The musical film still represents one of the greatest art forms of the last decades. Thus, visual and audio language merge to create a medium of entertainment that can tell the most emotional, dramatic, beautiful, and tragic stories while holding the viewer under its magical spell. Although it’s hard to rank among all existing works, we’ve listed here a mix of timeless classics and insider tips that will make any heart beat faster than beats for music anyway: The 38 best music films of all time.
“Ray” is a biographical film about soul legend Ray Charles, starring Jamie Foxx, who won an Oscar in 2005 in the category of “Best Actor in a Leading Role” for this film.
Ray Charles was considered a visionary artist who was constantly struggling with his existence and became a legend despite his blindness by blending jazz, R ‘n’ B, rock ‘n’ roll, gospel, country& Westerns into his music, creating a new kind of musical experience for the world to enjoy.
The viewer follows the young, blind Ray as he, completely on his own, gains a foothold in the Seattle jazz scene thanks to his superior talent. His rise to world stardom is not exempt from love affairs and drug stories either. The outstanding embodiment of Jamie Foxx makes the film an authentic experience.
2. A Star is Born (2018)
Seasoned musician Jackson Maine (Bradley Cooper) discovers-and falls in love with-struggling artist Ally (Gaga). She’s all but given up on her dream of making it big as a singer – until Jack lures her into the spotlight. But even as Ally’s career takes off, the personal side of their relationship is breaking down as Jack fights a constant battle with his own inner demons.
Despite a significant directorial debut and the performance of Bradley Cooper, Lady Gaga leaves a lasting impression in “A Star Is Born,” a beautiful production perfectly suited to revive the superstar as a top actress. Most exciting are the stage sequences. Cooper often films Ally’s thousands of screaming fans from her point of view – putting us in her happy place for a minute. That sense of excitement made “A Star Is Born” one of the best films of 2019.
3. 8 Mile
Rapper Eminem made his acting debut in 8 Mile, portraying young Jimmy, for whom rap is the most important thing ever in his life. With it, he hopes to make the big break, to provide for himself, his mother, his sister, and his friends an escape from life in the social underclass. The theme song of the film “Lose Yourself” The song, which Eminem himself wrote, won the Oscar for best song.
If you have an affinity for hip-hop, this film will witness a thrilling story that inspires musically and dramatically realistically reflects the social abyss within a desperate family.
4. Blues Brothers
John Landis initiated “Blues Brothers,” a musical comedy in which the character Jake Blues, together with his brother Elwood, tries to give concerts through the re-emergence of their old joint band, with the proceeds of which they want to save the orphanage in which they were raised, which is in danger of being sold to the Ministry of Culture. The only way for them is to pay the property tax of the building within 11 days.
The musical film is still popular today and shines with its creatively written characters, a delightfully loosely entertained atmosphere, and its original music that appropriately punctuates the film.
5. The Wizard of Oz (1939)
The oldest film on this list of recommendations is a timeless work that has aged well: the 1939 Wizard of Oz tells the story of little Dorothy, whose house is blown by a storm into the magical land of Oz, where she seeks out the town’s wizard to find a way to get home again. Along the way, she meets special characters and experiences unforgettable moments.
Songs like “Somewhere over the Rainbow” and “Follow The Yellow Brick Road” are still popular today and are classics of musical history. The film’s directors set a milestone in Technicolor and incorporated the transition of black-and-white film to color images in work itself.
6. Tenacious D in The Pick (2006)
Tenacious D tells the story of Jack Black and Kyle Glass and their band Tenacious D on their way to stardom. In addition to the whimsical, offbeat, and sometimes silly plot, this film reveals a deep and artistically understandable love for the rock music genre in both actors. For those who don’t mind the particular polarizing humor, this is a tribute to the music that doesn’t take itself too seriously yet is charmingly and devotedly produced.
The band Tenacious D also exists outside the film and is embodied by the two actors. The project continued after the film so that both even went on tour and make music together to this day, with which quite recently even a sequel to the strip of 2006 was announced.
7. La La Land
Damien Chazelle, after his film debut Whiplash (s. Rank 11), once again proves his sovereignty in the field of musical films with La La Land. The 2016 film tells the story of musician Sebastian (Ryan Gosling) and actress Mia (Emma Stone). Together, they try to lift their careers from amateur to the top while maintaining a fulfilling relationship, which is a real challenge as the plot unfolds.
Winner of several Oscars, it is both an homage to the old musical films of the ’60s and ’70s and a critique of today’s Hollywood productions, most of which tell their stories according to a formula. The director shows impressively what hurdles life offers when pursuing your dreams. The film impresses with an outstanding cast, great music that blends jazz and film music, and many visual and narrative art elements that can move you to tears.
8. High Fidelity
The 2000 novel adaptation “High Fidelity” is about music lover Rob Gordon (John Cusack). Rob owns a large vinyl record collection store, for which he is on fire. One day, he investigates the reason why each of his relationships has always ended with him being dumped by his partners. The film successfully manages to empathically illuminate people’s weaknesses, create dreamy, childlike characters, and still come across as witty.
The film boasts musical actors with Tim Robbins, Jack Black, and Drake Bell in supporting roles. John Cusack not only plays the wistful Rob convincingly but also contributed to the script himself.
9. Almost Famous
In Almost Famous, shy William Miller, an avid rock music fan, goes to a concert where he meets and falls in love with young Penny Lane. He also quickly finds access to her favorite band Stillwater and gets an offer to go on tour with them and write about them for Rolling Stone magazine. He goes against his mother’s wishes and joins the band, learning a lot about sex, drugs, and of course: rock ‘n’ roll during this time.
Here, growing up and losing one’s own innocence are thematized sympathetically.
The screenwriter and director of the film were Cameron Crowe. Sugar Man is a film about the Allman Brothers, a movie about his own experience on tour with the Allman Brothers Band, which is why the plot is very autobiographical.
10. Searching for Sugar Man
This music film is one of the best documentaries ever. It shows two fans searching for the folk singer Sixto Rodriguez, who has been a legend in South Africa for 40 years but is not very successful in his hometown Detroit and has no idea of his fame in the south of Africa.
His politically influenced songs found their way there on copied cassettes, reflecting the struggle for civil rights there. Believing he has produced two flop albums, he works as a construction worker when in fact, his music has already sold millions of copies. The film bows to Rodriguez, his music, and his history and deeply touches the soul.
11. Rocketman (2019)
Rocketman is a musical fantasy about the fantastic human story of Elton John’s seminal years.
Fletcher is the real star of this show, a director whose enthusiasm for musical storytelling shines through every frame and hits all the emotional highs. The sheer brute force of lead actor Egerton holds it all together. And despite some darker themes, Rocketman is still quite a stunner. It’s more of a musical than a standard biography.
12. Les Misérables (2012)
In 2012, a revival of the musical genre hit theaters with “Les Miserables.” The cult musical, which premiered in 1980 and told the fictional story of Jean Valjean during the French Revolution, found an incredibly talented cast in Hugh Jackman, Anne Hathaway, Russell Crowe, and other well-known actors who were able to skillfully and realistically realize the material.
It should be noted that the vocals in all scenes were recorded live during filming, which doubly challenged the actors. Anne Hathaway received an award for her heartbreaking interpretation of “I Dreamed a Dream*”The film, which was made without any editing, won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress.
13. Whiplash (2015)
Most musical films work by conveying positive, dramatic, or melancholic feelings. In Whiplash, in which J.K. Simmons and Mike Teller play the main roles, there is a small exception here. Here oppressive and unpleasant tones are struck.
The convincing performance of the actors is clearly more important than the plot, which can be summarized simply: the 19-year-old drummer Andrew Neiman is determined to become a member of one of the most sophisticated jazz bands in the world, led by Terence Fletcher. However, this perfectionism-driven mentor won’t let him get away with the slightest mistake and stresses Andrew, who becomes psychologically intense about his improvement until his fingers start bleeding.
A psychologically stressful, albeit very original, film that features great music.
14. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005)
Based on the Roald Dahl novel of the same name, this film tells of little Charlie, who lives with his poor family next door to Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory and, along with 4 other children, gets a once-in-a-lifetime chance to take a tour of the factory, which no stranger has seen in 15 years, and become its heir. There they witness a magical world full of imaginative characters and, of course, lots of chocolate.
The musical contribution is provided by the famous Oompa Loompas, goblin-like fantasy creatures who have rehearsed a colorful choreography to each song in tune.
15. Once (2007)
The low-budget production revolves around street musician Guy (Glen Hansard), who dreams of a great career as a successful musician in which he plays in front of an audience that, in contrast to reality, gives him credit for his pieces. At some point, however, he meets a young pianist who is enthralled by his music. Thus, a friendship slowly develops, centered on making music together, which has a lasting impact on both of their lives.
A music film full of love, whereby less the alliance of the two characters is meant, but rather the relation to the music. Despite a low budget, the film was able to wow critics at many film festivals and even win an Oscar for Best Song (“Falling Slowly*”) clear.
16. Moulin Rouge
In 1899, Christian was less successful as a writer and was hired to write a new play at the legendary “Moulin Rouge” nightclub. There he meets the star of the piece: Satine. The latter dreams of a great acting career and thus seduce the rich Duke in order to secure her financial situation. When she meets and falls in love with Christian, she is faced with the decision question of whether the dream or love is more important to her.
The film comes up with song and dance interludes that are quite something. Some viewers would call this a sensory overload. From light-hearted and almost silly pieces to cheesy ballads, there’s plenty here to please the music lover and provide ample time of audiovisual entertainment.
17. Inside Llewyn Davis (2013)
The music film Inside Llewyn Davis is about a penniless, struggling musician who would like to be part of the upbeat atmosphere in the New York music scene of the 1960s but is not appreciated for it. His private life is not going well either, which is why his relationship with singer Jean Berkey is disappointing. The film follows him on his way to Chicago, where he meets jazz musician Roland Turner and begins to question himself.
With this work, the Coen brothers express their love of folk music for the second time. The character Llewyn Davis, convincingly portrayed by Oscar Isaac, is loosely based on the life of Dave Van Ronk. A film that tells the hardship of the life of an ambitious musician realistically and authentically successful.
18. Walk the Line (2005)
Joaquin Phoenix plays country and folk legend Johnny Cash in the biopic, telling his story of success and his relationship with his second wife, June Carter, beginning in 1955. The title is an allusion to the song by the American musician “I Walk The Line*.” In addition to the career ladder, outside of fame is dramatically illuminated the family differences in his life, as well as problems with the use of alcohol and drugs.
Phoenix won over Cash fans and critics with his impersonation of the famed singer, which inspired confusion. He is praised above all for his exact facial expressions and gestures, which he has copied from his real-life role model.
19. The Broken Circle (2014)
Didier and Elise are two free spirits that could not be more different: He plays banjo in a bluegrass band, and she owns a tattoo parlor in town. He is a staunch atheist, her back adorned with a large crucifix tattoo. He dreams of big, romantic love, while she likes to change her lovers frequently. But when they meet, it’s love at first sight, which is put to a tough, emotional test over the course of “The Broken Circle.”
The film was nominated for the Oscars and won over critics and viewers alike. Typical of many music films: The musical contribution is provided by concert recordings of the band, while the love story forms the substantive, common thread.
20. Crazy Heart (2009)
Jeff Bridges scored an Oscar win as one of the oldest winners with his portrayal of Bad Blake in “Crazy Heart.” The character Blake is a country legend who is now severely gnawing on old age: Frequently drunk, he lives from gig to gig in his car and motels, watching his much younger former student Tommy Sweet snatch up musical fame. But when he meets and befriends reporter Jean Craddock, his life begins to regain a sense of purpose, even if he still can’t keep his hands off alcohol.
Some consider the embodiment of the musician to be Bridges’ best performance. The concert scene was shot during a real country concert, so the mood in the film clearly fits.
21. Control (2007)
“Control” joins the list of autobiographical music films and tells the tragic story of singer Ian Curtis, who meets Debbie at 19, marries her shortly after, and starts a family with her. As frontman of the band “Joy Division,” he quickly becomes popular outside his hometown of Manchester with his special voice and gritty charisma. But Curtis is overwhelmed with fame, which doesn’t help his affair with journalist Annike and brings about the end of his marriage. Severe depression and epilepsy plague him, which is how the tragedy surrounding the character runs its course.
In keeping with the post-punk music genre, the film is in black and white and illustrates the dangers of quick success in the spotlight, which can sometimes have unexpected consequences.
22. Bohemian Rhapsody (2018)
Bohemian Rhapsody is a celebration of Queen, their music, and their extraordinary lead singer Freddie Mercury. Freddie defied stereotypes and shattered conventions to become one of the most popular entertainers on the planet. The film traces the band’s meteoric rise through their iconic songs and revolutionary sound.
You won’t see a more perfect and imperfect rock’n’roll biopic than Bohemian Rhapsody, which does many things extremely well, other things rather averagely, and one thing flawlessly: capturing the immense charisma and panache of Queen singer Freddie Mercury.
Other great music movies include:
23. Straight Outta Compton (2015)
24. Begin Again (2014)
25. Sing Street (2016)
26. Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World
27. Wayne’s World
28. Prince – Purple Rain
29. This Must Be the Place (2012)
30. Saturday Night Fever
31. Metallica: Some Kind of Monster
32. Mistaken For Strangers (2013)
33. Pretty in Pink (1986)
34. Rocky Horror Picture Show
35. This is Spinal Tap (1984)
With this list, we’ve put together a colorful mix of the best music films, so hopefully, there’s something for everyone’s taste. Outside of this list, there are a lot of noteworthy music films that delight audiences around the world in very different ways and with different musical styles.