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Make Way for the Biopic

By Marion S. Trikosko Public domain

If you’ve been eyeing the movie ads recently, you may have noticed that ’tis the season for the biopic.  You may wonder why this particular time of year is so hot to trot on the entire “life on film” genre.

For the most part, Hollywood adores epic storytelling on real life figures, especially ones that grab the headlines on a regular basis.   What’s interesting is the trend in terms of when these films are released.  You’ll notice that these films are right in time for Oscar Buzz season.

Overall, the biopic genre is a difficult one.  It’s hard to create a 2 hour movie about someone’s entire life.  Most biopics in general, with the exception of ones that focus on little known personalities, feel a bit slim in terms of portraying new information about a public figure.  That’s because the biopic has transformed into a major vehicle for Best Actor/Actress Oscar contender roles.  Look at just some of the films being released — J Edgar, My Week with Marilyn, a  Margaret Thatcher movie called The Iron Lady.

If you look at the list of past Oscar winners and nominees, a staggering number of them played real life figures.  What’s interesting to examine is if these star studded vehicles have eclipsed the storytelling behind a real life figure.  When people discuss a film, more often than not, you’ll hear more about an actor’s performance rather than the story itself.

It’ll be interesting to watch this upcoming winter film season.  Will these films stand on their own merit without the so called powerhouse performances to back them up?  Guess we’ll just have to watch and see for ourselves.