The 25 Best Biopics of All Time, Ranked

Biopics are the tomatoes of cinema. Whether one calls them bio-pics or bi-opics, they’re a staple of every awards show. Actors with Oscars in their eyes don gobs of make-up, wigs, fatsuits, and fake accents in service of juicy roles that often define their careers. Or, in Faye Dunaway’s case, ruin them. The path of the biopic is a tricky one, though, since they can be as formulaic as a 1940s’ western.  For all the spinning newspapers and trips to rehab, though, voters and audiences are generally addicted.

To mark the occasion of another hotly anticipated biopic that’s an early favourite for awards later this year, Baz Lurhman’s Elvis, That Shelf polled its writers to determine the best biopics of all time. The list inevitably skews contemporary since the biopic is a relatively young genre. Sure, it has some roots in classic cinema and handful of studio hits from the 1960s and 1970s, but the 1980s arguably birthed the awards-baiting biopic as the studios fashioned movies for adult audiences that could capitalize on prestige to attract crowds. And in all honesty, few of the early biopics have aged well.

This list features biopics that have the genre formula down to a T and others that truly defy convention. There are Oscar winners and nominees galore, and a handful of Meryl Streep movies to keep readers satisfied. Criteria for the poll defined a biopic as the dramatization of the life of one or two people. This means that spoofs, faux biopics, or films that draw loose inspiration from figures without overtly referencing them, and therefore films like Walk Hard, Zelig, or The Devil Wears Prada, were ineligible, as were films that focused more an historical event than the person at its centre. (ie: Malcolm X and Ali are biopics, but One Night in Miami is not.) In cases in which a curious choice received multiple votes, however, we generally let it slide.

Here are That Shelf’s picks for the 25 best biopics of all time.

-Pat Mullen

 

25. Jackie

There were votes for both of Pablo Larraín’s dark psychological biopics, Jackie and Spencer, but the pillbox hat ultimately stole the crown. (No shade to Kristen Stewart fans, but Jackie is a much better film.) This hypnotic exploration of the First Lady’s psyche uses a tête-à-tête between Jackie Kennedy (Natalie Portman) and a journalist (Billy Crudup) as a vehicle to explore how she found strength in the aftermath of JFK’s assassination. Jackie burrows deep into a nation’s psyche as Kennedy regales with stories of a lost “Camelot,” or an idyll kingdom in which she and JFK reigned all too briefly. The Kennedys’ unexpected love song, Richard Burton’s “Camelot” bounces through the film as Jackie guzzles wine while trying on the pearls that Diana would later eat for dinner. With its look back at Camelot through Jackie’s ability to spin a good yarn with her breathy diction, the film brilliantly deconstructs the process of national mythmaking. – PM

24. Hunger

Steve McQueen’s disturbing feature debut powerfully chronicles the 1981 Irish hunger strike and the resolve of its leader, Provisional IRA member Bobby Sands (Michael Fassbender). This first collaboration between director and actor also famously touches on the no-wash protest, which finds inmates smearing their own excrement on the walls of HM Maze Prison as part of their effort to regain political status revoked by the British government.
Fassbender lost over 40 pounds to play the famous Sands—a man who managed to get himself elected to Parliament amid a protest that pushed both his body and his mind to the edge. The film premiered at Cannes in 2008, going on to win McQueen the Caméra d’Or, the festival’s prestigious prize for first-time filmmakers. Hunger is an unflinching look at one of the most momentous and tragic events of The Troubles. McQueen and Enda Walsh’s script is unrelentingly (but necessarily) bleak in its retelling. Despite being an admittedly heavy watch, the award-winning film is truly essential viewing for all. – Emma Badame

23. Bugsy

Bugsy truly is the unheralded masterpiece of the gangster genre. Warren Beatty gives the performance of a lifetime as the suave and charismatic mobster Bugsy Siegel. Much like Francis Ford Coppola’s The Godfather, this mob movie shrewdly deconstructs the violence of American capitalism and the bad fortune it brings. Directed by Barry Levinson, the film observes as Bugsy has a flash of genius in the Nevada desert, which leads to the creation of Las Vegas and tragic end. Buoyed by top-notch production design and a smooth score by Ennio Morricone, Bugsy is a throwback for people who love movies as much as Siegel did himself. Best of all is the electric chemistry between Beatty and co-star Annette Bening. Bugsy sparks with the magic of two people falling dangerously in love. It’s no wonder they married shortly thereafter. – PM

22. What’s Love Got to Do with It?

In the recent documentary Tina, legendary singer Tina Turner reflected on the trauma that she repeatedly endured from journalist during the press tour for the film What’s Love Got to Do With It. Despite all she had accomplished, the press only wanted to ask her about the abuse she endured at the hands of her former husband, Ike. This forced her to relive the traumatic events over and over. Despite the lack of sensitivity from the press, and Turner’s less than enthusiastic response to the film, What’s Love Got to Do with It was instrumental in sparking conversation about domestic abuse is the ’90s.

While the physical and mental trauma Turner experienced is often hard to watch, what has made the film remain in people’s consciousness over the last few decades are the performances. Angela Bassett and Laurence Fishburne are outstanding as Tina and Ike Turner. Receiving well-deserved nominations for Best Actress and Best Actor respectively, Bassett perfectly embodied the artistic energy, drive, swagger, and emotional vulnerability that made Turner such an icon, while Fishburne brought complex layers to Ike that made him far more than a simple villain. A masterclass in how the right performances can transcend a conventional biopic structure, What’s Love Got to Do with It is much more than merely a tale of a volatile relationship. It is ultimately a story of the strength, courage, perseverance, and the raw talent that made Tina Turner such a remarkable and important figure in Rock n’ Roll. –Courtney Small

 

21. Julie & Julia

Julie & Julia would probably be way higher on this list if not for the “Julie” part. Nora Ephron’s two-hander is the story of food blogger Julie Powell (Amy Adams) and the inspiration she drew from revolutionary chef Julia Child (Meryl Streep). It’s easy to see why the French Chef continues to inspire wizardry in the kitchen with her recipes for boeuf bourguignon and roast chicken. Meryl Streep is a comedic delight as the larger than life Child in the flashback sequences that explore how she came to master the art of French cooking. The layered butter of her performance captures Child’s quirks without veering into caricature. The “Julia” storyline is effervescent, scrumptious fun and while the “Julie” one is a bit of a drag (I mean, even Amy Adams can’t make her likable), Julie & Julia cooks up something wonderful by dramatizing one woman’s ability to touch others through both the heart and the belly. – PM

20. Heavenly Creatures

Part biopic and part psychological thriller, Peter Jackson’s captivating 1994 film dramatizes the events surrounding an extraordinary murder case in 1950’s New Zealand. Heavenly Creatures takes us inside the intense friendship between Pauline Parker (Melanie Lynskey) and Juliet Hulme (Kate Winslet)–two teenage girls found guilty of plotting and carrying out the murder of Parker’s mother, Honora.

Jackson deliberately paints the film in sunny, candy-coloured hues, a strong contrast to the disturbing subject matter at its core. As the lines begin to blur between the girls’ secret, fictional world and the reality of their own complicated families, the tension builds to a climax that still seems farfetched despite being rooted in pure, collaborated truth. A production that nestles quite nicely within the current true crime trend, Heavenly Creatures marks the auspicious cinematic debuts of both Winslet and Lynskey and showcases Jackson as a director capable of far more than genre filmmaking. – EB

19. An Angel at My Table

This adaptation of Janet Frame’s three autobiographies is Jane Campion’s masterpiece. It explores Frame’s life from her childhood and adolescence as a shy bookworm to an adulthood enriched by both artistic success and dark personal setbacks, all of it playing out with energetic spontaneity. On her way to becoming one of New Zealand’s most cherished and celebrated authors, Frame’s social awkwardness was misdiagnosed by ambitious doctors as schizophrenia and saw her scheduled for a lobotomy before a prize for her writing prevented it. Kunstlerromans are rarely more detailed and compelling than this magnificent work in which Campion keep things intimate without succumbing to navel-gazing. She also lets the grander themes of the piece (in this case, the fact that art can literally save your life) feel significant and inspiring. Frame is portrayed at various ages by three exceptional actors (as an adult by Kerry Fox, who later reunited with Campion in Bright Star), while Stuart Dryburgh’s rich and dramatic lighting captures the wonders of the country’s light and landscapes without ever giving in to pictorial clichés. – Bil Antoniou

18. Wild

This adaptation of Cheryl Strayed’s popular memoir might not be the first “biopic” that comes to mind. However, it illustrates how the best stories ripped from life often favour snapshots in lieu of cradle-to-grave narratives. Jean-Marc Vallée’s film follows Strayed (Reese Witherspoon) as she picks herself up by her hiking boot straps and treks the Pacific Crest Trail. Strayed’s long trek through memories meshes perfectly with Vallée’s kaleidoscopic style that weaves needle drops and haunting images of Cheryl’s mother, Bobbi (Laura Dern), that help burrow into the author’s exploration of grief. Witherspoon, in true biopic fashion, gives a performance of remarkable strength. Surprisingly, her Oscar-winning turn as June Carter Cash in Walk the Line didn’t net a single vote in this poll. – PM

17. Milk

Another biopic, another Oscar. Sean Penn joined the leagues of straight people who won Oscars for “playing gay,” but we’ll let this one slide. His performance as late politician, activist, and gay rights icon Harvey Milk is impossible to fault. The wide availability of material, including the Oscar winning documentary The Times of Harvey Milk, makes clear how much he nailed Milk’s spark and spirit. The film is relatively conventional for a man who defied convention, but the research in Dustin Lance Black’s screenplay is meticulous and the direction by Gus Van Sant is powerfully intimate, so Milk proves that sometimes tried-and-tested means deliver. The film handles Milk’s assassination by fellow civil servant Dan White (Josh Brolin) with sensitivity and care. – PM

16. Silkwood

Meryl Streep, how sweet the sound. Meryl Streep should have won Best Actress for her performance as ill-fated whistleblower Karen Silkwood, but having won just the year before for Sophie’s Choice, we’ll forgive the Academy. Silkwood dramatizes the life of the young woman who risked and gave everything while fighting for workers’ rights at her nuclear facility. Streep disappears into the role of the gum-chewing, mullet sporting Oklahoman. This immersive, uncharacteristically un-showy turn emphasizes Silkwood’s bravery. Working with her great collaborator Mike Nichols, the film features some nerve-wracking scenes as Silkwood and her co-workers encounter the terrifying effects that come with radiation exposure. The film doesn’t speculate what happened the night Silkwood’s car veered off that road, but the finale haunts no matter how many times one sees it. – PM

15. Rocketman

There is a moment in Rocketman where it’s easy to forget you aren’t actually watching Elton John on screen. It comes early in the film and, despite Taron Egerton really looking nothing like the actual John, he wholly transforms into this big screen fantasy piano man. Egerton’s performance is precisely why director Dexter Fletcher’s musical biopic works so well as the Welsh actor oozes the essence of John in every frame. With a larger-than-life subject and fantastical costumes (by costume designer Julian Day), Rocketman does its best not to mimic John ( à la Rami Malek as Freddie Mercury in Bohemian Rhapsody, also partially directed by Fletcher). Instead, it presents a new take on John and his many personas, on and off the stage. The decision to play with traditional biopic timelines and have Egerton and the cast record covers of John’s songs to tell his story – both the highs and the lows – makes Rocketman one of the most refreshing and compelling biopics of the past decade.  – Rachel West

14. I’m Not There.

Todd Haynes delivers a radical revamp of biopic convention with this take on Bob Dylan that rolls and rumbles like thunder. I’m Not There explores the many facets of a man to capture his influences, style, persona, and enigmatic appeal. An eclectic ensemble casts various actors to inhabit the “many lives” of the folk rock icon. Young actor Marcus Carl Franklin plays Woody in homage to Dylan’s fascination with Woody Guthrie, while a bland Richard Gere offers a nod to Dylan’s performance in the western Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid. There’s also Ben Whishaw, Heath Ledger, and Christian Bale who inhabit the Dylan the reluctant star, poet, and protester. However, the film’s real coup is casting Cate Blanchett as Jude, who embodies the controversial moment in which Dylan plugged his guitar in and alienated fans while electrifying others. I’m Not There is a brilliant biopic that explores the essence of its subject and his impact on the many lives with which his own intersected. -PM

13. The Insider

Jeffrey Wigand, who’s out on a limb, does he go on television and tell the truth? Yes. Is it newsworthy? Yes. Are we gonna air it? Of course not. Why? Because he’s not telling the truth? No. Because he is telling the truth. That’s why we’re not going to air it.

While not as outwardly exciting as Michael Mann’s other hits, The Insider is no less vital. The film dramatizes the 60 Minutes exposé of the tobacco industries’ lies and the fallout suffered by whistleblower Jeffrey Wigand. Russell Crowe and Al Pacino’s two-hander about the responsibility of journalism and corporate greed is scathing and riveting in equal measure. The Insider reveals that there are no heroes in America because they’re torn apart as soon as they speak against power. Russell Crowe won the Oscar for Best Actor the next year for Gladiator, but it’s not far-fetched to think his nominated turn as Wigand (all agony, fear, and ridicule) helped seal the deal. Impeccably shot and acted, Mann’s film is a masterwork of suffocating paranoia in an age where the dollar always trumps decency. – Colin Biggs

12. Funny Girl

Barbra Streisand gave 1365 performances as Fanny Brice in the Broadway musical based on the life of producer Ray Stark’s mother-in-law. Thanks to her instant success as a recording star around the same time, she was handed the opportunity to play the lead in her first ever film. The result? Like buttah! The screenplay is about as spotty as the book of the play it was based on, but Streisand and her magnificent charisma more than compensate for every flaw you can pick, from a sleepwalking co-star (Egyptian-born Omar Sharif, whose singing is mostly cut out and whose casting as an American Jew so close to the Six Day War lead to the film being banned in Israel) to a shoddy third act that follows the laughter and singing with a weak retread of A Star Is Born. The production numbers remain dazzling today and Barbra’s delivery of her lines still tickle a rib while endearing us deeply to the character. Her insecurities become our own but her talent, much like the lady’s she is portraying, is entirely unique. She tied for the Best Actress Oscar for her performance, the only time this has ever happened in that category, and the Academy’s inability to simply choose a musical comedy performance outright without seeking to legitimize the choice by putting it in company with a much more traditional choice (third time winner Katharine Hepburn in The Lion in Winter, in this case), is still a head-scratcher. – BA

11. Raging Bull

Arguably Martin Scorsese’s masterpiece and a collaboration with Robert De Niro that defines both their careers, Raging Bull tells the story of an unsympathetic hero, Jake LaMotta — an American boxer and World Middleweight Champion. The film is a no-holds-barred adaptation of LaMotta’s memoir.  Scorsese shows LaMotta for the champion and animal he was, never shying away from the darker moments of the boxer’s life. A masterclass in filmmaking, Scorsese and De Niro (who won his second Oscar) both show incredible range, effortlessly going from dynamic boxing sequences to terrifying domestic moments to pathetic moments of faux grandeur. LaMotta can be a difficult protagonist to get behind and, while Raging Bull doesn’t do him any favours, it lends credence to the idea that a strange and uncomfortable beauty can be found in boorish brutality. –Rachel Ho

10. A Cry in the Dark

The case of Lindy Chamberlain is one that can still raise the hackles of Australians today, but director Fred Schepisi’s fascinating docudrama isn’t as invested in swaying your beliefs about her guilt as he is interested in examining the effect that media and public opinion had on the outcome of a legal murder trial. Chamberlain and her husband Michael were on vacation with their children at Uluru in 1980 when, one late night, she screamed the now infamous quote about a dingo getting her baby. Authorities investigated the possibility that Chamberlain dispatched the child herself and used the wild dog as her cover, which became a solid theory for the public thanks to television reporting that played up her hard demeanor and refusal to cry on camera, as well as her family’s membership in a little-known Christian denomination (Seventh-Day Advents) that was reconfigured as a full-blown cult. Despite there being no body, motive or hard evidence, Chamberlain was sent to prison for murder. Meryl Streep, who received her eighth Oscar nomination and won Best Actress at the Cannes Film Festival for her performance, has always been drawn to characters who risk alienating our affections and challenge our conformist ideas of female roles within family and society, and brilliantly embraces Chamberlain’s edginess (how brilliantly she executes an Australian accent depends on which Australians you ask). Schepisi frequently cuts from the heat of the courtroom to scenes of members of the public discussing, arguing or coming to blows over the case, quite openly damning the undue influence of public commentary on what should have been a purely legal investigation.  Also known as Evil Angels. – BA

9. Schindler’s List

Keeping true to the fashion that making a Holocaust film is the ticket to Oscar glory, Steven Spielberg ditched the dinosaurs, aliens, and bloodthirsty sharks for a trip to Auschwitz. Sure, Schindler’s List isn’t nearly as fun as Jurassic Park is, but it’s the crowning achievement in the career of one of cinema’s greats. The film benefits from the epic scope that is Spielberg’s standard as he dramatizes Oskar Schindler’s plight to save as many Jews as he could by recruiting them for factory work. There’s a scene late in the film when Schindler, played by Liam Neeson, breaks down and insists that he could have done more. Combining the weight of survivor’s guilt with the bravery of a man who risked everything at a time when others simply looked the other way, the film offers a true portrait of an ordinary hero. And it’s still America’s #1 make-out movie. – PM

8. Fruitvale Station

A story unfortunately more relevant than ever, Fruitvale Station (the directorial debut of Ryan Coogler) shows the final hours of Oscar Grant’s life before being killed by Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) police in 2009. Grant (played brilliantly by Michael B. Jordan), 22 years old at the time, was restrained by officers who were responding to a fight on the subway. According to the police, Grant was resisting arrest, and while an officer had his knee on Grant’s neck, another fatally shot him in the back. Fruitvale Station serves as a condemnation of Grant’s death and the system that allowed it to happen, while also honouring his life. Grant’s senseless death sparked riots across Oakland at the time, but Coogler saw an opportunity to make a statement without violence: “If I can get two hours of people’s time, I can affect them more than if they threw a trash can through a window,” noted the director  – RH

7. Amadeus

Adapting theatre for the big screen is never easy, and more often than not, the original’s magic disappears somewhere in the translation from one medium to another, not so with Miloš Forman’s Amadeus. Peter Shaffer, the original playwright, made the shift decidedly easier by adapting the award-winning stage play for the cinema himself. But it’s also fair to say that the composer’s short but impressive life was so epic and visual that even a fictionalized version like Amadeus was made to impress and entice in any format. It certainly does here.

Told from the perspective of the composer’s rival and envious contemporary, Salieri (F. Murray Abraham), the film follows the obscene and immature Wolfgang Amadeus (Tom Hulce) during his time at the court of Emperor Joseph II. The Academy nominated both leads for acting Oscars, with Abraham coming out on top. The wigs and costumes also impress, as do the iconic Mozart compositions sprinkled throughout the showy saga. It may be a highly fictionalized version of the maestro’s life, but it hardly matters. A good story is a good story. Bravo! – EB

6. The Social Network

When David Fincher’s film was first announced, the response was, “Do we really need a film about this?” At any other time, the theft and betrayal within Mark Zuckerberg’s story would make him a villain. Fincher knows well enough, even if screenwriter Aaron Sorkin doesn’t, that a biopic of a “great man” and a villain is roughly the same. Standing at a technological frontier that we still don’t fully understand, Zuckerberg is an icon because he knew that the motivations of pettiness and resentment that reside in him would be the engine of capitalism moving forward. Ego, ambition, and disconnection mark not only the character study of Zuckerberg through Jesse Eisenberg, but the world at large. When power shifts, the results are messy, and Fincher revels in the nitty-gritty scrap that made Facebook and, accidentally, defined this century. Juxtaposed against a website that went wrong in every possible way, The Social Network is flawless. It’s career-best work from all involved (Fincher, Sorkin, Eisenberg, etc.). Why are you reading this? Go, watch it now! – CB

5. Out of Africa

From the first sweeping notes of John Barry’s Oscar-winning score, it’s clear that audiences are in for a sumptuous treat with this look at the life of Danish writer Isak Dinesen (a.k.a Baroness Karen von Blixen). Played here by Meryl Streep (with a spot-on accent, naturally), Sydney Pollack’s epic romance follows Dinesen’s time in Kenya before and after the Great War while delving into her passionate affair with Brit big-game hunter and guide Denys Finch-Hatton (Robert Redford). Sure Redford is about as American as they come, but he and Streep have the kind of chemistry that other actors can only dream of, so it’s easy to give the actor a pass.

The film certainly benefits from its outstanding performances, including standout supporting turns from Michael Kitchen, Klaus Maria Brandauer and Malick Bowens, and an excellent script by Kurt Luedtke, but what truly sets this Best Picture winner apart is the cinematography. David Watkins’ camera composes the most impressive love letter to the region–both from his aerial sequences and long, panning shots across the vast plains. The resulting footage provides the perfect visual accompaniment to Dinesen’s emotional recounting of her tumultuous time at the foot of the Ngong Hills, nearly astride the Great Rift Valley. – EB

4. Dolemite Is My Name

Craig Brewer’s Dolemite Is My Name is one of those rare films that understands that biopics do not always need to be serious. Furthermore, it is refreshing to see a film about a Black entertainer that does not revolve around childhood trauma, the brutality of racism, or the never-ending fight for equality. This is not to say comedian, singer and actor Rudy Ray Moore did not incur his fair share of hardships being a Black entertainer in a white dominated industry. However, Brewer’s film focuses on how Moore’s ambition and ingenuity not only propelled him to stardom, but also made him an inspiration for generations of comedians and artists.

Led by Eddie Murphy’s wonderful turn as Moore, and featuring an ensemble cast that includes stellar turns from Wesley Snipes and scene-stealing Da’Vine Joy Randolph, the film is an absolute delight. What makes this biopic resonate is its genuine heart. Moore may have cultivated an unapologetic machismo persona when performing his Dolemite character on stage and onscreen, but Dolemite Is My Name paints a warm portrait of a caring individual who simply wanted to entertain and lift the community he deeply loved. -CS

3. Lawrence of Arabia

David Lean’s epic look at T.E. Lawrence–the enigmatic English who became an unlikely diplomat-cum-hero and staunch advocate for Arab independence–has undoubtedly stood the test of time. The film’s stunning visuals and rousing performances are just as impressive now as when it first debuted to great acclaim in 1962. Arabia serves up Lawrence’s unique experiences in the Ottoman Empire during the First World War in a full flashback structure, beginning not with glory but with the man’s untimely death in 1935 in a motorcycle accident. From there, audiences are swept back in time to see how the British Army Lieutenant became wrapped up in the Arab National Council and led attacks on Aqaba and Damascus.

Peter O’Toole balances Lawrence’s dual nature with aplomb, perfectly conveying the warrior and peacemaker’s internal struggles and divided loyalties. The career-making lead performance went on to earn the actor the first of his seven Oscar nods. Lean’s film also contains a stellar score from Maurice Jarre, an intelligent screenplay from Robert Bolt and Michael Wilson, picture-perfect editing by Anne V. Coates, and a star-studded supporting cast that includes Alec Guinness and Omar Sharif. Given such pedigree, it’s not hard to see why the film is considered one of the greatest films of all time. – EB

2. Malcolm X

Malcolm X is epic in scope: political commentary, an in-depth profile of a polarising figure, and a sweeping historical drama. Spike Lee takes us on a journey, recounting Malcolm X’s childhood in Michigan, his time as a two-bit criminal, his interest and conversion to the Nation of Islam, and of course, his civil rights activism. In order for Malcolm X to land, though, Lee needed an actor who could ebb and flow with the changing tides of the culture and of Malcolm himself. Lee found all of that and more in Denzel Washington. One of the greatest film performances of all time, Washington embodied every nuance and complexity of Malcolm X, giving us a powerful and visceral performance impossibly befitting of the larger-than-life icon. He annoyingly lost the Oscar to Al Pacino for Scent of a Woman that year, but his portrayal of Malcolm X and the film itself have stood the test of time in a way only few movies can. – RH

And That Shelf’s pick for the best biopic of all time is…

 

1. Goodfellas

From its darkly amusing opening, when Henry Hill (Ray Liotta) announces “as far back as I can remember, I always wanted to be a gangster,” after watching pals Tommy DeVito (Joe Pesci) and Jimmy Conway (Robert De Niro) repeatedly stab and shoot a guy in the trunk of a car who they thought was dead, Martin Scorsese’s Goodfellas announced itself as a special film. Based on Nicholas Pileggi’s book Wiseguy, the film vividly documents the rise and fall of Hill, an Irish-Italian mafia associate who eventually becomes an informant.
While there have been many films made about mobsters, several of which were directed by Martin Scorsese, very few have displayed the level of artistic craft that Goodfellas does. Whether it is the well-placed freeze frames, the brief shifting narration between Hill and his wife Karen (Lorraine Bracco); the way Scorsese uses tracking shots to both introduce audiences to key members of the extensive mafia family and show how mobsters like Hill gets special treatment at the Copacabana nightclub; there is plenty to love about the film. Effortless shifting from drama to dark humour to chilling tension on a dime, it is easy to see why many not only consider Goodfellas one of the top gangster films of all time, but one the best biopics ever made. -CS