Two Biopics to Catch in 2019

Sometimes biographies fly under the film lover's radar, but here are a couple you don't want to miss this year.

Amidst the big-budget superhero sagas, animated family films, “star-driven” dramas, and horror sequels, biopics sometime gets lost in the tide, especially the ones that aren’t politically focused.

For example, did anyone catch the end-of-the-year-released Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy movie, Stan & Ollie, for which both Steve Coogan and John C. Reilly have already gained a collection of acting nominations and honors? Hope so.

And starting this year, there are two films in particular that have caught my attention. They each focus on two very different men: actor Errol Flynn and author J.R.R. Tolkien.

In Like Flynn:

When you watch, and re-watch, the campy swashbuckling of the classics of Errol Flynn (such as The Sea Hawk, The Adventures of Robin Hood, or The Charge of the Light Brigade) it is hard to imagine this over-dramatic symbol of early Hollywood make-believe was a real-life adventurer before he and the silver screen fell in love with each other.

He was also a street fighter, opium smuggler, gambler, womanizer, and a bevy of other things, many of which weren’t exactly considered respectable.

Based on Flynn’s own autobiography, Beam Ends, the movie stars Australian actor Thomas Cocquerel in the title role along with an extensive cast including Isabel Lucas, Dan Fogler, David Wenham, and Corey Large. Large is credited among the film’s writers and producers, along with his friend and Flynn’s grandson Luke Flynn.

In Like Flynn opened last fall in Australia, but is now playing in America in select theaters. Rated R for some violence and drug use, and “a brief sexual reference.”

Tolkien:

Even if you haven’t read everything that author J. R. R. Tolkien has published, anyone who has read about his life knows the creator of The Lord of the Rings trilogy and The Hobbit didn’t only create some of the most famous and beloved fictional worlds in literature, he also lived a fascinating life filled with hardship and heroism, love and death, and relentless faith.

This movie shows how Tolkien’s experiences growing up as an orphan, fighting in the trenches in the Great War, and meeting the love of his life, Edith, all played a part in the inspiration for creating Middle-Earth.

Nicholas Hoult plays Tolkien in this film, with Lily Collins as his as Edith.

Collins, by the way, also stars alongside Zac Efran in the story of serial killer Ted Bundy, Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile, that just debuted at this year’s Sundance Film Festival. (This one comes across as more of a crime thriller than a biography.)

I haven’t seen yet if there will be any reference to Tolkien’s life with his Inkling friends shown or mentioned in the film, but we will get to see some of his closest friends of his college days, including Christopher Wiseman (played by Tom Glynn-Carney). Wiseman didn’t make it through WWI, but Tolkien’s son, Christopher, was named for him.

There is no official trailer out for this one yet. In the meantime, I highly recommend picking up Joseph Loconte’s A Hobbit, a Wardrobe, and a Great War: How J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis Rediscovered Faith, Friendship, and Heroism in the Cataclysm of 1914-1918 for a good look at his World War I experiences.

Tolkien is scheduled for release on May 10, with a PG-13 rating.

Header Image © Fox Searchlight Pictures.

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