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We all love a song and dance, it is in our nature to appreciate creative arts and two of the greatest talents we possess as humans have to be found in the creation of film and music. When you combine the two, it can really make up something special and we have been treat to some fantastic displays of talent over the past few decades.
We decided to take a look back on the best movies about music and comprised a list of our favorites. They weren’t necessarily musicals but the films that we chose would not have been possible without music playing a vital role in the enhancement of each storytelling. See if you agree with our list of best movies about music.
The 2013 film was written and directed by John Carney, who also wrote Once, a 2007 musical film. The script for Begin Again was completed in 2010 and Carney then sought out the musical genius of Gregg Alexander to compose much of Begin Again’s music. A musical comedy drama film, Begin Again stars Mark Ruffalo and Keira Knightley. Gretta James, played by Knightley, is a singer songwriter. She is discovered by Dan Mulligan (Ruffalo) a record label exec whose career is struggling. The two collaborate as they produce an album that is recorded in locations all over NYC.
From 2007, this film is probably one of the lesser known best movies about music to make the list; Once tells the story of a busker living in Dublin, he meets a lonely woman who shares similar circumstances to him and the pair grow a bond through their love of music. An untypically romantic movie that leaves a bitter-sweet taste in your mouth—but makes perfect sense at the same time. The end will have you reaching for the Kleenex of at least a couple of beers. A classic Oscar-winning sound track accompanies this entry onto our list and rightly so.
Ray Charles, blind from the age of seven, is one of the most well known musicians and singers of his time, and beyond. As a pioneer of the soul music genre, Ray is a musical biography that focuses on 30 years of the rhythm and blues singer and songwriter. Jamie Foxx stars as the title role, for which he received many awards, including the Academy Award for Best Actor, BAFTA, and Critics’ Choice awards. The film chronicles the musican’s life, from childhood, his upbringing by a independent mother, his home behind the piano and his explosion into worldwide popularity.
Great Balls of Fire
Great Balls of Fire is a biographical film following the life of rockabilly star, Jerry Lee Lewis. As a star in the 50s, Lewis was thought to be the next Elvis Presley. The film, directed by Jim McBride, is based on a biography written by Myra Lewis and Murray M. Silver, Jr. Played by Dennis Quaid, we dive into the life of Lewis during rock and roll’s early years. As a alcoholic and a skilled performer, we meet a man with many sides. Great Balls of Fire chronicles his rise to fame, his marriage to his underage cousin, and his ultimate downfall.
This Is Spinal Tap
This film This Is Spinal Tap was a revolution in itself and was one of the first successful mockumentaries to ever be released. The combination of dry British humor and American heavy metal was a mixed bag that many were not ready for. The film focuses on a successful British rock band who go on tour in the US, it is filmed with a fly-on-the-wall theme for added realism; this actually made the film so convincing people in the audience thought they were watching real life events and not a comedy. Spinal Tap went on to release legitimate albums and still tours today!
Inside Llweyn Davis
Llewyn Davis, a folk singer, is a struggling musician who is trying to keep his life together while attain musical success. The 2013 black comedy drama film was written, produced, directed, and also edited by Ethan and Joel Coen. Inside Llewyn Davis takes place in the 1961, stars Oscar Isaac as Llweyn Davis, as well as John Goodman, Justin Timberlake, and many others. Inside Llewyn Davis follows the sad and complicated life of Davis as he juggles everyday struggles, as well as important life decisions.
Blues Brothers was released in 1980 and has since become a cult classic. Jake and Elwood Blues set off on a quest to save an old orphanage that needs $5,000 to keep it open. Expect a lot of comedy and caper in a feel good movie that makes for easy watching, just like true blues makes for easy listening. We have included this entry on our list as it's sometimes good to appreciate the simpler aspects of music in film; and Blues Brothers does this perfectly.
Love and Mercy
Touted as "the Life, Love and Genius of Brian Wilson," co-founder and singer/song writer from the Beach Boys. The film focuses on his life in the 1960s, sad mental demise as fame and success almost became too much for one man to handle, and his recovery. The rise of the Beach Boys was down to one man and this epic portrayal from John Cusack tells the happenings of that era. Brian Wilson has even gone on to say the film was very factual and accurate. Good vibrations.
This one certainly makes the list for several good reasons; before 8 Mile, hip-hop did not get much mainstream attention in Hollywood apart from on MTV and other music channels. Eminem, aka Marshall Mathers, plays B. Rabbit in this biopic inspired by the real life events of Eminem's life before he became famous. The dark and gritty tone explains what life can be like in the ghetto and how people use rap and hip-hop in an expressive way.
Pro tip—Check out the rap battles at the end of the movie for some tongue-twisting action.
“The man, the music… the madness… the murder… the motion picture…” Amadeus, a 1984 film, is set in Vienna during the later part of the 18th century in Austria. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s music is used throughout the soundtrack of the film, which is a fictionalized biography of the famous composer. In the film, Mozart’s Italian contemporary, Antonio Salieri, is so jealous of Mozart and his success that Salieri has plotted to murder him. Salieri would then compose a Requiem himself, and play it at Mozart’s funeral. Contrastly in real life, Salieri was not jealous of Mozart at all and the Requiem was never completed.
Walk the Line
The best movies about music gave us a lot of stars to choose from but one of the best stories re-told was Walk the Line. It's about the life of Johnny Cash, the highs the lows, and some very personal moments throughout his time on this planet. Everybody knows at least one Johnny Cash song and it's great to learn more about the character behind the music. Expect focus on drug addiction, love, the highs and lows of a rock star and more. We are very surprised this film never won any Oscars (it was nominated for 5!).
Away from the sweet serenades of our last entry, we have a slightly darker tone in Whiplash that tells the tale of a committed jazz student and his no-nonsense mentor/ instructor. J.K Simmons won an Oscar for his performance as the abusive instructor who means well but will go to any length to ensure his pupils become the very best at what they do (all in the name of music and performance!). We love this film for the pure fact that is shows that not everything in the life of rock and roll is picture perfect and when exposed; surely has a dark underbelly in a dog-eat-dog world. How far are you prepared to go to be successful?