These Are The 20 Best Movies About Music

Jackson Sawa | August 23, 2018 9:53 pm

Since music plays such a crucial role in movies, why not make a movie about music? Whether it’s a comedy, fiction, or biopic, film is a great way to teach audiences about the music industry or particular musicians that people might not already know. From School of Rock to The Phantom of the Opera, these are some of the best movies that have ever been made about music.

Almost Famous Made Everyone Want To Be A Music Journalist

DreamWorks Pictures
DreamWorks Pictures

Released in 2,000, Almost Famous tells the story of a young music journalist. He finds himself writing forRolling Stone as he experiences life on tour with a rock band at way too young of an age. The film is semi-autobiographical, as director Cameron Crowe was just a teenager when he began writing for Rolling Stone as well.

Crowe’s experiences while touring with bands such as Led Zeppelin, The Eagles, Lynard Skynard, and more, provide the basis for the situations William Miller encounters, the fictional star of the film. Although the movie did terribly at the box office, it was nominated for four Academy Awards and has grown to become a cult classic.

Walk The Line Showed A New Side Of Johnny Cash

Twentieth Century Fox
Twentieth Century Fox

Walk the Line is a biographical film about the life of country music singer Johnny Cash. For the most part, the film is based on two autobiographies written by Cash – Man in Black: His Own Story and His Own Words and Cash: The Autobiography. Starring Joaquin Phoenix, the story follows the various stages of Cash’s life beginning at his early success in music and his romance with June Carter, along with his internal and familial struggles.

The film was previewed at the Telluride Film Festival in 2005 and went on to be nominated for five Academy Awards, including Best Actor and Best Actress by Reese Witherspoon. In total, the film made over $186 million worldwide.

8 Mile Helped Put Eminem On The Map

Universal Studios and Dreamworks
Universal Studios and Dreamworks

Released in 2002, 8 Mileis a musical drama starring Eminem as himself. Directed and written by Curtis Hanson, the film is loosely based on Eminem’s experience as a young white rapper and his struggles trying to make a name for himself in a genre where he is the clear minority.

The film gets its title from 8 Mile Road, the highway that separates predominantly African American Detroit and the white suburbs of Wayne County. Upon its release, the film was a success and even won Eminem the Academy Award for Best Original Song for “Lose Yourself,” arguably Eminem’s most popular track to date.

The Sound Of Music Taught Its Audience The Importance Of Music

Twentieth Century Fox
Twentieth Century Fox

Released in 1965, The Sound of Musicis an adaptation of a stage musical of the same name, both of which are based on the memoir, The Story of the Trapp Family Singersby Maria von Trapp. The film is about a young aspiring nun during World War II who finds herself in the care of a naval officer and widower’s seven children in Salzburg, Austria.

She makes it her mission to teach them to love and appreciate music while also helping them deal with the struggles of war. The film won five Academy Awards including Best Picture and Best Director along with numerous other accolades. Today it is considered to be the fifty-fifth greatest American movie of all time and fourth greatest musical movie.

Footloose Reminded Us Of The Importance Of Dancing

Paramount Pictures
Paramount Pictures

Starring Kevin Bacon, Footloose is a 1984 musical drama directed by Herbert Ross. The film follows the story of city boy Ren McCormack who moves from Chicago to a small Midwestern town. To his disbelief, he learns that rock and roll music and dancing has been outlawed by the older residents and enforced by the religious authorities.

Determined to change the views of the town, Ren makes it his mission to show the community the benefits of listening to music and dancing, particularly for young people. The film is loosely based on a similar situation that occurred in the small town of Elmore City, Oklahoma.

The Phantom Of The Opera Helped Modernize The Musical

Warner Bros.
Warner Bros.

The Phantom of the Opera in a 2004 film adaptation of Andrew Lloyd Weber’s 1986 musical of the same name, which in turn is based on the French novel by Gaston Leroux. The film stars Gerard Butler, Emmy Rossum, and Patrick Wilson, and was produced and co-written by Lloyd Webber himself.

The film follows the story of a young female theater performer in the early 1900s caught in a dangerous love triangle between a respectable theater patron and a masked antihero living in the catacombs of the theater. The film grossed $154.6 million worldwide and was held in high regard by audiences although received mixed reviews by film critics for issues with writing and directing.

The Doors Made Jim Morrison Even More Compelling

Tri-Star Pictures
Tri-Star Pictures

The Doors is a biographical film about the rise and decline of the 1960s and 70s psychedelic rock group The Doors, focusing more specifically on the group’s lead singer and songwriter Jim Morrison. While the film provides a history and understanding of the iconic group, it also shows the struggles and depth of Jim Morrison.

The film sheds light on his alcoholism, commitment to altering his mind, and his ever-growing obsession with death, all of which become major themes throughout the film. Although the film was intriguing to audience members, it was not well-received by people who knew Morrison personally claiming that the depiction of Morrison was wrong in numerous ways.

A Hard Day’s Night Made The Beatles Even More Popular Than They Already Were

United Artists
United Artists

Directed by Richard Lester and starring The Beatles, A Hard Day’s Night is a musical comedy that portrays the lives John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr for a few days during the height of Beatlemania. Upon its release, the film was both a box office success and was loved by fans and critics alike.

Even forty years after its initial release, it still resonates and was named by Time magazine as one of the 100 greatest films of all-time. The film is also described as being one of the most influential musical films ever released, credited with inspiring numerous spy films, other musical films, and modern music videos.

Notorious Showed The Man Behind “The Notorious B.I.G.”

Fox Searchlight Pictures
Fox Searchlight Pictures

Notorious is a 2009 biographical film based on the life of East Coast rapper Christopher Wallace, better known by his stage name Notorious B.I.G.or “Biggie Smalls.” The film chronicles his life beginning as an aspiring young student, as a drug dealer in Brooklyn, his rise to fame as a hip-hop legend, and (spoiler alert) ending with his murder in Los Angeles.

While the film received mixed reviews from a variety of critics, Roger Ebert gave the film three and a half out of four stars, admiring the film’s dedication to telling the story of Christopher Wallace and not focusing strictly on the rap career of Notorious B.I.G.

Amadeus Gives A Fictionalized Story of Mozart’s Life

Orion Pictures
Orion Pictures

Amadeus is a fictionalized period drama film adapted from Peter Schaffer’s stage play of the same name. Set in Vienna, Austria during the late 18th century, the film tells a dramatic and mostly fictional depiction of the life of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and his rivalry between Mozart and Italian composer Antonio Salieri. The film went on to win eight Academy Awards as well as 32 other awards such as numerous BAFTAs. Grammys, and Golden Globes.

Before 2017, it was the most recent film to have more than one actor be nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor, and in 1998, was ranked 53rd in the “100 years…100 Movies” list by the National Film Institute.

School Of Rock Made Breaking The Rules Cool

Paramount Pictures
Paramount Pictures

School of Rock is a 2003 comedy that tells the story of a failed rock guitarist who pretends to be a substitute teacher at a prestigious prep school in order to make ends meet. While “teaching,” he discovers that many of his students are very talented musicians.

He then decides to start a band with the kids in order to win the Battle of the Bands, which would pay his rent. However, he lies to the students about his true intentions. The film was incredibly successful grossing $131 million with a $35 million budget. At the time, it was the highest grossing music-themed comedy up until Pitch Perfect 2.

The Blues Brothers Is Now A Cult Classic

Universal Pictures
Universal Pictures

Directed by John Landis, The Blues Brothers stars John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd as “Joliet” Jake and Elwood Blues, two characters created for “The Blues Brothers” music act for Saturday Night Live. The film focuses on brothers Jake and his brother Elwood as they try to reunite their R&B band to save the orphanage they were raised in from foreclosure.

The story follows their “mission from God” along with all of the antics they get into along the way. The film has performances by famous musicians such as James Brown, Aretha Franklin, Ray Charles, Cab Callaway, and more. Today, the film has become a cult classic, although it grossed $115 million worldwide.

Love & Mercy Gives An Inside Look Into The Genius And Troubled Mind Of Brian Wilson

Lionsgate
Lionsgate

Love & Mercy is a biographical drama focusing on Brian Wilson; co-founder, and leader of the Beach Boys. The film follows his work with the Beach Boys and his severe struggles with mental illness from the 1960s through the 1980s. With the film alternating between the two different decades, the younger Wilson is played by Paul Dano, while John Cusack acts as an older Wilson.

With a $10 million budget, the film grossed $28.6 million, first premiering at the 2014 Toronto Film Festival. The film has been praised for its unconventional style, score by Atticus Ross, and for Brian Wilson describing it as “very factual.”

High Fidelity Mixed Music And Romance

Buena Vista Pictures
Buena Vista Pictures

Directed by Stephen Frears, High Fidelity is a 2000 American comedy-drama based on the 1995 novel of the same name. The film tells the story of a music-obsessed record store owner named Rob Gordon who clearly doesn’t understand women. After being dumped by his girlfriend Laura, he sets out on a mission to re-connect with old partners to see why all of his relationships end in failure.

After starting the record label Top 5 Records, Gordon sets out to try and win Laura back and eventually comes to realize that his lack of commitment has been stunting the majority of relationships. The film was well received by critics and has been established as one of the “must-see” films in the music genre.

Straight Outta Compton Showed The Life Of One Of Hip-Hop’s Greatest Groups

Universal Pictures
Universal Pictures

Straight Outta Compton is a biographical film about the rise and decline of the Los Angeles-based rap group N.W.A. The members included successful rappers such as Eazy-E, Ice Cube, and Dr. Dre, with numerous of them helping with the production of the film.

The film was released in 2015 and made $20 million as well as was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay. The soundtrack album featured music by N.W.A. and debuted at No. 1 on the Rap Albums charts and No. 1 on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart.

This Is Spinal Tap

Embassy Pictures
Embassy Pictures

This is Spinal Tapis a 1984 mockumentary directed and co-written by Rob Reiner. Released in 1984, the film follows members of the fictional British heavy metal band Spinal Tap. The film pokes fun at the music industry attitudes and styles of glam rock bands.

The film was mocking actual rock documentaries such as Gimme Shelter, The Song Remains the Same and The Last Waltz. Although there were dozens of hours of film, it was later narrowed down, with most of the dialogue being improvised by the actors. In 2002, the film was considered to be “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant” by the Library of Congress and was preserved by the National Film Registry.

Jamie Foxx Was Ray

Universal Pictures
Universal Pictures

Ray is a 2004 biographical film that focuses on 30 years of the life of R&B musician Ray Charles. The film stars Jamie Foxx who received the Academy Award for Best Actor as well as numerous other accolades for his performance. Foxx’s success made him the second actor to win all five major lead actor awards and the only one to win the Golden Globe in the Musical or Comedy.

For the most part, the film was well-received by fans and critics with music critic Robert Christgau commenting that “Foxx does the impossible—radiates something approaching the charisma of the artist he’s portraying… that’s the only time an actor has ever brought a pop icon fully to life on-screen.”

Whiplash Revealed The Cost Of Being The Bess

Sony Pictures Classics
Sony Pictures Classics

Whiplash is a 2014 drama about the complicated and harsh relationship between a jazz drummer (Miles Teller) and his abusive instructor (J.K. Simmons). The film premiered at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival on January 16th. The film was then distributed by Sony Worldwide and was released in the United States and Canada on October 10, 2014.

Upon its release, the film made an impressive $49 million off of a $3.3 million budget. At the 87th Academy Awards, the film won Best Film Editing, Best Sound Mixing, Best Supporting Actor, and was nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Picture.

August Rush

Warner Bros.
Warner Bros.

August Rush tells the empowering story of a young boy who runs away from his orphanage to become a street performer in New York City. It’s eventually discovered by others that he is a musical prodigy and he becomes enrolled as one of the youngest students at Julliard. There, August writes a musical composition that is performed in Central Park. Here, his mother and father find each other at the concert and learn that it’s their son playing the music.

The film received mixed reviews with the Hollywood Reporter claiming that “the story is about musicians and how music connects people, so the movie’s score and songs, created by composers Mark Mancina and Hans Zimmer, give poetic whimsy to an implausible tale.”

I’m Not There

The Weisnstein Company
The Weisnstein Company

Released in 2007,I’m Not There is a nonlinear narrative about musician and songwriter Bob Dylan. In total, there are six actors that play Dylan during the various stages of his life including Christian Bale, Cate Blanchett, Marcus Carl Franklin, Richard Gere, Heath Ledger, and Ben Whishaw. For the most part, the film was successful and even made it onto several Top 10 movie lists for 2007.

Cate Blanchett was the most celebrated actress in the film, earning multiple Academy Awards nominations, and winning numerous others. On the film, Dylan himself commented, “Yeah, I thought it was all right. Do you think that the director was worried that people would understand it or not? I don’t think he cared one bit. I just think he wanted to make a good movie. I thought it looked good, and those actors were incredible.”