Top Ten Music Movies

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  1. A Hard Day’s Night: Sure, this was obviously just a way to capitalize the height of Beatlemania. But, this film could have been a cheap cash-grab. It is, in fact, an untouchable classic from director Richard Lester. Great music, humor, and performances by the Fab Four make this the ultimate rock ‘n’ roll movie of all-time, even if it’s simply a day in the life of a band on tour.
  2. Nashville: Robert Altman’s classic about the mutual influences of a big campaign and beloved local music. Featuring a giant ensemble castthat was what he was known forall these stories carry fascinating exchanges and plots. The actors wrote their own songs, which are also top-notch. The giant shock at the endingwhich nothing can prepare you forhas been talked about for years, but the movie is itself one of the best features from one of the best filmmakers and deserves constant conversation.
  3. Almost Famous: Based on Cameron Crowe’s true experience of being a teenager aspiring to write music articles, this film perfectly shows the highs and lows of a wild rock ‘n’ roll band. It’s hilarious and heartbreakingespecially considering how Crowe would soon make the feature Elizabethtown, a failure that would set the ceiling for the bulk of his movies thereafter. But, this is his best, showing the joys and pains of meeting your heroes.
  4. Whiplash: Miles Teller’s unstoppable drive to be the best drummer under teacher J.K. Simmons (who wonand totally deservedan Oscar for this) is as tense as any horror movie. The recurring question is, “How much further will he go to satisfy this monster?” The performances are perfect with Teller showing absolute determination, Simmons breathing fire, and Paul Reiser (Teller’s father in the film) looking completely terrified of his son’s devotion to this monster.
  5. High Fidelity: John Cusack, in his best performance, plays a record store owner who is unable to fathom how he ends up so alone, prompting him to find where it all went wrong. Cusack is a riot, as he even knows he’s the bad guy. But, you still root for him. His encyclopedic knowledge of music and his addiction to ranking everythingbe it ex-girlfriends or albumscreates a genius character. This is Cusack’s baby, with him even co-writing the script. It was also Jack Black’s breakthrough role, playing the ultimate music snob.
  6. This Is Spinal Tap: Probably the best mockumentary ever, this is as much Christopher Guest, Harry Shearer, and Michael McKean’s film as it is director Rob Reiner’s. The heavily-improvised project follows the comeback of a forgotten metal band. It’s quotable, rib-tickling, and always entertaining.
  7. Inside Llewyn Davis: The most recent feature from the Coen Brothers tells the story of a failing folk artist in the early 60s Greenwich Village. Oscar Isaac plays the title character, morose from the recent suicide of this musical partner and tired of being unknown. He’s also an ass. The cinematography brings to mind Dylan’s Freewheelin’ cover and the music is beautiful. John Goodman makes a hysterical appearance in this dark comedy. It’s not uplifting, but it is wonderful.
  8. Once: John Carney’s indie hit is very quiet, but remarkably gorgeous. Glen Hansard plays a struggling troubadour in Ireland who becomes drawn to the personalityand musical skillof a poor Czech immigrant, played by Markéta Irglová. The two carry the film, and its original songs are true gems, one of them being an Oscar-winner.
  9. God Help The Girl: Belle and Sebastian’s Stuart Murdoch released his passion project last year. With a plethora of cracking 60s girl group-infused pop songs and a general sense of whimsy, he released a total winner. The loose-story, about a young woman recovering from an eating disorder trying to begin a pop group is a beautiful wisp of fresh air. Having worked on it for five years, Murdoch has made a heartfelt piece of work, both joyous and melancholy, but never compromised.
  10. Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story: John C. Reilly has a ball playing the fictional Dewey Cox, a country star taken down by sex, drugs, pride, and daddy issues. The songs are surprisingly good and the movie brings to mind, among other films, Walk the Line, Ray, and The Buddy Holly Story and the careers of Brian Wilson, Bob Dylan, The Beatles, andabove allJohnny Cash. It’s the funniest rock movie since Spinal Tap, but is worthy on its own merit. The Office’s Jenna Fischer is also great as Dewey’s long-suffering, but also ridiculous, wife. With no emotional-depth, this  is a comedy for music-lovers.




   Honorable Mention: Velvet Goldmine: Renowned director Todd Haynes’s movie about the liberation of the glam rock era, and the bleak era after, is definitely worth a viewing. Being inspired by David Bowie and Lou Reed, it’s chaotic and depressing, but it’s great. It’s also on Netflix.