10 of the best biopics to watch on Netflix

10 of the best biopics to watch on Netflix
These stories are pretty epic (Picture: REX/Shutterstock)

Over the last few weeks, we’ve seen the real-life stories of Winston Churchill (Darkest Hour), P.T. Barnum (The Greatest Showman) and poker entrepreneur Molly Bloom (Molly’s Game) make it onto the big screen.

And this Friday (February 23) sees the release of I, Tonya, the Oscar-nominated drama based on disgraced ice skater Tonya Harding.

10 great straight-to-DVD movies on Netflix (Jon O'Brien)The 10 best straight-to-DVD films on Netflix

But there are plenty of fascinating biopics on Netflix too.

From shock jocks and tech geniuses to daredevils and hardened criminals, here’s a look at 10 of the finest.

Private Parts

A biopic with a difference, Private Parts saw its subject, US shock jock Howard Stern, take on the role himself.

Charting his rise from socially awkward teen to one of the most unfiltered radio personalities in all of America, this 1997 comedy no doubt stretches the truth a little.

But as long as you’re not too easily offended, it remains a thoroughly entertaining and, at times, strangely endearing celebrity tale.

Steve Jobs

Adopting an interesting approach to the biopic, Steve Jobs follows the titular tech genius at just three pivotal points of his career: the launch of the Apple Macintosh, the NeXT computer and the iMAC.

No stranger to playing real-life figures, Michael Fassbender justifies his Oscar nomination with a commanding performance, which makes you forget that he bears no resemblance to the late Jobs.

Danny Boyle’s energetic direction and Aaron Sorkin’s witty script, meanwhile, turn what could have been very dry subject matter into a genuinely gripping drama.

Nowhere Boy

Sam Taylor-Wood’s biopic of John Lennon also ignores the entire life story approach and instead focuses solely on the Beatle’s adolescence.

Aaron Taylor-Johnson, who met future wife Wood on the set, makes for a convincing young Lennon in a moving coming-of-age tale that offers an intriguing look at life before the Fab Four.


Sporting a shaven head, thick handlebar moustache and an extra 40 pounds in weight, an unrecognisable Tom Hardy certainly committed to his leading role in this insight into notorious criminal Charles Bronson.

As you’d expect from a film about a man once dubbed the most violent prisoner in Britain, Bronson isn’t for the faint-hearted.

But, if you can stomach all the hyper-stylised fights, full-frontal nudity and generally psychotic behaviour, Hardy’s tour-de-force performance is a sight to behold.

Eddie The Eagle

An almost unrecognisable Taron Egerton dons a pair of thick-rimmed glasses and ginger beard to play one of the UK’s ultimate sporting underdogs in this affectionate biopic.

The eponymous ski jumper may have once been considered a laughing stock for his limited prowess on the slopes, but Eddie The Eagle will leave you with nothing but total admiration for his determination to become an Olympic hero.


One of two films about the legendary novelist – and the story behind his non-fiction book, In Cold Blood – to arrive within the space of 12 months, Capote beat Infamous to the punch, raking in over $49m at the box-office and five Oscar nominations.

One of those nominations, Best Actor, turned into a win thanks to Philip Seymour Hoffman’s uncanny portrayal of the flamboyant Truman Capote.

But Catherine Keener and Clifton Collins Jr also impress as his longtime friend and murderous love interest, respectively.

This is an absorbing drama, which poses important questions about ethics, morality and art.


Bryan Cranston was also recognised at the Oscars – although he lost out to Leonardo DiCaprio – for playing a writer who rose to fame in the 1950s.

The Breaking Bad star fully convinces as Dalton Trumbo – the hugely successful screenwriter who became blacklisted by Hollywood for his political beliefs – in a compelling look at a profession, which can often be tough to make entertaining on the big screen.

Love & Mercy

John Cusack appears to be stuck in direct-to-DVD hell, but he did briefly manage to escape in 2015 with an emotive performance in this Brian Wilson biopic.

Cusack (playing the beloved Beach Boy in the 1980s) is matched by Paul Dano (who portrays him in the 1960s) in a decade-hopping drama that, like much of Wilson’s work, is multi-layered, bittersweet and beautifully melancholic.

Into The Wild

The name Christopher McCandless might not be as familiar as most of the real-life figures represented on this list, but his story is no less gripping.

Here, Emile Hirsch plays the college graduate who decides to give up his career ambitions for a life on the road, which ultimately ends in an entirely avoidable tragedy.

Bleed For This

Bleed For This may tick off every cliche in the sports drama guidebook, but you still can’t help but be impressed by Miles Teller’s committed turn, and the journey his real life character takes.

Teller stars as Vinny Pazienza, a world champion boxer who, after breaking his neck in a near-fatal car accident, is told he may never walk again.

Of course, the man nicknamed ‘The Pazmanian Devil’ was never going to listen to doctor’s orders, and this tale chronicles his attempts to return to the ring for one last fight.

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