A few weeks ago, Elisabeth Rappe at Cinematical chalked up a rather intriguing question that studio execs are always asking themselves to prepare for the year's Oscar bait season: Who's in need of a biopic? They're a favorite of Hollywood, because they adapt the lives of mostly famous people into often conventionalized yet fascinating portraits that're ripe with drama, triumph, humor, tragedy and social commentary - a perfect mixture to appeal to Academy members. They also run opposite of ensemble flicks, of course, by highlighting the notoriety or stardom of a single person; and it's no wonder you'll find more nominated performances from a biopic than an ensemble piece because more depth and imitation is found in these than can fit in a film populated by a small soccer team of six or seven. The popularity and success scale of biopics resembles a bell curve, with those biopics which explore very famous people tending to hit the mark and make it to Oscar with at least an acting nomination of some sort ("Ray," "Ali," "Walk the Line," "The Queen") while also laying favor to the most obscure people - those who might be notable or important to their field or circle, but who lack the elements which we require to be called famous ("La Vie en Rose" about French singer Edith Piaf, "Milk" which explored well-known but not famous local politician Harvey Milk, "The Last King of Scotland"'s Idi Amin or "Hotel Rwanda"'s Paul Rusesabagina).
Rappe's own suggestions of Lev Trotsky and Mary Wollstonecraft (definitely the latter in the above, which is a pity on both accounts) come at the heels of the announcements that action star Steve McQueen and literary giant Ernest Hemingway will both be getting their dues finally in cinematic form (have neither been explored before? comment below!). For the purpose of this game we're playing, since I am asking for your thoughts on who you think is deserving of a biopic, let's see how obscure we can get with our choices. Or, even better, the most famous people yet to have a biopic - there's real blasphemy being committed out there with some of the glaring omissions that are coming to the fore with these new announcements (like Steven Spielberg's long and hard attempts at getting his Lincoln picture made, which might be getting yet another push - ack!).
Some of these biopics are getting really strange ("W.," for instance), but a lot of creativity has been fuelling some of the latest projects and the biopics of the last few years. Which brings me to my personal choice. We've had films which used extensive amounts of Bob Dylan's music, then we've got "I'm Not There" which may be the most inspired and most unique angle for a biopic yet (though the Diane Arbus pic, "Fur," was also quite odd and captivating). Why not devote an entire film to music's other great, female singer-songwriter - Joni Mitchell? She's a magnificent musician and hugely influential, as influential as Dylan I'd contend, and her life has been quite amazing with her frequenting the likes of Dylan, Janis Joplin, Carole King, and Herbie Hancock over the course of her long career, and straddling cultural moments like the beatnik movement, Woodstock (which she didn't actually attend), folk going electric, the rise of MTV and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The movie could cast two different leads to play the younger, more delicate and higher-pitched Mitchell and the older Mitchell with her drops in octaves and resurgence as a more politically-charged artist.
Who fits the bill for a biopic?
IMAGE from: More Things
IMAGE from: The Cinematic Art