5 best Netflix biopics to watch right now

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Netflix has dominated the biopic market for quite a while. Between dramatized movies of well-known figures, little-known moments in history, and true crime, there are plenty of real-life events and figures to draw from. Though Netflix originals have made a splash in the past decade, the streaming site also boasts a number of blockbuster biopics that fans are still talking about years later.

Many biopic movies are adapted from primary or secondary sources, like Maestro and Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile. So while these movies are fictionalized to some extent, deriving them from reliable accounts helps add a moderate level of authenticity. However, it’s best to take these movies with a grain of salt and do research before taking them too seriously. Here are some of the best biopics on Netflix you can stream right now.

The Imitation Game

The 2014 movie The Imitation Game takes viewers back to 1939. The film focuses on Alan Turing (Benedict Cumberbatch): a mathematical genius tasked with breaking seemingly uncrackable Nazi codes for M16 (a British intelligence agency). Kiera Knightley also stars in the movie as Joan Clarke, Turing’s fellow analyst. 

On top of tackling the brutality of Nazi Germany, there’s an LGBTQ+ component to the film that sheds light on the homophobia of the time period. Many people might not realize that Hitler went after LGBTQ+ and disabled individuals along with the Jewish population. This particular story points out that criminalizing identities didn’t end when the war did — not even in Britain. - XH

Rotten Tomatoes score: 90%
Watch on Netflix


Maestro is Bradley Cooper's return to the director's chair (if he believed in such things) following the smash success that was A Star Is Born. In this biopic, Cooper also stars as the acclaimed American conductor/composer/multihyphenate Leonard Bernstein. 

While the movie is certainly an examination of Bernstein's life, it's largely about Bernstein's relationship with his wife Felicia Montealegre (Carey Mulligan). Maestro has been nominated for four Golden Globe awards including nominations for Cooper and Mulligan's performances, so don't miss it now that it's free on Netflix. - MM

Rotten Tomatoes score: 79%
Watch on Netflix


This biopic centers on Bayard Rustin, the architect of the momentous 1963 March on Washington — where Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his “I have a dream” speech. Yet, Rustin was relegated to a footnote in history, mostly due to his homosexuality. As the activist, Colman Domingo gives a fiery performance that will likely draw many accolades during awards season. 

The film chronicles how Rustin conceives and plans the largest nonviolent protest in the United States, joining forces with King (Aml Ameen) and other civil rights moment leaders like A. Philip Randolph (Glynn Turman) and Rep. Adam Clayton Powell Jr. (Jeffrey Wright). - KW

Rotten Tomatoes score: 84%
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Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

Netflix original Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom marked Chadwick Boseman’s last film — and it didn’t disappoint. Viola Davis plays Ma Rainey alongside Boseman’s Levee in this movie that centers on a recording session with Rainey and her band. 

The 1927 movie spans one single day as blues singer Rainey records the song the film is named after. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom illustrates the insidious 1920s racism in both the music industry and society as a whole. Glynn Turman (Toledo), Colman Domingo (Cutler), and Michael Potts (Slow Drag) also star in the George C. Wolfe-directed movie. August Wilson wrote the original play that Ruben Santiago-Hudson adapted into the movie. - XH

Rotten Tomatoes score: 97%
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The inspiring true story of athlete Diana Nyad is fictionalized and brought to life. Decades after giving up marathon swimming, 60-year-old Diana (Annette Bening) decides to take on an epic challenge that always eluded her: the 110 mile trek from Cuba to Florida, often referred to as the Mount Everest of swims. 

Determined to become the first person to complete the swim without a shark cage, Diana begins a four-year training journey with the help of best friend and coach Bonnie Stoll (Jodie Foster) and a dedicated sailing team. - KW

Rotten Tomatoes score: 85%
Watch on Netflix

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Xandra Harbet

Xandra is an entertainment journalist with clips in outlets like Salon, Insider, The Daily Dot, and Regal. In her 6+ years of writing, she's covered red carpets, premieres, and events like New York Comic Con. Xandra has conducted around 200 interviews with celebrities like Henry Cavill, Sylvester Stallone, and Adam Driver. She received her B.A. in English/Creative Writing from Randolph College, where she chilled with the campus ghosts and read Edgar Allan Poe at 3 am. 

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