With a new wave of music biopics being announced, including Tupac, Miles Davis and Jimi Hendrix in the coming years, I ran through what are the best five biopics about musicians that you can ever watch:

1. Control – Ian Curtis
Control is a film about Ian Curtis (played by Sam Riley), who was the lead singer of the massively successful and influential band Joy Division. The film tells us the story of Ian’s life during the rise of the band, and covers his marriage, his affair, his struggle with epilepsy and ultimately his tragic suicide. The soundtrack to this film is outstanding, it features music from David Bowie, Velvet Underground, The Killers and of course Joy Division. The film was hugely successful in the British film industry and won various awards, including Best Director and Best Actor. I am a huge admirer of this band and was a bit apprehensive about watching this film. I shouldn’t have been, the music and storyline is a great insight into the life of a huge icon of mine. 7/10

2. Notorious – Notorious B.I.G.
Notorious is a film that focuses on the life and eventually the murder of Notorious B.I.G. played by Jamal Woolard. It shows him winning his first rap battle, being kicked out of his house for dealing drugs, being imprisoned for possession of cocaine and weapons, his relationship with women and his relationship with Tupac. To be honest it feels there is a bit too much to fit into a film, as he had a very eventful life. Rotten Tomatoes was quoted in saying “a biopic that lacks the luster of its subject” which is something you can completely agree with, it feels like it could have been a better film. And this is indicated in the fact it made only $43 million in the worldwide box office. The best thing about this film is the soundtrack with a lot of previously unreleased material from Jay-Z and Faith Evans. 6/10

3. Walk The Line – Johnny Cash
This is arguably the best film out of the five, with some career defining acting from Joaquin Phoenix. The film focuses on his early life, the death of his younger brother, his romance with June Carter, his rise in the country music scene and his deterioration as an artist. However the film finishes with his legendary tour of the American prisons. The film received five academy awards including best actor and best actress. It also grossed over $186 million in the international box office. This is one of my favourite films and shows the rise and fall of a true country icon. 8/10

4. Ray – Ray Charles
Ray shows 30 years of the legendary rhythm and blues musician Ray Charles. Ray is played by the talented Jamie Foxx who shows he is not only a great actor but a great singer and received an academy award for best actor. The film shows how Charles went blind shortly after watching his brother drown and then his meteoric rise as a musician. The film showcases some of Ray Charles’ greatest songs, including “What’d I Say” and “Hit The Road Jack”. The film made $125 million world wide. This isn’t the greatest film but the standout element is Foxx’s performance which captures the charisma of Charles. 8/10

5. The Buddy Holly Story – Buddy Holly
This film was released in the 1978 and Holly is played by the Oscar nominated Gary Busey. It focuses on Holly’s rise to stardom with his band The Crickets, his marriage to Maria Elena Santiago and finishes with the death of the star although it is not a huge part of the film. There is some great music in the film this is evident in the award it received for its music score. This film only grossed $14 million worldwide. Personally I didn’t know much about Buddy Holly so it was a good education and I have become a fan of some of his music but it’s not a great film. 6/10

Written by Deane Roome

No more articles