7 Biographical Films Coming Out In 2020 To Add To Your Watchlist

by Jessica Lachenal
MGM Studios

One of the best things about movies is their ability to be used as vessels for sharing stories that might otherwise be forgotten or even completely untold. When those stories are based on or feature the experiences of real life people, it becomes even more important to highlight those films, even if only to take a moment to recognize that a person's life is being served up to a wide, public audience. Biography films (or biopics) serve an important purpose in the industry, and to that end, here's seven biographical films to check out in 2020.

The stories featured here vary wildly, ranging from a chronicle about the life of a legendary singer (Aretha Franklin in Respect) to the story of an acid attack survivor in India (Laxmi Agarwal in Chhapaak). The latter is especially noteworthy, as it features real acid attack survivors, according to Gulf News. While the story itself is quite important, it's almost equally as critical to highlight the fact that people who belong to these marginalized, "othered" groups should be allowed to tell their own stories, ideally by starring in films that purport to speak about them. That said, Deepika Padukone, the film's star, wore prosthetics to fit into her role. So while not an entirely unproblematic film, it still takes a step in the right direction by bringing in real survivors to help highlight their stories.


'Chhapaak' (Jan. 10)

Chhapaak is an Indian film based on the life and experiences of Laxmi Agarwal, an acid attack survivor and activist. In 2005, when Agarwal was a teenager, she rejected the advances of then-30-year-old Nadeem Khan, who then threw acid in her face, permanently scarring and altering it.


'The Last Full Measure' (Jan. 24)

The Last Full Measure boasts quite a few stars in its cast, including Samuel L. Jackson, Sebastian Stan, Christopher Plummer, Ed Harris, Bradley Whitford, and William Hurt. In it, Stan stars as Scott Huffman, a Pentagon staffer looking into the story of William H. Pitsenbarger, an Air Force Pararescueman who died in the Vietnam war after staying behind after medical evacuation to help assist soldiers during a sustained attack.


'I Still Believe' (Mar. 20)

K.J. Apa stars as Jeremy Camp, a Christian music recording artist whose wife, Melissa (Britt Robertson) is diagnosed with ovarian cancer shortly before their marriage. Based on the real life Camp, the film chronicles his teenage years all the way up to him meeting his second wife, Adrienne (Abigail Cowen).


'The Trial of the Chicago 7' (Oct. 2)

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The Chicago Seven were a group of anti-war activists who were arrested and charged with conspiracy and inciting riots amidst the 1968 Democratic National Convention. This movie tells the story of their trial and the events that transpired within the courtroom. Directed by Aaron Sorkin, The Trial of the Chicago 7 also stars Sacha Baron Cohen, Jeremy Strong, Eddie Redmayne, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Michael Keaton, and Mark Rylance.


'Respect' (Oct. 9)

Respect chronicles the life of legendary vocalist Aretha Franklin. Jennifer Hudson stars as the singer, and along for the ride are Forest Whitaker, Marlon Wayans, and Mary J. Blige.


'King Richard' (Nov. 25)

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King Richard is less about English royalty and more about modern day sports royalty. It follows the life of Richard Williams, father to tennis legends Venus and Serena Williams, two of the best players in the game to date. The story will focus on how he raised the sisters and helped them along their sports careers. It stars Will Smith as Richard Williams, with Reinaldo Marcus Green attached to direct.


'Resistance' (2020)

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Slated for release in 2020 with no specific date, Resistance tells the story of Marcel Marceau, a French actor and mime artist who also secretly worked for the French Resistance during World War II. Along with his brother, Alain, they saved children from being taken away to concentration camps, saving their lives. The film is directed by Jonathan Jakubowicz, and stars Jesse Eisenberg, Clémence Poésy, Ed Harris, and Edgar Ramirez.

Each of these entries displays the purpose of many biography films: to highlight the stories less told and to add insight and perspective where there may have been none before. They should all be an interesting watch, and who knows, there might even be an Oscar contender or two in the mix.

Editor's note: This story originally mischaracterized Venus and Serena Williams' relationship. It has seen been corrected.