I was driving my son to school one day this week and was thinking of an upcoming music project I want to start. To get inspired, I started thinking of  what some of my favorite movies are where music plays a key role, almost like one of the key actors. I think that leading up to this project I might start to rewatch these.

All of the links below are to Amazon Video unless noted.

Documentaries & Biopics

  • 808 The Movie
    Documentary about the Roland 808 drum machine and the music it inspired.
  • The Art of Listening (YouTube)
    Documentary film about the journey music takes to reach a listener’s ear, from the intent of an instrument maker and composer, to the producers and engineers who capture and preserve an artist’s voice.
  • Buena Vista Social Club
    The documentary about the music of Cuba. Ry Cooder brings together an ensemble of legendary musicians from Cuba to record an album and perform at Carnegie Hall.
  • Control
    This is a biopic about Ian Curtis of Joy Division.
  • Depeche Mode – The Dark Progression
  • How Music Works (YouTube)
    Documentary series where Howard Goodal talks about music theory and how music works, delivered in a simple digestible way for a music listener’s perspective.

  • Explained (Netflix)
    Episode 1, “Music” talks about the unique ability of humans among the animal kingdom to universally discern and understand music and dance.
  • Joy Division
    Documentary Joy Division assembled from interviews and footage of the band’s perfo rmance. Tells the story of the 70s Manchester scene that led to the forming of the band, through their short lived success, the end of the band after the suicide of Ian Curtis, and their reassembly as New Order.
  • Score: A Film Music Documentary
    Documentary about the making of film scores, featuring Hans Zimmer, Danny Elfman, John Williams, Quincy Jones, and Trent Reznor.
  • Sigur Rós: Heima
    Documentary about the band’s tour around Iceland in the summer of 2006.
  • Searching for Sugarman
    Documentary about the search for recording artist Sixto Rodriguez, whose work in the 60’s and 70’s went unrecognized in the U.S., but became an underground phenomenon over decades in South Africa.
  • Sound City
    Dave Grohl’s documentary about the production studio in Van Nuys, California where work was produced by Neil Young, Fleetwood Mac and Nirvana.
  • Woodstock
    It’s an incredible spectacle and homage to the music of a generation that preceded me, and it’s probably also one of the best music documentaries ever made. Not sure if  the confluence of music, social, and political climate that made up this festival and experience could ever happen again.

Drama

  • 24 Hour Party People
    Movie set in the Manchester music scene from the 80s’ to 90’s, mostly about the music coming out of Factory Records and the The Haçienda club.
  • Amadeus
    Story of  the downfall of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart as orchestrated by his nemesis, the less talented but politically favored Antonin Salieri.
  • Frank
    The story of a band fronted by Frank, a dude wearing a huge papier mâché head and their rocky journey towards greatness or maybe destruction.
  • Hustle and Flow
    The story of a Memphis pimp in mid-life crisis attempting to become a successful rapper.
  • Once
    A love story set in a Dublin bathed in the music of Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová.
  • Whiplash
    A wild ride following a jazz drummer’s journey to become great and the abusive conservatory instructor that tries to push him to his limits.
  • Wild Style
    Charlie Ahearn’s film that captures the birth of hip hop art, music, dance and culture in this 1980s New York City classic.

Guilty Pleasure Movies

Have any music-related movies that you think I should add to the list? Let me know in the comments below.