Walk the Line (2005)
Joaquin Phoenix’s portrayal of the man in black (that’s Johnny Cash to you) was so unerringly accurate, you’d be forgiven for mistaking the reality from the fiction. But he’s a plastic figurine next to Reese Witherspoon’s note-perfect June Carter. Repeated viewing advised.
We’re not sure how Mozart – one of the world’s most famous composers – would feel about getting the first-name-only Madonna treatment. But we’re pretty sure he’d have enjoyed this restless biopic about his life and friendship-come-rivalry with Antonio Salieri. Awards rained on Milos Forman’s film.
American Splendor (2003)
Only an actor of Paul Giamatti’s calibre could have captured the essence of Harvey Pekar – file clerk, comic book writer and life-long grump. Pekar listens to jazz, moans about his job, meets his wife (Joyce) and gets cancer – documenting everything in a comic book series and becoming a strange kind of celebrity in the process. With cameos from ‘Real Harvey’ and ‘Real Joyce’.
If you’re a fan of the tense on-screen political interview, it doesn’t get much more nail-biting than David Frost versus Richard Nixon post-Watergate. Michael Sheen is creditably annoying as the British TV host and it’s worth a watch just to see Frank Langella do his best to illustrate where “I’m sweating like Nixon” comes from.
Ed Wood (1994)
Seen Plan 9 from Outer Space? Or Bride of the Monster? Yes, we might be fed up with the ‘Tim Burton directing and Johnny Depp playing an eccentric’ formula but this bio of the worst-director-of-all-time Ed Wood was one of the first to cement the relationship. Wood’s zany gang includes Orson Welles and drag queen Bunny Breckinridge, played by Bill Murray.