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The 16 best music movies of all time to watch now

From Straight Outta Compton to A Star is Born, these are the best music movies that you can stream now.

Any music fan knows that it’s almost impossible to replicate the feeling of attending a music festival. The sheer joy of seeing bands perform on a massive stage is hard to beat, but when a music festival is too far away or too pricy, we have great music movies to fill the void. The best music movies remind us the joy that music brings us, and also the way that the music industry can swallow up many of the stars it creates.

Of course, it also helps if these movies have really good music to back them up. Ultimately, though, these music movies serve as inspiration for every inspiring musician. Whether they’re actually true stories or they just feel like true stories, every great music movie should leave you moved and excited about the possibilities of music.

Christopher Guest, Harry Shearer, and Michael McKean of Spinal Tap.
Pete Cronin/Getty Images

Here are the best music movies to stream now.

Almost Famous (2000)

Almost Famous
90 %
r 122m
Genre Drama, Music
Stars Patrick Fugit, Billy Crudup, Kate Hudson
Directed by Cameron Crowe
What more needs to be said about Cameron Crowe’s Y2K classic? The film takes place in ’73 and follows an aspiring young music journalist during the heyday of Rolling Stone magazine. The classic rock songs written for make-believe band Stillwater feel as though they could be the work of Zeppelin, Skynyrd, or the Allman Brothers. And Kate Hudson’s character, Penny Lane (inspired by Pennie Trumbull), is as delightful and freewheeling as they come.
Almost Famous (2000) Trailer #1 | Movieclips Classic Trailers

This Is Spinal Tap (1984)

This Is Spinal Tap
92 %
r 82m
Genre Music, Comedy
Stars Christopher Guest, Michael McKean, Harry Shearer
Directed by Rob Reiner
This examination of fake English glam-hair-metal band Spinal Tap is absolutely hilarious. One of writer Christopher Guest’s greatest gifts to the public, the 1984 film is as absurd and intoxicating as ever. The scuzzy music steals the show, but the outstanding wardrobe, stage layouts, and picture-perfect depiction of rock star ridiculousness aren’t far behind.

Summer of Soul (...or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised) (2021)

Summer of Soul (...or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised)
96 %
pg-13 117m
Genre Documentary, Music
Stars Stevie Wonder, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Jesse Jackson
Directed by Questlove
The summer of 1969 is often remembered for the legendary performances that took place at Woodstock. Meanwhile, an amazing festival unfolded in Harlem, drawing some of the best talent of the time. This powerful and wonderfully-scored music doc breaks down the Harlem Cultural Festival, a true showcase and celebration of Black music that drew 300,000 people over the course of a single summer. We’re talking Stevie Wonder, Gladys Knight, B.B. King, and so many more. Better, it’s a fantastic directorial debut from musician Questlove.

Singles (1992)

71 %
pg-13 99m
Genre Comedy, Drama, Romance
Stars Bridget Fonda, Campbell Scott, Kyra Sedgwick
Directed by Cameron Crowe
The ’92 film is another by Crowe and paints a lovely portrait of love and music during Seattle’s most famous era to date. Actual stars like Chris Cornell (RIP) and Eddie Vedder enter the mix, and the vignettes of struggling relationships capture perfectly what it’s like to try to grow up without losing the part of yourself that loved going to shows and being rebellious. It’s a rom-com that swaps the cheese for the best of Gen X noise.
Singles (1992) Official Trailer - Bridget Fonda, Matt Dillon Movie HD

Purple Rain (1984)

Purple Rain
55 %
r 111m
Genre Drama, Music, Romance
Stars Prince, Apollonia Kotero, Morris Day
Directed by Albert Magnoli
The grandaddy of them all, Purple Rain is pretty much the role model for great music films. Here, Prince shows his unrivaled ability as a dynamic pop-rock god, part sweet-talking, bike-riding crooner, part electric-guitar-wielding badass. The barn-burning 1984 movie is like one long music video, drenched in purple and never easing off the gas. After you watch it, you’ll wish you could be even 10 percent as cool as Prince was then.
Purple Rain (1984) Official Trailer - Prince, Apollonia Kotero Movie

The Sound of Music (1965)

The Sound of Music
63 %
g 175m
Genre Drama, Family, Music, Romance
Stars Julie Andrews, Christopher Plummer, Eleanor Parker
Directed by Robert Wise
The iconic 1965 film is too vital not to include, even if it’s very obviously a musical. It raked in five Oscars and is typically included in every “best films of all time” shortlist, music-themed or otherwise. A triumph of singing over not, culture over Nazis, and Julie Andrews over anything, The Sound of Music makes you want to frolic through the countryside with reckless abandon. And the Rodgers and Hammerstein score is both pure joy and one of the most successful soundtrack LPs ever.
The Sound of Music (1965) Trailer #1 | Movieclips Classic Trailers

High Fidelity (2000)

High Fidelity
79 %
Genre Comedy, Drama, Romance, Music
Stars John Cusack, Iben Hjejle, Todd Louiso
Directed by Stephen Frears
Released in 2000, High Fidelity is high on the list of the best John Cusack movies of all time. It’s a film with scenes that burrow deep into your psyche, and likely inspired millions of thoughtful mixtapes, assembled for love interests across the globe. Apparently, settling on a soundtrack was one of the hardest parts of production, which is unsurprising given that the film focuses on a music snob as its main character. But the sonic backdrop does the film proud, featuring the likes of Bill Callahan, Roky Erickson, the Beta Band, Bob Dylan, and more. If you didn’t have a vinyl collection before watching this movie, you’ll surely start one after.
High Fidelity (2000) Trailer #1 | Movieclips Classic Trailers

Inside Llewyn Davis (2013)

Inside Llewyn Davis
93 %
r 104m
Genre Drama, Music
Stars Oscar Isaac, Carey Mulligan, John Goodman
Directed by Joel Coen, Ethan Coen
There are countless films that deal with the plight of folk singer-songwriters, but this happens to be one of the best. Tempting as it was to include Crazy Heart, it was 2013’s Inside Llewyn Davis that ultimately earned this particular slot. Maybe it’s the Coen brothers’ mystical effect, or maybe’s it’s the understated soundtrack. It’s a gorgeous take on the art scene of Greenwich Village circa 1961, led by up-and-coming Oscar Isaac (who performed many of the songs himself). With T. Bone Burnett as the executive music producer, the film also has a folk-infused soundtrack that feels both contemporary and of its time. Llewyn Davis is not always sympathetic, but that doesn’t make Inside Llewyn Davis any less compelling.
Inside Llewyn Davis Theatrical Trailer #3 (2013) - John Goodman Movie HD

A Star Is Born (2018)

A Star Is Born
88 %
r 136m
Genre Drama, Romance
Stars Bradley Cooper, Lady Gaga, Sam Elliott
Directed by Bradley Cooper
It’s not often that a film can prove that an actor can be a musician and vice versa. La La Land is a great example of the former, but A Star Is Born does both, swimmingly. Lady Gaga flexes her acting muscles, while Bradley Cooper shows that in another life, he could have just as easily been a drunken country-rock legend. Cooper’s downfall, in particular, is so gripping — and unfortunately so commonplace among great rock stars — that you just might contemplate setting down the beer for good. Better still, original tracks like “Shallow” and “Maybe It’s Time” would be hits even if they were written just for headphones and speakers. It’s not the first time this story has been filmed (and probably not the last), but the 2018 version is far and away the best.
A STAR IS BORN - Official Trailer 1

Love & Mercy (2015)

Love & Mercy
80 %
pg-13 120m
Genre Drama, Music, History
Stars Erin Darke, John Cusack, Joanna Going
Directed by Bill Pohlad
In a masterful biopic of the great Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys, John Cusack and Paul Dano team up to embody the early and late stages of his life, full of turmoil and mental imbalance. Switching between different times in Wilson’s life, we witness an adaptation of a younger Wilson (Dano also magnificently performs the songs himself) as he quits touring to produce the timeless album Pet Sounds, slipping slowly and steadily into psychosis. Cutting to the future, Cusack plays an older and broken Wilson, psychologically limited and trapped under controversial 24-hour therapy tactics from the infamous Dr. Eugene Landy. Beautiful and tragic, we witness the many shattered pieces of Wilson’s psyche as he single-handedly competes with the world-famous Beatles to create some of the best music ever written. This movie should not be missed by any music lovers.
Love & Mercy Official Trailer #1 (2015) - Brian Wilson Biopic HD

Whiplash (2014)

88 %
r 107m
Genre Drama, Music
Stars Miles Teller, J.K. Simmons, Paul Reiser
Directed by Damien Chazelle

This excellent 2014 film spotlights a percussionist, one of the least-featured musician types in all of cinema. The movie’s focus is on the brutality that often feels necessary for greatness, and it instantly put Damien Chazelle on the map. J.K. Simmons is at his best, playing a merciless, drill-sergeant-like instructor at a music academy. It’s intense, immensely dramatic, and filmed beautifully.

Whiplash TRAILER 1 (2014) - J.K. Simmons, Miles Teller Movie HD

Coco (2017)

81 %
pg 105m
Genre Family, Animation, Fantasy, Music, Comedy, Adventure
Stars Anthony Gonzalez, Gael García Bernal, Benjamin Bratt
Directed by Lee Unkrich
This animated gem is family friendly and dazzles with gorgeous visuals and amazing color. The story itself is a love letter to music, specifically traditional Latin American folk. It’s a beautiful tale that dives into the bright side of mortality by way of the El Dia de los Muertos. The soundtrack is spotless, the plot is heartwarming, and the dreamy feel of it all is hypnotic in the best of ways. If it doesn’t move you to pick up a guitar or nudge your young ones toward music lessons, nothing will.
Coco Official Final Trailer

Bird (1988)

78 %
r 161m
Genre Drama, Music
Stars Forest Whitaker, Diane Venora, Keith David
Directed by Clint Eastwood
Bird chronicles the incredible life of Charlie Parker, arguably the greatest sax player of all time. It’s a Clint Eastwood joint, released in 1988 with Forest Whitaker playing the lead. Even if you’re not a jazz nut, you’ll adore the atmosphere of it all, with a backdrop of smoky lounges and Parker wowing the audience with his unmatched chops and improvisational wizardry.
Bird (1988) - Trailer - Clint Eastwood

Rocketman (2019)

69 %
r 121m
Genre Music, Drama, History
Stars Taron Egerton, Jamie Bell, Richard Madden
Directed by Dexter Fletcher
This biopic of epic proportions follows the extraordinary rise of Elton John. There’s partying, drugs, wild performances, amazing wardrobe displays, and some truly incredible acting from Taron Egerton. It’s hard to imagine a time when Elton wasn’t an international sensation at the top of his game, but this movie reveals those early, raucous days in hyper-entertaining fashion.

The Doors (1991)

The Doors
62 %
r 140m
Genre Music, Drama
Stars Val Kilmer, Meg Ryan, Kyle MacLachlan
Directed by Oliver Stone
There’s hardly a more captivating personality in music history than Jim Morrison, and that’s saying something. The Doors focuses on the poetic and eccentric frontman, played expertly by Val Kilmer. As an Oliver Stone flick, it feels very authentic, set in the heyday of psychedelic surf rock, AKA Venice, California in the ’60s. The movie unapologetically embraces all of the cliches associated with rock stardom, from the sex and drugs to the pompousness and anti-establishment leanings. And you’re even treated to some excellent supporting work from Meg Ryan.
The Doors (1991) Official Movie Trailer

Straight Outta Compton (2015)

Straight Outta Compton
Genre Drama, Music, History
Stars O'Shea Jackson Jr., Corey Hawkins, Jason Mitchell
Directed by F. Gary Gray
One of the surprise hits of its year, Straight Outta Compton was an unflinching portrait of how N.W.A. became one of the biggest rap groups in the country. Featuring astounding performances from its young ensemble, Straight Outta Compton is also about the way the west coast hip hop scene was heavily influenced by the War on Drugs, and by the mistreatment each of these men experienced at the hands of the police. It’s a shocking, gripping film that became an enormous sensation, and launched several members of its young cast to stardom. 
Straight Outta Compton - Official Trailer (HD)

Editors' Recommendations

Movie images and data from:
Mark Stock

Mark Stock is a writer from Portland, Oregon. He fell into wine during the Recession and has been fixated on the stuff since. He spent years making, selling, and sipping Pinot Noir in the Dundee Hills before a full return to his journalistic roots in 2016. He's helplessly tied to European soccer, casting for trout, and grunge rock. In addition to The Manual, he writes for SevenFifty Daily, Sip Northwest, The Somm Journal, The Drake, Willamette Week, Travel Oregon, and more. He has a website and occasionally even updates it:

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