The Singer As Film Star

Over the years there have been a number of biopics cranked out of Hollywood, and some are quite memorable and definitely worth a look. So, if you’re searching for a little extra inspiration as a singer, or simply want to unwind while feeding your muse, we’ve complied a list of some of the most critically-acclaimed films that tell the story of a singer, musician, or songwriter.

This is simply a list of possible suggestions to add to your Netflix queue or to pick up at your local home viewing video outlet.

The Picks Of The Flicks

Recent offerings such as the Johnny Cash biopic, Walk The Line, and the Edith Piaf tribute, La Vie En Rose, offer Oscar®-winning performances and gritty behind-the-scenes portrays of life in the limelight for vulnerable artists.

Ray is a brilliant, stunning tribute to Ray Charles with a must-see uncanny, powerfully moving performance by Oscar-winner Jamie Foxx.

On the top of many critic’s list is Oliver Stone’s study of Jim Morrison called The Doors. Morrison was lead singer for The Doors and died in 1971 at age 27. The film moves from his days at UCLA’s prestigious film school to his final days in Paris. Critics cite Val Kilmer’s performance as good reason to view the flick. As Morrison Kilmer did much of his own singing. He was so convincing that many who knew Morrison could not distinguish between Morrison’s tracks and those of Kilmer.

Mozart And Beatles And Songbirds

Amadeus tells the story of Mozart with humor, pathos, lush scenery, dark shadows and spiritual brilliance. It is at once both disturbing and uplifting.

Coal Miner’s Daughter is a tour-de-force for Sissy Spacek as Loretta Lynn. The film features incredible performances by Tommy Lee Jones as her husband, Levon Helm as her father, and the radiant, gifted Beverly D’Angelo in her haunting portrayal of the tragic country diva Patsy Cline. Both Spacek and D’Angelo did their own singing.

The Buddy Holly Story, La Bamba, and Great Balls Of Fire pay homage to some of the 1950’s key roots of rock talents.

Bird features mega-talent Forest Whitaker as revolutionary Jazz musician Charlie “Bird” Parker. The film was directed by Clint Eastwood. Lady Sings The Blues is a grim and gritty look into the life of Billie Holliday, with a fantastic performance by Diana Ross who sings as Lady Day (Holliday).

BackBeat tells the story of the Beatles early days in Germany with its seedy, atmospheric underpinnings, beatniks and pre-Ringo Starr band members, drummer Pete Best and bass guitarist Stuart Sutcliffe.

Other recommended music biopics include Sid And Nancy, Selena, What’s Love Got To Do With It, The Glenn Miller Story, Farinelli, LeadBelly, The Gene Krupa Story, Elvis (John Carpenter), Yankee Doodle Dandy, and Shine.

Documentaries And Others

This Is Spinal Tap and The Blues Brothers are wonderful trips of fancy in the guise of biopics. A number of music documentaries are worth a look as well, including Gimme Shelter, Woodstock, Neil Young: Heart of Gold, The Last Waltz, Dig!, and Standing In The Shadows Of Motown.

Also noteworthy are Music of the Heart, with Meryl Streep as a schoolteacher struggling to teach violin to inner-city Harlem kids and Mr. Holland’s Opus, starring Richard Dreyfuss as a frustrated composer who takes a job as a music teacher in order to have extra time to compose. He however finds that the true compositions of value are the students he inspires.

There are many others worth viewing. These are just a few suggestions to get you started. So why not gather a few folks from your circles of connections and compare notes on these inspired stories of those who provide you and others with reasons to sing.