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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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