November 30, 2022

Are you ready to step back in time?
For a long time, celebrities were seen as a different breed. The idealized human with the enviable lives and when they fell, their disgraces were lapped up by the media as if they were just another act in their theatrical existence. Now, with the rise of social media, celebrities have their own platforms, and we see more into their lives than ever before. Their failings, their sadness, and their wants are shared with the world and through chat shows, social movements, and Instagram posts, we are finally accepting that all big stars have their dark moments. What does this mean for the film industry? Well, it appears that this has given rise to an era of biopics (dramatized films regarding the life of a public figure). We want a glimpse behind the curtain, and we are getting them in droves. I, Tonya, featuring Margot Robbie as professional figure skater Tonya Harding was received by audiences and critics alike with standing ovations. More recently, Lily James and Sebastian Stan starred as Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee in the Hulu miniseries Pam & Tommy, again critically acclaimed and likely to be picking up awards across the board this season.
The success of biopics is obvious, and the reasons are simple. The source material is concrete, the sets come pre-built, and the interest in the stories is undeniable. But one thing that every biopic needs to be a success is a leading actor who can walk the walk, talk the talk, and most importantly, look the look. Without further ado, here are 7 upcoming biopic films we don’t think you’ll want to miss.
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Christopher Nolan’s biopic Oppenheimer following the story of the father of the atomic bomb will definitely be a cinematic experience. The movie stars Cillian Murphy, who is not a stranger to working with Nolan, having starred in Dunkirk. He's also been critically acclaimed for his role in Peaky Blinders and the actor bears a stark resemblance to Oppenheimer.
The film is written by Kai Bird who also wrote the book on which the film is based: American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer. The book follows the life of the brilliant and flawed scientist who would come to be known by the infamous words, “Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds.”
The film, set for release on July 21, 2023, holds particular gravity given the current geopolitical climate, and it is no surprise that Murphy stepped up as the man for the job; playing haunted and flawed brilliance seems to be his forte. We already know the film will be dark, there is no other possible depiction of the scientist who infamously left a poisoned apple for his tutor, and would go on self-destructive tangents when immersed in thought. But there is no doubting his brilliance in the field of theoretical physics. The administrator who awarded him his doctorate famously said, "I'm glad that's over. He was on the point of questioning me." His true fame lay in the creation of the atomic bomb, his triumph at its success, and eventually his revulsion at its use in Nagasaki. He would become a figure who would lose political sway in favor of humanitarian uses for science. The concept is perfect for Nolan’s directorial skills – Grim, real, and honest. This will be a film for the ages.
Beyond the widow's peak and broad facial features, Leonardo DiCaprio certainly hasn’t been chosen to play the infamous cult leader in MGM’s biopic Jim Jones for his likeness to him. Written by Venom’s Scott Rosenberg, the film reportedly has the A-lister set to both star and produce the biopic, alongside Rosenberg, which will focus on the man behind the infamous Jonestown Massacre.
Playing sociopathic and somewhat narcissistic figures isn’t foreign to DiCaprio. He's had some truly twisted roles in his career such as Jordan Belfort in the dramatized biopic The Wolf of Wall Street and an even darker role as Mr. Candy in Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained, and these performances were no doubt kept in mind in talks to produce the film.
Simultaneously, Joseph Gorden-Levitt is also set to star as Jim Jones in the film White Nightalongside Chloë Grace Moretz. Levitt arguably lacks the professional background of similar roles however White Night is set to focus more on the events leading up to and during the massacre while Jim Jones is due to pull the attention to the man himself. Jones orchestrated the massacre at the Peoples Temple commune by instructing his followers and their children to drink cyanide-tainted punch. The images from that incident are the stuff of nightmares. Rosenberg’s biopic is theorized to take a deeper dive into the life of the deeply disturbed individual, perhaps harking back to his childhood of neglect that would lead to him developing bizarre ideas of grandeur and holding funerals for roadkill. In later life, he would continue to alienate himself by enforcing his religious views on his schoolmates. His family would be hounded by the FBI due to Jones’ communist views and his adverse views on segregation as he became more active in the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s. Jim Jones will certainly be a fascinating window into the later cult leader’s life, though it has yet to have a release date or streaming location.
Bob Dylan, arguably one of the greatest singer-songwriters of all time, was famously fluid with the genres he played with. His early music was the essence of the American folk music revival. It was political and philosophical. And despite defining the most popular music of that generation, it defied the conventions of pop culture. In 1965 he would rock the world by “going electric”. The film Going Electric, has faced some setbacks due to the pandemic but is back in production with director James Mangold.
Mangold is quite eclectic himself, with credits ranging from Girl, Interrupted (2017) to Ford v Ferrari (2019), however, his films don’t fall short on quality, with a collection of four Academy Awards, three BAFTAs, and five Golden Globes under his belt already. The film will focus on Dylan's early life, when he famously caused both outcry and jubilation when he swapped acoustic for electric guitar and cemented his place, and the popularity, of rock music. Timothée Chalamethas been waiting in the wings to take on the role for a couple of years, sharing the slightly goofy, ever-charming look of the young Bob Dylan. The actor has had success after success as Hollywood’s darling in recent years, starring most recently in Dune but already having secured the confidence of directors across the board since his Academy nominated role as best actor in Call Me by Your Name (2017). But can he sing? Whether Chalamet will attempt to take the mantle of Bob Dylan's voice is yet to be seen however he has been spotted with a Gibson guitar attending rehearsals and a clip from another upcoming film of his, Wonka, confirms he has a pair of pipes on him. While there are no updates on when or where the film will be released, we can’t wait to see whether he truly can rock"Like A Rolling Stone".
Related:10 Most Anticipated Music Biopics, From Elvis To Bob Dylan
The latest Bond girl, Ana de Armas, is about to become one of the most famous blonde girls to have lived. Blonde, based on the book of the same name by Joyce Carol Oates, hovers between truth and fiction in a dramatized depiction of the inner workings of arguably one of the most famous women of the 20th century, Marilyn Monroe. Set to be released on Netflix in 2022, the film's director Andrew Dominik (Killing Them Softly) teased in an interview with us back in 2016 that the film would be “one of the ten best films ever made,” so he certainly has set his stakes high.
That said, Oates, the writer of the source material who has now seen a rough cut commented that it is "startling, brilliant, very disturbing & [perhaps most surprisingly] an utterly 'feminist' interpretation." Fiction or not, the beauty queen faced severe difficulties throughout her life leading up to her death from a barbiturate overdose in 1962 when she was just 36 years old. She also had several health problems from endometriosis to gallstones and struggled increasingly with drug addiction throughout her career. It is a huge weight that we can only see if de Armas upholds. As for looking the part though, she has it covered. On-set images in Marilyn’s famous blonde curls show Armas as the picture of the American beauty. However, Monroe not only captured the world visually, but she also had a famously unique voice, one which took de Armas nine entire months to perfect with a voice coach, something she described as “torture". But the 1950s sex symbol famously said, “I don’t stop when I’m tired. I only stop when I’m done.”
There have been some reports of clashes between Dominik and Netflix regarding the film's NC-17 rating, however, some of the best films of all time such as American Psycho and Goodfellas received the same rating, so we will hold our tongues and see if Blonde lives up to expectations.
When it comes to picture-perfect casting, Rooney Mara (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo) as Audrey Hepburn (My Fair Lady) is as close as it gets. It’s fair to say that their shared icy complexion, high cheekbones, and famous eyebrows, must have made light work for the casting director. Much like Ana de Aramas, Mara will have to perfect Hepburn’s unique accent, which was a mix of British influenced by her unique upbringing in the Netherlands, something that might not come naturally to the American actress. After all, Hepburn had a truly unique childhood as the daughter of a Dutch baroness and a British diplomat who was raised under Nazi occupation in the Netherlands under a false name. Hepburn supposedly performed dance recitals to raise funds for the resistance, though we'll have to wait and see if that side of her will be explored in Luca Guadagnino’s (Call Me by Your Name) film for Apple TV.
Undeniably, the actress had a life made for the screen. Her career began after being scouted on a beach in Monaco and eventually led to her winning Oscars, BAFTAs, and Golden Globes for her fourteen-year career, which she then traded in to raise her family and work for UNICEF. Her humanitarian work would lead the rest of her life and she would go on to have many fascinating relationships before her tragically early death from a rare form of cancer. Mara is actually a wonderful personality fit for the role in more than just looks. She's known for overseeing the Uweza Foundation, which supports empowerment programs for children and families in Kibera, Kenya. We can assume this biopic is still a while away from being released on Apple’s streaming service, but we can’t wait to see how many awards Mara scoops up for this role.
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We've already seen a trailer for the musical biopic Elvis written and directed by Baz Luhrmann (Moulin Rouge!) starring Austin Butler in the titular role, supported by Tom Hanks as Presley’s manager Colonel Tom Parker. The trailer speaks for itself in terms of what to expect. Butler is every bit the heartthrob, the music plucking at every heartstring, and if the film lives up to the trailer, it will be a huge hit and certainly have audiences all shook up.
Butler, who resembles the megastar in his youth perfectly, is a fantastic fit for the role. In a musical biopic, ideally, you are casting a double threat, someone who can act and sing. In Butler, Luhrmann has found a young star who not only is the voice of Elvis singing or speaking, but he has also found someone who picked up the guitar aged just 13 and fell in love with it. Luhrmann, usually opposed to getting too excited in the early shooting days, has openly praised Butler, who is facing his most daunting role yet, stating “during the testing process, his commitment, his transformative abilities from the young Elvis to beyond, he had been playing so very well.” The film is set for cinematic release by Warner Bros. on June 24, 2022.
No one has utilized their professional training in other aspects of their life in their career quite as well as Tom Holland. Formally trained in acrobatics and dance, the actor has used his talents in many of his stunts, which landed him his opening role as Billy Elliot in the famous musical of the same name on the West End. Now his early dance training has led him to the role of Fred Astaire. Astaire is famed for starring with dance partner Ginger Rogers in over ten musicals during the classical age of Hollywood cinema. The film will be produced by Amy Pascal who also produced Spider-Man: No Way Home, and has shone in more classical films such as the recent reboot of Little Women. However, the film is still in its early stages, so we are yet to see a release date. Holland's dance teacher, who arguably set off his career, appeared in a pre-recorded clip during Holland’s interview with the BBC's The One Show to say “I can’t think of anybody more deserving to play Fred Astaire than you!”
We are hard-pressed to disagree that the lovable, bubbly Brit will “soar” as the smooth and energetic Astaire. Much like Tom, Fred began his career early as one half of a brother-sister dance act that toured theaters. He didn’t get his big break into Broadway until the early 1900s, again partnered with his sister. Astaire would go on to have a revolutionizing career. His cheeky smile and slicked-back hairstyle won hearts and can be seen mirrored in the young actor set to star as him on the big screen. The project has faced some backlash due to an alleged clause in Fred Astaire's will requesting that he not be portrayed on screen by anyone. That hasn't actually been confirmed yet and it is something of a Hollywood legend so for the time being, it looks like all they've got to do is find the Ginger Rogers to Holland's Astaire.
I’m a fiction writer by night, a psychology student by day and somewhere in between I’m a resource writer for Collider.
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