Historic drama is a genre of film
in which the story and plot is based around historic events and famous people. It can be mind spelling when an
actor portrays a historic figure with direct precision. I have composed a list of some of the best performances
in which a historic figure was portrayed.The list is not limited to leading characters, as many secondary
roles are well deserving.
10. The Deliberate
Stranger - Mark Harmon The Deliberate Stranger was a two-part
TV miniseries broadcasted in May of 1986 that followed events in the life of serial killer Ted Bundy.The
film was adapted from a book written by Seattle Times reporter Richard W. Larsen.The movie omits
Bundy’s childhood and first known murders and starts out in the middle of his U.S. murder spree.Ted Bundy was still alive in prison when the film was released, but would be executed in 1989 for multiple counts
of murder.Mark Harmon gives a chillingly realistic view of the clean cut educated Bundy.It is the best portrayal of Ted Bundy ever captured in film.Harmon is able to build and show
the many different personalities of Bundy. Surviving victims have commented on Harmon’s
realism in reproducing Bundy’s rigid posture and suspicious expressions.The film is an accurate
portrayal of events, but has changed the names of the victims and some family members.Mark Harmon
was nominated for a Golden Globe for his work on the television special.It can be a hard video
to find, but is a scary series.
9. Catch Me
If You Can - Leonardo DiCaprio
Catch Me If You Canis a comedy-drama examining the life of Frank Abagnale Jr.At a very young
age Abagnale became skilled at forgery and conned millions of dollars away from the government.He
was a master of disguise and often posed as a Pan America, World Airways pilot, a doctor, attorney, and parish prosecutor,
until his eventual arrest. The film was an international blockbuster and made $352 million on a $52 million dollar
budget. It shows a realistic portrayal of the 1960’s and the acting is great with Tom Hanks
as Carl Hanratty and DiCaprio as Frank Abagnale Jr. Catch Me If You Can was directed by
Steven Spielberg.DiCaprio puts together a great performance giving the movie a serious but comedic
feel.He is great at portraying multiple characters as Abagnale played many men in his criminal life.DiCaprio also depicts a great New Yorker, which is interesting as he was born in Los Angeles.
8. The Buddy Holly Story
- Gary Busey
The Buddy Holly Story is a biographical film that follows the story of rock legend Buddy Holly.It
was released in 1978 and Gary Busey landed the lead role of Holly. The story begins with Holly as a teenager growing
up in Lubbock, Texas and spans his entire adult life until his tragic death.It is a wonderful time
piece that explores the history of 1950’s music.The movie won the Academy Award for Best
Music, Original Song Score, Best Adaptation Score, and Gary Busey was nominated for Best Actor in a Leading Role. Gary Busey is an eccentric American actor who was born in Goose Creek, Texas.He
is a great character actor and some of his most widely known roles are from the films Lethal Weapon, Point Break,
The Firm, and Under Siege.For this movie Busey assumed a great portrayal of Buddy Holly and even
looked similar in appearance.He performed most of the original music used in the film. Busey
was endless in studying Holly’s musical pitch and mannerisms.He might have won an Academy Award
for his acting if not for Jon Voight and the movie Coming Home.
List - Ben Kingsley
Schindler’s Listis a
film released in 1993 that depicts certain aspects of the German invasion of Poland and the Holocaust.It
tells the story of Oskar Schindler, a German businessman who opened a factory during the Holocaust and saved many Polish
Jewish refugees by employing them in his business.Schindler’s business is maintained and run by a Jewish man named Itzhak Stern, who was played by Ben Kingsley in the film.
ended up winning seven Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Director (Spielberg).Kingsley’s
portrayal of Itzhak Stern was touching to the heart. For the role Kingsley took himself back into the war and made himself
see and feel what millions of Jewish people felt during this time.His creative posture, body language,
and dialog delivery gives a small glimpse into the true pain of this war.It is not surprising as
Kingsley is one of Britain’s most acclaimed and known performers.He is often known for his
award winning performance as Mohandas Gandhi in the
1982 release Gandhi, which is also clearly deserving of this list.
and Clyde - Warren Beatty
Bonnie and Clydeis a 1967 crime film depicting the stories of Clyde Barrow and Bonnie Parker.Barrow
and Parker are the legendary bank robbers who operated in the central United States during the Great Depression.It was a ground breaking production and helped introduce Hollywood into the next generation of film making.The acting was great with Warren Beatty portraying Clyde Barrow and Faye Dunaway as Parker.The movie was nominated for eight Academy Awards, including a Best Actor nomination for Beatty.Beatty
was a heart-throb in the 1960’s, but his acting reaches high levels of intensity in this picture. Bonnie
and Clyde was a financial success and helped launch the acting career of Beatty.
- Val Kilmer Tombstone is a Western movie that was released in 1993.It was directed by and starred Kurt Russell.The movie is not entirely factual and is loosely based on historic incidents that occurred in 1881-1882, including
the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral.It tells the story of Wyatt Earp, his two brothers, and Doc Holliday
as they settle in Tombstone, Arizona.Val Kilmer plays Doc Holliday, who is a southern gambler and
expert gunslinger seeking relief from his tuberculosis in Tombstone.In the film he meets up with
Earp and they start a friendship.
Kilmer’s portrayal is astounding.An
interesting fact is that Doc Holliday was noted as being "pale and sweaty" well before reaching adulthood as
the result of a rare genetic defect.It is a great Western movie and Kilmer spent countless hours
perfecting the swagger of Holliday.The movie was a commercial success and earned $56 million domestically
on a $25 million budget.
4. Ray - Jamie
Ray is a 2004 drama depicting
30 years of the life of legendary blues musician Ray Charles.The film was independently produced
and Foxx received an Academy Award for his work.Jamie Foxx did not use a voice over and performed
all of his characters music.It was a fitting tribute for Charles who died the same year as the film
was released.Ray Charles was one of the most influential musicians of all time and was rated
#10 on a recent Rolling Stone Magazine list of the 100 Greatest Artists of all Time.As with any great
performance Foxx had to overcome the fact that Charles was completely blind by the age of 7.In order
for an actor to train and give a performance as great as this they must have some natural musical talent, as Foxx clearly
does.His performance shows how special and difficult it was for Ray Charles to succeed in life. The accuracy of the plot is good and the music is great.Some other notable musical portrayals
are Lou Diamond Phillips as Ritchie Valens, Gary Oldman as Sid Vicious, and Angela Bassett as Tina Turner.
3. My Left
Foot - Daniel Day-Lewis
My Left Footis a 1989 drama recounting the life of Christy Brown, an Irishman born with cerebral palsy,
who could control only his left foot.Christy Brown was born into an extremely large family in Crumlin,
Dublin.From a very young age he was disabled by cerebral palsy and was considered to be intellectually
incapable of making decisions. Brown went on to become a successful author, painter, and poet.Daniel
Day-Lewis performance makes this film.He is one of the best and well trained actors of the last 30 years. The movie won five Academy Awards, including a Best Actor nod for Lewis. Daniel Day-Lewis has many roles
deserving entry on this list including his portrayal of Bill ‘The Butcher’ Cutting in Gangs of New York.
X - Denzel Washington
Malcolm Xis a biographical film released in 1992 and directed by Spike Lee.It gives accounts of the life story of African-American activist and nationalist Malcolm X.The film divides
his life into three sections, one looking at his troubled childhood, the second examining his time in prison, and the
third following his religious conversion as a disciple of Elijah Muhammad.Malcolm X was an extremely
important figure in the civil rights movement of the 1950’s and 60’s, noted for being an excellent public speaker, minister, and human rights activist. Denzel Washington’s portrayal of Malcolm
X is powerful.Washington instantly takes to the role and displays a wide range of emotional openness
in the film. Denzel received an Academy Award nomination, but eventually lost out to Al Pacino and Scent of a Woman. The entire movie had great casting.
Bull - Robert De Niro
Raging Bullis a 1980 film directed
by Martin Scorsese.It tells the story of Jake LaMotta, who was a middleweight boxer whose rage, sexual
jealousy, and appetite to cross life’s boundaries helped to fuel his career.Jake LaMotta was
a world middleweight champion who compiled a professional record of 83 wins, 19 loses, and 4 draws.He was the first man to beat Sugar Ray Robinson.LaMotta was fighting in the mafia rich 1940’s
and was accused of throwing fights on occasion.This is the best boxing movie ever made and probably
De Niro’s best performance. De Niro became a professional boxer for a year while working
on the film, finding a way to escape into the mental mind frame of a prize fighter.Actors on set
did not find De Niro hospitable or friendly during the making of this masterpiece.Raging Bullis built around an incredible realism that is brought to life through the acting of De Niro, Joe Pesci, Cathy
Moriarty, Frank Vincent, Nicholas Colasanto, and Mario Gallo.
Copyright The List Blog - Top 10, All Right Reserved, Posted June 20, 2009