Top 10 Music Biopics that every music fan should watch
Written by Elina Deschere on 30 mars 2020
There’s not really any musician who has made a successful career without struggles, heartbreak or some kind of challenge along the way. And the second-best thing to seeing what it’s really like being a rockstar is watching a film about one!
Euradio has picked 10 of the best music biopics about today’s most influential musicians and the challenges they faced behind-the-scenes of their glamorous and sometimes not-so-glamorous lifestyles.
(1) Love And Mercy (2015) by Bill Pohlad
Love & Mercy, set in the 1960s is about the Beach Boys leader Brian Wilson (Paul Dano is cast perfectly for this role) who comes to terms with his emerging psychosis as he attempts to craft his avant-garde pop masterpiece – Pet Sounds. It is a fascinating insight into the musician’s life, at times heartbreaking as we alternate between time periods, also in the 1980s, as Brian lives at home after a breakdown under the watch of his therapist.
(2) The Runaways (2010) by Floria Sigismondi
Kristen Stewart and Dakota Fanning make the perfect rock duo in this epic biopic about the 70s teenage rock band: The Runaways. The pair play Joan Jett and Cherie Currie, from their transition as rebellious California kids to influential rock stars. Written and directed by Floria Sigismondi, the film records Joan and Cherie’s tumultuous relationship on and off stage, as the band becomes successful and paves the way for female-led rock bands to come.
(3) Walk The Line (2005) by James Mangold
Walk The Line is a beautiful account of the life of Johnny Cash (played by Joaquin Phoenix). The film begins with him as a young boy growing up on the family farm. We then see him in his adult life, as Cash ends up in Memphis, with his wife, and quickly breaks into the music scene after finding his trademark sound. While on tour, Cash meets the singer June Carter (Academy Award winner Reese Witherspoon). However, Cash’s volatile lifestyle of drugs and alcohol threatens their relationship and his career. As expected, the movie has an amazing soundtrack and features remarkable performances from both Phoenix and Witherspoon.
(4) Selena (1997) by Gregory Nava
The biographical drama, Selena, honors the life of Selena Quintanilla (played by Jennifer Lopez) who was born into a musical Mexican-American family in Texas. Her father realizes that his young daughter is talented and begins performing with her at small venues. She quickly found success at a young age but wants to make it mainstream. To reach a global audience, Selena begins to record an English-language album that she never gets to complete.
(5) Control (2007) by Anton Corbijn
Set in 1970s Macclesfield, England, is where Joy Division is born. Frontman and troubled musician Ian Curtis (Sam Riley) rises to fame as the lead singer of the band however Curtis begins to feel the strain. He struggles to manage his band’s growing fortune, his crumbling marriage to wife his wife, an affair and his worsening epilepsy. The Camera D’or winner at Cannes in 2008 is beautifully shot in black and white, a must-see for fans of the post-punk bands of this era.
(6) Sid & Nancy (1986) by Alex Cox
Following a breakout success in England, Sex Pistols venture out on their first-ever U.S. tour. Wild frontman Sid Vicious (played by Gary Oldman) takes his troubled girlfriend Nancy, along for the ride. The couple’s turbulent relationship tests the patience of bandmate Johnny Rotten and manager Malcolm McLaren as Sid and Nancy plunge deeper into drug addiction and co-dependency.
(7) Gainsbourg (2010) by Joann Sfar
Gainsbourg follows the life of the notorious musician and ladies man, Serge Gainsbourg, throughout his upbringing in France and his rise to fame as an iconic artist. The film explores his love affairs with Juliette Greco, Brigitte Bardot, and Jane Birkin whilst he navigates a rising successful career in music. It features some of his most famous songs which serve as the soundtrack to the film whilst also driving the story.
(8) Bessie (2015) by Dee Rees
Bessie tells the tale of the American Blues singer Bessie Smith and focuses on her transformation as a struggling young singer into the most popular female blues singer of the 1920s and 1930s. The film is directed by Dee Rees and stars Queen Latifah as Bessie. Originally a tv movie, Bessie stood as the most-watched HBO original film of all time. The film earned four Emmy Awards, one for Outstanding Television Movie.
(9) Rocketman (2019) by Dexter Fletcher
A young ‘Reginald Dwight’ changes his name to Elton John and truly comes into his own. He then goes on to collaborate with singer-songwriter Bernie Taupin and becomes one of the most iconic figures in pop history, but struggles with addiction along the way. The movie remains an upbeat, colourful and lively portrait of Elton John’s life and successful career, set to his most beloved songs. We experience his breakthrough years in the 1970s and his epic transformation from shy piano player to international superstar. A feel-good movie featuring all your favourite Elton John tracks and the sparkly, fantastical stage costumes he is so well known for.
(10) La Mome (2007) by Olivier Dahan
From an upbringing in poverty on the streets of Paris to the dazzling limelight of New York, Edith Piaf’s life was a battle to sing and survive. We follow the beginnings of a superstar, as the film showcases Edith’s enchanting voice and her passionate romances and friendships with the greatest names of the period which made her into an international household name. Played by Marion Cotillard, the performance earned her the title of Best Actress at the Academy Awards in 2008.
So those are 10 music biopics, plenty to keep you occupied during the quarantine! The perfect occasion to learn a bit more about the lives behind your favourite artists and maybe inspire you to start your own band or solo career too.