Barring some horrific TV movie from ages ago that you might be able to dig up via a lunch break Google search, there are some very real biopics that need to be made. It could be shoot for the stars territory, a la Lincoln, wherein the inarguably brilliant Daniel Day-Lewis scored his umpteenth Oscar. Or it could be something considerably less ambitious, maybe even focused only on one chapter in the subject's life, a la Birth of the Dragon, which is in theaters now and focuses on a specific Bruce Lee rivalry. We've seen Will Smith as "Ali," Michael Fassbender and Ashton Kutcher tackle the late Steve Jobs, Jamie Foxx win his own Oscar as "Ray" (Charles, in case you missed it), Denzel as "Malcolm X" and even Joaquin Phoenix play Johnny Cash. But, there's so many more laying in wait...
1. Jimmy Cagney: How is it even possible that the guy who singlehandedly, albeit unintentionally, paved the way for everything from Mean Streets to The Godfather to Casino and GoodFellas and so much more hasn't had a feature dedicated to his extraordinary life and career yet? Raised on the Lower East Side of NYC, the only thing he might have been better at than knocking someone out was dancing. Biographers will tell you that his most-known role was as a song-and-dance man in Yankee Doodle Dandy, but don't you believe it. It's either The Public Enemy or White Heat, where he infamously boasted, "Made it, Ma! Top of the world!" Cagney elevated the role of gangster to an art form without glorifying it. For me, personally, his star shone brightest in Angels With Dirty Faces. In fact, I'd probably just settle for a remake of that one. A bio is having modest success off-Broadway, but Cagney the musical isn't the big screen, star-studded affair the world needs.
2. The Beatles: There have been plenty of movies made about the Fab Four, four musicians who, once together, changed pop music forever, and had a whole lot of fun doing it... until they didn't. Then, just like that, they quit. Basically, all of the movies made have been rubbish. The most celebrated of the lot is probably Backbeat, a 1994 film that decided to focus on John Lennon's bromance with Stu Sutcliffe, the band's original bassist. This was probably because it was blurry enough terrain that the filmmaker felt there wasn't enough historical evidence to challenge his assertions. There was Paul McCartney, though, who listed everything the film had gotten wrong factually. Then there was the ambitious Across the Universe, which centered around a lovelorn sailor named Jude (not kidding) whose love affair plays out over the course of two hours while 34 Beatles tunes play out, woven into the storyline in place of dialogue, and sung by the cast. But where's an actual biopic? One with Clint Eastwood directing (I thought he did a fine job with the Four Seasons in Jersey Boys) or Oliver Stone (hey, he did alright with The Doors)? The whole thing is probably tripped up by that now-legendary Beatles lethal legalese, but that never stopped the aforementioned "films." Let's get to it. Help!
3. Kurt Cobain: There's been at least a dozen films made about the Nirvana frontman, but they're all garbage. Even the ones that cop out by calling themselves a documentary. Not one worth mentioning here. What keeps a real deal, in-depth portrait of such a complex soul being aptly conveyed on screen from taking place? A biopic about an angst-fueled rocker in possession of the most poetic of hearts, who single-handedly inspired an entire generation? Surely it's the fact that his widow, Courtney Love, would loom large on the set, and no director (never mind cast) in their right mind wants to contend with that. But Dave Grohl, the punk rock trio's drummer and formidable front man for Foo Fighters, made his film debut with the solid documentary Sound City just a few years back; surely he can make it happen?
4. Evel Knievel: The Montana-born Knievel's story is one for the ages. Again, a slew of movies—all bad ones—have been made about the motorcycle madman, but none come close to capturing who he was and what he pulled off in his lifetime. Damn, I think one of them starred George Hamilton! Knievel was a stunt performer who literally rode his motorcycle skills to international icon status, attempting more than 75 ramp-to-ramp jumps, at one point even jumping the fountains at Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas. He began in the most grassroots of ways, as a very young man, jumping long boxes containing rattlesnakes and mountain lions, drawing crowds via press releases he wrote himself. The Fear Factor set owes a debt to the famed daredevil, as does the Fast & the Furious franchise.
5. Michael Jackson: Fact is, there is a ton of Michael Jackson-themed film coming our way. Thanks to the sudden omnipresence of Paris Jackson, the late King of Pop's admittedly beautiful daughter, interest in the late icon is returning in a big way. Actually, it never really waned, did it? From Lifetime—the network that has already done an awful job bringing stars as disparate as Whitney Houston and Brittany Murphy to the TV screen—hiring famed Jackson impersonator Navi to play him in the biopic Searching for Neverland to an Egyptian film that's moreover about an Islamic cleric's fascination with Jackson, all are certain to miss the mark. We need something that starts in Gary, Indiana, showing the impact a very young Jackson had on the music scene with his brothers, ending with his attempted comeback that was tragically cut short, and everything Thriller, Bad and Dangerous in between. I've already got your director: Bill Condon.