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15 best movies about the music biz (Netflix / Prime Video)

We are super excited that the 2019 biopic about Elton John, Rocketman, is coming to Prime in May. While it may take liberties with the life of the musician (he was a producer so he could edit), learning a little and reliving the classic music is always fun.

To mark the occasion, let’s check out another 15 fantastic movies about the music industry, some biopics, others more “inspired”. No documentaries here!

Bird (1988)

IMDB Score 7.2/10

This biopic, directed by Clint Eastwood, tells the story of Charlie “Bird” Parker, a jazz saxophonist from Kansas who died at the tender age of 34 before realizing his full potential. He is depicted expertly by Forest Whitaker. The movie treats time as fluid and jumps between the important parts of his life to tell a compelling story. Some excellent saxophone playing, and a cameo from Billy Mitchell as Prince (as he was known at the time).

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Bohemian Rhapsody (2018)

IMDB Score 8/10

Sometimes I watch these biopics just to see if the actors can really represent the personality that we know and love. Rami Malek makes an excellent Freddie Mercury, though no one can touch the man himself. The movie looks at the life of Mercury from the formation of the band to their Live Aid performance in 1985, the band’s peak.

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The Doors (1991)

IMDB Score 7.2/10

One of the most influential bands of the 1960s and 70s, this Oliver Stone film stars Val Kilmer as lead singer Jim Morrison, and follows his life from UCLA film student to hedonistic rock icon who died at the age of 27. Morrison’s band members were not pleased with how he was portrayed in the film.

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Dreamgirls (2006)

IMDB Score 6.5/10

A musical extravaganza, this film follows the history of a Motown record label and one of its key acts, The Supremes. We see how hard it was for black music to break into the mainstream and also follow the personal struggles of the artists and producers. There are some epic performances by Beyonce, Jennifer Hudson, and Jamie Foxx.

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Hedwig and the Angry Inch (2001)

IMDB Score 7.7/10

A mix of musical, comedy ad drama, it is based on the stage show of the same name and follows the life of Hedwig Robinson, a German, gender-queer, rock singer. In the film Hedwig, played by John Cameron Mitchell, forms a relationship with a younger singer that she wants to mentor, only to have him try and steal her music.

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Jersey Boys (2014)

IMDB Score 6.8/10

Another film produced and directed by Clint Eastwood, it is based on the Tony Award winning musical of the same name. We follow the musical group The Four Season and its two original members Frankie Valli and Bob Gaudio (who also composed the music for the film) as they try and make it while also getting mixed up with the mob. Starring John Lloyd Young and Erich Bergen.

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A Mighty Wind (2003)

IMDB Score 7.2/10

I said no documentaries, but mockumentaries are definitely allowed! This comedy faux-documentary is set at a reunion concert where three folk music bands will get together for the first time in decades. A sharp parody of the American folk music revival, Eugene Levy writes and stars alongside Jane Lynch, Michael McKean, Catherine O’Hara, and Parker Posey.

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Ray (2004)

IMDB Score 7.7/10

A biopic about Ray Charles starring Jamie Foxx as the legend himself, for which he won the Oscar for best actor. We see a young Ray losing his eyesight at the age of seven, but being driven forward to follow his dreams and make something of himself by his mother, played by Kerry Washington.

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The Runaways (2010)

IMDB Score 6.5/10

This is a biopic about the 1970s rock sensation The Runaways. It stars Dakota Fanning as Cherie Currie and Kristen Stewart as Joan Jett as they try to make it as women in a men’s world, and as internal issues cause the band to break apart. Both actresses spent significant time with the women they played in order to bring them to life.

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Selena (1997)

IMDB Score 6.7/10

In the film that pit Jennifer Lopez on the map for many, she plays Selena, a popular Latino singer in the United States and Mexico who was murdered when she was just 23 by the president of her fan club.

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A Star is Born (2018)

IMDB Score 7.7/10

Yes, that musical with Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga, based on the 1937 film and musical of 1854 and 1976. It tells the story of a successful country music singer struggling with substance abuse problems who discovers a new young talent. He must find a way to support her when her star eclipses his own.

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This Is Spinal Tap (1984)

IMDB Score 7.9/10

Another mockumentary-style film, it tells the story of a fictional English heavy metal band Spinal Tap. Starring Christopher Guest, Michael McKean, and Harry Shearer as the band members, it tells the story of an American tour and pokes fun at the outrageous behavior and pretensions of rock bands in the 1980s.

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Velvet Goldmine (1998)

IMDB Score 7/10

A tribute to glam rock, it stars Jonathan Rhys Meyers and Ewan McGregor as two very different glam rockers, and Christian Bale as a reporter trying to tell their story years after the death of one of them. Heavily inspired by the likes of David Bowie, it is a visual and audio spectacular, as well as a music mystery to solve.

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Walk the Line (2005)

IMDB Score 7.8/10

A biopic about the early life of Johnny Cash, Joaquin Phoenix plays the star, and Reese Witherspoon as June Carter. Theirs is a forbidden love story as Cash was already married when the two met, but their musical bond just seemed too strong to ignore.

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The Young Ones (1961)

IMDB Score 5.8/10

Cliff Richard stars as Nicky, a young youth club member and aspiring musician who teams up with his friends to try and their local London club from an unscrupulous millionaire. The twist is that our protagonist is actually the son of the man who wants to turn their beloved club into a set of office blocks.

Not Available on PrimeNot Available on Netflix

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