Top 8 Favorite Music Movies Ever
By Billy Saefong
There are so many movies about musicians rising and falling, you’d think that it is the most overplayed plot in all of cinema. I'm not sure if it actually is the most used story of all-time but it's certainly a story that has been retold countless times on the silver screen. According to this article from Vox.com, A Star is Born, the latest "music movie" from Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga, has been retold on a number of occasions.
With that being said, here are some of my favorite movies from the genre.
This is Spinal Tap
Easily one of the funniest movies about rock music, ever. This mockumentary documents what it’s really like to be in a rock band.
It’s essentially a satire on rock documentaries like The Rolling Stones’ Gimme Shelter which was released in 1970, or the more recent The Beatles: Eight Days a Week - The Touring Years. You’ve probably already seen this one, but just in case you weren’t sure, watch the most famous clip from the movie below.
I’ve heard my friends quote this movie more times than I can remember, and for good reason. Selena is about the rise of Selena Quintanilla-Pérez, a popular singer within the Latino community during the 90’s.
Jennifer Lopez played the titular character, which she was nominated for a Golden Globe in 1998. Fun fact: On April 12, 1995, just two weeks after the pop star’s death, George W. Bush, the governor of Texas at the time, declared that April 16 would be Selena Day because she represented the “essence of south Texas culture.”
Watch the scene my friends quote the most below.
Walk the Line
This is the movie that got me into “music movies.” I didn’t really care about Johnny Cash but I sure did after I finished Walk the Line. Joaquin Phoenix and Reese Witherspoon played incredibly well with one another as Johnny Cash and June Carter, respectively.
The film depicts the rise of Cash as he is backstage at Folsom Prison thinking back on his earlier years, and his romance with singer-songwriter June Carter of the Carter Family. The film earned 5 Academy Award nominations and Witherspoon took home the prize for Best Actress.
If you liked Walk the Line, you’re going to love Walk Hard! It’s literally a direct parody of James Mangold’s Johnny Cash biopic.
The film stars John C. Reilly and is written by Judd Apatow who worked on Knocked Up, The 40-Year Old Virgin and Superbad. One of the best bits from the movie is the fact that it features fictional versions of famous artists like David Bowie, Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys, and uh, these guys:
Inside Llewyn Davis
Directed by The Coen Brothers and starring dreamboat Oscar Isaac as a struggling folk singer in 1961. The story is loosely based on the life and music of Dave Van Ronk.
Isaac’s performance as a selfish, mildly talented singer-songwriter was enough to get me on board, but couple that with strong performances from Carey Mulligan and John Goodman, and I was in. It also helps that all of the music performed in the film was recorded live and Isaac has an incredible voice to boot.
I’m Not There
I watched this one summer night and it was pretty confusing but it’s notable because six actors portray a version of Bob Dylan. It’s not a biopic, and it’s not really a traditional music movie about a struggling artist trying to make it in the industry, but that’s why it’s great.
The film is told through a series of vignettes that are interconnected and audiences even see the main character meeting exaggerated versions of other artists from the 1960’s like The Beatles, who seem to make a lot of cameos in these types of movies.
Actors that portray the main character are Ben Whishaw, Richard Gere, Marcus Carl Franklin, Christian Bale, Heath Ledger, and Cate Blanchett who was nominated for an Academy Award for her performance.
Like Johnny Cash in Walk the Line, I too did not know much about Ray Charles when I watched Ray, starring Jamie Foxx. This film is by far one of the best biopics of all-time thanks to Foxx’s incredible portrayal of one of the greatest artists ever.
It won a ton of awards from film critics and music critics alike. There’s not much else to say. Go watch it. It’s amazing.
Alright, so this one isn’t quite related to guitars but it deserves to be on this list because it’s just a great movie about music. This was the first time rapper Eminem (Marshall Mathers) hit the big screen and it was surprisingly not bad.
The film went on to win an Academy Award as it shined a light on a side of music that was not often touched upon in cinema at the time. 8 Mile is a movie that can be enjoyed even if you’re not a fan of rap or hip hop, and that’s saying something.
Let us know your favorite movies about music in the comments below! Did we miss one? We want to hear.