Top Ten Screen Biopics


I recently watched the film “Mr. Turner,” a biopic from director Mike Leigh about the last 25 years in the life of British seascape painter HMW Turner. Although I love art, I must confess that I wasn’t too familiar with Turner’s work, as the majority of his collection is housed inside the Tate Britain, a museum that I have yet to visit. The movie suggested that Mr. Turner (played by Timothy Spall) was always composing art in his mind, and that he failed at most other aspects of life, including relationships, until he finally settled down with a widowed innkeeper late in life. The “script” for the film was conceived by Leigh yet was comprised largely of dialogue improvised by the cast during rehearsals prior to shooting. The result is a long movie of vignettes, some of them funny, linked by some of the most painterly cinematography I’ve seen in a film in a long time.

Naturally, I started thinking. What are the best screen biographies to come out of Hollywood, or out of cinema in general? The aforementioned, at times aimless “Mr. Turner” wouldn’t quite make the cut, but the “artist” category no doubt produced at least one-half dozen contenders in a single sub-genre. Ditto for the categories of actor/actress, singer/musician, athlete, politician/war hero, physically/mentally challenged, etc.

Continue reading “Top Ten Screen Biopics”

Oscar 2014-15 – predicting the winners

This year’s list is a bit late in coming. I took advantage of being snowed in over the past week to catch up on many of 2014’s Oscar nominees. (Netflix is my new best friend.)

I have seen most – but by no means all – of the nominated films and performances. As with last year, three of the four acting categories are near locks, and the closest race is for Best Picture. (For a somewhat-lengthy examination of my 2013-14 picks, click here…and know that I correctly guessed seven of those eight major category winners.) Better late than never, here are my predictions for tonight’s Neil Patrick Harris-hosted ceremony.

Best Picture

American Sniper
Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
The Grand Budapest Hotel
The Imitation Game
The Theory of Everything

Continue reading “Oscar 2014-15 – predicting the winners”