Here are 10 of the best movies about prominent painters, ranging from experimental art flicks to more conventional biopics.
An artist’s environment can be both interesting and unnerving to behold. An art form that has been around for nearly as long as humans have, the artist and their canvas has enthralled the world.
No wonder there have been so many movies over the years on a certain artist’s life story: it’s a fascinating topic. These 10 best biopics about notable artists are ranked by IMDb User Ratings, with foreign art flicks and more traditional biopics making the cut.
1. Basquiat (6.9)
When Julian Schnabel chose to film a biography of his late friend and collaborator Jean-Michel Basquiat, he was already a well-known artist.
Basquiat is an amazing homage to one of the art world’s most intriguing and singular talents, even if it is a tad on the plain side.
Westworld’s Jeffrey Wright stars in an early role as the titular tortured genius, whose tale is as distinctive and heartbreaking as the extraordinary work he produced over his brief career, which was tragically cut short when the artist overdosed at age 27.
2. At Eternity’s Gate (6.9)
Van Gogh is the subject of Schnabel’s latest film, which is another another depiction of the wounded artist archetype. Willem Dafoe is nominated for an Academy Award for his portrayal of the disturbed painter.
Unlike his previous films, Schnabel has chosen to focus on a specific time period in van Gogh’s life rather than the entire history of the subject as previously done. Because of the intimate nature of the movie, the central character is seen in all his or her imperfections.
3. Pollock (7.0)
Filming on Pollock, which took nearly a decade, was a labor of love for actor/director Ed Harris. Although Harris’ directing is competent, it is Harris’ commanding performance as the film’s titular painter, Jackson Pollock, that shows Harris’ affection for the material at its most compelling.
With his infamous anger and alcoholism, Pollock earned a reputation as a difficult collaborator. Although his terrible past is depicted fairly in this Hollywood film, it is one of the best attempts at expressing the artist’s once-in-a-generation brilliance in an open and honest manner.
4. Big Eyes (7.1)
In terms of Tim Burton’s previous two-decade oeuvre, Big Eyes stands out as an anomaly. It’s all the more remarkable that the gothic filmmaker took the time to make this overlooked oddball little picture about Margaret Keane’s troubles with her art and the greedy goals of her scumbag husband’s.
As Amy Adams and Christoph Waltz portray the principal relationship, their stories of betrayal and the artist’s role in marketing their work are compelling.
5. Rembrandt (7.1)
Rembrandt van Rijn, a prominent Dutch Renaissance painter, was brought to life on screen by the amazing Charles Laughton. Each scene in the film is a loosely connected collection of vignettes depicting the artist’s darkest days as a despondent artist.
It is a fascinating peek into the latter years of a creative genius confronting his own legacy in a film that has mostly fallen out of the public eye. In current times, Laughton’s performance is genuinely extraordinary, and the film’s distinctive presentation makes it worth seeing.
6. Modigliani (7.4)
Amedeo Modigliani, a prominent Italian painter, is played by Andy Garcia in this 2004 film. It concentrates on the artist’s latter years as he falls in love with and marries an attractive young woman, as well as the rivalry he had with Pablo Picasso.
Although Modigliani garnered excellent marks from the public, it received a cold welcome from critics (4 percent on RT), making it the artist with the greatest gulf between positive and negative feedback. A historical inconsistency has slammed the film, although Garcia’s performance as Modigliani isn’t the worst. It’s only for people that are curious to know which side they fall on.
7. Frida (7.4)
Salma Hayek’s portrayal of Frida Kahlo in Julie Taymor’s beautiful biopicFrida is the one she will be best remembered for when she dies. Hayek’s portrayal of Frida Kahlo’s chaotic life is brought to life by Taymor, a legendary theater artist.
As a result of Kahlo’s roller-coaster life, the film portrays the artist as a female revolutionary who smashed taboos throughout her career, which is a remarkable achievement.
8. My Left Foot (7.9)
In My Left Foot, Daniel Day-Lewis won the Best Actor Oscar for his portrayal of artist and writer Christy Brown, a story that is both inspiring and tragic.
With cerebral palsy since birth, Brown’s only physical movement was that of his left foot, which he used to type his autobiography and paint his distinctive works of art. Day-Lewis fully disappears into the part, resurrecting a man with a bright intellect and a shattered body who melded to the two to achieve ultimate expression, as expected at this point.
9. Exit Through the Gift Shop (8.0)
One will never know for sure if Bansky’s Exit Through the Gift Shop, directed by the legendary and mystifying graffiti artist, is real or not. This film was released nearly 10 years ago, but the line between fact and fantasy is still blurred.
It doesn’t matter if the film is authentic; it’s a mind-blowing experience that virtually transcends description. A film about the artist-turned-filmmaker Thierry Guetta aka Mr. Brainwash, who might as well be a museum exhibit in and of himself. It’s a wild voyage worth taking more than once to figure out all of its enigmas because it’s bizarre, humorous, and terrifying all at the same time.
10. Andrei Rublev (8.1)
David Foster-novels Wallace’s and Andrei Tarkovsky’s films share a similar genius and terrifying demeanor. Many of Tarkovsky’s films, even if they are classics, are so deep and long that they can be difficult to follow for the casual viewer.
However, Tarkovsky’s celebrated and infamous film Andre Rublev is a must-see for film aficionados eager to summit cinematic mountains. Both the story of the titular icon painter and the recreation of medieval Russia are important goals of the film, and both are accomplished to a remarkable degree. A masterpiece of cinematic storytelling.