Johnny Depp plays FBI agent Joseph D. Pistone, who’d infiltrated the mafia, and ended up forming an actual friendship with some of the most infamous members in history, like Lefty Ruggiero (Al Pacino.) Born Joseph D. Pistone, the former FBI agent went undercover between 1976 and 1982 as part of a massive take-down of the Bonnano crime family as well as the Colombo family, two of the five most powerful mafia families in New York of the time.
88% of critics agree that the film is a great one, and it earned nearly $125 million against a budget of just $35 million. For several awards including the Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay. Reviews were mainly positive, especially regarding the performances of Pacino and Depp, both of which were called “in top form,” by Salon.com.
La Bamba (1987)
This 1987 biography follows Lou diamond Phillips as Chicano rock-star Ritchie Valens. The film follows the stars rise from typical high school boy to Billboard chart-topper, along with his relationship with his girlfriend at the time, who inspired his song, “Donna.” The American musician who was of Mexican descent was heavily influenced by Mariachi music and ultimately pioeereed the genre of Chicano rock music. His hit "La Bamba" will always be a beloved favorite.
Valens’ life, like the movie, ended tragically – in a fiery plane crash that left no survivors. The film grossed more than $50 million dollars in the US, and received mostly positive reviews, including a 91% approval from critics on Rotten Tomatoes.
Man on the Moon (1999)
Jim Carrey stars as the late eccentric entertainer Andy Kaufman in this 1999 biographical dramedy. The story retraces the stars steps from childhood to fame, as he started appearing on major shows like SNL , and Taxi . The comedian was known for his bizarre performances and his criticism of the whole "fake" idea of performance. His most notable performance was when he loaded an entire audience on a bus, gave them milk and cookies, and then continued with the show on the following day on the Staten Island Ferry.
Carrie won the Golden Globe award for Best Actor for his work on the film, which made it his second in a row after acting in The Truman Show. Reviews seem to be a pretty mixed bag, and it only holds a 63% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, and a 58/100 on Metacritic.
Malcolm X (1992)
Denzel Washington stars as minister and human rights activist, Malcolm X, who is best remembered for his work for the Nation of Islam, in this 1992 biographical drama. The film follows X through his teachings, until his religious conversion, and right through until his 1965 assassination. Malcolm X became an iconic figure in pan-Africanism during the civil rights struggle. He was tragically shot dead (in front of his bodyguards) while preparing to address a crown at OAAU in Manhattan's Audubon Ballroom.
Roger Ebert ranked the film as his favorite of the year, and Washington’s performance was praised by critics everywhere. Washington was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor, but lost to Al Pacino, a decision that was criticized by more than a few people.
Bonnie and Clyde (1967)
Everyone knows the story of the young and in-love couple who went on a crime spree in the 1930s that ended in a blaze of gunfire, and the death of both parties. The 1967 film’s directed by Arthur Penn and is regarded as a landmark in Hollywood history, marking the beginning of the New Hollywood era.
Bonnie and Clyde were one of the first 100 films preserved in the U.S. National Film Registry for being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.” It was up for 10 Academy Awards, winning two, including Best Supporting Actress for Estelle Parsons.