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The best biopics on Netflix

From biographical dramas like Selma and The Crown to documentaries profiling Barack Obama and Nina Simone, there's no shortage of real-life drama on Netflix UK

Published: Thursday, 22nd March 2018 at 2:25 pm

Sometimes we all need a dose of reality to provide a contrast to the fantastical worlds explored in the likes of Altered Carbon, Stranger Things and Dark. From glorious prestige dramas The Crown, Victoria and American Crime Story to moving biopics Selma and Mandela: The Long Walk To Freedom, there is no shortage of top-notch real-life drama to keep you entertained.


Check out our list of the best biographical drama TV series and films below.

Nowhere Boy

The early days of Beatle and musical legend John Lennon (played by Aaron Taylor-Johnson). Watch on Netflix

Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom

A cinematic re-telling of the former South African president's autobiography, with Idris Elba in the lead role and Naomie Harris as Mandela's wife Winnie. Watch on Netflix

First They Killed My Father

Angelina Jolie's harrowing biography of Cambodian genocide survivor Loung Ung. Watch on Netflix


Barry Nowadays, it's almost laughable to think of someone calling the former US President "Barry". But once upon a time he was a young college student, as this drama explores... Watch on Netflix

The Final Year

Cut to his last year in office, as he grapples with his legacy and its greatest threat, the worst case scenario of the 2016 election: President Donald Trump. Watch on Netflix

Seeing Allred 

A glimpse into the world of American women’s rights attorney Gloria Allred who, across a 40-year career, has taken on Donald Trump, Bill Cosby and Harvey Weinstein. Watch on Netflix

American Crime Story: The People vs OJ Simpson

Ryan Murphy's pitch-perfect account of the OJ Simpson murder trial. Watch on Netflix

The Crown 

Reportedly the most expensive television programme that Netflix has ever made, this sumptuous royal drama charts the rise of Queen Elizabeth II from princess to monarch alongside her husband Prince Philip. An all-star cast is lead by Claire Foy and Matt Smith – for now. After season two, the production resets, with a new line-up and a new time period. All hail Olivia Colman…. Watch on Netflix

Steve Jobs

Michael Fassbender slips into the turtleneck of the late Apple founder. Watch on Netflix


The first series of ITV's biographical account of the reign of young Queen Victoria (Jenna Coleman). Watch on Netflix


Oliver Stone takes on the whistleblower's story, with Joseph Gordon-Levitt in the title role. Watch on Netflix

What Happened, Miss Simone?

A Netflix Original documentary exploring the troubled life of the legendary soul singer and activist. Watch on Netflix

Janis: Little Girl Blue

The tragic tale of the young folk singer who died of a heroin overdose at the age of 27. Watch on Netflix

Joan Didion: The Centre Will Not Hold 

Exploring the life of one of the most influential writers of the twentieth century. Watch on Netflix

Straight Outta Compton

The origin story of the NWA, one of the Compton-based group who brought hip-hop to the mainstream in the early 1990s Watch on Netflix

Beats, Rhymes and Life: The Travels of A Tribe Called Quest

The trials and tribulations of the legendary east coast hip-hop outfit, driven by the tumultuous relationship between bandleaders Q-Tip and the late Phife Dawg Watch on Netflix.


A bizarrely funny, insightful and endlessly intriguing fly-on-the-wall documentary about a deeply flawed man, who, at one stage in his career, was seen as a potential saviour for the Democratic party. Now, he’s in jail for sexting with a minor. To fill in the blanks, head to your Netflix account. Watch on Netflix


The 93-year-old fashion legend is profiled by 87-year-old documentarian Albert Maysles, and the results are just lovely. Watch on Netflix


Director Ava DuVernay's sweepingly staged, dogmatic history lesson avoids the episodic pitfalls of the biopic by eschewing Dr Martin Luther King's whole life story in favour of a single flashpoint – three marches led in 1965 from Selma in Alabama to the state capital, Montgomery, demanding equal voting rights for blacks. Watch on Netflix

The Lost Honour of Christopher Jefferies

A harrowing ITV docudrama about an eccentric schoolteacher who is hounded by the media after being falsely accused of murdering his young tenant. Watch on Netflix


Joy Jennifer Lawrence re-teams with director David O'Russell to play entrepreneur Joy Mangano who turned her miracle mop into a million-dollar enterprise. Watch on Netflix

Jiro Dreams of Sushi

Before there was Chef’s Table, there was Jiro Dreams of Sushi, David Gelb’s heartwarming documentary about an 85-year old Japanese sushi chef who runs a 10-seater, $280 a plate, 3 Michelin-starred restaurant in a Tokyo subway station. Watch on Netflix


Whitney: Can I Be Me?

Nick Broomfield delves into the life of the troubled singer, who passed away in 2012. Watch on Netflix


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