Best Biographical Movies - Part 5

Posted on 1 Apr 00:00

The cinema world is made up of fiction films and non fiction films, biopics. Fiction films include crime thrillers, romance, fantasy, science fiction, all movie genres. Biopics are films depicting real people and events. Many biopics include a wealth of interviews, footage, and photos of real people and from real events.  However, most of them target a certain person or group that influenced society in a way.  The authenticity in these films contributes largely to their commercial success. 

1.  Jiro Dreams of Sushi (2011)

Plot:  'Jiro Dreams of Sushi' is a thoughtful and engrossing Japanese-American film by David Gleb.  The documentary gives an insider story of Jiro Ono, an 85-year-old sushi master.  He was the owner of the Sukiyabashi Jiro, a 10-seat Japanese restaurant in Tokyo. The film details the relationship between Jiro and his son Yoshikazu, who succeeded his father in owning the renowned restaurant.

Jiro was a perfectionist. Working with him required a lot of practice to meet expectations. Yoshikazu was only 50 years old at that time. However, being the oldest son, Yoshikazu is charged with living up to Jiro's legacy after inheriting the restaurant. An engrossing vile, this film of 81 minutes view of the world-class sushi restaurant reveals the mystery of Jiro.

Director: David Gelb.

Cast: Jiro Uno and his sons.

Commercial Success: This film grossed $2,552,478m domestically. lt also grossed $237,557K internationally. Its worldwide box office gross was $2,790,035.

Accolades: This movie received accolades in the form of 3 award wins and 12 nominations. It was nominated for the Cinema Eye Honors Awards during the 2013 Cinema Eye Honors Awards. In the same year, the movie won the DFSC Award for the Best Documentary film. In 2012, the film won the ICP award during the Indiewire Critics Poll for the Best Documentary.

2.  Life Itself (2014)

Plot:  'Life Itself' is a documentary movie directed by Steve James. It chronicles the most famous and affectionate American movie critic Rodger Ebert. The film is a tribute to the movie critic who passed away in 2013. Ebert started his career in 1976 with the Chicago-Sun Times becoming the first movie critic to win the Pulitzer Prize for Criticism. The documentary was edited from interview footage with Roger Ebert before his death. It also features interviews of Ebert's family, colleagues, and close friends.

The movie also contains many video clips from the late movie critic's TV show, 'At The Movies' with his sparring partner Gene Siskel. It details the relationship between the two both on and off the screen. Steve James's masterpiece also documents why Ebert became a film critic and his impact on society. The movie opens Rodger Ebert's world of his alcoholism, his friendships with filmmakers including Warner Herzog, and other relationships. Ebert had an incredible career behind the screen and on the internet. Also, the documentary shows the rivalry between Ebert and Siskel. The award-winning film discusses a man many people did not know. Its title is extracted from Ebert’s 2011 memoir.  The film premiered during the Sundance Film Festival in 2014. It detail's Ebert's suffering, way of handling situations, and his great desire for adventure. James' film tells viewers who the most famous movie critic was until his death.

Director: The movie was directed by Steve James

Main Cast: Rodger Ebert, Chaz Ebert, Werner Herzog, A.0 Scott, Errol Morris, Ava Duvemay, Martin Scorsese, and Stephen Standon.

Commercial Success:  The film was made with an estimated $153,875 budget.  In the USA  it grossed $809.7K. World wide gross is unknown.

Awards and Nominations: This movie received 25 awards and 33 nominations.  It was nominated for EDA Award in 2015. In 2014, it won the AAFCA  Award for the Best Documentary. It was nominated for the Tops in the Americana Film Fest. In 2014, this movie won the ACCA Award for the Best Documentary Feature during the Awards Circuit Community Awards.

3.  Seven Up (2014)

Plot:  'Seven-Up' is from the 'Up' series that documents the lives of fourteen British adults since they were 7 years old. The first episode of the 'Up' series aired in 1964. The same subjects have been appearing in interviews to make other episodes. The fourteen adults make 7 yearly visits to tell their life experiences. The last series to be filmed was 63 Up. 13 of of the fourteen are all alive, and hopefully, 70 Up will one day be aired.

Directors: Paul Almond and Michael Apted

Main Cast: Bruce Balden, Jackie Basset, Symon Basterfield, Andrew Brackfield, John Brisby, Peter Davies, Susan Davis, Charles Furneaux, and Nicholas Hitchin. Also, Neil Hughes, Lynn Johnson, Paul Kligerman, Suzanne Lusk, and Tony Walker were cast.

Commercial Success: Unknown.

Awards and Accolades: This movie did not receive any awards. However, it was nominated for Golden Satellite Award by Satellite Awards in 25 for the Best Documentary DVD.

4.  Stories We Tell (2012)

Plot:  The documentary details the relationship between Sarah Polley’s parents and her brother Michael and sister Diane Pulley. Reportedly, Polley was born from an extramarital that determined Harry Galkin, a Montreal producer, was her biological father. The film also features interviews from two families and footage showing Polley’s history. Sarah Polley worked on the film for five years.           However, its final release gives the viewers glimpses of her real biological father.

Director: Sarah Polley.

Cast: Rebecca Jenkins.

Commercial Success: This movie grossed $1,602,160m domestically. Also, it did well internationally, grossing $1,441,557m. Worldwide it earned $3,043,717.

Awards and Nominations: This movie was received well by critics winning 24 awards and 42 nominations. It won the Special Jury Award at the Abu Dhabi Film festival in 2012. In 2009, it won the EDA Award for the Best Documentary Feature Film. Sarah Polley was nominated for the EDA Female Focus Award at the same event.

5.  28 Up (1985)

Plot: Director, Michael Apted took the assignment of interviewing 14 seven-year-old British subjects. The kids were from different social classes, races, and places in Great Britain.  The meeting was to identify if there were changes in their lives. It started when they were 7 years. Tittles of the movies are given according to the age of the subjects. Another interview happened when they were 14 years, then 21 years. Apted looked for them seven years later when they turned 28 years old.

The last 'Up' series, '63 Up' premiered in 2019. Unfortunately, Apted died in early 2021. Almond passed on in 2015. However, movie buffs are hoping the surviving members of the film will release the most anticipated '70 Up'.

Directors: Michael Apted and Paul Almond

Main Cast: Bruce Balden, Jackie Basset, Symon Basterfield, Andrew Brackfield, John Brisby, Peter Davies, Susan Davis, Charles Furneaux, and Nicholas Hitchin. Also, Neil Hughes, Lynn Johnson, Paul Kligerman, Suzanne Lusk, and Tony Walker were involved in making this movie.

Awards and Nominations:  Michael Apted won the Flaherty Documentary Award (TV) during the 1985 BAFTA Awards. This film was also nominated for the Special Distinction Award by the Film Independent Spirit Awards in 1987. In 1985, Apted won the IDA Award from the International Documentary Association. Moreover, it was nominated for the NSFC Award for the documentary. Michael Apted also won the RTS Television Award in 1985. In 2005, this film was nominated for the Golden Satellite Award for the Best Documentary. Among the installments nominated include '7 Up', '7 Plus Seven', '21 Up','35 Up', and '42 Up'.

6.  Beyond the Mat (1999)

Plot: The opening scenes of this movie show director, Barry Blaustein, sharing his love for professional wrestling. He also goes through the clips with employees of Extreme Championship Wrestling and World Wrestling Federation wrestlers. Blaustein then travels to America to interview professional wrestlers. He wants to find out their motive behind being a professional wrestler.

In the USA, his interviews focus on wrestlers, Mick Foley, Jake Roberts, and Terry Funk. In 1998, Funk wrestled The Undertaker at the King of the Ring match that left him unconscious. Blaustein, who took the clips of the match, shows them to Funk's wife and children. Foley also enters the ring with Dwayne Johnson “The Rock” at the Royal Rumble in 1999. Foley also loses the match, as Blaustein records it. In the closing scenes, other wrestling figures, including Vince McMahon, appear. 'Beyond the Mat' leaves viewers thrilled.

Director: Barry Blaustein.

Main Cast: Terry Funk, Mick Foley, and Jake Roberts.

Commercial Success: This film was made on a $500,000 budget. It grossed $2 million domestically. Worldwide gross is unknown.

Awards and Nominations: This movie received 3 awards and 2 nominations. Blaustein was nominated for the DGA Award by the Directors Guild of America in 2000. Also, Blaustein won an honorable mention during the Cinequest San Jose Film Festival in 2000 for the Best Documentary Feature. This film was nominated for the Sierra Award during the Las Vegas Film Critics Society Awards in the same year. This film was nominated for the Best Documentary. Still in 2000.  Blaustein also won the Audience Award in the SXSW Film Festival for the Best Documentary Feature-First Film.


Biographical movies have a long history in the Cinema world. The interviews with main characters, scene footage, and narrations from people help make biopics authentic and successful.  

Movie Buffs Forever stocks classic movies on DVD from the 1940's to the early 2000's. Browse our vast collection of old, rare and out of print classic movies on DVD. 

Why We Still Love DVDs