Last year, the biopic genre thrives once again. This is among the genres where a film can be incredibly inspiring, or terribly dull and boring. There is nothing in between. Thankfully, these films are not the latter. Here are some biopic dramas you might want to see and where you can see it, because everybody needs a good film once in a while.
Sets in the 1991 Royal Family Christmas festive, Spencer follows Princess Diana through her struggle in one of the last moments in her marriage with Prince Charles before their separation.
Spencer builds around a Christmas celebration, though there is very little to celebrate on its titular character’s part. Diana was born as Diana Frances Spencer, the daughter Edward John Spencer, a British nobleman. At 20, she married The Prince of Wales and the heir apparent of the British monarch, Charles. Together they led a royal marriage, which had surprisingly taken an unpleasant turn.
Pablo Larraín takes the disintegrating relationship as the background in the film. “Isn’t the key of cinema to have an actor or a character in a crisis?” Larraín mentions in an interview with Vulture in October 2021. Spencer presents a deeper look into the dread of isolation and loneliness, a further leap into the psychological state of the Duchess. With the theme in mind, the film successfully captures the suffocating atmosphere surrounding the 31-year-old princess.
There are two main things that might get you into watching Spencer. One, it’s Princess Diana. The public have been invested in famous people’s story forever. So, you can imagine that the story of The People’s Princess will be in the interest of many audiences for a long time. Princess Diana has been previously adapted as a character in Netflix’s award-winning show The Crown, played by the charming Emma Corrin (the role then will be taken by Elizabeth Debicki for the next two seasons). Now, Kristen Stewart has stepped into the role in Spencer, which brings us to thing number two. The casting choice drew skepticism from some people, which is understandable (but not really). However, she maintains to gives the performance of her life, leading her to first major recognition from the Academy with a Best Actress nomination.
Spencer wraps its cold theme with warm tone, gives a psychological thriller atmosphere in the big mansion, and on top of it all, Kristen Stewart delivers a mesmerizing portrayal as Princess Diana.
Spencer is now available on KlikFilm.
Director : Pablo Larraín
Cast : Kristen Stewart, Sally Hawkins, Jack Farthing, Timothy Spall, Sean Harris
83% on Rotten Tomatoes 6.7/10 on IMDb
Tick, Tick… Boom! (2021)
Andrew Garfield sings in a musical is not something people might expected. But here we are, and he does not disappoint. As always.
In Lin-Manuel Miranda’s feature directorial debut, Jonathan Larson (Andrew Garfield) is a young, aspiring composer and playwright who tries to make it in the home of Broadway, New York City. Tick, Tick… Boom! explores the struggles and hopes in his journey to the big stages, along with ups and downs in love and friendship.
Tick, Tick… Boom! is named after a one-man show which Larson first performed in 1992, which seems to be the center of the film. In January 1996, one night before the first Broadway preview of his work, Rent, he sadly passed away due to aortic aneurism. Rent continued to be performed for the following years.
This film is marked as Garfield’s first musical, and his first time to sing on screen, and he nails it. He does. Andrew Garfield has charmed the audience once more by his performance. Garfield carries out the role with so much grace and respect, which further prove just how wonderful of an actor (and a person) he is. He beautifully captures Larson’s spirit as a passionate, brilliant human being. The performance lands him another Best Actor nomination from the Academy.
If you put a bunch of review headlines, it’ll sound similar to this: “Tick, Tick… Boom! is a love letter to musical theater, Broadway, anyone with a dream, and ultimately, Jonathan Larson and his crafts.” And I wholeheartedly agree.
Tick, Tick… Boom! is now available on Netflix.
Director : Lin-Manuel Miranda
Cast : Andrew Garfield, Vanessa Hudgens, Alexandra Shipp, Jordan Fisher, Robin de Jesús
87% on Rotten Tomatoes 7.5/10 on IMDb
King Richard (2021)
This is definitely one of the favorites among the audiences this year. Though a story of a sport prodigy has always been fascinating to many, King Richard exceeds expectations.
King Richard is, in the words of the Rolling Stone, “a movie about the making of Venus and Serena”. Richard Williams, played by two-time Academy Awards nominee Will Smith, is a father and a coach to both rising tennis stars. Some might get mixed feelings on his character at first. He seems to be an over-controlling parent, carefully calculating every move that his daughters take. Nevertheless, his major plan, which he claims he wrote before even the birth of the two girls, frames the future of Venus and Serena. What is admirable of his character is the fact that no matter how much he roots for her daughters to be the best, he does not dismiss their need to have a normal childhood. “Have fun” is how he constantly phrased the encouragement for his girls, a reminder that their endeavor to be joyous as it is passionate.
Will Smith has some experience in portraying a tough and hopeful father. His previous role in The Pursuit of Happyness (2006) brings a wonderful and emotional performance as a father, and it gives him a second Oscar nomination as Best Actor. Earlier this year, he brought home his first golden statue for his compelling work as Richard Williams.
Directed by Reinaldo Marcus Green, King Richard brings to light the ugly part of being a young athlete, and shares perspectives on the Williams’ experience in a predominantly white sport at the time.
King Richard is now available on HBO Go.
Director : Reinaldo Marcus Green
Cast : Will Smith, Jon Bernthal, Saniyya Sidney, Aunjanue Ellis, Demi Singleton
90% on Rotten Tomatoes 7.5/10 on IMDb
The Eyes of Tammy Faye (2021)
The Eyes of Tammy Faye dives into the rise and fall of American televangelist Tammy Faye Baker. Audience would tag along on the journey of Tammy Faye (Jessica Chastain) and her husband, Jim Bakker (Andrew Garfield), and how they went from “humble beginnings” to making it big on television.
The Eyes of Tammy Faye has a number of mixed reactions. Two reviews in The Guardian can be a quick example of this. One headline calls out The Eyes of Tammy Faye for it is a “disappointingly straight biopic of a queer icon”. While the other gives four stars for the film as a Christian biopic with “outrageously entertaining” Jessica Chastain.
Tammy Faye is regarded as a queer ally for her outspokenness in supporting the community in the 80s America. In the film, issues related to queer people is present, but vague and clouded. It is one of the pieces of evidence that while The Eyes of Tammy Faye has many potentials in digging for various noteworthy topics, it bails.
I suppose I would have to agree with a review on Detik.com, “With a subject that is so fascinating (and very popular in America), The Eyes of Tammy Faye becomes a disappointing film for its narrative is shallow. Everything is only at the surface.” It doesn’t necessarily explore, rather it shows what could have been, but didn’t happen anyway.
Still, The Eyes of Tammy Faye is an interesting watch. If anything, Jessica Chastain is so great that you might ignore the missing plotlines. She makes a quite transformation for this role. It’s the kind of transformation that’ll get you to say “Wait, that’s her?”
Aside from her obvious talent, of course we have the makeup team to thank. It’s no surprise that The Eyes of Tammy Faye wins for Best Makeup and Hairstyling in the 2022 Oscar. Jessica Chastain also lands her first win in Best Actress in a Leading Role that same night. I would also want to note that Andrew Garfield, once again, does not disappoint.
The Eyes of Tammy Faye is an entertaining watch with compelling subjects. You would, at least, enjoy the brilliant performances of top-notch actors.
The Eyes if Tammy Faye is now available on Disney+ Hotstar.
Director : Michael Showalter
Cast : Jessica Chastain, Andrew Garfield, Cherry Jones, Vincent D’Onofrio, Mark Wystrach
69% on Rotten Tomatoes 6.6/10 on IMDb