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Music on Film: The Best of the Biopic

In light of the release of Bohemian Rhapsody one week ago, I have been researching and watching a lot of biopics on various individuals in the music industry. (Although in the context of Bohemian Rhapsody, the word biopic is used lightly.) We have compiled here a collection of some of the best, and that we deem to be essential music biopics.


  • I'm Not There: An eclectic film documenting the various stages of the career of folk music legend Bob Dylan. Dylan is portrayed throughout his career by various award-winning actors including Cate Blanchett, Christian Bale, and the late Heath Ledger.


  • Straight Outta Compton: This look at the birth of gangster rap pulls no punches in its brutal look at late 80s to early 90s Los Angeles. The star of the show is Jason Mitchell's portrayal of conflicted financier and leading member of the hip hop group N.W.A, Eazy-E.


  • The Buddy Holly Story: One of the first stars of rock'n'roll lost too soon, the Buddy Holly Story documents the career of the legendary early frontman of rock’n’roll, fronting his band, Buddy Holly and the Crickets. Gary Busey's portrayal of Holly is among the best of his career, and fills the shoes perfectly. The film marked the return of Buddy Holly's greatest hits record to the Billboard album charts.


  • Amadeus: A dive into the competitive life and career of classical icon Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. The film falls somewhere in the range of surrealist period drama through its flashbacks of Mozart's contemporary and main competitor, Antonio Salieri.


  • Walk The Line: Joaquin Phoenix portrays the breadth of Johnny Cash's career in a fantastic performance capturing the Man in Black's rise to fame in the late 1950s through Sun Records. The film depicts Cash's allure as well as his personal struggles, coping with the loss of his brother during his childhood.


  • Ray: The role which won Jamie Foxx an Oscar in 2004, Ray depicts the tumultuous rise of the jazz frontman Ray Charles, through his battles with addiction and (similar to Cash) learning to accept the early tragic death of his brother. The film features a near perfect portrayal of Charles, as it is plain to see that Jamie Foxx put intense study into the mannerisms and performance style of the legendary rhythm and blues performer.


Have any biopics we missed that you deem as essential? Let us know on social media if there's any we should check out!

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