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My 10 favorite biopics

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AUGUST 02, 2023

I love movies about real, extraordinary people. In honor of the “Oppenheimer” release, these are my favorite movies (and one show) also based on a true story.

10. “King Richard” by Reinaldo Marcus Green & “Air” by Ben Affleck, et.a

I love these movies about some of the greatest athletes of all time — the Williams sisters and Michael Jordan. These stories revolving around their parents showcase their sacrifices and intense work put into molding and encouraging some of the most beloved people in the entire world. I love that there is this spotlight on the parents because the athletes’ talents are already displayed when they play, but little is shown for how they became these greats. 

9. “The Crown” by Stephen Daldry

The materialization of the rumors and gossip regarding the royal family will always be my indulgent guilty pleasure. Something about this all-powerful family having secrets that are being revealed really satisfies my nosy self. These last two seasons with Princess Diana have been really special to watch.

8. “Spotlight” by Tom McCarthy & “She Said” by Maria Schrader

These two great movies depict the importance and necessity of journalism. Both showcase female leads who seek out dark truths that are deeply buried in the religious sector and the other in Hollywood. It illustrates the bravery and strength it takes to expose something dangerously kept secret. I’ve never really seen journalists or writers raised to this kind of pedestal so these movies are important to me. It’s difficult to realize that writing matters, but important to remember that it does.

7. “The Big Short” by Adam McKay

As someone who literally cannot understand a single thing about economics, this movie explaining the stock market crash of 2008 was still so enjoyable. The humor and celebrity asides makes this confusing but impressionable time easier to understand and a joy to watch and learn about. 

6. “Argo” by Ben Affleck, et.al

I genuinely did not know who or what the CIA is and I honestly still don’t but this movie made them sound really cool. “Argo” was a secret rescue mission of six diplomats in Iran in 1979. By using a cover of being a group of filmmakers, they were able to make their way back to America. The story of how they did it is really incredible and so suspenseful throughout the movie.

5. “The Pursuit of Happyness” by Gabriele Muccino

I thought this was going to be a cute movie with Will Smith and his son a long time ago when I first watched it. I was so wrong. It is so, so sad. I watch this movie when I need a good cry or when I start to feel like I’m taking my life for granted. So often do I feel stressed and inept in my studies or my career, feeling that life could be easier if I didn’t think about money all the time, and then I watch this and feel so silly for ever feeling like this. I think it’s important to be okay with feeling disappointed in where your life is going. There are so many forces around a student trying their hardest, but to be stuck in it is too consuming. I watch this movie to feel hope and gratitude — hope for what I have yet to accomplish and gratitude for what I already have.

4. “The Wolf of Wall Street” by Martin Scorsese

Jordan Belfort is more like a figure of entertainment than a man anyone should really listen to or be inspired by. I think Leonardo DiCaprio does such a good job at describing this erratic and dysfunctional man and makes his story so fun to watch.

3. “The Social Network” by David Fincher

The creation of Facebook by a college student is a story of intellect and ingenuity that I really cannot relate to, but his stubbornness and insecurity is something I think we can all see within ourselves. Watching this in college is interesting because you can see themes that we all relate to and struggle with; fitting in, competing with others and hoping to make something of ourselves. 

2. “Moneyball” by Bennett Miller

Although I grew up as a Giants fan, the Oakland A’s were always a team that was there, and it felt special to have both in the Bay Area. As the A’s relocation to Las Vegas looms, I think everyone should watch this film to understand and remember the history the stadium and the team have in Oakland. This movie starring Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill tells the tale of the team’s initially bleak 2002 season. It shows a team manager attempting to build a winning team with millions less than other teams, trying to change the way baseball is understood, shaped and played. It’s a story of purpose and pride — the attempt and bravery to break the status quo to try and be something important. At the same time it’s also about tradition, the art in something that remains unchanged and loved still in the same way. 

1. “Oppenheimer” by Christopher Nolan

This may be a recency bias but I had to include this. Nothing can be said that hasn’t been raved about already. There are really cool scenes of Cillian Murphy walking through the UC Berkeley campus that made me feel so proud to go here. I think when I struggle to walk up the hills to class, sweating and worrying about post-grad plans, I forget about the people that have walked the same paths, geniuses with intellect beyond my comprehension and figures with so much to tell — it’s such a humbling and prideful feeling.

Contact Mary Huynh at 


AUGUST 02, 2023