I am not always a movie person. They’re often long, and somehow I have gotten to a point where I can’t sit still for two hours without checking my phone or getting up for food, unless I’m watching Harry Potter or anything by Wes Anderson or something equally as compelling. One thing I do love, though, is music movies. Musicals, movies about bands, movies about record stores, movies about buskers, movies about anything that has to do with people who live and breathe music. This is a round-up of my favourite films that are cinematically great, but that also have music splattered on their storylines – and boy was it difficult to narrow it down. There are so many more films that I would have liked to include, but I wanted to keep it short and sweet. Perhaps one day I’ll make part two, but for now, these are my five favourites, in no particular order.
Almost Famous, 2000
Oh my gosh this one’s a good one. This movie is essentially my wildest dream come to life, and each time I watch it I spend the entirety of the movie willing my life to become that of William Miller. Accompanying a band on tour? Hanging out with tons of cool girls who teach you about life and interviewing band members while travelling from city to city? Writing for Rolling Stone? Sign me up. Almost Famous is sex, drugs, and rock n’ roll come to life. It feels magical at times, but the characters of the film also reach the lowest of lows. It’s part beautiful fantasy, part bleak real life. And it’s one hundred percent addictive.
Across the Universe, 2007
For reasons unbeknownst to me, I hadn’t watched this movie until last year. And I adore it. It’s edgy, it pushes the limits of film and redefines what we know as a musical. It has quickly become one of my favourite movies, and it’s one of those feel-good films that instantly puts you in a good mood. In the end, I really think it’s a work of art. Weaving famous, familiar tracks into an interesting story of love and revolution, I was captivated by it instantly. The actors play their parts perfectly, the songs don’t feel out of place, and the storyline is both well-known and unexpected. It’s a movie that’s always worth watching.
The Sapphires, 2012
This one is one of the most underrated films on this list, by far. The Sapphires is a wonderful film about an Aboriginal Australian girl-group that is scouted by a well-meaning Irishman and booked to travel Vietnam in order to entertain U.S. troops. Following four sisters as they navigate the ins and outs of coming of age in a war-torn country, the movie is brimming with stories of love, friendship, and family. Containing only the best soul songs and keeping you on the edge of your seat until the very end, this is a film I highly recommend watching. Sometimes there’s nothing better for your soul than soul music itself.
Sing Street, 2016
I just watched this one last week, but I absolutely loved it. Most of my being thought that it would be cheesy and predictable – and to be honest, it is a little bit of that. But it’s also hilarious and really somewhat inspiring. At its core, it’s a film about a group of misfits. A group of kids that comes together so that one of them can chase a girl. All of them, though, are also chasing a crazy dream all while trying to get through their days at a strict all-boys Catholic school. They form a band with next to no experience, they shoot amateur music videos, and they actually write damn good songs. It’s a movie that leaves you feeling terribly happy and determined to chase your own dreams and accomplish your own goals, and that’s not something that every movie can do for you.
The Commitments, 1991
My mom gave me the soundtrack to this movie a few years ago, and the tape sat on my shelf for months before I actually decided to watch the film. Needless to say, I loved it. Set in a slum in working class Ireland, The Commitments is about Jimmy Rabbitte, a man who decides to start a soul band in the midst of the hardships his country is facing. And, somehow, it works. The movie documents the entire process of forming a band, as well as the group’s rise to fame as they perfect their craft. It also showcases the relationships and challenges between the members, injecting a bit of reality into the film. This movie is pure happiness, and if you can, you should watch it as soon as possible.
Now that that’s over, I’m going to log off of my computer, grab something sweet, and watch Across the Universe on repeat until the wee hours of the morning. I hope this list inspires you to watch something new or get out a movie that you haven’t watched in ages but that you adore. And, if there are any music-related movies that I absolutely must see, please feel free to share!