If there’s one thing Hollywood loves, it’s telling the remarkable life stories of notable Americans.
From Abe Lincoln to Tonya Harding, in recent years we’ve seen biopics about people from almost every walk of life.
With their meaty roles and stirring tales, actors and directors often see these movies as golden opportunities to appeal to the awards-makers – the term “Oscar-bait” is often a little cynical, but sometimes wholly appropriate, it has to be said.
Happily, we’ve seen filmmakers look to tell biographical stories in more unconventional ways – re-telling events in non-chronological order, using multiple actors, employing some “artistic licence” etc – and these qualities usually separate the sublime from the ordinary, as the movie industry shares and re-shapes US cultural history through film.
Who, then, could be more biopic-worthy, and more quintessentially American to Hollywood than Neil A Armstrong? The first man to walk on the moon, a key part of NASA’s space programme in 1960s and a modest hero.
In many ways, Damien (La La Land) Chazelle’s Armstrong biopic First Man is something of a total package itself. Re-teaming the director with star Ryan Gosling, it’s a thoroughly riveting re-telling of the 1961-1969 years of NASA’s mission to put a person on the lunar surface – and with its top-drawer performances, quality cinematography and impressive tension, it ticks all the boxes for us.