The 30 best movies about music, as chosen by musicians (2023)

SUBWAYFilms about musicians, whether biographical, feature films or documentaries, are a reference in cinema, but given the frenetic pace of the last 12 months - with acclaimed films with Aretha Franklin, Freddie Mercury and Elton John, among others - we find ourselves in a situation unusual. busy time situation, if not a golden age.

Good news for music fans, but even better news for the music industry, where in a period of slumping record sales, these films are an increasingly important source of income, expanding a band's back catalog and inspiring a new generation to your job.

Of course, these films are about much more than just making money: a good biopic or documentary can bring songs to life and shed light on the struggles of their creators. But what do musicians think about this lively category of films? We asked six great composers, including some who have written film scores and others who have been film subjects, to each choose their five favorite musicals.

Anna Calvi

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Anna Calvi was born in 1980 to an English mother and an Italian father. He grew up in Twickenham and studied music at the University of Southampton, specializing in violin and guitar. From himdebut album of the same name, released in 2011, was nominated for the Mercury Prize, as was its 2013 sequel,one breathand their latest album,Hunter: "A serious collection of pop songs about desire... [that] reminds me of Douglas Sirk films," said theguardianEma five star rating. calvoadded a titlefor the 2015 science fiction filminsurgentand marked the new season ofPeaky Blinders.

walk the line
(Theatre; James Mangold, 2005)

The 30 best movies about music, as chosen by musicians (2)

I saw this film about the early life and career of Johnny Cash before I signed and it gave me my first idea of ​​what touring could be like. I remember thinking, oh, okay, this is what I like: driving fancy cars, hanging out with really famous singers, and seeing Elvis backstage. Unfortunately for me, traveling is more about spending hours in the locker room and enjoying cold food for dinner, which is not so glamorous. But it's a great movie and Joaquin Phoenix is ​​very well cast as Cash – there's something evil about him and he seems a little dangerous. And the songs are timeless.

(cinematographic documentaries; Asif Kapadia, 2015)

The 30 best movies about music, as chosen by musicians (3)

What a beautiful and devastating film. It's interesting to watch Amy Winehouse as a tremendously talented young woman, watching her rise and fall like a wave, higher and higher, and then crash. As a viewer, I almost feel guilty seeing her (she's been seen many times), but this is a respectful portrayal, and I like that it celebrates her music. In films about female performers, they often only focus on the tragedy of their emotional lives and not enough on how great their work was, and with this film you definitely get an idea of ​​what a great singer-songwriter she was. She was so much more than someone with addiction issues: she was a unique talent.

Hedwig and the Angry Customs
(Teatro; John Cameron Mitchell, 2001)

The 30 best movies about music, as chosen by musicians (4)

It's about an East German singer who undergoes a botched sex-change operation and only has an "angry inch" of flesh between her legs. Upon moving to America, she becomes involved with another singer who steals her songs and becomes famous, while Hedwig, played by director John Cameron Mitchell, ends up playing at a chain of seafood restaurants called Bilgewater's. It's a beautiful film that explores Greek mythology and the origins of love and gender identity. It's also a lot of fun: a comedy with a serious message. And the songs are great.

The doors
(Theater; Oliver Stone, 1991)

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I remember watching this high when I was in college and I think you have to be a little high to see it because it's so psychedelic and weird. I've always been fascinated by Jim Morrison and I've always wondered, "What would a female Jim Morrison be doing right now?" because I love his commitment to the moment as an artist and the unabashed expression of his sexuality. Which, as a woman, I think is a beautiful thing to enjoy. I don't know how I would feel now watching this movie if I wasn't high, but at the time it seemed like a very romantic portrayal of a poetic artist.

(Theater; Damien Chazelle, 2014)

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It's about what a music student who really wants to be great has to sacrifice to strive for greatness. It kind of reminded me of my own college experiences and the big difference between studying music, which is pretty sterile, and then going out and making music. You have to unlearn everything and try to be honest and use your instrument in a way that people can understand.

Andrew's (Miles Teller) relationship with his music teacher in the movie is very extreme, but I had music teachers at school that I really cared about and wanted to improve so they would believe in me.

Neil Tennant

The 30 best movies about music, as chosen by musicians (7)

Neil Tennant formed the synth-pop duo Pet Shop Boys with Chris Lowe in London in 1981 and sold over 100 million records worldwide, including West End hits Girls and Always on My Mind. The duo has released 13 studio albums, with videos directed by Derek Jarman, Bruce Weber, Wolfgang Tillmans and Martin Parr.his last EP,AgendaIt was released in February. you make headlinesRadio 2 live in Hyde ParkI'm on the 15th of September.

The young
(Teatro; Sidney J.yeah, 1961)

The 30 best movies about music, as chosen by musicians (8)

A group of teenagers, led by Cliff Richard, come together to stop the demolition of a theater. They do it by playing a show there.The youngIt's a beautiful fantasy, so lighthearted and beautiful, about the potential of pop music for young people. It made me want to join youth theater, which I did a few years later, and I was introduced to the excitement of pop music and theater at the age of six. You still inspire me today.

cracked actor
(documentary films; Alan Yentob, 1975)

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As a huge David Bowie fan who was at the last Ziggy Stardust performance, I remember turning to my friend and saying, “As if!” This BBC documentary made a few years later struck me as something very special. And very young. It's Bowie's document in America and it brings you closer. He is so vulnerable that he snorts (obviously uses cocaine) and looks like an alien; But if you count Alan Yentob in his old touring clothes, he's still a jolly Cockney lad.

The film also showcases the sharpness and originality of his musical spirit, especially as he guides his incredible backing vocals into his roles. It's fascinating to watch him work as a musician.

(Theater; Bob Fosse, 1972)

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The story of singer Sally Bowles in the Weimar Republic, in very bleak Britain, published at the end of 1972. In fact, I see it as a document of glam rock: all those great songs confined to the stage, plus the glittery make-up in this terrifying city. The notion of “divine decay” intrigued you as an 18-year-old student from Newcastle who had just arrived in London. He also had an impact on punk - see Siouxsie Sioux - obviously influenced by Liza Minnelli. My friends and I listened to the soundtrack in our student flat in Tottenham, right behind Lou Reeds.Transformerand the second album by Roxy Music. It had the same effect.

summer song
(Theater; And Russell, 1968)

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This was a general BBC drama about a young Yorkshire composer Eric Fenby in the late 1920s. It reads that the composer Delius, also from Yorkshire, is now blind and partially paralyzed and can no longer compose as his work remains unfinished . Fenby manages to help him complete the final works.

It's an elegiac film about the painful process of making music and the end of a creative life. It's very exciting, scary and moving. Delius is an incredibly tragic character, fragile and brutal at the same time. Russell was brilliant creating visuals to go with the music.

Die Destroyer Team!
(documentary; Denny Tedesco, 2008)

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A film about this extraordinary, charming and selfless group of Los Angeles studio musicians of the 1960s and early 1970s who played everything and didn't get the public recognition they deserved. They played Phil Spector's Wall of Sound, played backing tracks by the Beach Boys, are included on These Boots Are Made for Walkin' by Nancy Sinatra and Wichita Lineman by Glenn Campbell (with bass line by Carol Kaye). You can tell that all these records have a sound, and that band's sound.

He wanted us to go to L.A. to make an album [Elísio 2012] and they're shooting this movie at Capitol Studios. It's one of the best films I've ever seen about pop music production.

Nadine Xa

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Born in South Tyneside to a Pakistani father and an English mother of Norwegian descent, Nadine Shah has recorded three albums in the past six years, includingi love your silly and angry(2013) evacation destination, which was nominated for a Mercury Prize in 2018. The 33-year-old is currently recording a new album and will perform at the Legitimate Peaky Blinders Festival in Digbeth, Birmingham on 14 September.

20,000 days on earth
(Documentary; Iain Forsyth and Jane Pollard, 2014)

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When you have a favorite artist, you want to know everything about them, from their favorite color to what they eat for breakfast, and this Nick Cave documentary will help. It is clear how carefully and meticulously he has taken care of every detail. I love getting to know the friendship between him and Warren Ellis when they talk about the time when they met Nina Simone and she said that what she wanted after the performance was “I want champagne, cocaine and sausages!”. You see they look like children when he tells the story. It's a beautiful glimpse into his world outside of music production.

What happened Miss Simone?
(documentary films; Liz Garbus, 2015)

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A truly definitive film about an incredible woman. It's like new: the end! But seriously: I'm obsessed with the model that Nina Simone developed for women. This allowed us to sing in lower, weirder registers. He made politics a central part of her art. She was uncompromising. The way the daughter tells her story in this film also gives her a very special perspective. One cannot help but feel humiliated in front of her.

small voice
(Teatro; Mark Hermann, 1998)

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A film that sums up the experience of wanting to act (the feeling that it's weird to do it unless you're encouraged) and the experience that music is a brilliant form of escape. Although I don't belong to the working class, the story described a world and an attitude towards women that I knew well.

It's also about finding your identity through music and finding your own voice singing other people's songs. I did that as a kid, trying to be Tina Turner singing “Private Dancer”!

Scott Walker: The Man of the 30th Century
(Documental; Stephen Kijak, 2006)

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Years ago I watched this documentary with a friend not knowing who Scott Walker was. When I left the theater, he was my new favorite artist. I am not kidding! It was made around the time he was making [the 2006 album].there is operation, and shows how he boosted his career on his own terms from his early years. If you haven't seen it yet, I swear you'll want to hit a piece of meat for do you do it clearly, until the end. Is so good.

Luxo's voice
(Teatro; Brady Corbet, 2018)

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Natalie Portman stars as a young teen pop artist, Celeste, who starts making music after surviving a school shooting. So it becomes a film about what the pop industry can do to people, what not to do with it, and messiah complexes. It's a really scary, over-the-top movie – it's almost alien. But she also reminds him to keep his ego in check, take off his baseball cap, not get lost in the madness, and keep working.

Wayne Coyne

The 30 best movies about music, as chosen by musicians (19)

Wayne Coyne is the lead singer of The Flaming Lips, which he formed in 1983. The band has released 15 studio albums, includingAt war with the mystics, which won two Grammy Awards in 2006. In 2005 he appeared in a documentary about Flaming Lips titledthe fearless monstersand three years later he released his own science fiction feature film,christmas on mars. Coyne was born in Pittsburgh in 1961 and grew up in Oklahoma City, where he now lives with his wife and son.

Pink Floyd: live in Pompeji
(documentary films; Adrian Maben, 1972)

This movie changed my life. I wouldn't have known it existed if I hadn't seen a horrible Don Johnson movie.Childand her dog,In a double account with my brother. We saw everything in Oklahoma City to pass the time and we were the only kids in the theater smoking a joint. Then came the second film.

I didn't know anything about that era of Pink Floyd. It opened up a whole new world of music for me.

I was 16 and I wanted to be a rock star and they talked about how they made their music. Shortly afterwards I went out and bought a Stratocaster just like Dave Gilmour's. I still can't believe I was lucky enough to see this.

Schwanzlutscher Blues
(Documental; Robert Frank, 1972)

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This unreleased Rolling Stones documentary was a film you'd always heard of but knew you'd never see. Now I can watch it anywhere online in a matter of seconds. It's better than you think. It goes to show how crazy their lives were while making their best music, doing drugs in hotel rooms and doing all that weird stuff. People who see them in stadiums today wouldn't connect with these characters, but it goes to show that they've always been phenomenal, even in their craziest moments.

wood storage
(Documental; Michael Wadleigh, 1970)

The 30 best movies about music, as chosen by musicians (21)

On the contrary, everyone had seenwood storage: This movie has been played and played. I watched it late and expected to see a bunch of weird hippies hanging around and Jimi Hendrix showing up at the end. But the performances were great: that's what caught my eye: The Who, Joan Baez, Joe Cocker. The editing was so ahead of its time, so dynamic.wood storageIt really made people understand that music is not just listening, but seeing and learning more about the personalities behind it. It's about getting more of everything.

are the kids OK

(Documental; Jeff Stein, 1979)

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More than any other band, The Who put in me what made me who I am today, and this documentary told their story in a way that really blew me away. You see that connection between Pete Townshend and Keith Moon – it's rare to see people so fascinated by their music, their energy and their connection to each other. Then there's Roger Daltrey, that impeccable singer, an angel in the chaos of it all.

This documentary shows how much of the band's exuberance is in their music, and as we watch their performances grow, I don't see them as fakes: I see them making art out of their imagination.

Urgh! a music war

(Live music compilation; Derek Burbidge, 1982)

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Oklahoma City was a test town for MTV, and this compilation of American and British punk rock bands (XTC, The Cramps, The Dead Kennedys) was released around that time and had the same spirit. One song each, blam blam blam. You didn't know who was American and who was English, and it didn't matter: each band did it for themselves and it felt weird.

And in a world where you knew you could never be The Beatles, John Cooper Clarke performed in front of 50 people and it was incredible. That felt huge. It really moved me to see the energy the crowd radiated as he fought.

Nitin Sawhney

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Musician and songwriter Nitin Sawhney was born in London in 1964 and grew up in Kent to Punjabi immigrant parents. He started out as a comedy writer, collaborating with Sanjeev Bhaskar on a sketch would eventually become "OMG, OMG".. He has released 11 solo albums, including 1999's Breakthrough.beyond the skinand has worked with Paul McCartney, Akram Khan and the London Symphony Orchestra. Sawhney has composed music for television shows, computer games and over 50 films, including Mira Nair.the namesake(2006).

to control
(Theater; Anton Corbijn, 2007)

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An incredibly bold portrayal of the life of Ian Curtis, who manages to pull his story out of mythology in a truly compelling way. It shows a young man trying to balance his life in music and illness with his home life, and Sam Riley's performances as Curtis and Samantha Morton as his wife Deborah are very powerful.

I wasn't a huge Joy Division fan when it was created (I studied near Liverpool), but this film absolutely captures the vibe of the era, as well as the black and white cinematography. It also expresses the struggle of being an artist and a human being. This is not sufficiently recorded.

Latcho Drom
(Documental; 1993, Tony Gatlif)

The 30 best movies about music, as chosen by musicians (26)

This film traces the development of flamenco, from its origins in India to Egypt and Eastern Europe to the West: "latcho drom" means "safe journey". The director is Gypsy himself and there is no narrator, so the story is told through music and subtitles without any kind of invention. It really makes you feel immersed in new worlds: I play flamenco and you can feel the echoes of old traditions, but this is different. The most disturbing scene is that of three women singing on top of a hill about how they have been deprived of their rights. It's incredibly moving.

Looking for Sugar Man
(documentary films; Malik Bendjelloul, 2012)

The 30 best movies about music, as chosen by musicians (27)

A great documentary about the once little-known American singer-songwriter Sixto Rodríguez and his massive popularity in South Africa, which begins with the rumor that he committed suicide by setting himself on fire onstage. His true story turns out to be quite different.

This film looks at mythology, its evolution and how we elevate musicians to beacons of culture. It's also a film about an incredibly underrated man and how hard it was to find lost stars before the rise of the internet. That couldn't happen now.

This is a lumbar puncture.
(Comedy; Rob Reiner, 1984)

The 30 best movies about music, as chosen by musicians (28)

I've played in heavy rock, funk and jazz bands, and this film captures the hilarious insanity of life on the road: the egos of musicians and managers, the pedantry of hitting the line, the emotion behind the epic big shows. .. I once got lost in a maze of corridors before reaching the stage, like Spinal Tap!

This remains one of our favorite tour buses due to the attention to detail, particularly in the actors' performances. I couldn't believe it when I realized that Michael McKean fromBetter call SaulHe was the guy who played David St. Hubbins. But of course it was. He was always so good.

(Teatro; Clint Eastwood, 1988)

The 30 best movies about music, as chosen by musicians (29)

A beautiful film about Charlie Parker, brilliantly played by Forest Whitaker and directed by an actor who is obviously a huge jazz fan.VogelIt really shows how ridiculously talented Parker was, how his mind worked on an entirely different level, but also how lost he was in self-hatred and how addiction made everything fall apart. Parker was 34 when she died, but the coroner thought she was 60 when they examined her body. By delving into the New York nightlife scene and tackling aspects of racism, this film also shows just how much Parker has achieved despite everything he has struggled with.

Ana Meredith

The 30 best movies about music, as chosen by musicians (30)

Anna Meredith was born in London in 1978 and grew up on the outskirts of Edinburgh. She studied music at the University of York and the Royal College of Music and spent several years as composer-in-residence with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra. their debut album,pests, won Scottish Album of the Year in 2016. Last year he recorded the soundtrack foreighth class, and their music was used in film.Dheepan(2015) ethere is favorite(2018). Meredith's new album,lieswill be released on October 25th.

Homecoming: A Beyonce Film
(Documentary; Beyonce Knowles-Carter and Ed Burke, 2019)

The 30 best movies about music, as chosen by musicians (31)

Return hometells the story behind Beyoncé's 2018 Coachella show, which makes a grand statement about the importance of African-American education and the college experience. It thwarts the notion that pop stars are just stepping into culture and being presented to the world as if it comes naturally and that what they do is easy.

Beyoncé works so hard! She is in control of every detail – the choreography, the costumes, the lighting, the staging – and it's amazing to see a woman have so much control over her ideas. It makes you want to work harder.

The making of the west side story
(Documental; Christopher Swann, 1985)

The 30 best movies about music, as chosen by musicians (32)

This documentary deals with the recording of the score in the 1980s with Kiri Te Kanawa and José Carreras, directed by Leonard Bernstein. That soundtrack was a staple in the house growing up – we had a giant, shiny box of four cassette tapes.

Amber is a very interesting person: energetic, vivacious, impatient, funny, she smokes cigarettes in her red turtleneck. And to see him driving his music, this amazing, ambitious, interesting, crazy, soulful music that's never cheesy but rather crunchy and gut-wrenching, and then with those moments of release, it's really amazing.

freedom of george michael
(Documentary; David Austin and George Michael, 2017)

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This was made before George's death and published shortly after, so you can't watch it without getting a lump in your throat. He's a brilliant musician, a natural singer, but also an ordinary, interesting guy with a natural gift.

He used to have a bad habit of playing his songs when he was drunk and sentimental. I love how this movie shows how he took control of his image early on and how we see the lyrics.FreedomHow perceptive and not at all empty. Plus he's funny and dirty - the kind of guy you'd love to have a drink with. It's so sad he's not here.

a mighty wind
(Comedy; Guest Christopher, 2003)

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A great mockumentary about the reunion of three folk bands that is delicately observed but also moving. I love how they deal backstage with the slurs and jealousy leading up to the reunion show, and I especially love seeing the glittering, sold-out tickets. The characters are also very well done (the troubled ex-couple, the old-school threesome, the popular men), but not every moment is reserved for banter, and that's what makes it work. It shows all the contestants that they really love music and that's why Christopher Guest always gets it right.

Queen: Days of our lives.
(Documental; Matt O'Casey, 2011)

The 30 best movies about music, as chosen by musicians (35)

I was a teenager when I got into “Queen – Bohemian Rhapsody” after it aired.wayne world. There's so much joy in their music, a real nonchalance. It's great to see them as regular people and geeks in this documentary. You see all the mundane things that go on behind the scenes of Freddie's theatrical talent onstage, and then there's the unexpectedness of hearing his smooth English accent. Then you hear him live and you see the sweat on his mustache and you get goosebumps.


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