The Best Music Movies to Watch

The Best Music Movies to Watch

May 30, 2024

Share:

twitter
facebook
reddit
pinterest
link

Music and movies have been inseparable since the first films started being presented to audiences with live musicians. And over time, the musical film, the concert film, and the music documentary have all become their own traditions within cinema. There’s something special about the thrill of a musical performance captured through the camera lens and editing that only movies can offer. Here at agoodmovietowatch, we’ve curated a list of highly recommended music films that still might have flown under the radar for either the casual viewer or the casual listener.

21. Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story (2007)

best

8.3

Country

United States of America

Director

Jake Kasdan

Actors

Adam Herschman, Amber Hay, Angela Little, Cheryl Ladd

Moods

Easy, Funny, Grown-up Comedy

If you’ve never seen Walk Hard before but still get déjà vu from just its first 10 minutes, that’s the point. This riotous pastiche parodies every musician biopic ever made — and even many that came after it. Its ability to predict the future is thanks to its sharp observation of all the clichés that are typically wheeled out when a musical artist’s life story gets the big screen treatment. Walk Hard skewers everything from the tropes of preternatural musical abilities and galvanizing childhood trauma to the formulaic three-act structure that follows the musician’s rise, inevitable fall, and triumphant rise again.

Absolutely no chances are left unseized to lampoon the genre: the film is told in an incredibly long flashback, for example, and features multiple groan-including moments in which characters say the movie’s title out loud, all but winking at the camera. The danger with a parody is that the joke can get old quickly, but Walk Hard is blessedly full of laughs that would stand up even outside of the spoof framework, displaying incredible devotion to even the most throwaway of jokes (as when The Temptations make a cameo for one five-second gag). Not just a brilliant satire, then, but a terrific comedy of its own.

22. The Forty-Year-Old Version (2020)

best

8.2

Country

United States of America

Director

Female director, Radha Blank

Actors

Andrew Glaszek, Antonio Ortiz, Ashlee Brian, Doris McCarthy

Moods

Feel-Good, Funny, Uplifting

This fun comedy-drama is about a New York playwright called Radha who never hit big. When she turns 40, she decides to reinvent herself as RadhaMUSPrime, a rapper.

And it’s all a personal affair: Radha Blank plays the main character (named after herself) and is also the writer, director, and producer.

The story is about rap and theater, but being so connected to reality, it feels like it’s about Blank making the movie itself. Its very existence feels like a triumph against the pressure of age, the misunderstanding of others, and the weight of unreached goals.

23. The Visitor (2007)

best

8.1

Country

United States of America

Director

Eran Kolirin, Tom McCarthy

Actors

Amir Arison, Ashley Springer, Bill McHenry, Danai Gurira

Moods

Heart-warming, Sunday, Thought-provoking

This is a low-scale, intimate, almost minimalist movie that speaks volumes about the misconceptions that westerners have regarding the Middle-East. And the performance of Richard Jenkins is absolutely exceptional (earned him a nomination for the Oscars). He plays a professor who comes back to his New York apartment only to find two immigrants living in it. What a great role and what a great film.The Visitor is from the director of The Station Agent and very recently Spotlight, Tom McCarthy.

24. Crazy Heart (2009)

best

8.1

Country

United States of America

Director

Scott Cooper

Actors

Anna Felix, Beth Grant, Brian Gleason, Chad Brummett

Moods

A-list actors, Romantic, True-story-based

We all love Jeff Bridges. We all agree that we shouldn’t leave a movie he won an Oscar for unwatched. That’s enough reason to watch this movie, but there are so many others. The story is fantastic and based on true events: a country musician living rough and having a shot at happiness after he falls for a journalist who interviews him. The score is composed by T Bone Burnett. The journalist is played by Maggie Gyllenhaal and another musician is played by Colin Farrell.

So many reasons to watch.

25. This Much I Know to Be True (2022)

best

8.1

Country

United Kingdom, United States of America

Director

Andrew Dominik

Actors

Andrew Dominik, Earl Cave, Marianne Faithfull, Nick Cave

Moods

Emotional, Inspiring, Original

Whether or not you’re a fan of Nick Cave’s contemplative, idiosyncratic style of music, This Much I Know to Be True still works on a purely experiential level. There’s confusion, then a rush of euphoria, then an overwhelming sense of peace when listening to Cave’s (and musical collaborator Warren Ellis’s) cryptic lyrics and delicate compositions—shot with breathtaking use of studio lights by director Andrew Dominik and cinematographer Robbie Ryan.

And things only get more emotional when you consider how far Cave has come, that these performances are happening several rough years from the untimely death of his son. And suddenly even all the unrelated B-roll footage included in the film—of Cave talking about his sculptures, talking to Ellis, answering profound fan emails—takes on a greater urgency. This sounds like music for mourning, but in its own way it’s music for celebration, too, and gratitude despite everything.

26. Aachar & Co (2023)

best

8.1

Country

India

Director

Sindhu Sreenivasa Murthy

Actors

Anirudh Acharya, Harshil Koushik, Mandara Battalahalli, Sindhu Sreenivasa Murthy

Moods

Feel-Good, Funny, Heart-warming

With elaborate sets, musical numbers, and an ensemble cast, Aachar and Co doesn’t feel like a regular budget-bound debut feature. In fact, director Sindhu Sreenivasa Murthy, who also stars as Suma, pulls off this family drama with a whimsical yet period-accurate, Wes Anderson-esque style. This style keeps the film’s nostalgic and lighthearted tone, even as the siblings’ journeys, most especially that of Suma, go into darker times. As the family cycles through each of their weddings and funerals, Aachar and Co comments on the societal changes that shifted the lives of Indian women in the 1960s. The resulting film is just as bittersweet and nostalgic as the mango preserves the family makes.

27. Theater Camp (2023)

best

8.1

Country

United States of America

Director

Female director, Molly Gordon

Actors

Alan Kim, Alexander Bello, Amy Sedaris, Ayo Edebiri

Moods

Character-driven, Easy, Emotional

You don’t have to be a theater kid to enjoy this feel-good mockumentary set in a summer camp for junior thespians. While there are plenty of in-jokes here for those who might have spent a summer or two somewhere like AdirondACTS, Theater Camp also good-naturedly lampoons every instantly recognizable stereotype of theater kids and the classic failed-performer-turned-teacher. 

Amongst the note-perfect ensemble, particularly hilarious standouts include co-writer Ben Platt and co-director Molly Gordon as camp instructors and best friends Amos and Rebecca-Diane. Both are Juilliard rejects with codependency issues and a classic case of actorly self-indulgence — as encapsulated in the moment they accuse a young attendee of “doping” for using artificial tears during a performance (“Do you want to be the Lance Armstrong of theater?”). But even seasoned performers like Platt and Gordon can’t pull the spotlight away from the film’s absurdly talented young ensemble, who are just as game for poking fun at their passion: standouts include Luke Islam, Alexander Bello, and Minari’s Alan Kim as a pint-sized “aspiring agent” who skips dance class to make business calls. All this self-satirising never obscures the movie’s heart, though; what begins as a self-deprecating ribbing of theater-heads ultimately becomes a rousing love letter to those very same misfits.

28. Begin Again (2013)

best

8.0

Country

United States of America

Director

John Carney

Actors

Adam Levine, Andrew Sellon, Aya Cash, Catherine Keener

Moods

A-list actors, Easy, Feel-Good

John Carney, who directed the critically and commercially successful Once, may be the world’s best captor of charm. Begin Again tells the story of a broken-hearted singer who gets discovered by a failed showbiz executive. Their ideas and love for music are all they have to face their failures and bring their creativity to life. The original songs are charming and from Keira Knightley and Mark Ruffalo to Yasiin Bey (Mos Def), Adam Levine, and Cee-Lo Green, the cast generate sparkling chemistry and portray the story beautifully. Begin again is a sweet and effortless watch, yet far from being your classic rom-com.

29. Hearts Beat Loud (2018)

best

8.0

Country

United States of America

Director

Brett Haley

Actors

Alex Reznik, Andrea Morales, Blythe Danner, Harrison Chad

Moods

Easy, Feel-Good, Funny

A sweet feel-good movie starring Nick Offerman as a dad who has to deal with his only daughter leaving for college and his record store struggling. The daughter is played by Kiersey Clemons who you might recognize from the show Easy. And Ted Danson has a great role too. This is a relatable and heartwarming movie, one of the best the so-called “indie” genre has known in a long time.

30. Tár (2022)

best

8.0

Country

Germany, United States of America

Director

Todd Field

Actors

Adam Gopnik, Alec Baldwin, Alexandra Montag, Allan Corduner

Moods

Challenging, Character-driven, Smart

Filled with dense conversations about classical music and cryptic suggestions of a guilty conscience, Tár makes for a challenging watch that rewards patient viewing. The film is ultimately a study of power in an industry built on preserving centuries-old traditions—which makes the character of Lydia Tár, as a queer woman and as a proud, egotistical conductor, such an anomaly in this world. Certain strange choices by the end notwithstanding, this is a movie that leaves itself wide open to interpretation to its view on karma, accountability, and cycles of power. And Cate Blanchett is as good as the awards say: fully immersed in Lydia’s ways of arrogant self-preservation, and twitching at every ambient noise that reminds her how fake she truly is.

Comments

Add a comment

Curated by humans, not algorithms.

agmtw

© 2024 A Good Movie to Watch. Altona Studio, LLC, all rights reserved.