished movie did perfectly thing to diffuse that controversy. It has thing of involvement to accidental astir Nina’s beingness and career, side-stepping her achievements successful favour of a sometimes sitcom-ish instrumentality connected an older, much “difficult” Simone. Nothing works here, and the usually large Saldana doesn’t adjacent look to beryllium trying. Both manager and prima person distanced themselves from the finished product.

Where to watercourse (if you deliberation it’s a bully idea): Hoopla

9 / 26

Watch: What Happened, Miss Simone? (2015)

Watch: What Happened, Miss Simone? (2015)

Director Liz Garbus (Ghosts of Abu Ghraib) captures thing of the information and energy of Simone’s creation and activism astatine their height. Simone was adjacent the precise halfway of Black civilization and gyration during the 1960s, and this documentary speaks to her powerfulness and importance.

Where to stream: Netflix

10 / 26

Avoid: The Beach Boys: An American Family (2000)

Avoid: The Beach Boys: An American Family (2000)

Subject: The Beach Boys’ Brian Wilson

The TV miniseries was popular, and picked up a mates of important Emmy nominations. It starts good with the aboriginal lives of the Wilson brothers nether their domineering father. Once the bid turns to Brian’s intelligence wellness struggles, however, things spell disconnected the rails and into near-parody territory.

Where to watercourse (if you person to): YouTube

11 / 26

Watch: Love & Mercy (2014)

Watch: Love & Mercy (2014)

Focusing connected Brian Wilson astatine 2 antithetic periods successful his life, Love & Mercy offers up a acold much delicate and absorbing portrayal of intelligence illness, reasoning a spot much profoundly astir the narration betwixt Wilson’s creation and his struggles some astatine a infinitesimal successful his beingness erstwhile helium was facing them alone, and past aboriginal astatine a clip erstwhile helium had support.

Where to stream: HBO Max

Avoid: Jobs (2013)

Subject: Apple’s Steve Jobs

Somehow, Jobs robs 1 of the era’s astir fascinating characters of immoderate vibrancy whatsoever. It’s arsenic by-the-numbers arsenic biopics come, focusing connected the facts of Jobs’ beingness without ever making america care.

Where to watercourse (if you must): Netflix

Watch: Steve Jobs (2015)

Director Danny Boyle and writer Aaron Sorkin took different spell astatine the Steve Jobs communicative conscionable 2 years later, with overmuch improved results. Sorkin’s sometimes stagey benignant of penning is contrasted by Boyle’s much energetic directorial benignant to large effect, and nary 1 progressive is acrophobic to woody with the contradictions successful Jobs’ character, nor his mythic (and/or self-aggrandizing) nationalist persona.

Where to stream: Netflix

Avoid: Stardust (2020) 

Subject: David Bowie, The White Duke

Stardust is dull and pedestrian by astir immoderate standard, but feels particularly languid fixed the vibrance of its subject. A chill opening and a beauteous bully pb show from Johnny Flynn can’t prevention it; the filmmakers’ inability to licence immoderate of Bowie’ euphony is devastating.

Where to watercourse (if you gotta): Hulu

15 / 26

Watch: Moonage Daydream (2022)

Watch: Moonage Daydream (2022)

A agelong and gorgeous fever imagination that dives heavy into Bowie’s caput implicit the people of decades, mostly utilizing his ain words to usher the narrative. It feels similar the benignant of movie the creator would person made astir himself were helium astir to bash it, and ends up arsenic a revelatory look astatine the originative process and the ways his ain changed implicit time.

Where to stream: HBO Max, but not until spring. In theaters currently.

16 / 26

Avoid: Elvis & Nixon (2016)

Avoid: Elvis & Nixon (2016)

Subject: Elvis Presley

It’s diverting, but not overmuch much than that—a movie astir the gathering of these 2 towering figures (for amended oregon worse) should person much to say. Michael Shannon is simply a amazingly bully Elvis, and Kevin Spacey is fine...but his movies, particularly the middling ones, aren’t aging good these days.

Where to watercourse (if you privation to): Prime Video

Watch: Elvis (2022)

My archetypal instinct is to nonstop you to the 1979 John Carpenter TV movie...but it’s not presently streaming anywhere. So, if you can’t get your hands connected that gem, the caller Baz Luhrmann jukebox philharmonic brings his accustomed high-energy style. Like each Luhrmann’s movies, it borders connected the borderline of tacky—not dissimilar the King himself.

Where to stream: Digital rental

Avoid: Nixon (1995)

Subject: FPOTUS Richard Nixon

“Avoid” is, perhaps, excessively beardown a word. Oliver Stone’s statesmanlike passionateness play is simply a fascinating survey and a beauteous bully movie—but, similar Stone’s (better) JFK, it has much to accidental astir the director’s idiosyncrasies than it does astir its subject. There’s thing truly incorrect with that, exactly, but arsenic successful Blonde, it’s hard to consciousness similar we travel distant with immoderate penetration into the idiosyncratic successful the title.

Where to watercourse (if you choose): Hoopla

Watch: Dick (1999)

There are respective reasonably bully movies dealing with Richard Nixon and Watergate (All the President’s Men, of course, and Frost/Nixon among them), but the sometimes silly slapstick of Dick captures thing that those others miss, tying a nationalist nonaccomplishment of innocence straight to Nixon’s ain larger-than-life malice and insecurity.

Where to stream: Hoopla

Avoid: J. Edgar (2011)

Subject: FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover

The superior representation near successful my caput aft Clint Eastwood’s J. Edgar is that of Leonardo DiCaprio slathered successful makeup...always a atrocious motion for a biopic erstwhile the prosthetics go distracting. There’s more, though, oregon alternatively less: The movie refuses to instrumentality immoderate peculiarly beardown stance connected Hoover’s beingness and work, and truthful winds up blandly coasting along.

Where to watercourse (if you must): Digital rental

21 / 26

Watch: Judas and the Black Messiah (2021)

Watch: Judas and the Black Messiah (2021)

There’s nary reasonably bully biopic focused connected Hoover himself, and that’s astir apt fine. His interaction during his decades arsenic America’s main instrumentality enforcement serviceman are acold much consequential and absorbing than immoderate idiosyncratic foibles oregon tragedies. Here, Martin Sheen plays Hoover astatine a captious moment, utilizing his authorization to destruct Fred Hampton and discredit the Black Panther Party. His interaction connected America is wherever Hoover’s communicative genuinely lies, and Shaka King’s movie makes wide the grade of his powerfulness and willingness to usage it.

Where to stream: HBO Max

22 / 26

Avoid: The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc (1999)

Avoid: The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc (1999)

Subject: Joan of Arc

I’m not definite that Joan of Arc belongs connected a database with Marilyn Monroe...but I’m not wholly definite that she doesn’t. Both women became some more, and less, than the sum of their lives and experiences successful the aftermaths of their tragic deaths. Here, Luc Besson directs Milla Jovavich successful a movie that mostly wants to beryllium a war-action movie, and truthful struggles successful uncovering thing meaningful to accidental astir Joan.

Where to watercourse (if you gotta): Prime Video, Vudu, Tubi

23 / 26

Watch: The Passion of Joan of Arc (1928)

Watch: The Passion of Joan of Arc (1928)

Carl Theodor Dreyer’s movie wrestles with Joan’s conscience, and her meaning to France and to religion past and now. Renée Jeanne Falconetti’s performance, adjacent successful a soundless film, has ne'er been bettered.

Where to stream: HBO Max, The Criterion Channel, Flix

24 / 26

Avoid: The Conqueror (1956)

Avoid: The Conqueror (1956)

Subject: Genghis Khan

This is low-hanging fruit, absolutely, but the lone imaginable crushed to ticker this 1950s American instrumentality connected the beingness of Genghis Khan is for campy value. Classic-era Hollywood was ne'er adjacent remotely averse to casting achromatic actors successful roles for which they were not terribly well-suited...but John Wayne arsenic The Great Khan takes the cake, it truly does.

Where to stream: Digital rental

Watch: Mongol (2007)

Russian manager Sergei Bodrov’s brilliantly breathtaking instrumentality connected the beingness of Genghis Khan has an epic scope (of the benignant that Hollywood doesn’t marque anymore), but besides an intimacy and extent that does its taxable justice. The pan-Asian casting is astatine slightest overmuch person to the people than the earlier, all-white Hollywood takes.

Where to stream: Digital rental