Skip to main content

Digital Trends may earn a commission when you buy through links on our site. Why trust us?

Like Oppenheimer? Then watch the 5 great biopics that are just like it

The Hollywood biopic is a cultural phenomenon because of Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer, based on the theoretical physicist who developed the atomic bomb during World War II. It’s been hailed as one of Nolan’s crowning achievements thanks to its breathtaking visuals, heart-racing score, and Oscar-worthy performance from Cillian Murphy. The film has already grossed over $400 worldwide at the box office.

Oppenheimer is not the first biopic, nor will it be the last. Films about specific people and events continue to fascinate audiences around the world. After watching Oppenheimer, check out these five films based on real moments in history.

The Theory of Everything (2014)

Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones pose in wedding attire in The Theory of Everything.
Focus Features

Oppenheimer may not be the most famous theoretical physicist of the 21st century. That title could belong to Stephen Hawking, the theoretical physicist who researched and commented on black holes, the universe, and the Big Bang. As Hawking’s notoriety increased within the scientific community, his physical mobility decreased after being diagnosed with ALS as a young man.

The Theory of Everything stars Eddie Redmayne as Hawking, a role that resulted in the Oscar for Best Actor. The film explores Hawking’s life as a student at the University of Cambridge through the next three decades as he becomes the world-renowned physicist paralyzed by this terrible disease. Intertwined into Hawking’s discoveries is the story of his marriage to Jane Hawking (Felicity Jones), who stuck by Stephen’s side as his condition worsened.

Rent The Theory of Everything on Prime Video.

A Beautiful Mind (2001)

Russell Crowe stares at numbers on a wall in A Beautiful Mind.
Universal Pictures

Ron Howard’s Academy Award-winning A Beautiful Mind puts a spotlight on John Nash (Russell Crowe), a brilliant mathematician at Princeton in the late 1940s who achieved worldwide success thanks to his work on game theory. In the 1950s, Nash is recruited to work for the mysterious William Parcher (Ed Harris) of the United States Department of Defense to decipher Soviet encrypted messages.

There’s only one problem: Parcher isn’t real. Nash is diagnosed with schizophrenia, and key figures, such as Parcher and his roommate Charles (Paul Bettany), are only a figment of his imagination. With the help of his wife Alicia (Jennifer Connelly), John faces the disease head-on, fighting to regain control over his life in this emotionally-gripping thriller.

Stream A Beautiful Mind on Starz.

The Social Network (2010)

Andrew Garfield sits next to Jesse Eisenberg in The Social Network.
Sony Pictures Releasing

Oppenheimer is a dialogue-heavy script with many scenes of “men talking in rooms” to create suspense and thrills. Thirteen years ago, Aaron Sorkin used the same method in The Social Network. Directed by David Fincher, The Social Network chronicles the origins of Facebook through its founder, Mark Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg).

As a sophomore at Harvard, Zuckerberg develops Facebook with friend and classmate Eduardo Saverin (Andrew Garfield). Over the next couple of years, Facebook explodes into a worldwide phenomenon on its way to becoming the most popular social media site. Zuckerberg becomes a billionaire but finds himself in litigation with the men who claim he stole the idea and faces a separate lawsuit with Saverin. The marriage of signature styles between Fincher — meticulous with countless takes — and Sorkin — walk-and-talk with fast dialogue — worked to perfection as The Social Network became a defining moment of the 21st century.

Rent The Social Network on Apple TV.

JFK (1991)

Kevin Costner stands in a courtroom in JFK.
Warner Bros.

JFK is not a biopic about John F. Kennedy, but Nolan made his version of JFK in Oppenheimer, which is why we’re including it on the list. Nolan has cited Oliver Stone’s JFK as a precedent for Oppenheimer because both films are three-hour films about a pivotal moment in history with a large ensemble cast. Nolan wanted to eventize Oppenheimer as Stone did with JFK. However, unlike Nolan, who followed most of the source material for Oppenheimer, Stone embraces conspiracy theories about the Kennedy assassination based on the book, On the Trail of the Assassins.

The film stars Kevin Costner as Jim Garrison, the New Orleans District Attorney who investigates the assassination, believing there was a conspiracy to kill Kennedy and that Lee Harvey Oswald (Gary Oldman) did not act alone. Regardless of the accuracy, JFK is a masterful achievement from Stone, who crafts an invigorating conspiracy thriller.

Stream JFK on Max.

Lincoln (2012)

Daniel Day-Lewis as Abraham Lincoln sits down and stares in Lincoln.
Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

Who better to play President Abraham Lincoln than the greatest actor of his generation, Daniel Day-Lewis? Directed by Steven Spielberg, Lincoln depicts the final months of Lincoln’s presidency before his assassination in April 1865. The film starts in January 1865, with the Civil War’s end imminent.

Lincoln fears free slaves might be re-enslaved at the end of the war, so he desperately works to ensure the passing of the Thirteenth Amendment to abolish slavery. Also, Lincoln believes southern states should be re-admitted into the United States post-war. Unsurprisingly, Lewis thrives as the stoic president faced with one of the most important decisions in American history, who never wavered from his moral beliefs.

Rent Lincoln on YouTube.

Editors' Recommendations

Dan Girolamo
Dan is a passionate and multitalented content creator with experience in pop culture, entertainment, and sports. Throughout…
Where to watch Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3
The cast of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3,

Until Barbie and Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse came along, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 was the hit of the summer. But $359 million domestically and $845 million worldwide is nothing to sneeze at! In a year where Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania face-planted and The Flash became one of the biggest bombs in cinematic history, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 proved that superhero fans will still show up and keep coming back for a good movie.

This movie marks the end of writer and director James Gunn's stint at Marvel, which began in 2014 with the original Guardians of the Galaxy movie. This is somewhat ironic because Gunn was fired at one point from Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 over offensive tweets that he had written a decade previously, only to be hired back a year later after he was already lined up to helm The Suicide Squad for DC and Warner Bros. Pictures. That's why it took so long for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 to come to fruition. Now that Gunn's commitment to this film is over, he is devoting his full attention to acting as DC Studios' co-CEO and the writer and director of Superman: Legacy.

Read more
3 Netflix sci-fi movies like 65 you should watch right now
Adam Driver in 65.

Several months after hitting theaters, 65 is now available on Netflix. The movie, which follows a man and a young girl in the wake of a cataclysmic crash as they discover that they've landed on Earth 65 million years ago, and are forced to fend off dinosaurs in order to survive. The movie didn't do all that well in theaters, but it's finding an audience on Netflix, leading many to wonder if there are other titles on the surface that have a similar feel. Survival sci-fi movies with original ideas can be hard to come by in modern Hollywood, but fear not!

There are certainly plenty of movies that have more than a little overlap with this Adam Driver movie. While there are no movies exactly like 65 on Netflix, these are three titles on the streaming service that may scratch the same itch.

Read more
3 Netflix movies like Oppenheimer you should watch right now
A group of soldiers stand in a crowded boat in Dunkirk.

It's the summer of science as Oppenheimer continues to make a seismic explosion in pop culture. Along with Barbie (Barbenheimer), Oppenheimer is bringing audiences back to the theater in waves. As of July 31, Oppenheimer has surpassed $400 million worldwide at the box office. For a three-hour dialogue-heavy biopic, that box office number is astounding.

After watching Christopher Nolan's thriller about the "father of the atomic bomb," there is an increased interest in biopics, World War II stories, nuclear war, and science dramas. Many of these films are available on Netflix. If you liked Oppenheimer, you should check out these three movies that are currently available on the popular streaming service.
The Imitation Game (2014)

Read more