All the 2022 Oscar Hopefuls That Are Based on Real Life

lady gaga house of gucci oscars true story real life adaptation

The 2022 Oscars are just around the corner, and award season is already in full swing. With so many of the Oscar hopefuls in the running being based around real people and real events, it seems that this year, Hollywood has a serious cast of art-imitating-life.

From The Last Duel, which is based on a trial that took place in 1386, all the way up to the not-too-distant future (more on that later), the films that have been based on or inspired by real life truly span years. Centuries, actually.

And, if you didn’t know, films based on true stories often do well at the Oscars.

2019’s controversial Best Picture winner Green Book is the most recent film to be based on real events.

There have been a lot of performances based on real people that have won the actors Oscars, too. Some of the more recent examples include Rami Malek winning Best Actor in 2019 for his portrayal of Freddie Mercury in Bohemian Rhapsody, Gary Oldman winning in 2018 for his portrayal of Winston Churchill in Darkest Hour. Meanwhile, Renée Zellweger won Best Actress in 2020 for her portrayal of Judy Garland in Judy.

This year, the Best Actor award will be Will Smith’s to lose, after turning in a showstopping performance as Richard Williams, Venus and Serena Williams’ father and coach. Also in the running is Andrew Garfield, for his portrayal of playwright Jonathan Larson in tick, tick…Boom!

Meanwhile, the Best Actress category is packed with performances based on real people.

Obviously, we have Kristen Stewart as Princess Diana in Spencer, who’s looking like the one to beat at the moment. But that’s not all.

There’s also Nicole Kidman playing Lucille Ball in Being the Ricardos, Jennifer Hudson playing Aretha Franklin in RESPECT, Jessica Chastain playing Tammy Faye in The Eyes of Tammy Faye, and of course, Lady Gaga as Patrizia Reggiani in House of Gucci.

Let’s break all the potential nominees down.

Being the Ricardos

Director: Aaron Sorkin

Starring: Nicole Kidman, Javier Bardem, J.K. Simmons

Synopsis: During one production week of I Love Lucy–from Monday table read through Friday audience taping–Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz  face a series of personal and professional crises that threaten their show, their careers and their marriage, in writer-director Aaron Sorkin’s behind-the-scenes drama.

Based on: The time Lucille Ball was accused of being a communist in the ’50s, during America’s “Red Scare”.

Where to watch: Stream on Amazon Prime now.


Director: Kenneth Branagh

Starring: Jamie Dornan, Caitriona Balfe, Judi Dench, Ciarán Hinds, Lara McDonnell, Gerard Horan, Turlough Convery, Gerard McCarthy, Bríd Brennan, Sid Sagar

Synopsis: A young boy and his working-class Belfast family experience the tumultuous late 1960s.

Based on: Director Kenneth Branagh’s childhood.

Where to watch: In cinemas February 3rd, 2022.

Don’t Look Up

Director: Adam McKay

Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Jennifer Lawrence, Meryl Streep, Jonah Hill, Mark Rylance, Timothée Chalamet, Tyler Perry, Cate Blanchett, Ariana Grande, Kid Cudi

Synopsis: Two low-level astronomers must go on a giant media tour to warn mankind of an approaching comet that will destroy planet Earth.

Based on: OKAY, yes, this one is a stretch, we know! But Don’t Look Up is technically based on real life, climate change and Covid-19, to be specific. More on that here.

Where to watch: Don’t Look Up is streaming on Netflix now.

The Eyes of Tammy Faye

Director: Michael Showalter

Starring: Jessica Chastain, Andrew Garfield, Cherry Jones, Sam Jaeger, Vincent D’Onofrio, Fredric Lehne, Louis Cancelmi

Synopsis: An intimate look at the extraordinary rise, fall and redemption of televangelist Tammy Faye Bakker.

Where to watch: In cinemas January 27th, 2022.

House of Gucci

Director: Ridley Scott

Starring: Lady Gaga, Adam Driver, Al Pacino, Jared Leto, Jack Huston, Jeremy Irons, Camille Cottin

Synopsis: When Patrizia Reggiani, an outsider from humble beginnings, marries into the Gucci family, her unbridled ambition begins to unravel their legacy and triggers a reckless spiral of betrayal, decadence, revenge, and ultimately…murder.

Based on: Journalist Sara Gay Forden’s 2001 nonfiction book of the same name, which chronicles the real life chaos of the Gucci family’s rise and fall.

Where to watch: In cinemas now.

King Richard

Director: Reinaldo Marcus Green

Starring: Will Smith, Aunjanue Ellis, Saniyya Sidney, Demi Singleton, Jon Bernthal, Liev Schreiber, Dylan McDermott, Susie Abromeit

Synopsis: A look at how tennis superstars Venus and Serena Williams became who they are after the coaching from their father Richard Williams.

Where to watch: In cinemas January 13th, 2022.

The Last Duel

Director: Ridley Scott

Starring: Matt Damon, Adam Driver, Jodie Comer, Adam Driver

Synopsis: King Charles VI declares that Knight Jean de Carrouges challenge his squire to a duel to settle a serious dispute–an allegation of sexual assault made by the Knight’s wife Marguerite.

Based on: The 2004 nonfiction book of the same name, written by historian Eric Jager, which recounts the 1386 trial by combat.

Where to watch: Streaming now on Disney+ and Foxtel Now.


Director: Liesl Tommy

Starring: Jennifer Hudson, Forest Whitaker, Marlon Wayans, Audra McDonald, Mary J. Blige, Marc Maron, Tituss Burgess, Saycon Sengbloh

Synopsis: Following the rise of Aretha Franklin’s career from a child singing in her father’s church’s choir to her international superstardom, RESPECT is the remarkable true story of the music icon’s journey to find her voice.

Where to watch: Rent or buy on Google Play or Amazon Prime.


Director: Pablo Larraín

Starring: Kristen StewartTimothy SpallSally HawkinsSean HarrisJack Farthing

Synopsis: During her Christmas holidays with the royal family at the Sandringham estate in Norfolk, England, Diana Spencer, struggling with mental health problems, decides to end her decade-long marriage to Prince Charles.

Based on: While Spencer is based on Princess Diana, the film notes in an epigraph that it is “a fable from a true tragedy”.

Where to watch: In cinemas January 20th, 2022

tick, tick…Boom!

Director: Lin-Manuel Miranda

Starring: Andrew Garfield, Vanessa Hudgens, Robin de Jesús, Alexandra Shipp, Bradley Whitford, MJ Rodriguez, Jordan Fisher, Joshua Henry, Judith Light, Noah Robbins

Synopsis: A musical biopic that follows Jonathan Larson, the creator of theatre smash Rent, who is struggling with the pressures of life as an artist in New York City on the cusp of his 30th birthday.

Based on: tick, tick…Boom!, Jonathan Larson’s autobiographical Broadway musical.

Where to watch: Streaming on Netflix now.

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