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Modern Biopics: 3 Movies Since 2000 That Shaped the Genre

By    |   Thursday, 16 April 2015 12:52 PM

From computer-generated animation to adventure genre plot twists, modern biopic movies have experienced a myriad of changes. But sometimes it’s difficult to merge the new with the old.

Historical accounts, autobiographies, and documentaries are some of the most difficult films to make, and, according to Entertainment Weekly, this is because Hollywood often veers left of the actual events and personas.

But there are some modern biographical movies that stay true to the events, while introducing Hollywood dramatics. Still others are criticized for inaccuracies. Here are three biopics made since 2000 that were significant for the genre:

1. “Men of Honor”

Biopics can’t be discussed without considering “Men of Honor.” This movie, put out in 2000, is credited with being one of the best dramatic recreations of an actual historic event.

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Featuring a nearly all-star cast, including Robert DeNiro and Cuba Gooding Jr., the film documents the life of a sharecropper, Carl Brashear, who joined the U.S. Navy as a diver, determined to become the first African American to do so. It offers robust inspiration for post-Civil Rights activists and shows the racism evident in the late 1940s, when all the Navy divers, save one, refused to bunk with Brashear.

“Men of Honor” proved there was nothing wrong with going back to the tried-and-true strategies in old-style biopic movies and films. In fact, according to Roger Ebert, filmmakers knew exactly when to introduce the right amount of conflict and when to exit the scene gracefully.  

2. “The Social Network”

Praised, and criticized, for its inaccurate Hollywoodized depiction of the rise of social media platforms and the venomous betrayal of former friends, “The Social Network,” much like the exploits of its characters, set the stage for what biopics should be and may become.

No one thought Facebook could be marketed as sexy, vengeful, and downright aggressive. After all, those are the elements of a primetime soap opera not a multi-billion-dollar communications platform. But this what the directors turned it into. “David Fincher's film has the rare quality of being not only as smart as its brilliant hero, but in the same way. It is cocksure, impatient, cold, exciting and instinctively perceptive,” said RogerEbert.com.

Critics praised the faux modern biopic movie for breaking from tradition and setting new standards for documentaries. However, others, including Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, said the movie was not the truth and should not claim to be anything other than lies. In a town hall meeting at Facebook, Zuckerberg said the movie “made up stuff that was hurtful.”

Paste Magazine ranked it among the top 20 best biopic movies ever.

3. “The Iron Lady”

Based on England’s true Iron Lady, first female Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher – this movie shows modern biopics movies can combine romance, history, and a little action.

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Biopics rarely get the plot accurate, and many claim biographies are just Hollywood renderings of what these true should be. But “The Iron Lady” shows true research pays off in the end. Meryl Streep, who portrayed the Thatcher, reported she visited Parliament and conducted lengthy research to get things right, according to the Independent.

On the other hand, while Streep did her research, Ebert said the writers and producers didn’t do theirs. He said the movie lacked direction and felt as if the character needed to be analyzed deeper and given more personality. However, this is a British leader, and England is rather stoic.

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From computer-generated animation to adventure genre plot twists, modern biopic movies have experienced a myriad of changes. But sometimes it's difficult to merge the new with the old.
modern, biopics, movies, shaped, genre
Thursday, 16 April 2015 12:52 PM
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