The Best Music Movies to Watch

The Best Music Movies to Watch

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.

30. Entergalactic (2022)

7.1

Country

United States of America

Director

Fletcher Moules

Actors

Arturo Castro, Christopher Abbott, Francesca Reale, Jaden Smith

Moods

Easy, Feel-Good, Grown-up Comedy

Entergalactic, a vibrant animated romcom from the mind of musician Kid Cudi, follows new neighbors Jabari (Cudi) and Meadow (Jessica Williams) as they navigate their way through the ups and downs of modern love. They’re both established artists at the height of their careers, but when it comes to romance, they’re still scraping for lessons, which they mostly get from equally clueless but funny friends.

Featuring songs from Cudi’s latest record of the same name, Entergalactic doubles as a visual album that comes to life with every beat and movement. It also stars many familiar names, among them Timothée Chalamet, Vanessa Hudgens, Ty Dolla $ign, Jaden Smith, and Macaulay Culkin.

29. Climax (2018)

7.1

Country

Belgium, France, United States of America

Director

Gaspar Noé

Actors

Adrien Sissoko, Alaia Alsafir, Alexandre Moreau, Alou Sidibé

Moods

Challenging, Original, Weird

This twisted movie is actually two movies, the credits even roll in between. The first half is gorgeous: talented dancers get together for a party and perform beautiful contemporary dance sequences. They introduce themselves through their audition tapes to join the dance group, but also through conversations at the party. The second half is less fun. It turns out someone had laced the sangria they’ve been drinking with a psychedelic drug. Not for the faint of heart or anyone who didn’t like director Gaspar Noé’s past movies (Enter the Void, I Stand Alone, etc).

28. Zappa (2020)

7.2

Country

United States of America

Director

Alex Winter

Actors

David Harrington, Frank Zappa, Gail Zappa, Ian Underwood

Moods

Instructive, Thought-provoking

Frank Zappa’s creative scope could barely be defined –  a mix of rock, composition, design, and in his early days even filmmaking.  This documentary does its best to summarize the un-summarizable, starting with Zappa’s last time playing guitar and going back to early details like an infatuation with explosives as a kid. 

Zappa’s overwhelmingly full life is focused on the documentary in the study of his incredible work ethic and unique creative philosophy. Far from the drugged hippie perception he was often met with, Zappa was hard-working, business-aware, and didn’t take drugs.

The manifestations of his exceptional intellect and unique character are abundant in a film that will please his fans and send anyone new to him into a deep Wikipedia rabbit hole.

27. Wild Rose (2019)

7.3

Country

Canada, UK, United Kingdom

Director

Tom Harper

Actors

Aly Bain, Ashley Shelton, Atta Yaqub, Benny Young

Moods

Easy, Feel-Good, Inspiring

A simple movie about a Scottish country singer with a dream to go to Nashville, U.S.A and reach stardom. It starts with her leaving prison to return to her mom’s house, where her kid was being raised in her absence. Heavy stuff, but this girl is determined to let nothing get in the way of realizing her dreams. Will she make it? At what cost? Wild Rose answers those questions with a warm script that’s designed to make you feel good without completely misleading you. Think of it as a more grounded A Star is Born.

26. Topsy-Turvy (1999)

7.4

Country

United Kingdom, United States of America

Director

Mike Leigh

Actors

Akemi Otani, Alison Steadman, Allan Corduner, Andy Serkis

Moods

Funny, Grown-up Comedy, Lighthearted

If you’re a fan of musical theater of any kind, Topsy-Turvy pays tribute to that notoriously tricky art form with a stunning attention to detail and a dedication to telling its story without any unnecessary drama whatsoever. It’s hard not to get swept up in the humor, entertainment, and simple joy found in the writing process and in rehearsals of entire scenes. Come for the Oscar-winning costumes and makeup, stay for the wonderfully old-timey musical numbers, the brilliantly grounded performance from Jim Broadbent, and the sense of satisfaction of just watching everything finally come together to thunderous applause.

25. 20 Feet from Stardom (2013)

7.4

Country

United States of America

Director

Morgan Neville

Actors

Bette Midler, Bruce Springsteen, Chris Botti, Darlene Love

Moods

Easy, Feel-Good, Heart-warming

For the background singers featured in 20 Feet from Stardom, music is a vocation. It is not merely an occupation or a pastime; it is a way of life, a “higher calling,” as the legendary Lisa Fischer would say. For 90 minutes, director Morgan Neville superbly maps out the development of back-up singing in the US throughout the decades, exploring its deep connection with African-American culture and women’s history. It’s fun to finally put names and faces on the oohs and aahs we hear on records aplenty, but the film always finds its grounding on the singers’ own unique voices, where its true soul lies.

24. Inside Llewyn Davis (2013)

7.6

Country

France, UK, United Kingdom

Director

Ethan Coen, Joel Coen

Actors

Adam Driver, Alex Karpovsky, Bonnie Rose, Carey Mulligan

Moods

Dramatic, Original, Smart

Inside Llewyn Davis tells the interesting and captivating story of a young, struggling singer navigating through the Greenwich Village folk scene in 1961. The movie conveys all sorts of emotions, thanks to Coen brothers’ stroke of genius: it is strange, funny, dramatic and satisfying at the same time. Not to mention, the ensemble cast is superb, and the music is absolutely great. It is the kind of movie that will put an unfamiliar yet wondrous feeling into you as you live through Llewyn Davis’ eyes and feel his pain.

23. Bathtubs Over Broadway (2018)

7.8

Director

Dava Whisenant, Female director

Actors

Chita Rivera, David Letterman, Florence Henderson, Martin Short

Moods

Easy, Feel-Good, Instructive

Even if you’re a huge Broadway fan, you’ve probably never heard of the “industrial musical.” While it no longer exists in practice, in the 1970s industrial musicals were shows that corporations commissioned for some of the biggest Broadway names to produce. The script would be based on the company’s offerings and history, and privately performed by real Broadway actors to audiences made up exclusively of company and factory staff.

Now, a documentary about industrial shows doesn’t scream “entertaining,” but to describe Bathtubs Over Broadway in such a manner would be selling it way short. It’s really about Steve Young, a comedy writer for David Letterman, and how his life changed when he found his first industrial musical LP when leafing through a crate of old records for a Late Night segment he was working on.

Ultimately, what makes this such an enjoyable watch is the protagonist’s enduring passion over what at first appears to be nothing but a niche obsession. But with time, as he connects with other collectors and the people who were involved in the original industrial musical productions, his passion breeds community and lifelong bonds. Even if you’re no fan of Broadway, this makes for a great pop culture documentary and an unexpectedly touching story of human connection.

22. David Byrne’s American Utopia (2020)

7.8

Country

United States of America

Director

Spike Lee

Actors

Angie Swan, Bobby Wooten Iii, David Byrne, Jacqueline Acevedo

Moods

Uplifting

Legendary Talking Heads frontman David Byrne returns with this enigmatic stage show, and with Spike Lee in tow, the film reaches for the heights of the iconic concert doc Stop Making Sense. For those unfamiliar, Stop Making Sense directed by Jonathan Demme (Silence of the Lambs) captured the Talking Heads’ invigorating live show in their early eighties prime, and is often considered one of the best concert films of all time.

Now nearly forty years later Byrne attempts a resurrection of that spirit or a form of it given his former bandmates notably absent from the project. His propellant energy is on full display as he goes through the ‘Heads catalog with a backing band that dances in intricately choreographed sequences around him. Most notable, however, is the sparseness of the stage production which brings to mind a dirge-like atmosphere. Byrne’s righteous thrashings against Reagan’s America carry renewed weight in the despondency of the Trump-era. So despite his attempts at optimism, aching futility runs through the heart of the show; most pointed when Byrne sings the famous lines from in Once In A Lifetime: “Same as it ever was. Same as it ever was.”

21. As It Is in Heaven (2004)

7.8

Country

Denmark, Sweden

Director

Kay Pollak

Actors

André Sjöberg, Barbro Kollberg, Frida Hallgren, Helen Sjöholm

Moods

Grown-up Comedy, Romantic

A Swedish film about a world-famous conductor who suddenly interrupts his career to return alone to his childhood village in Norrland. It doesn’t take long before he is asked to come and listen to the fragment of a church choir, which practices every Thursday in the parish hall. “Just come along and give a little bit of good advice”. He can’t say no, and from that moment, nothing in the village is the same again. The choir develops and grows. He makes both friends and enemies. And he finds love. It’s a wonderful movie about faith, values, and the exploration of one’s spirit.

agmtw
eu

© 2022 agoodmovietowatch, all rights reserved.

We are home to the best film and TV on popular streaming services. Supported only by readers like you and by public grants.