The worst thing is to want to watch one of the best music flicks but all you can find are the same old movies. So many “good” music movies are out there that the excellent ones might get buried in the commotion.
Basically, what we’re doing here is providing you with the top ten, followed by five runners-up if you’ve already seen all of the finest ones, and then a quick list of honorable mentions. Here, you’re sure to discover something new.
We will not, however, compile a list of the best music documentaries or musicals ever made. Those are on distinct lists. This category is reserved for documentaries and feature films about music that feature actual actors and compelling narratives. Let’s get this party started…
#10 – The Doors
Oliver Stone’s 1991 film The Doors received mixed reviews upon its debut. Those critics may look back on their statements with sorrow now that time has passed. Still vividly recollection of incident in which synthesizer player can’t relax at beach till melody breakthrough. So it goes for me, too. Nothing but work and no fun!
De Palma, Friedkin, and Scorsese were all interested in making this picture, but the band wanted Stone to direct it after watching his success with Platoon, so they decided to go with him. In the end, it took nearly a decade of development hell while pursuing big-name actors to play the Morrison character. Val Kilmer proved to be the ideal candidate for the role.
Fact: Jim Morrison’s bandmates and family were not pleased with the film’s portrayal of him, claiming it was inaccurate and hurtful. It only brought in $34 million worldwide, but it cost $38 million to make it. As a cult film with a large following, it has subsequently broken even though it has a large following. If you look closely, you’ll see Billy Idol in one of the roles.
#9 – Walk the Line
Walk the Line, the 2005 love drama directed by James Mangold and based on the life of country singer Johnny Cash, explores the story of that life. Besides the romance and the ascent to stardom, the best part of this story is the glimpse into what it’s like to hit the big time before you ever realize it: hanging out with celebrities, driving flashy automobiles, and obtaining access to the backstage areas of mega-star performances.
It was an Oscar-winning performance by both stars and a BAFTA, Golden Globe, and Academy Award-winning production overall. When it came time to film, Joaquin Phoenix sang and played all of Johnny Cash’s songs himself. Unrelated to music, this was a big success.
It’s a little-known fact that major studios fought making Walk the Line for over a decade. Until Straight Outta Compton came along ten years later, it was the biggest grossing music biopic of all time.
#8 – This is Spinal Tap
This is what I mean by Rob Reiner co-wrote and directed the 1984 comedy Spinal Tap. Even if it makes fun of the enormous ego of a rock star, it’s still rather truthful. Complaints about small details on rides, the logistics of large concerts, and other such foolishness are common among singers and their management.
“Tonight I’m Gonna Rock You Tonight” and “Gimme Some Money” are among the several chart-topping singles by Spinal Tap, a parody of a British rock band. It’s one of 1984’s best films, and every critic who saw it praised it, which is unusual because most critics seek attention by being unfavorable. Also popular rock stars were fans.
The Library of Congress has conserved this film as culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant, and it is now listed in the National Film Registry. The dialogue is almost all improvised, and there is no script other than a rough framework of the scenes. Spinal Tap is a modern term for rock bands that take themselves too seriously.
#7 – Love & Mercy
Love & Mercy, a 2014 film directed by Bill Pohlad, tells the story of The Beach Boys and Brian Wilson’s genius. When The Beach Boys were making their seminal Pet Sounds album in the 1960s, the film cuts to the 1980s when Brian Wilson began to deal with mental illness.
It is a film that Brian Wilson has described as “very factual.” It was nominated for numerous awards and film festivals, including two Golden Globes for best original song. Even though it didn’t initially attract a large audience, this was another critically acclaimed film.
The title of the film is taken from a song of the same name by Brian Wilson, released in 1988. Wilson was almost played by Jeff Bridges in the film. Heroics and villainy were the original working titles of the script. Wilson performs the title song live as the credits roll.
#6 – Almost Famous
Kate Hudson, Zooey Deschanel, Anna Paquin, Philip Seychell, Jimmy Fallon, Jason Lee, Jay Baruchel, and Rain Wilson are just a few of the many well-known performers who appear in Almost Famous. Cameron Crowe wrote and directed this comedy-drama, which came out in 2000.
As a teenager in the 1970s, Cameron Crowe worked as a Rolling Stone reporter, accompanying a rock band on tour. With the Allman Brothers, Led Zeppelin, Eagles, and Lynyrd Skynyrd, Crowe was able to achieve this feat. Best Compilation Soundtrack Grammy Award went to the film. It’s actually a lot of fun.
While the film’s Stillwater band is a fiction, a real Stillwater band joined to Capricorn Records and had to get permission to continue recording for the movie. The film, while receiving critical acclaim, lost about $10 million.
#5 – Hustle & Flow
Craig Brewer directed the 2005 film Hustle & Flow, which was advertised as a drama. Taraji P. Henson, Isaac Hayes, Haystack, and Juicy J are just a few of the actors and rappers who appear in the film. It was a huge success and garnered numerous accolades and nominations, including Best Actor, making it impossible to mention them all.
The parts in which you can see the entire process of making a song, including the creation of the beat, are fantastic. It’s worth seeing solely for those sequences if you’re a musician or have gone through the process of putting together a rap song yourself.
Terrence Howard initially rejected the job of DJay because he didn’t want to be typecast, but finally accepted. The film was rejected by major studios and financiers, and John Singleton financed it himself.
#4 – Rock Star
Stephen Herek’s film Rock Star was released in 2001. Even though it’s a serious picture, it has some lighthearted moments. All of us know about bands like Yes, Journey, and Judas Priest that are in need of a new vocalist and have to poach the finest singer from their best cover band. There are a few vocalists included in the plot of this film.
Zakk Wylde and Jeff Pilson are among the many musicians who appear on the album. This film was a colossal flop at the box office, grossing little about $37 million. Steel Dragon’s soundtrack includes six songs by the band featured in the film.
The movie’s first working title was “Metal God,” and Brad Pitt was a possible cast member. Original title was deemed too restrictive by them. A Metallica and Megadeth concert was used to film the scenario in front of 10,000 people.
#3 – Amadeus
Milos Forman directed the period piece Amadeus in 1984. It chronicles the story of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart in Vienna in the 18th century, originally as a play on the stage in Austria. You might be astonished to learn that this was a box office success and one of the greatest films of all time. It was up for 53 prizes, and it took home 40 of them.
Described as a “fantasia on the theme of Mozart and Salieri,” the film details a conflict at the court of Emperor Joseph II between the two individuals in the movie. On stage, Mark Hamill had a starring role in Mozart, but the director feared that fans would only see “Luke Skywalker” in the role. In Prague and Kromeriz, the film was shot on location.
The Library of Congress added this film to the National Film Registry to ensure its long-term viability. The original PG-rated version of the film was followed by an R-rated version that included 20 minutes of additional footage.
#2 – 8 Mile
I think Curtis Hanson’s 2002 movie 8 Mile merits the positive reviews it received when it was released in 2002. B-Rabbit, a white aspiring rapper in Detroit, is profiled as he struggles to find his place in the scene. It focuses on his life and the lives of his crew in general, with the focus on underground rap bouts as the centerpiece. On stage, B-Rabbit must overcome stage fright and nervousness to prove he is the best.
Fans of Detroit and West Coast hip-hop will recognize many of the rappers featured in the film, including several who performed actual freestyles in front of a live audience. Eminem’s performance as an actor is the most startling aspect of the whole thing.
Compared to the rest of the films on this list, this one raked in a whopping $243 million worldwide. One of the greatest movie soundtracks ever was even a Billboard chart-topper. A number of lesser-known Detroit rappers are featured in the film include Proof, Obie Trice, and Xzibit.
#1 – The Blues Brothers
This John Landis-directed 1980 musical comedy is unquestionably the best music film ever made. Blues Brothers features some of the greatest performers in history, including James Brown and Ray Charles. This was one of the most expensive comedies ever made due to several delays caused by poor writers and depraved actors.
To save the orphanage he was reared in, a paroled felon sets out on a “mission from God.” They reformed their R&B band in order to raise the necessary $5,000. This is the classic “reuniting the band” movie, which takes the group on a variety of adventures until the big moment occurs.
A sequel was made 18 years after the original, which was a massive failure, despite the fact that the first was a great financial success. Cars were damaged at an unprecedented rate in the film until the sequel took over the record. The Blues Brothers’ second album is featured on the soundtrack.