Top 10 Biopic Drama Films Of The Last Decade (2010-2019), Ranked

Throughout the history of film, there has been a keen interest in the retelling of real-life events or biographies, as there is a sense of relatability that is associated with it. This leads to cinematic biopics taking some artistic liberties in order to translate the lives into a compelling narrative. Biopics have always been the best playfield for performers as they can mold themselves into real-life characters, and one can also notice that a major chunk of awards received for acting performances are those by playing real-life characters. The past decade saw a lump sum of biopics being made (some pretty trashy), but only a few stood out for their cinematic and artistic values and qualities. The following are the top 10 biopics of the 2010s (ranked):


10. Fruitvale Station (2013)

Before filmmaker Ryan Coogler shifted to making high-budget Marvel films like “Black Panther” (2018), he debuted with “Fruitvale Station,” which definitely ranks as his best. This is an independent feature based on the life of Oscar Grant III and his subsequent killing by police officials at the Fruitvale Station. This film makes a very hard-hitting statement on the racist police system and its brutality and discriminatory behavior toward the Afro-American people. “Fruitvale Station” (2013) is also shot in a very intimate way through its use of handheld shots, and the decision to shoot it on 16-mm film adds the perfect texture, enhancing the film’s quality.

9. Paan Singh Tomar (2012)

This biopic follows more of a traditional generic trope, based on the life of army man and gold-medal athlete Paan Singh Tomar, who was later forced to become a bandit. The peak point of “Paan Singh Tomar” (2012) lies in its humanity, which is perfectly etched out by the late Irrfan Khan and backed up by a crisp screenplay. Director Tigmanshu Dhulia should be given credit for flawlessly entrusting a raw, earthy flavor to the film and also for depicting an honest and realistic picture of an unknown India by paying tribute to the unsung heroes of the country’s sports.


8. Neruda (2016)

“Neruda” (2016) is based on the life of Nobel Prize-winning poet and politician Pablo Neruda. Through the character of Neruda, this film impressively captures and documents post-1946 Chile when Communists were being suppressed by the then Chilean President Gabriel González Videla. The most interesting part of “Neruda” (2016) lies in its portrayal of the surroundings and the socio-political atmosphere rather than only focusing on the character, which generally a biopic tends to do. This is a common pattern that one may see in any Pablo Larrain biopic like “Jackie” (2016) and “Spencer” (2021), transcending beyond the subject and reflecting upon the overall psyche combined with an intriguing representation of their respective surroundings.

7. Steve Jobs (2015)

“Steve Jobs” (2015) is a perfect example of how good writing and direction are of the utmost importance, as prior to this film, another biopic based on the same subject matter had been made, “Jobs” (2013), which even though it tried to look grand with its depiction, ended up being one of the most useless biopics of the decade. At the same time, this 2015 film, made by the writer-director combination of Aaron Sorokin and Danny Boyle, perfectly taps into the essence of the real-life character of Steve Jobs. In “Steve Jobs” (2015), the character’s life, played brilliantly by Michael Fassbender, throughout the years is showcased only through some glimpses and is all set in a limited location backstage. Yet through taut writing, apt visual aesthetics, and also the use of different techniques, such as shooting on different cameras to capture the essence of time, the film manages to become a layered presentation of the psyche of the man, with both pros and cons on the screen.


6. The Favourite (2018)

One of the most original minds in contemporary cinema is definitely the Greek director Yorgos Lanthimos. This black-comedy period film also marks his shift to a much larger scale as compared to the previous films he made by him. But his twisted cinematic sense gives a unique take on the life of Queen Anne of Britain (not the famous Anne Boleyn) through an expressionist portrayal of the character rather than a very realistic one, as many have debated over its historical accuracy. “The Favourite” (2018) manages to perfectly capture its various themes, such as loneliness, power, and manipulation and is led brilliantly by its female leads, Olivia Coleman, Emma Stone, and Rachel Weisz.

5. The Wolf Of Wall Street (2013)

Directed by the legend himself, Martin Scorsese, this biopic about Jordan Belford, a stockbroker turned fraud, is a whacky, crazy, and maddening film showcasing a life of capitalistic excess and portraying the corrupt practices of one who uses them to achieve those things. The film is a rags-to-riches and then back-to-rags story, and being around 180 minutes, the film is exhilaratingly engaging and an out-and-out entertainer. “The Wolf of Wall Street” (2013) further boasts terrific performances from its cast of actors, with Leonardo DiCaprio giving his all in filling the shoes of the character in what may even be his career-best performance.


4. BlacKkKlansman (2018)

After a cinematic drought, “BlacKkKlansman” (2018) marks the comeback of veteran filmmaker Spike Lee and is based on the life of police officer Ron Stallworth, who infiltrated the ranks of the Ku Klux Klan in Colorado. The film, although it depicts such a serious subject with a tinge of dark humor, perfectly shifts the tone in one of the best climaxes (which is dangerously scary) seen in recent times. The film is very vocal and unabashedly politically charged and is very straightforward about its disdain towards the Trump administration and against the rise of neo-Nazis and white supremacist groups, and acts more as a voice of protest. It is definitely among the most important and relevant films to come out in recent years.

3. 12 Years A Slave (2013)

After making acclaimed films like “Hunger” (2008) and “Shame” (2011), director Steve McQueen and writer John Ridley adapted the autobiographical book by Solomon Northup for the screen. “12 Years a Slave” (2013) takes place in the 1840s and revolves around an African-American man, Solomon, who had been a free man in Washington, DC until he was kidnapped and sold into slavery. The film is gritty in its depiction of the violence, and racial torture faced by the slaves and gives a peek at this horrific past of America. This film consisted of a tremendous performance, especially that of Lupita Nyong’o, who also garnered the Best Supporting Actress award, along with the film receiving the Best Picture Award at the 86th Oscars.


2. The Irishman (2019)

“The Irishman” (2019) is based on the perspective of its titular character, Frank “The Irishman” Sheeran, who confessed to murdering famous labor union leader Jimmy Hoffa. The film marks the Netflix debut of the legendary filmmaker Martin Scorsese. Even though the film is 219 minutes long, it manages to make one forget about its length due to a tight yet detailed screenplay by Oscar-winner Steve Zaillian, along with performances from an ensemble that consists of veterans like Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, Joe Pesci, Harvey Keitel, and many more.

1. The Social Network (2010)

“The Social Network” (2010) is based on the life of Mark Zuckerberg, the youngest billionaire at the time and co-founder of Facebook. It would be unfair to confine “The Social Network” (2010) into the category of best biopics, as it is among the best films of the 21st century. Each and every frame of this film screams perfection, especially from the writing and directing standpoints. That is what happens when two veterans, writer Aaron Sorokin and director David Fincher, are absolutely on top of their game, along with a mesmerizing performance from the entire cast, especially Jesse Eisenberg, who plays the titular role.


These biopics are totally judged on their cinematic value and not on how accurate they are. Cinema itself is a medium that has given room for creative and artistic liberties rather than acting out like a documentary. Other than these films, one may seek out the following – The Special Mentions: “Moneyball” (2011), “Shahid” (2012), “Dallas Buyers Club” (2013), “Captain Phillips” (2013), “Selma” (2014), “Mr. Turner” (2014), “Aligarh” (2015), “Jackie” (2016), “Omerta” (2017), “First Man” (2018), and “At Eternity’s Gate” (2018).

See more: 10 Upcoming Films In December 2022 To Add To Your Watchlist

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Riddhadev Bandyopadhyay
Riddhadev Bandyopadhyay
Riddhadev has a major interest in watching various kinds of films, knowing about history, playing varied video games, and having a knack for politics. He is also a football fanatic. He is very opinionated but sometimes finds it difficult to express himself. Moreover, he has a piece of paper that people refer to as a degree in journalism and mass communication. At present, he is pursuing a Master's in Media Science while also trying out different activities to figure out which he does best.

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