With biopics coming at us left, right, and centre, what better way to fill the music movie craving than with more documentaries, biopics, and fictional flicks?
From hit classics like Almost Famous and High Fidelity to recent hits like Homecoming and A Star Is Born, this list comes packed with some of the best music-based movies to hit the big screen. Grab some popcorn and curl up for a marathon of music-packed flicks!
Check out 16 movies every music nerd is sure to love below.
2014’s Whiplash, which took home a variety of Academy Awards, follows a drum prodigy’s painful path to perfection. Andrew Neiman (Miles Teller) plays the role of an ambitious jazz drummer who hopes to rise to the top of an elite music school with the help of Terence Fletcher (J.K. Simmons), who is a terrifyingly intense teacher that eventually pushes Neiman to the brink of insanity.
Homecoming marks a revolution in the traditional concert film, as it presents an intimate and behind-the-scenes look at Beyoncé’s legendary 2018 Coachella performance, which honours America’s historically black colleges and universities. The entire flick is a delicate balance of candid footage, interviews, and performance shots as it traces the journey of moving past a performance to create a cultural movement.
How could we not include Almost Famous on this list? The Oscar-winning 2000 film was a fictionalized recounting of Cameron Crowe’s memories from when he was writing for Rolling Stone as a teenager in the 70s. It stars major celebrities like Kate Hudson and Philip Seymour Hoffman in the early stages of their career as they get plopped into the rock-based and psychedelic music scene of the era.
Not only did Empire Records follow a group of music-savvy youths that work together at a record store, but it came accompanied by a stacked soundtrack. The film features some killer tracks like The Cruel Sea’s “The Honeymoon Is Over,” Edwin Collins’ “A Girl Like You,” The Cranberries’ “Liar,” and Lustre’s “Nice Overalls,” so these rad tunes alone make the movie worthwhile.
Across The Universe
Beatles fans unite! 2007’s Across The Universe uses songs by The Beatles to weave a story for this music-based tale of romance, war, and the quest for peace. The film follows young British worker, Jude, as he heads to the United States to find his father and ends up befriending Max and his sister Lucy, in addition to a group of eccentric pals.
Straight Outta Compton
Straight Outta Compton made huge waves in the industry when it exploded onto the scene in 2015. The crime drama follows a groundbreaking hip-hop group that revolutionizes music and pop culture in 1988. The group, N.W.A., releases their first studio album, Straight Outta Compton, which brings about controversy with its depiction of what life is like in South Los Angeles.
Lords of Chaos
Lords of Chaos is a raucous new drama-thriller that follows the real-life tale of black metal band, Mayhem. The flick takes place in Oslo in 1987, where 17-year-old Euronymous gets obsessed with creating “true Norwegian black metal,” taking part in jarring, disturbing publicity stunts to get the band famous, until the lines between their dark shows and reality blur into one.
A classic music flick, High Fidelity is a 2000 American romantic comedy-drama that follows John Cusack’s Rob Gordon who owns a failing record store in Chicago. Gordon insists on selling music the old-fashioned way, when suddenly his long-time girlfriend leaves him. The film looks at Gordon’s failed attempts at romance and happiness as he gets launched into the world of adulthood.
Detroit Rock City
This flick follows a group of rock-loving teens and aspiring musicians as they embark on a journey to see their favourite band, KISS, perform. Hawk, Lex, Trip, and Jam are forced to do whatever it takes to get to the show after Jam’s mother finds the tickets to the event and attempts to prevent them from going. This barrier forces the foursome to encounter problems, humiliation, and violence as they push through on their journey to see the legendary band.
Musical coming-of-age comedy-drama Sing Street got raving reviews when it dropped in 2016. The film, which stars Ferdia Walsh-Peelo, Lucy Boynton, Maria Doyle Kennedy, Aiden Gillen, Jack Reynor, and Kelly Thornton, revolves around a boy who creates a band in an attempt to woo a girl in 1980’s Ireland. The film tackles the recession in Dublin in the 80s as the main character, Conor, gets moved from a private school to an inner-city educational institute.
Hard Core Logo
Indie film Hard Core Logo, which was released in 1996, follows lead singer Joe Dick (Hugh Dillon) as he reunites his cult punk band for a Canadian tour. The flick sees guitarist Billy Tallent (Callum Keith Rennie) as he awaits news from Jenifur, a popular band from Los Angeles considering getting him to join, which brings tension between Tallent and Joe. The duo embark on the road with bassist John Oxenberger (John Pyper-Ferguson) and partying drummer Pipefitter (Bernie Coulson).
We Are The Best
This 2013 flick follows 13-year-old girls in Stockholm, Sweden, who are ostracized by their friends because of their love for punk rock. The young stars are forced to combat the wrath of condescending teenage boys who play in a competing rock band called Iron Fist at their youth centre, as get made fun of for their androgynous appearance.
This powerful documentary follows the life and death of jazzy British singer-songwriter Amy Winehouse. Amy is a powerful balance of archival footage, personal testimonials, and performance shots that come together to create an intimate portrait of the extremely talented and widely missed artist.
This biographical British film follows the life of Joy Division frontman Ian Curtis, played by Sam Riley. Taking place in 1970s England, Control follows Curtis’ rise to fame as the lead singer of the post-punk band. As the movie progresses, it shows the strain of the band’s fame on his personal life when it brings problems to his marriage, family, and worsening epilepsy.
Walk The Line
This must-see biopic sees Joaquin Phoenix portraying the rise of music legend Johnny Cash, starting with his life as a boy growing up on a farm, up until Cash’s volatile lifestyle becomes self-destructive. Walk The Line explores Cash’s difficult relationship with his father, his strained connection with his wife (Ginnifer Goodwin), and the love of his life, singer June Carter (Reese Witherspoon).
This musical comedy-drama, which dropped in 1991, was based on the 1987 novel of the same name by Roddy Doyle. The Commitments follows self-proclaimed promoter, Jimmy Rabitte (Robert Arkins), as he organizes an R&B group to fill the genre’s void in his hometown, Dublin. The band gets formed, but ends up being a group of white musicians who hardly have any experience with the genre. As the band rises to fame, the pressure begins to pull at their new friendships while they get ready for a big show.
A Star Is Born
If you haven’t seen A Star Is Born yet, you probably live under a rock. Nonetheless, it made it to the list after making waves with its star-studded cast, featuring the chemistry-packed duo, Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga. The music-stacked flick follows the tale of a love between two struggling musicians as they deal with the impacts of fame and fortune.