40 Music Films That Musicians Love
We asked our community of artists to recommend the best musical films they've ever watched.
Including the best music-inspired drama, comedy, documentaries and biopics, here's what they came up with.
READ NEXT: 40 MUSIC BOOKS ARTISTS LOVE
1. Sound Of Metal (2019)
Genre: Drama | Director: Darius Marder
Starring Riz Ahmed and Olivia Cooke, 'Sound Of Metal' is a ficticious drama in which a heavy-metal drummer's life is thrown into freefall when he begins to lose his hearing.
2. 24 Hour Party People (2002)
Genre: Drama | Director: Michael Winterbottom
In 1976, Tony Wilson sets up Factory Records and brings Manchester's music to the world. '24 Hour Party People' is the biographical comedy-drama which brings the story to life.
3. Stop Making Sense (1984)
Genre: Documentary | Director: Jonathan Demme
'Stop Making Sense' is an innovative concert movie for the rock group Talking Heads.
4. SoulBoy (2010)
Genre: Drama | Director: Shimmy Marcus
A sweet and surprisingly dramatic coming-of-age drama set in the 1970s Northern Soul underground music scene.
5. Control (2007)
Genre: Biopic | Director: Anton Corbijn
One of the best movies about bands and singers, 'Control' is an intimate profile of Ian Curtis, the enigmatic singer of Joy Division whose personal, professional, and romantic troubles led him to commit suicide at the age of 23.
6. This Is Spinal Tap (1984)
Genre: Comedy | Director: Rob Reiner
The story of one of England's loudest bands, is chronicled by film director Marty DiBergi on what proves to be a fateful tour.
You can watch 'This Is Spinal Tap' via The Criterion Collection
7. Poly Styrene: I Am a Cliché (2021)
Genre: Biopic | Director: Celeste Bell & Paul Sng
The death of punk icon and X-Ray Spex front-woman Poly Styrene sends her daughter on a journey through her mother's archives in this intimate documentary.
8. What Happened, Miss Simone? (2015)
Genre: Documentary | Director: Liz Garbus
A documentary about the life and legend Nina Simone, an American singer, pianist, and civil rights activist labeled the "High Priestess of Soul."
9. Dig! (2004)
Director: Ondi Timoner | Genre: Documentary
Considered one of the best recent musical films, 'Dig!' is a documentary on the once-promising American rock bands The Brian Jonestown Massacre and The Dandy Warhols, and the friendship/rivalry between their respective founders, Anton Newcombe and Courtney Taylor.
10. High Fidelity (2000)
Director: Stephen Frears | Genre: Comedy/Drama
In the hilarious 'High Fidelity', Rob, a record store owner and compulsive list maker, recounts his top five breakups, including the one in progress.
11. The Doors (1991)
Director: Oliver Stone | Genre: Biopic
Starring Val Kilmer, Meg Ryan and Kyle MacLachlan, this is the story of the famous and influential 1960s rock band The Doors and its lead singer and composer, Jim Morrison, from his days as a UCLA film student in Los Angeles, to his untimely death in Paris, France at age 27 in 1971.
12. A Band Called Death (2012)
Director: Mark Christopher Covino & Jeff Howlett | Genre: Documentary
A documentary on the 1970s punk trio Death, and their new-found popularity decades after they disbanded.
13. Spike Island (2012)
Director: Mat Whitecross | Genre: Comedy
Five teenage friends will stop at nothing to attend a concert by their favourite band, The Stone Roses.
14. Walk The Line (2005)
Director: James Mangold | Genre: Biopic
Widely considered one of the best movies about musicians, and starring Joaquin Phoenix, Reese Witherspoon and Ginnifer Goodwin, 'Walk The Line' is a chronicle of country music legend Johnny Cash's life, from his early days on an Arkansas cotton farm to his rise to fame with Sun Records in Memphis, where he recorded alongside Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Carl Perkins.
15. Quadrophenia (1979)
Director: Franc Roddam | Genre: Drama
Jimmy loathes his job and parents. He seeks solace with his mod clique, scooter riding and drugs, only to be disappointed.
16. The Dirt (2019)
Director: Jeff Tremaine | Genre: Biopic
Based on the bestselling autobiography from Mötley Crüe, the film is an unflinching tale of success and excess as four misfits rise from the streets of Hollywood to the heights of international fame.
17. Fyre: The Greatest Party That Never Happened (2019)
Director: Chris Smith | Genre: Documentary
An exclusive behind the scenes look at the infamous unraveling of the Fyre music festival.
18. Straight Outta Compton (2016)
Director: F. Gary Gray | Genre: Biopic
The rap group NWA emerges from the mean streets of Compton in Los Angeles, California, in the mid-1980s and revolutionizes Hip Hop culture with their music and tales about life in the hood.
19. Berlin Calling (2008)
Director: Hannes Stöhr | Genre: Comedy/Drama
A man tours clubs around the globe with his manager and girlfriend. On the eve of their largest album release he is admitted to a psychiatric clinic after overdosing at a gig.
20. Summer of Soul (2021)
Director: Questlove | Genre: Documentary
'Summer Of Soul' is a feature documentary about the legendary 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival which celebrated African American music and culture, and promoted Black pride and unity.
21. Bohemian Rhapsody (2018)
Director: Bryan Singer | Genre: Biopic
A recent movie about musicians to sweep the Academy Awards was 'Bohemian Rhapsody'. It dramatises the story of the legendary British rock band Queen and lead singer Freddie Mercury, leading up to their famous performance at Live Aid (1985).
22. 8 Mile (2002)
Director: Curtis Hanson | Genre: Drama
A young rapper, struggling with every aspect of his life, wants to make it big but his friends and foes make this odyssey of rap harder than it may seem.
23. Hedwig and the Angry Inch (2001)
Director: John Cameron Mitchell | Genre: Comedy/Drama
A gender-queer punk-rock singer from East Berlin tours the U.S. with her band as she tells her life story and follows the former lover/band-mate who stole her songs.
24. Dave Chappelle's Block Party (2005)
Director: Michel Gondry | Genre: Documentary/Comedy
A mix of Dave Chappelle's sketch comedy and musical interludes, inspired in part by the 1973 documentary Wattstax.
25. Rip Up the Road (2019)
Director: Toby L. | Genre: Documentary
'Rip Up The Road' captures a very specific snapshot of one of this generation's most beloved and progressive bands, Foals.
26. Woodstock (1970)
Director: Michael Wadleigh | Genre: Documentary
It's difficult to compile a list of the best musical movies without including 'Woodstock'. It's an Oscar-winning musical chronicle that brilliantly captures the three-day rock concert and celebration of peace and love that became a capstone for the Sixties.
27. Whiplash (2014)
Director: Damien Chazelle | Genre: Drama
A promising young drummer enrolls at a cut-throat music conservatory where his dreams of greatness are mentored by an instructor who will stop at nothing to realize a student's potential.
28. Homecoming: A Film by Beyoncé (2019)
Director: Beyoncé & Ed Burke | Genre: Documentary
This intimate, in-depth look at Beyoncé's celebrated 2018 Coachella performance reveals the emotional road from creative concept to cultural movement.
29. The Punk Singer (2013)
Director: Sini Anderson | Genre: Biopic
An incredible music biopic, 'The Punk Singer' is a look at the life of activist, musician, and cultural icon Kathleen Hanna, who formed the punk band Bikini Kill and pioneered the "riot grrrl" movement of the 1990s.
30. Searching For Sugar Man (2012)
Director: Malik Bendjelloul | Genre: Biopic
Two South Africans set out to discover what happened to their unlikely musical hero, the mysterious 1970s rock n roller, Rodriguez.
31. Travis Scott: Look Mom I Can Fly (2019)
Director: White Trash Tyler | Genre: Documentary
'Travis Scott: Look Mom I Can Fly' traces the Houston rapper's rise to super-stardom, focusing on the months surrounding ASTROWORLD.
You can watch 'Travis Scott: Look Mom I Can Fly' via Netflix
32. George Michael: Freedom (2018)
Director: David Austin & George Michael | Genre: Documentary
'George Michael: Freedom - The Directors Cut' is a deeply autobiographical story of George Michael's life concentrating on the period around the making of his album 'Listen Without Prejudice' and detailing his love, his loss, his court case with his record company and his struggle with fame. It is a poignant and intimate portrait of a music icon, narrated and co-directed by George Michael himself just before his death.
33. The Defiant Ones (1958)
Director: Stanley Kramer | Genre: Drama
Winner of 2 Oscars in 1959, 'The Defiant Ones' tells the story of two convicts (one white, one black) serving time on a chain gang in the deep South, who are set free by accident. Seething with mutual distrust, they flee into treacherous woodlands and swamps, hunted by helicopter and bloodhounds.
34. Wild Combination: A Portrait of Arthur Russell (2008)
Director: Matt Wolf | Genre: Documentary/Romance
Director Matt Wolf's critically acclaimed documentary examines the life and work of Arthur Russell, an influential singer, songwriter, cello player and disco auteur who died tragically in 1992.
You can watch 'Wild Combination: A Portrait of Arthur Russell' via Amazon
35. Velvet Goldmine (1998)
Director: Todd Haynes | Genre: Drama
In 1984, British journalist Arthur Stuart investigates the career of 1970s glam superstar Brian Slade, who was heavily influenced in his early years by hard-living and rebellious American singer Curt Wild. Starring: Ewan McGregor, Jonathan Rhys Meyers and Christian Bale.
36. The Blues Brothers (1980)
Director: John Landis | Genre: Comedy
Jake Blues rejoins with his brother Elwood after being released from prison, but the duo has just days to reunite their old R&B band and save the Catholic home where the two were raised, outrunning the police as they tear through Chicago.
37. Trainspotting (1996)
Director: Danny Boyle | Genre: Comedy/Drama
Musical movies don't get much more iconic than 'Trainspotting'. Renton, deeply immersed in the Edinburgh drug scene, tries to clean up and get out, despite the allure of the drugs and influence of friends. Starring: Ewan McGregor, Ewen Bremner and Jonny Lee Miller.
38. Anvil: The Story of Anvil (2008)
Director: Sacha Gervasi | Genre: Biopic
Since 1978, Anvil has become one of heavy metal's most influential yet commercially unsuccessful acts. In 2006, after a fledging European tour Anvil sets out to record their thirteenth album and continue to follow their dreams.
39. We Are Your Friends (2015)
Director: Max Joseph | Genre: Comedy/Drama/Romance
Starring Zac Efron, Wes Bentley and Emily Ratajkowski. Caught between a forbidden romance and the expectations of his friends, aspiring DJ Cole Carter attempts to find the path in life that leads to fame and fortune.
40. Amy (2015)
Director: Asif Kapadia | Genre: Documentary
Archival footage and personal testimonials present an intimate portrait of the life and career of British singer/songwriter Amy Winehouse.
For music tips and advice, or to access up-to-date music industry news, head to the Pirate.com Blog.
To hone your skills as a podcaster, band, producer or DJ, book a Pirate.com studio in the UK, US or Germany.