Hulu’s Pam & Tommy and More of the Best Biopics Streaming Now
What is a Biopic?
As a combination of “biographical” and “picture,” biopics literally combine the two ideas. While a biography generally tells the story of someone’s life, and “pictures” (aka movies) tend to lean toward the fictional dramatic, biopics are a dramatic retelling of someone’s life—and usually someone famous, like a celebrity, athlete, or political figure.
As humans, we’re naturally curious about what goes on in the worlds we’re not a part of. While typical fictional dramas or comedies give us a kind of escape into an imaginary world, biopics take us back in time to re-experience the stories we’ve seen on the news or read about in books from another perspective—the perspective of the celebrities or public figures themselves.
We’ve gathered some of our favorite biopic movies and shows, including the upcoming Hulu Original series Pam & Tommy, and award-winning movies, like Judy and I, Tonya.
Check out these incredible movies based on true stories streaming now on Hulu.
Pam & Tommy: Pamela Anderson & Tommy Lee
Set in the Wild West early days of the Internet, Pam & Tommy is based on the incredible true story of the Pamela Anderson (Lily James) and Tommy Lee (Sebastian Stan) sex tape.
Stolen from the couple’s home by a disgruntled contractor (Seth Rogen), the video went from underground bootleg-VHS curiosity to full-blown global sensation when it hit the Web in 1997.
A love story, crime caper and cautionary tale rolled into one, the eight-part original limited series explores the intersection of privacy, technology and celebrity, tracing the origins of our current Reality TV Era to a stolen tape seen by millions but meant to have an audience of just two.
Watch: Pam & Tommy Official Trailer
Judy: Judy Garland
Most recognizable for her breakout role as Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz, Judy Garland was part of the showbiz elite and a triple threat on stage, on screen, and behind the mic. The Golden GlobeⓇ and Academy AwardⓇ-winning film Judy examines Garland’s life in hindsight from a series of sold out shows at the Talk of the Town in London.
Renée Zellweger stars in this portrait of Garland’s life and legacy, looking back on her amazing life and career, as well as some of her darkest moments and addictions that lead to her eventual death in 1969.
Stardust: David Bowie
Wham, bam, thank you ma’am!
David Bowie is one of the most influential artists of the 20th century. When his interviews and appearances didn’t quite appeal to the world, Bowie decided that it was time to introduce someone new, someone who wasn’t locked into the guise of a rock ‘n roll persona. Enter: Ziggy Stardust.
David Bowie’s alter ego, Ziggy Stardust, sparked a revolution in the music world and opened the door to a whole new world of performance. Stardust, a gender fluid and bisexual rock icon, disrupted the music world and introduced the glam-rock revolution. While Ziggy Stardust was a short-lived phenomenon, “dying” at the end of Bowie’s fifth album, “The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars,” he led the way for a new generation of musicians and solidified his place as one of rock ‘n roll’s most iconic performers.
Stardust chronicles David Bowie (Johnny Flynn) on his first American tour. If you like Stardust, be sure to check out more of our favorite movies about musicians.
The United States vs. Billie Holiday: Billie Holiday
Billie Holiday was beloved by her fans, both black and white. However, when her famous and controversial song about lynching, “Strange Fruit,” was released and began to gain traction with audiences, the government started to worry about the message Billie was sending.
In an attempt to racialize the war on drugs and stop Billie from singing “Strange Fruit” for good, the Federal Department of Narcotics organized a sting operation to catch her doing drugs and arrest her, effectively removing her and her music from the world. But Billie Holiday wasn’t the type to go quietly.
Starring Oscar-nominated actress Andra Day, the Hulu Original film The United States vs. Billie Holiday captures a tumultuous time in the civil rights movement and one woman’s harrowing fight back.
Moneyball: Billy Beane
When Oakland A’s general manager Billy Beane (Brad Pitt) is tasked with building a successful baseball team on a tight budget, he is forced to think outside of the box. With hopes of pulling a championship win, Beane takes a huge risk in hopes of giving himself and his team a competitive advantage.
By employing statistical data to analyze players who have been overlooked by other teams, Beane and his assistant, Peter Brand (Jonah Hill), create a statistically perfect team roster. The only thing left to do is find out if computers have a place in baseball, and if the Oakland A’s have what it takes to go all the way.
Check out Moneyball and more baseball movies streaming now.
I, Tonya: Tonya Harding
Tonya Harding (Margot Robbie), while a gifted figure skater, had difficulty being accepted into the figure skating world. Having grown up on the “wrong side of the rink,” Tonya never quite fit in with the wealthier, more high-brow skaters, even though she was undeniably talented.
Regardless of how others viewed her, Tonya Harding rose to the top, becoming the first woman to land a triple axel in competition and earning a spot on the Winter Olympics team. Despite her success in the sport, Tonya Harding is most well-known for her association with “the incident,” in which her ex-husband hired a hitman to break her competitor Nancy Kerrigan’s leg and give Tonya a leg up in competition.
I, Tonya follows Harding from the beginning of her love for figure skating, to the career-altering incident that jeopardized her future.
Watch: I, Tonya
The Catcher Was A Spy: Moe Berg
At the end of his run as catcher for the Boston Red Sox, Moe Berg’s (Paul Rudd) career path took a dramatic turn. Five years earlier, while on an exhibition tour of Japan, he managed to gather intel on the Japanese Navy, which he shared with Bill Donovan (Jeff Daniels), Head of The Office of Strategic Services (OSS).
Following his retirement from the MLB, Moe Berg was offered a job as a spy for the OSS, a post he accepted. Tasked with halting Nobel-PrizeⓇ-Winning physicist, Werner Heisenberg (Mark Strong), who was rumored to be developing an atom bomb for Nazi Germany, Berg had to stop him from completing his project—even if that meant killing a brilliant scientist.
Watch: The Catcher Was A Spy
Biopics About Public Figures
Bombshell: Gretchen Carlson & Megyn Kelly
In 2016, Gretchen Carlson filed a sexual harassment charge against Roger Ailes, the former CEO and chairman of Fox news. What Carlson didn’t know is that her accusation would trigger an outpouring of similar allegations from multiple other women, including Fox News correspondent, Megyn Kelly.
Based on the real-life sexual harassment allegations against Roger Ailes, Bombshell depicts the toxic and dangerous environment created at Fox News and the courageous women who risked everything to put a stop to it.
Vice: Dick Cheney
In the 2000 presidential election, George W. Bush chose Dick Cheney as his running mate. Cheney readily agreed to his role—on one condition: the executive responsibilities were to be delegated to him. When the administration took office, Cheney immediately began exercising his newfound power to reshape the United States and their relations with foreign countries.
Tesla: Nikola Tesla
Before the word “Tesla” meant a fancy car, there was Nikola Tesla (Ethan Hawke), an inventor and revolutionary mind of the late 1800s. Tesla, obsessed with energy and how it’s produced, created a sparkless motor with an alternating current (AC). Thomas Edison (Kyle MacLachlan), Tesla’s boss at the time, was also creating a motor; however, his motor operated on direct current (DC), something he had invented himself.
Tesla chronicles Nikola Tesla’s uphill battle to create and sell his AC technology, while Edison worked against him claiming DC was the safer option. Tesla’s tireless work to share his discoveries with the world changed the way energy was used and helped pave the way for its use in homes and buildings around the world today.
Biopics About Writers
Shirley: Shirley Jackson
Based on the life and work of horror fiction writer Shirley Jackson (Elisabeth Moss), Shirley follows newlyweds, Rose (Odessa Young) and Fred (Logan Lerman), who have been offered free room and board from a local literature professor (and Shirley’s husband), Stanley Hyman (Michael Stuhlbarg).
Fred is meant to be Hyman’s protégé, while Rose is given the role of caretaker for Shirley. Rose, however, quickly transforms into a muse for Shirley’s latest horror story.
While only partially biographical (since Rose and Fred never actually lived with Shirley and Stanley or existed at all) Shirley explores Jackson’s life and the effects of her husband’s infidelity on the subject matter of her work and her psyche.
Vita & Virginia: Virginia Woolf
In the 1920s London, Virginia Woolf (Elizabeth Debicki) and Vita Sackville-West (Gemma Arterton) worked on opposite ends of the literary world. Virginia was a broody and intellectual fiction writer, while Vita was a socialite and established writer in her own right. When the two met, they formed an undeniable connection that blossomed into more as they spent time together.
Vita, who had a track record of affairs with other women, became the prototype for one of Woolf’s most famous works, “Orlando.” With lines pulled directly from the pair’s real-life love letters, this period piece explores a deep and meaningful love story between the two writers.
Watch: Vita & Virginia
Colette: Sidonie Gabrielle Colette
When Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette (Kiera Knightley) married her husband, a self-proclaimed “literary entrepreneur,” Willy Gauthier-Villars (Dominic West), she was transplanted from her rural hometown to the sparkling city of Paris. Willy, a writer who regularly employed others to do his writing for him, convinced Colette to ghost write a novel for him about her adventures as a young girl.
After a novel she wrote became wildly successful, especially among female readers, Colette was asked to write another, and then another. When she begins to seek creative ownership over her work, she’s forced to overcome societal norms and redefine literature (as well as who is “allowed” to write it).
Rebel in the Rye: J.D. Salinger
“Grand. There’s a word I really hate. It’s a phony. I could puke every time I hear it.”
No one does cynical quite like Holden Caulfield—but what about the man who wrote Holden Caulfield into existence? Rebel in the Rye, a play on Salinger’s most famous work, “The Catcher in the Rye,” explores the life of J.D. Salinger leading up to the publication of his transcendent debut novel.
More than anything, J.D. Salinger knew he wanted to be a writer; that writing was the only thing that made sense to him. Follow Salinger from his service in the military on the shores of Normandy, to the back of the classroom at Columbia University where he first truly honed his gift for words.
Watch: Rebel in the Rye