My 10 favorite music movies

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Introduction

On July 26th I published my list of favorite soundtracks. This time the list is dedicated to the best music movies. To me, a music movie is a movie in which music (or living with music) plays an important, if not the most important, role.

So here it is, my list of favorite music movies, which I have all watched more than once.

Music movie - Woodstock (imdb.com)

Woodstock

1970

Movie that captured the pinnacle moment of the hippie culture. The world renowned festival that took place 50 years ago in the small town of Woodstock. The movie has its main focus on the performing artists, but it also reveals the way the so-called protest generation (as they like to paint themselves to be) views the world and the way it should be organized.

The movie was a huge success, with critics and audiences alike. It took in a ton of money and is considered to be a template within the genre of music movies and documentaries.

 

Music movie - This Is Spinal Tap (imdb.com)

This Is Spinal Tap

1984

Hilarious movie, perfectly portraying the life of musicians who don’t quite make it. The band Spinal Tap is followed during a disastrous tour. Failed bookings, miscommunication surrounding stage props, exploding (!) drummers. Delusions of grandeur ruthlessly punished by everyday’s reality, but still carrying on, against better judgment.

That the movie had more truth to it than anybody could fathom was proved when Anvil! The Story Of Anvil was released in 2008 (see below).

The movie was very well received, particularly by musicians. The biggest compliment came from viewers who were convinced they had just watched a real documentary about an actual band.

 

Music movie - Detroit Rock City (imdb.com)

Detroit Rock City

1999

Nice feel-good movie about 4 boys on their way to a concert by their favorite band, Kiss. The year is 1978, an era where rock and disco are starting to clash, and Kiss is untouchable in the US.

The story is thin, the boys encounter all kinds of problems along the way, but everything turns out just fine (of course). But still, it has something. I like the way that particular time frame is portrayed and the excitement, when en route to a show someone is really looking forward to, rings true and is recognizable. Nice movie.

The movie was poorly received: stupid story, badly directed. Directorial it may not be a go-getter, but I really liked it.

 

Music movie - Almost Famous (imdb.com)

Almost Famous

2000

Beautiful, moving movie about a 15 year old boy who just received his first writing assignment for Rolling Stone magazine and tags along on tour with the fictitious band Stillwater.

While on tour, groupie Penny Lane (a sublime role by Kate Hudson) plays an important part in the young reporter’s life.

N.B.: The scene in which people listen to Led Zeppelin’s Stairway To Heaven is quite special. The music isn’t audible (due to the expenses for using it), but can still be followed based on the listener’s reactions. The scene was deleted from the actual movie, but was restored on the DVD release.

The movie was very well received and won several awards, like Oscars, Golden Globes and Grammys. Kate Hudson’s role was highly valued and awarded with many nominations and wins.

 

Music movie - High Fidelity (imdb.com)

High Fidelity

2000

Movie adaptation of Nik Hornby’s book. A highly recognizable story for music freaks, particularly those of the male variety. Making all kinds of ‘best of’ lists (like the one you’re reading right now) seems to be a male thing. The main character turns everything into ‘top 5’ lists (such as ex-girlfriends, whom he visits one by one over the course of the movie).

He works in his own record store Championship Vinyl with two colleagues who swap musical facts all day long and ridicule customers with less (musical) knowledge.

N.B.: Bruce Springsteen plays a cameo in the movie.

The movie was very well received and rated highly among critics.

 

Music movie - 24 Hour Party People (imdb.com)

24 Hour Party People

2002

The story of Tony Wilson, founder of the wayward Factory Records and co-owner of the famous night club The Haçienda in Manchester, England.

The incredible story of a stubborn and dedicated man, who didn’t believe in contracts and built a unique empire at the end of the 1970’s and the inevitable decline and downfall and the devouring by the ‘corporate monster’. Beautiful music, great atmospheric images and an impressive run-down of a unique piece of history.

The movie was very well received and was nominated for a Palme d’Or at the Cannes movie festival.

 

Music movie - Walk The Line (imdb.com)

Walk The Line

2005

Great movie about the life and times of Johnny Cash and his wife June Carter. I vividly remember being in awe of Reese Witherspoon’s role as June Carter, which she plays with a lot of conviction, she makes Carter’s love for, and at times aversion towards, Johnny Cash totally believable and imaginable.

The life of a musician isn’t all it’s cranked up to be, is what the movie shows unapologetically.

The movie was internationally very well received. Witherspoon’s role in particular, was highly praised and won a lot of awards, such as a BAFTA, Golden Globe, Oscar and a Screen Actors Guild Award.

 

Music movie - Control (imdb.com)

Control

2007

Adaption of the tragic life of Ian Curtis, singer in the important band Joy Division. Filmed by Dutch photographer Anton Corbijn, who was very close to the band at the time, the movie’s storyline is based on the book Touching from a Distance by Deborah Curtis (widow).

As could be expected from Corbijn, the images are powerful, partly due to the fact they’re in black and white. The movie perfectly portrays the hopelessness of life in England at the end of the 1970’s. Gloomy high rise buildings and youth who want more, but don’t know how, or are without any means.

The movie was received to mixed reviews. Many praised it, but there was some doubt as to the actual accuracy of the story as told in the movie.

 

Music movie - The Story Of Anvil (imdb.com)

Anvil! The Story Of Anvil

2008

A real life This Is Spinal Tap. A moving look into the life of the bandleader of Anvil, the hard rock band that was destined to be as big as Metallica, but missed out over and over again. Every human being would be depressed, but not Anvil’s leader, who keeps soldiering on, year after year after year. His perseverance is admirable and ludicrous at the same time. A beautiful document.

After the release of the documentary the band was asked to be the support-act to AC/DC’s tour and got billed on many huge rock festival. No band deserves it more.

The documentary was awarded with many (international) prizes and was very well received.

 

Music movie - Whiplash (imdb.com)

Whiplash

2014

The story of a young, yet oh so ambitious, jazz drummer, who gets into the prestigious Shaffer Conservatory in New York City and sees his dream of becoming the next Buddy Rich becoming more real with every passing day.

He is invited into the orchestra of Terence Fletcher, who uses every means at his disposal to get the most out of his students. The Are you rushing or are you dragging? scene is extremely intense and impressive. Eventually, Fletcher takes it too far, at which the drummer rebels and is subsequently expelled from school.

Some time later Fletcher is fired, after which the two meet up again. The movie’s final is beautiful. The musical segments are all exciting and uncannily perfect.

The movie won a huge amount of awards at international movie festivals and won Oscars and Grammys.

 

In closing

What do you consider to be the best music movie of all time? Is it not part of the list and it really should be? Let me know! If you use the comment form below, I will add your choice to the list as fast as possible.

Video/Spotify
This story contains an accompanying video. Click on the following link to see it: Video: My 10 favorite music movies. The A Pop Life playlist on Spotify has been updated as well.

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