8 Great Movies About Music
Cinema has long had its eye on the medium of music. Of The jazz singer (1927) and The Broadway Melody (1929) to The sound of music (1965) and It’s Spinal Tap (1984), the best of the genre capture the power of music with genuine grace and authenticity, creating several of cinema’s finest feature films.
Whether it’s fictional fantasies, historical epics, period pieces, dark comedies, psychological dramas, coming-of-age tales or love stories, films about music celebrate an art form without borders. by Baz Luhrmann Elvis biopic is the latest feature film to enter the genre and is set to release on June 23, 2022.
8 The Blues Brothers (1980) gave birth to a new genre
Directed by John Landis and co-written by Landis and Dan Aykroyd, The Blues Brothers is based on the recurring musical sketch of the same name by Saturday Night Live. Starring John Belushi and Aykroyd as Jake and Elwood Blues, the film is set in Chicago, with musical performances from Aretha Franklin, James Brown, Ray Charles, Chaka Khan and John Lee Hooker.
With a hirsute narrative and a talented comedic cast, The Blues Brothers brings the musical/comedy genre to life. Aykroyd and Belushi, who play each other with flawless comedic timing, maintain endless energy throughout the film’s 133 minutes. Extremely entertaining, extremely funny and surprisingly touching; The Blues Brothers unlike anything in its respective genre.
seven CODA (2021) comes of age with heart
Written and directed by Sian Heder, CODA stars Emilia Jones as Ruby, the titular Child of Deaf Adults (CODA) who is also the only hearing member of her family. Ruby’s life consists of helping her family’s fishing business and acting as an interpreter for her parents, played by Marlee Matlin and Troy Kotsur. Then, encouraged by an enthusiastic choir director, Ruby decides to pursue her singing aspirations.
CODA has no pretension, no theatrics and no gimmicks; it’s a wonderful coming-of-age story that aims for the heart and hits the bullseye. Emilia Jones’ Ruby is an underdog worth cheering for and her performance is terrific. Additionally, Sian Heder directs a nearly flawless-executed film centered on the story of intergenerational conflict and culture shock between deaf and hearing communities. Funny, charming, poignant and inspiring; CODAhas something for everyone.
6 School Of Rock (2003) Compose Jack Black at an 11
Directed by Richard Linklater, school of rock stars Jack Black as Dewey Finn, a struggling rock guitarist who is fired from his band and needs a job. Posing as a substitute teacher at a prestigious prep school, he exposes a class of fourth graders to the music he idolizes and imitates.
Powered almost entirely by an overwhelmingly cheerful performance from Jack Black, whose role as Dewey Finn is contagiously charismatic and exuberant, school of rock is filled with acts from talented and inspiring kids and a sprawling soundtrack for the ages. Director Richard Linklater avoids gross indulgence by crafting a light-hearted fantasy that manages to feel both respectfully nostalgic and humorously irreverent. Strike a tender note without falling into a tearful feeling, school of rock is a raucous crowd-pleaser.
5 Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World (2010) Is Wickedly Inventive
Based on the graphic novel series by Bryan O’Malley, Scott Pilgrim vs the World is co-written and directed by Edgar Wright. Starring Michael Cera in the lead role, the film follows Scott Pilgrim, a slacker musician who battles the seven evil exes of his new girlfriend, Ramona Flowers, played by Mary Elizabeth Winstead.
Full of fresh, funny, fast and inventive humor, Scott Pilgrim vs the World consistently hits the sweet spot with its sharp script and nonchalantly brash performances. Michael Cera’s standard nerdness is reinforced by Edgar Wright’s gleefully creative mix of video games, comic books, classic film and guitar rock, where bubble-written onomatopoeia splash across the screen amid fight sequences and expertly choreographed musical numbers.
4 Inside Llewyn Davis (2013) leads with the soul
Written, directed, produced and edited by Joel and Ethan Coen, Inside Llewyn Davis stars Oscar Isaac in his breakthrough role as a folk singer struggling to achieve musical success. Carey Mulligan, John Goodman, F. Murray Abraham, Justin Timberlake and Adam Driver co-star in supporting performances.
Comical, intelligent and immensely melancholy, Inside Llewyn Davis finds a beautiful form in the perfect direction of the Coen brothers. They beautifully and convincingly recreate the Greenwich Village folk scene of 1961 with an extremely keen eye for texture, capturing a harsh journey of overcast skies, sour relationships and no direction home. Oscar Isaac’s performance as a misunderstood musician is simply sublime – as is Carey Mulligan, who adds to his repertoire of complex characters.
3 La La Land (2016) leaps off the screen
Written and directed by Damien Chazelle, The Earth stars Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone as a struggling jazz pianist and budding actress, respectively. They fall in love and pursue their dreams in Los Angeles, California. However, when success begins to mount, they must face decisions that threaten the fabric of their love story and the dreams they each worked so hard to achieve.
The Earth is an unabashedly nostalgic, beautifully photographed and bittersweet marriage of modern and classic cinema. Director Damien Chazelle balances the fake allure of Hollywood stardom with the frustrating qualities of everyday life to create a film that blends fantasy, reality and romance.
2 Amadeus (1984) is ambitiously grand
Directed by Miloš Forman, Amedee chronicles the life, success and troubles of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart from the perspective of Antonio Salieri, the composer, whose jealousy of the former’s talent led him to become an apparent murderer.
With performances by Tom Hulce as Mozart and F. Murray Abraham as Salieri, Amedee is commonly cited as one of the greatest films of all time. Its lavish production design and distinguished splendor make for a deeply rewarding story about the artistic struggles of two incredibly complex characters. The film empowers itself by making audiences sympathize with Salieri, slimy and despicable as he is, because of his flaws. There are hardly any blurry elements in Amedee; few feature films match his levels of enjoyment.
1 Whiplash (2014) is one of the greatest musical prodigy films ever made
Written and directed by Damien Chazelle, Whiplash stars Miles Teller as Andrew Neiman, an ambitious jazz drummer who descends into obsession as he is pushed to the limit of his abilities by an abusive instructor, played by JK Simmons.
Powerful, intense, challenging, moving, thrilling, emotionally draining and inspiring; Whiplash is exactly why movies are made. Director Damien Chazelle crafts a film that draws the fine line between excellence and excess, blending a dangerous mix of perfectionism, ambition and hubris. Miles Teller delivers a stellar performance as Andrew Neiman, opposite a career-defining performance from JK Simmons, whose character is, like many good villains, utterly compelling in everything he says and does. Whiplash demolishes the clichés of the musical wonder genre and is one of the finest films of the 2010s.
NEXT: 10 Best Movie Musicals, Ranked