Elvis to Selena: 15 of the best music biopics and where to watch them

Groovy and addictive music enveloped in nostalgic magnetism and madness of some of the biggest western classical musicians in the world is the main ingredient of a brilliant music biopic. Chronicling the lives of musicians from various genres including blues, jazz, rock, pop, hip-hop and rap, these films, considered to be a some of the best music biopics, evoke strong emotions among the masses. As most of us relate to music, especially during both high and low points in our lives, we develop a wistful longing to go back to the glorified old days. Additionally, the language of music is universal and hence the global market is open for such movies which mostly never fail to do well at the box office.

Movies profiling the biggest and most famous musicians across the world have one common tone which is to inspire and entertain us with the tales of these great personalities who have gone through extraordinary individual journeys and lived memorable lives. Apart from the rags-to-riches story which again is a common thread of these movies, the sole reason for the popularity of a musical biopic is the utmost importance that is given to the crazy worship of music shown by these gems. Consequently, the charm of a good music biopic never fades.

Some of the most famous films based on brilliant musicians include the recently released Elvis (2022) which follows the life and times of the ‘The King’ of rock n roll to Bohemian Rhapsody (2018), capturing the unconventional life of Freddie Mercury.

Exhilarating and captivating in every sense, watch these biopics and go on an unforgettable journey filled with melody and excitement.



Here are some of the best music biopics that you should not miss

(Main and featured image credit: IMDb)

1 /15

Elvis (2022)

Directed by: Baz Luhrmann

Cast: Tom Hanks, Austin Butler and Olivia DeJonge

Synopsis: Butler plays the titular role in this classic real-life story of the American rock-and-roll legend Elvis Presley. Hanks plays his manager Colonel Tom Parker with whom he shares an interesting relationship.

Awards: Best actor for Butler at Hollywood Critics Association Midseason Awards (2022)

Image credit: IMDb

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2 /15

Bohemian Rhapsody (2018)

Directed by: Bryan Singer

Cast: Rami Malek, Lucy Boynton and Gwilym Lee

Synopsis: The film takes viewers on the eventful journey of Freddie Mercury, played oh-so-perfectly by Malek.

Awards: Best performance by an actor in a leading role for Malek, Best Achievement in Film Editing for John Ottman, Best Achievement in Sound Editing for John Warhurst and Nina Hartstone, Best Achievement in Sound Mixing for Paul Massey, Tim Cavagin and John Casali at the Academy Awards, USA 2019 (Oscars); Best Leading Actor for Malek, Best Sound for Massey, Cavagin, Hartstone, Warhurst and Casali, Nomination for Outstanding British Film Of The Year at BAFTA Awards (2019).

Image credit: IMDb

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3 /15

Rocketman (2019)

Directed by: Dexter Fletcher

Cast: Taron Egerton, Jamie Bell and Richard Madden

Synopsis: Egerton plays Elton John in all his glory in this flick that portrays his early life, a breakthrough in his career and how he transformed into ‘Rocketman Elton John’ from an ordinary British boy, Reginald Kenneth Dwight.

Awards: Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures (Original Song) for Elton John and Bernie Taupin at Academy Awards, USA 2020 (Oscars)

Image credit:IMDb

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4 /15

Ray (2004)

Directed by: Taylor Hackford

Cast: Jamie Foxx, Regina King and Kerry Washington

Synopsis: Foxx plays the legendary breakout blues star Ray Charles, with the movie revolving around how he dominated the music scene in the 1950s and 1960s. It is also an inspiring story of a boy who lost his eyesight in childhood, but that did not deter him from his commitment to music.

Awards: Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role for Foxx, Best Achievement in Sound Mixing for Scott Millan, Greg Orloff, Bob Beemer and Steve Cantamess at Academy Awards, USA 2005 (Oscars)

Image credit: IMDb

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5 /15

Get On Up (2014)

Directed by: Tate Taylor

Cast: Chadwick Boseman, Nelsan Ellis and Dan Aykroyd

Synopsis: Boseman plays Charles Brown, who is best known for his melodious ballads and was a major sensation in the 1960s in the American blues scene. The movie is about his rags-to-riches story, filled with real-life dramatic ups and downs that the singer went through before making a name for himself.

Image credit: IMDb

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6 /15

Funny Girl (1968)

Directed by: William Wyler

Cast: Barbra Streisand, Omar Sharif and Kay Medford

Synopsis: This masterpiece stars Streisand as Fanny Brice, a comedienne and a Broadway star of the 1900s. The plot is woven around her claim to fame and her personal relationships.

About the film: Brice was identified as one of the famous girls associated with Florenz Ziegfeld’s theatrical Broadway revue and this biopic is an ode to her talent.

Awards: Best Actress in a Leading Role for Streisand at Academy Awards, USA 1968 (Oscars)

Image credit: IMDb

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7 /15

Miles Ahead (2015)

Directed by: Don Cheadle

Cast: Don Cheadle, Emayatzy Corineald and Ewan McGregor

Synopsis: Oscar-winning star Cheadle plays the eccentric, unpredictable but supremely talented Jazz musician Miles Davis. McGregor plays a music reporter named Dave Braden who adds an interesting texture to the plot.

Image credit: IMDb

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8 /15

Jersey Boys (2014)

Directed by: Clint Eastwood

Cast: John Lloyd Young, Erich Bergen and Michael Lomenda

Synopsis: The movie is centred around the lead singer of the band The Four Seasons, Frankie Valli (Young), and the other members who despite belonging to a modest background became one of the most loved rock bands in the 1960s.

Awards: Best Foreign Language Film at Blue Ribbon Awards 2015

Image credit: IMDb

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9 /15

Great Balls Of Fire! (1989)

Directed by: Jim McBride

Cast: Dennis Quaid, Winona Ryder and John Doe

Synopsis: Quaid plays the bold and controversial rock-and-roll star of the 1950s, Jerry Lee Lewis, who made headlines for his controversial choices including marrying his minor cousin aged 13. Ryder plays his wife Myra.

Image credit: IMDb

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10 /15

Bird (1988)

Cast: Forest Whitaker, Diane Venora and Michael Zelniker

Synopsis: Charlie ‘Bird’ (Whitaker) is a talented but troubled saxophone player of the 1940s. Tragic and inspiring in equal measures, Bird meanders through life with his personal problems, playing extraordinary music all the way long.

Awards: Best sound for Les Fresholtz, Rick Alexander (as Dick Alexander), Vern Poore and Willie D. Burton at Academy Awards, USA 1989 (Oscar)

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11 /15

Love & Mercy (2014)

Directed by: Bill Pohlad

Cast: John Cusack, Paul Dano and Elizabeth Banks

Synopsis: Cusack plays the Beach Boys frontman Brian Wilson — an award-winning songwriter and composer of the hit solo album Pet Sounds and also the single “Good Vibrations” in the 1960s. In a career spanning almost six decades, the movie is an insight into Wilson’s troubled childhood and turbulent relationship with his father, his resultant psychosis and substance abuse at a later stage in life.

Image credit: IMDb

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12 /15

Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll (2010)

Directed by: Mat Whitecross

Cast: Andy Serkis, Tom Hughes and Clifford Samuel

Synopsis: Serkis plays Ian Dury who was instrumental in starting Britain’s punk rock culture. The movie traces his childhood when he got infected with polio and how he rose through all the challenges to become one of the most influential musical figures in the world.

Image credit: IMDb

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13 /15

Sid and Nancy (1986)

Directed by: Alex Cox

Cast: Gary Oldman, Chloe Webb and David Hayman

Synopsis: The film follows British punk musician Sid Vicious (Oldman) and his partner Nancy Spungen (Webb). Once associated with the popular band Sex Pistols, he is all strung out after the split. The plot centres around his personal relationship with Nancy, his drug addiction and his rise and fall as a superstar punk artiste.

Awards: Best Actress for Webb at Boston Society of Film Critics Awards 1987; Most Promising Newcomer for Oldman at Evening Standard British Film Awards 1987

Image credit: IMDb

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14 /15

Selena (1987)

Directed by: Gregory Nava

Cast: Jennifer Lopez, Edward James Olmos and Jon Seda

Synopsis: The film chronicles the remarkable journey of Tejano singer Selena Quintanilla-Pérez (Lopez) who was unfortunately shot dead at the peak of her career. Her songs topped all the Latin music charts.

Awards: Nomination for Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture – Comedy or Musical for Lopez at the Golden Globe, USA 1998.

Image credit: IMDb

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15 /15

Straight Outta Compton (2015)

Directed by: F. Gary Gray

Cast: O’Shea Jackson Jr, Corey Hawkins and Jason Mitchell

Synopsis: The movie is an ode to the hip-hop music and culture of West Coast hip-hop pioneers NWA. Jackson Jr essays the lead role of prolific gangsta rapper Ice Cube whose hit lyrics questioned everything from sexism to politics.

Awards: Nomination for Best Writing, Original Screenplay for Andrea Berloff, Jonathan Herman, S. Leigh Savidge, Alan Wenkus at the Academy Awards, USA 2016 (Oscar)

Image credit: IMDb

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