Follow-up Question of the Week: Favorite FICTIONAL biopics?

Hello everyone! As I’m still working on my review of Lee Daniels’ The Butler that’ll be up tomorrow, biopics are still on my mind this week. Thanks to Chris from Terry Malloy Pigeon Coop and Nick from Cinematic Katzenjammer for bringing up this topic on the comments of yesterday’s post on favorite biopics.

When I did my post, I excluded documentaries from the discussion but I didn’t think of fictional biopics, which are actually made quite often in Hollywood. I do think it’s a separate sub-genre than straight biopics that are based on real life individuals. Nick brought up Forrest Gump, in which Tom Hanks winning an Oscar for playing the fictitious protagonist, and Big Fish in which Albert Finney & Ewan McGregor plays a fantastical character Ed Bloom. I’d think that The Great Gatsby is a fictional biopic on a larger-than-life character Jay Gatsby.


Of course I can’t leave out my own personal favorite, Ben-Hur. Perhaps one of the most epic of all fictional biopics, shrewdly mixing the fictitious Jewish prince Judah Ben-Hur with historical events, i.e. Christ’s crucifixion. As far as music-themed ones, you might consider Velvet Goldmine a fictional musical biopic as the character Brian Slade is based on David Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust character. It’s a bizarre and amusing film for fans of Christian Bale and Ewan McGregor, and a must for Bowie fans too naturally.

So for today’s question, what’s your favorite FICTIONAL BIOPIC(s)?

44 thoughts on “Follow-up Question of the Week: Favorite FICTIONAL biopics?

  1. Some wonderful choices, Ruth. For me it would likely be one of the earliest that really moved me. The TV movie ‘The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman’ (1974).

  2. I’m sure this would come under it, so mine in Once Upon a Time in America where it follows the life of “Noodles” Aaronson over the course of many decades and the decisions he’s made in his life of crime with his childhood friends. Outstanding piece of cinema from Sergio Leone and (of course) Bobby DeNiro 😉

    1. Ahah, Mark you are too funny. I wonder if there’s any Bobby DeNiro film you didn’t like? 😀 I have to see Once Upon a Time in America, that’s one of those classics that’ve eluded me.

  3. ninvoid99

    Wow, I would probably say “Zelig” or “Sweet & Lowdown” both by Woody Allen as I’ve been covering Allen’s career this summer and nearly done with it. I would also put in “Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story” which I think is one of the best parody films I had ever seen. It took every musical cliche and amp it up to hilarity. The best sequence in that film for me is when Dewey and his band go to India and do acid with the Beatles.

    1. I haven’t heard of Zelig yet but Sweet & Lowdown sounds familiar. Oh yeah, I think a musical parody biopic definitely counts. I should check that one out, thanks!

  4. Ted S.

    Hmm good question, not sure if I have a favorite fictional biopic. Maybe Maximus in Gladiator? I really like a movie called Being There starring Peter Seller, not sure if it’s considered a bio though.

    1. Yeah thanks Nick! Another mention of Benjamin Button. I really should see that for Blanchett. I guess I’m just not a fan of Brad so I sort of avoided that movie.

    1. He..he… I just told Nick above that I’d give Benjamin Button a shot one of these days. I do like Big Fish though, saw that on the plane recently.

  5. This obe is more interesting than the previous one 🙂
    I would say Forest Gump is my first favorite and then Breakfast on Pluto…those two fictional characters are very interesting.

    You know, I am looking for this month’s top five….I think I might do this 😉 . Now I need to find another 3 characters

  6. Another relevant question Ruth, I think sometimes fictional biopics are more enjoyable than real-life ones as there is no existing bias either and fiction can sometimes leave more room for reflection on reality.

    1. Totally agree! You always have such an insightful comment about things Ronan, glad to have you here man, you’ve been sorely missed 😀

  7. Barry Lyndon. We get the whole arc of his life and a chance to experience European culture of the 18th century. Bits and pieces of history trickle in but most of all we get the exquisite photography that makes it look like painting from the era have come to life.

    1. Hi Richard! I’ve only read reviews of Barry Lyndon but haven’t seen it but yeah, that’s a good pick! I’m curious to see it one of these days.

  8. The biopic is a genre I’ve got a hate-hate relationship with. I say that because there are very few that I’ve really enjoyed. I think the main reason is because I prefer my stories to center on a shorter space of “story time” where characters grow over the course of a single event as opposed to many events over many years. That said, I do love Forrest Gump…

    1. Hi Dan! Yep I’m exactly the same way that I prefer biopics to be focused on a certain time frame instead of over the course of a person’s life. That said, there are some that worked well, Forrest Gump is one example and I think Lee Daniels’ The Butler too, which is based on a real person.

  9. Hmm… I’d probably say Citizen Kane, Once Upon a Time in America, and Gladiator, but I’m sure I’m forgetting something obvious. 😉

  10. Great post Ruth and thanks for the shout out, love being able to stir up discussion 🙂 There’s some great shouts in here already, particularly Once Upon a Time in America. I wonder if you could put Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy in there if you put all three films together.

    This has also inspired me for a future edition of my ‘What is…?’ series 🙂

    1. Hi Chris! Thanks again for the idea. Oh yeah I think Nolan’s Batman trilogy could be considered a fictional biopic of sort.

      Now I’m curious what’s your future edition of ‘What is…?’ would be!

  11. Pingback: Five Favorite Fictional Biopic | Polychrome Interest

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