The Top 10 Best Music Biopics

Categories: Film
The news that Alan Rickman will be portraying Hilly Kristal in a new CBGB biopic half excited us, then half scared us yesterday. He'll be good, but Lordy, who is going to play Debbie Harry? And The Ramones? Those are big shoes to fill... So we comforted ourselves with this -- a list of our top 10 favorite music biopics. There are quite a remarkable number of good ones, too. We feel kinda bad for not including La Bamba here, but, take our word for it... We re-watched that movie recently and it's kinda terrible. So, let the countdown begin!

10. The Buddy Holly Story

Before Gary Busey was a raving lunatic, he made some great movies, like, um, Point Break, and, when he was super young, The Buddy Holly Story, in which he somewhat convincingly portrayed Buddy Holly. Whether you've seen this or not, you already know how it ends -- duh: tragedy -- but we wish to emphasize that this movie is unintentionally hilarious throughout and, therefore, thoroughly enjoyable. Also, it's a nice reminder that Buddy Holly wrote some damn fine tunes.
9. Backbeat

When Backbeat came out in 1994, it was a bit like stumbling across your mom's old journals and finding out she had a sordid secret history that she'd never bothered to tell you about. The Beatles? A quintet? Hanging around German docks all dressed in leather? What the...? It all happened folks, and it's all here and largely focused on tragic original bassist Stuart Sutcliffe. We're glad he finally got a bit of credit here.

8. The Doors

The Doors remain extremely polarizing with music nerds -- you either love 'em or hate 'em -- largely because of flouncy, pretentious, and often-annoying frontman, Jim Morrison. Who better to play him then, than Val Kilmer? Seriously though, the casting for this movie is stellar across the board, and Oliver Stone brings the Los Angeles of the late '60s and early '70s, as well as the music of The Doors, to life vividly in this movie

7. Cadillac Records

Speaking of stellar casting, Beyonce Knowles' portrayal of Etta James in this movie is a revelation! Absolutely stunning. There have been some quibbles that the representation of her relationship with Chess Records founder Leonard Chess, isn't portrayed entirely accurately here, but this movie is nothing but engrossing from start to finish. It's basically six biopics for the price of one. And the soundtrack is incredible.

6. Ray

Watching Jamie Foxx as Ray Charles in this movie was the next best thing to having a time machine -- which is why he won the Academy Award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role for it. The content, too, was stunning. Everybody and their aunt knows that Kurt Cobain was a drug addict, but Ray Charles? Now, that was a surprise.

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Coal Miner's Daughter. Hello?


Some editor should be fired for forgetting Coal Miners Daughter. 


Truer words about Coal Miner's Daughter. I also think that La Bamba is a great movie. How can it be so bad with Marshall Crenshaw playing Buddy Holly?

Alan Scherstuhl
Alan Scherstuhl

If you multiply all of these together, you might finally come close to something as great as the best ever music biopic: "Walk Hard." Seriously, it's the only great music-geek comedy ever made. 

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