The cinema has always returned to the wellspring of popular (and occasionally, unpopular) music. It always has been, and still remains, a great source of inspiration for filmmakers. The films can take many forms. For example, the winner of last year’s Best Documentary Oscar was a film called 20 Feet From Stardom. A fascinating film about the lives and careers of professional backing vocalists. Below are the 5 movies that I see as being the best made about music.
5. Walk The Line (2005)
Joaquin Phoenix as Johnny Cash has to be one of the greatest on-screen representations of a famous figure the world has ever seen. The actor gets Cash’s speech patterns and mannerisms just right. And the film itself is great too! It explores not just the music of the man, but the man himself. Johnny Cash was a troubled and tortured soul, and the film doesn’t shy away from that for one minute. The film tells us how June (played superbly by Reese Witherspoon) saved the singer from a life of drug dependency and unhappiness.
4. Nashville (1975)
Robert Altman is considered one of the great American directors of all time for good reason. His films were natural yet unconventional. He had a style that was uniquely his. His films were often elaborate and multi-layered. And Nashville is certainly no different. There are 24 main characters, endless musical numbers and lots of storylines that crossover and overlap. The plot follows a group of people who are involved in the country and gospel music business in Nashville.
3. Ray (2004)
Ray was a huge achievement for actor Jamie Foxx. He portrayed the legendary musician Ray Charles in the film and showed the whole world that he was one of the greatest actors working. Bridging the modern and the old using top audio interfaces, Fox played the piano and sung the songs himself. That’s pretty impressive for somebody without a musical background. Unfortunately, Ray Charles never got to see the film as he died just before it was released.
2. This Is Spinal Tap (1984)
The greatest rock comedy ever made may just be the most accurate portrayal of life in a rock band too. The film successfully mocks all the old rock star conventions and cliches. Spinal Tap is a British heavy metal rock band coming to America to tour, along the way they hit a few bumps in the road providing moments of great hilarity. Over the years many of the phrases and quotes from the film have entered our everyday vocabulary, including “These go to 11”.
1. A Hard Day’s Night (1964)
Britain’s ultimate cultural export, The Beatles were not just musicians; they were movie stars too. Like Elvis Presley before them, they knew the possibilities film could offer to their success levels. And A Hard Day’s Night is by far the best film they ever made, and the best music film anyone ever made. Director, Richard Lester combines music with images expertly. The music seeped into the plot and vice versa. It was the beginning of music movies as a respected genre.