You know what Labor Day weekend means, right? No, you can totally still wear white (thanks, Stacy and Clinton #neverforget). What it really means is that award show season is right around the corner, and with that at least two or three movie depictions of famous peoples’ lives. A solid biopic is pretty much guaranteed an Oscar nomination, or at the very least, one of the 28 nods at the Golden Globes.
Recently a thread inquiring about the best movie portrayals of famous people popped up on Reddit, and while I myself think the list could use a few more ladybits on it (obviously these people forget the riveting performance of Nicole Kidman’s beak in The Hours), it’s a pretty solid list. I even forgot about a few of these performances, so it was a nice reminder that I need to beef up my Netflix queue. Let’s get on with it, shall we?
1. Christian Bale as Dicky Eukland, The Fighter
I remember going into this thinking, “Oh it should be good I guess” and coming out completely riveted by some of the performances. Christian Bale’s was one of them. He lost a lot of weight and gained a Boston accent to play Dicky, and his Oscar win was one of those times I screamed “YES!” at the television like some people do when their team wins the Superbowl.
2. Tom Hiddleston as F. Scott Fitzgerald, Midnight in Paris
I suppose this is all speculation, since I’m pretty sure Woody Allen never met F. Scott Fitzgerald (well maybe he did, I mean… he’s pretty old), but I loved everything about this. Tom Hiddleston can pretty much do no wrong, amiright?
3. Corey Stall as Ernest Hemingway, Midnight in Paris
I feel like Corey Stall is definitely going to be more of a household name within the next year or two thanks to stints on House of Cards and the upcoming season of Homeland. I really enjoyed his performance here.
4. Jamie Foxx as Ray Charles, Ray
The mannerisms, the voice, it’s all there. Jamie Foxx nailed Ray Charles’ entire persona in this movie, and it’s definitely still one I get sucked into every now and then when it’s on TV (the music gets me every time).
5. Daniel Day Lewis as Abraham Lincoln, Lincoln
Is there anything Daniel Day Lewis can’t do? I’m serious. If he and Meryl Streep had ever gotten together to reproduce, can you imagine the fruit of those loins? Forces to be reckoned with in the performing arts, those two. Whew.
6. Frank Langella as Richard Nixon, Frost vs. Nixon
Not gonna lie, my knowledge of Nixon’s voice and mannerisms is limited to a mediocre impression my dad likes to do after a few beers. But I’ve seen enough clips (okay, I’ve seen Forrest Gump) to know this movie is pretty solid.
7. Philip Seymour Hoffman as Truman Capote, Capote
If you can sit through this entire film, congratulations – you have a hearty level of patience for that voice. But seriously, re-watching this trailer just gave me a quick case of the sads because I realized, again, that we’ll never know what Philip Seymour Hoffman could have done with the rest of his career. He’s just one of those actors you could watch do anything. For hours. And still be captivated. Sigh.
8. Cate Blanchett as Katharine Hepburn and Bob Dylan, I’m Not There
Cate Blanchett, HAVE MY BABIES WILL YOU ALREADY. She’s a beautiful Bob Dylan and a spot-on Katharine Hepburn. In the same movie. Oh lawd, but I love her. Even if this trailer makes it seem like it’s the type of movie that will make your brain hurt.
9. Joaquin Phoenix as Johnny Cash, Walk the Line
While I’d certainly never proclaim to be a devoted Johnny Cash fan, and I do think this movie was just a touch too long. I thought Joaquin was robbed at the Oscars that year. At least in comparison to Reese Witherspoon, who was no doubt a lovely June Carter – but in no way out-shined or out-performed her co-star in this film.
10. Meryl Streep as Margaret Thatcher, The Iron Lady
See number five. (Also, I realize now I forgot to add the Female Politician’s hair onto my list of typecast hairstyles. DAMNIT.)
11. Sean Penn as Harvey Milk, Milk
Sean Penn is absolutely one of those actors you like in movies but hate in real life (ala James Franco, coincidentally his costar in Milk). This was such a great film from start to finish.