What to watch: Best biopics

Image credit: BagoGames VIA FLICKR

Watching a film with a friend and a bag of Sainsbury’s cookies is a great way to relax post-exams and if, like me, you love stories about people and the amazing things we’re capable of, then you’re bound to love these biopics. 

Biopic is a genre of film I’m really into, so narrowing it down to a top five has been difficult. I would also heartily recommend Big Eyes, A Beautiful Mind (which can be watched on Youtube!), The Imitation Game, Becoming Jane, and The Danish Girl –although be aware that it features a cis actor playing a trans woman – as well as those listed. 

So, without further ado, here are my top five biopics and where you can watch them. 

5) Sylvia

To perhaps be avoided if you need cheering up after exams, but this exploration of Sylvia Plath’s poetry, marriage to Ted Hughes, and tragic early suicide is sensitive and beautiful, and an important part of Cambridge’s literary history as Plath and Hughes met whilst studying at Newnham and Pembroke. Gwyneth Paltrow and Daniel Craig display the full range of complexities of this troubled duo’s personalities and relationship, and the colours and aesthetic of their 1950s seaside home are simply stunning. 

Where to watch it: Sylvia is available to borrow from the English Faculty Library. 

4) Bright Star 

Admittedly another tragic literary biopic – and troubled love story – Bright Star is the story of John Keats’s final years and relationship with Fanny Brawne for whom he wrote his famous sonnet ‘Bright Star, would I were steadfast as thou art’. Ben Whishaw shines in absolutely every role he plays, and is particularly excellent as the sickly, love-sick John Keats – bring tissues. 

Where to watch it: There is a copy of Bright Star in St John’s Library and it’s around £5 on Amazon.

3) La Vie en Rose 

I don’t think I’d ever really heard of Édith Piaf before watching her biopic (she’s the ‘Non, je ne regrette rien’ one) but it’s impossible not to fall in love with her determined and feisty character as she overcomes poverty in glamorous 1930s Paris to become one of France’s biggest stars. La Vie en Rose is also particularly brilliant as it showcases the majority of Piaf’s life, meaning we get a fully rounded insight into her character. 

Where to watch it: A handful of college libraries have a copy, and it’s under £3 from Amazon. 

2) The Theory of Everything 

Chances are you’re already very familiar with The Theory of Everything as it was an Oscar-winning box-office hit in 2014, but if you haven’t already seen it make sure you do so before leaving Cambridge. I enjoyed this film so much I went to see it in the cinema twice. It’s achingly sad and beautiful, and its focus on the relationship between Stephen and Jane Hawking opens up a whole new dimension of this world-renowned physicist. If nothing else, the beautiful Cambridge scenery and fireworks will have you hyped for May Week balls. 

Where to watch it: The Theory of Everything is on Netflix.

1) Frida 

Art, feminism, lesbianism, Mexico, Trotsky, pet monkeys, and Salma Hayek – what’s not to love? Frida Kahlo’s spirit and surrealist artwork are displayed brilliantly in this occasionally hilarious, occasionally moving exploration of one of the twentieth century’s greatest artists and the struggles she overcame from severe injuries sustained as a teenager to tolerating her philandering husband, Diego Rivera. A brilliant watch with a more feel-good vibe. 

Where to watch it: Frida is £6 on Amazon. 

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