One of the many upcoming biopics, Being The Ricardos (which is set to launch in December), released its first official teaser trailer. In a brief minute and a half video, we get some promising snippets of what awaits on December 10 –when the film hits theatres worldwide. All we know so far about Being The Ricardos is that it was written and directed by Aaron Sorkin, and takes place over a week — during the production of I Love Lucy — which sees its stars encounter a crisis that could jeopardize their careers and marriage. If you’re too excited about Being the Ricardos, here are five must-see biopics in the meantime!
Biopics differ from docudrama films and historical drama films in that they attempt to comprehensively recall an individual’s life story and dramatize the most historically important years of their lives.
Directed by Dexter Fletcher and written by Lee Hall, Rocketman is based on the life and music of British musician Elton John. It stars Taron Egerton as John, who we see develop from Royal Academy of Music protégée to a flamboyant universal superstar.
Rocketman follows Elton’s career from wannabe musician Reginald Dwight through to his rocky adulthood as Elton John, in which he partied hard and made some bad decisions. Within that time, he loved and lost, attempted suicide, and nearly ruined his hopeful future. Through all of that heartache, he battled with addiction, alcoholism, and sexuality. Rocketman was influential in more ways than one, since it was the first film by a major studio to include a gay male sex scene.
When it was released back in 2019, Rocketman was banned in several countries, the reason being the depiction of “anti-religious sentiments”, but Film Stories journalist Simon Brew argued that the ban “seemed pretty clear it was more to do with John’s sexuality.” Rocketman received positive reviews overall; critics praised Egerton’s acting and vocal performance, costume design, soundtrack, and musical sequences.
Rocketman is available to stream on Hulu or Amazon Prime Video. Alternatively, the DVD can be purchased from Amazon for $5.99.
Bohemian Rhapsody (2018)
Bohemian Rhapsody was directed by Bryan Singer, written by Anthony McCarten, and produced by Graham King along with Queen manager Jim Beach. Focusing on the life of the late, great Freddie Mercury — the lead vocalist of the British rock musical band Queen — Bohemian follows the formation of the band and documents their antics up to their 1985 Live Aid performance at the Wembley Stadium.
Similar to Elton John, Freddie Mercury struggled with sexuality amidst his superstardom. Freddie proposed to his at-the-time girlfriend, Mary Austin, but during the Queen’s sold-out U.S. tour, he begins questioning his sexuality. Freddie begins an affair with Paul, who manages Queen’s daily schedule, and comes out to Mary as bisexual.
Queen is a universally recognizable band; their music is much adored across the globe and Freddie Mercury spearheaded that success. However, Bohemian Rhapsody is ultimately a timeless tale of self-acceptance — told from the perspective of an undisputed legend. For Queen fans, this is among the greatest must-see biopics.
Right now, you can watch Bohemian Rhapsody on Hulu Plus. In addition, you can stream Bohemian Rhapsody by renting or purchasing on Google Play, Vudu, Amazon Instant Video, and iTunes.
I, Tonya (2017)
Starring Margot Robbie as a talented figure skater, Tonya Harding, I, Tonya was directed by Craig Gillespie and written by Steven Rogers. I, Tonya follows the story of Tonya Harding’s early life, skating career, and her connection to the 1994 attack on her rival, Nancy Kerrigan.
I, Tonya features darkly comedic interviews with the characters in mockumentary style, set in the modern-day, and breaks the fourth wall. Loosely based on actual events, the film depicts Harding as a victim; it reframes the narrative around her implication in the aftermath of the crime and other criticism of her actions.
Director Craig Gillespie was interested in the project because he “realized it was a great opportunity to revisit the story and make a commentary about how the media treats people.” Rotten Tomatoes’ critic census reads, “Led by strong work from Margot Robbie and Allison Janney, I, Tonya finds the humor in its real-life story without losing sight of its more tragic – and emotionally resonant – elements.” While I, Tonya is categorized as a comedy-drama, its delicate approach to sensitive issues far outshines the occasional comedy relief, making it one of several hard-hitting, must-see biopics.
I, Tonya is available to stream on Hulu or Amazon Prime. Alternatively, the DVD can be purchased from Amazon for $7.98.
Shirley is a biographical drama film based on novelist Shirley Jackson’s real-life during the time she was writing her 1951 novel Hangsaman. This is perhaps one of the most similar existing biopics to Being The Ricardos, as its timeline of events follows the “in the making” process of Shirley’s novel, just like Being The Ricardos takes place during the production of I Love Lucy.
As far as its reception goes, Shirley received positive reviews from audiences and critics alike. Elisabeth Moss was highly praised for her performance. Harper’s Bazaar considered the film “a gripping, psychologically unsettling drama“, noting it to be “loosely based on real-life… far from a traditional biopic, instead playing on the horror tropes of Jackson’s own work to lure viewers inside the author’s brilliant but troubled mind.”
Many reviews point out that the film encapsulates that same chills-down-your-spine feeling that Jackson’s writing skillfully masters, but audiences can judge for themselves whether or not Shirley is on par with other must-see biopics.
Shirley is available to stream on Hulu for subscribers, Vudu or FandangoNow. Otherwise, it is available to those who have access to DirecTV.
Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile (2019)
Admittedly, this one is less of a biopic and more of a crime drama, but it would be “criminal” to leave it out. Released in 2019, Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile stars Zac Efron as infamous serial killer, Ted Bundy. Lily Collins stars alongside Efron as Bundy’s then-girlfriend, Liz Kendall. Extremely Wicked is based on the real Elizabeth Kendall’s memoir, The Phantom Prince: My Life with Ted Bundy.
Serial killers are quite the stretch topic for biopics from Being The Ricardos, but Extremely Wicked is as raw and gritty as reality gets. It should be noted that both biopics revolve around a relationship, so therein lies the connector.
Owen Gleiberman of Variety, commented, “Extremely Wicked doesn’t rub our noses in the horror of Ted Bundy. It shows us just enough, keeping the horror where it belongs, in the recesses of our imagination, where it remains what it should be: dark as midnight, and altogether too much to fathom.”
Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile — another contender for must-see biopics — is currently streaming on Netflix US and Amazon Prime Video.
Once you’re finished with these biopics, you’ll be geared up for Being The Ricardos, which is scheduled to hit theatres worldwide on December 10.