MOVIEmeter
SEE RANK
Down 4,573 this week

Twenty Feet from Stardom (2013)

7.4
Your rating:
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 -/10 X  
Ratings: 7.4/10 from 6,264 users   Metascore: 83/100
Reviews: 67 user | 139 critic | 25 from Metacritic.com

Backup singers live in a world that lies just beyond the spotlight. Their voices bring harmony to the biggest bands in popular music, but we've had no idea who these singers are or what lives they lead, until now.

Director:

Writer:

Watch Trailer
0Check in
0Share...

Watch Now

From $3.99 on Amazon Instant Video

Editors' Spotlight

Alpha House Premieres Today

All ten episodes of the second season of "Alpha House" are available starting today. Watch them now, only on Prime Instant Video.


User Lists

Related lists from IMDb users

a list of 41 titles
created 10 months ago
 
a list of 24 titles
created 9 months ago
 
a list of 33 titles
created 8 months ago
 
a list of 26 titles
created 8 months ago
 
a list of 23 titles
created 6 months ago
 

Related Items


Connect with IMDb


Share this Rating

Title: Twenty Feet from Stardom (2013)

Twenty Feet from Stardom (2013) on IMDb 7.4/10

Want to share IMDb's rating on your own site? Use the HTML below.

Take The Quiz!

Test your knowledge of Twenty Feet from Stardom.

User Polls

Won 1 Oscar. Another 16 wins & 16 nominations. See more awards »

Videos

Photos

Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Documentary | Biography
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

This candid New York love story explores the chaotic 40-year marriage of famed boxing painter Ushio Shinohara and his wife, Noriko. Anxious to shed her role as her overbearing husband's assistant, Noriko finds an identity of her own.

Director: Zachary Heinzerling
Stars: Ushio Shinohara, Noriko Shinohara, Alex Shinohara
Documentary | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  

A documentary which challenges former Indonesian death-squad leaders to reenact their mass-killings in whichever cinematic genres they wish, including classic Hollywood crime scenarios and lavish musical numbers.

Directors: Joshua Oppenheimer, Anonymous, and 1 more credit »
Stars: Anwar Congo, Herman Koto, Syamsul Arifin
Documentary
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

A film that excavates layers of myth and memory to find the elusive truth at the core of a family of storytellers.

Director: Sarah Polley
Stars: Michael Polley, John Buchan, Mark Polley
The Square (2013)
Documentary | Drama | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  

A group of Egyptian revolutionaries battle leaders and regimes, risking their lives to build a new society of conscience.

Director: Jehane Noujaim
Stars: Ahmed Hassan, Khalid Abdalla, Magdy Ashour
Blackfish (2013)
Documentary
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  

A documentary following the controversial captivity of killer whales, and its dangers for both humans and whales.

Director: Gabriela Cowperthwaite
Stars: Tilikum, Dave Duffus, Samantha Berg
Muscle Shoals (2013)
Documentary | Biography | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

A documentary that celebrates Rick Hall, the founder of FAME Studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, and the signature sound he developed in songs such as "I'll Take You There", "Brown Sugar", and "When a Man Loves a Woman".

Director: Greg 'Freddy' Camalier
Stars: Rick Hall, Aretha Franklin, Keith Richards
Sound City (2013)
Documentary | Music
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

A documentary on the fabled recording studio that was located in Van Nuys, California.

Director: David Grohl
Stars: Trent Reznor, Tom Petty, Mick Fleetwood
Documentary
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

Rithy Panh uses clay figures, archival footage, and his narration to recreate the atrocities Cambodia's Khmer Rouge committed between 1975 and 1979.

Director: Rithy Panh
Stars: Randal Douc, Jean-Baptiste Phou
Documentary | Biography | Music
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  

Two South Africans set out to discover what happened to their unlikely musical hero, the mysterious 1970s rock 'n' roller, Rodriguez.

Director: Malik Bendjelloul
Stars: Rodriguez, Stephen 'Sugar' Segerman, Dennis Coffey
Life Itself (2014)
Documentary | Biography
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  

The life and career of the renowned film critic and social commentator, Roger Ebert.

Director: Steve James
Stars: Roger Ebert, Chaz Ebert, Gene Siskel
Dirty Wars (2013)
Documentary | Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

Investigative journalist Jeremy Scahill is pulled into an unexpected journey as he chases down the hidden truth behind America's expanding covert wars.

Director: Rick Rowley
Stars: Jeremy Scahill, Nasser Al Aulaqi, Saleha Al Aulaqi
Man on Wire (2008)
Documentary | Biography
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  

A look at tightrope walker Philippe Petit's daring, but illegal, high-wire routine performed between New York City's World Trade Center's twin towers in 1974, what some consider, "the artistic crime of the century."

Director: James Marsh
Stars: Philippe Petit, Jean François Heckel, Jean-Louis Blondeau
Edit

Cast

Credited cast:
...
Himself
...
Herself (as Stevvi Alexander)
Patti Austin ...
Herself
...
Himself
...
Himself (archive footage)
Todd Boyd ...
Himself (as Dr. Todd Boyd)
...
Himself (archive footage)
Carole Childs ...
Herself
Amy Christian ...
Herself
Greg Clark ...
Himself
Kyliyah Clayton ...
Herself
...
Herself
Susan Collins ...
Herself
...
Herself
...
Herself
Edit

Storyline

The backup singer exists in a strange place in the pop music world; they are always in the shadow of the feature artists even when they are in front of them in concert while they provide a vital foundation for the music. Through interviews with veterans and concert footage, the history of these predominately African-American singers is explored through the rock era. Furthermore, special focus is given to special stand outs who endeavored to make a living in the art burdened with a low profile and more personal career frustrations, especially those who faced the very different challenge of singing in the spotlight themselves. Written by Kenneth Chisholm (kchishol@rogers.com)

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Meet the unsung heroes behind the greatest music of our time.

Genres:

Documentary | Music

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for some strong language and sexual material | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
Edit

Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

28 November 2013 (Netherlands)  »

Also Known As:

20 Feet from Stardom  »

Box Office

Budget:

$1,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$54,596 (USA) (14 June 2013)

Gross:

$4,946,250 (USA) (13 June 2014)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

See  »
Edit

Did You Know?

Connections

Featured in The 2014 Film Independent Spirit Awards (2014) See more »

Soundtracks

Bold Soul Sister
Written by Ike Turner
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

 
Entertaining if not incredibly insightful or informative
25 February 2014 | by (Canada) – See all my reviews

15 minutes into 20 Feet from Stardom you really become excited about the possibilities. You hear familiar songs that are given a new perspective and see the faces that match the voices you fell in love with. But before the film winds down, you have more questions than you did going in. It devolves into little more than a well-produced message from the Music Industry Tourism Board. That's not to say there's no value here. It does provide a look at some significant voices with a top-line glance into their place in the recording industry and their personal journeys. There's enough here to engage you and ample servings of some truly outstanding music (the a cappella take of Merry Clayton's "Gimme Shelter" vocal gives you chills and the recollection of its recording session is one of the film's highlights). But it's narrow focus and limited perspective do leave a lot on the table.

The bulk of the film consists of five stories from the 1960s to the present, including Darlene Love (ghost singer for The Crystals on "He's a Rebel" and a featured performer on the greatest Christmas album of all time, A Christmas Gift for You from Phil Spector), Merry Clayton (the aforementioned backup on The Rolling Stones' "Gimme Shelter" and actress from Cagney & Lacey), Tata Vega (The Color Purple soundtrack and numerous background gigs from the 80s to present), Lisa Fischer (Rolling Stones, Luther Vandross and Tina Turner collaborator and Grammy winning solo artist), and Judith Hill (Performed at Michael Jackson's memorial service and would go on to compete on season 4 of The Voice after the film's completion).

While both Tata Vega and Lisa Fisher seem to lack the resume of classic recordings that Love, Clayton or Claudia Lennear (another subject) have racked up, Judith Hill's inclusion is perhaps the most questionable. She seems to view the role of backup singer unbefitting her, going so far as to wear a wig when performing a backup gig on television so as not to be recognized by her fans. Having not amassed the body of work the other subjects have, she has little to contribute here except as a counterpoint to Lisa Fisher's humble demeanor or as a throw-in to represent the future of the industry. Unfortunately, she seems ill-suited to be a symbol or generational representative, as her scenes fail to accomplish this goal with any impact.

One of the issues I had coming into this movie as a music fan is that I was able to see the potential this kind of documentary had in mining the munificent history of Rock and Roll and Soul music. However, perhaps because of my own musical biases, I found the segments focusing on the music and voices of the 60s and 70s so much richer and more interesting. The film introduces big figures of the time like Phil Spector and Ike Turner but never explores the gory details of what it was like working with such notorious personalities. Indeed, one could have easily have scrapped anything 80s and upward and filled that time talking about the difficulties these women of colour faced from producers, record labels, and even the lead vocalists themselves, during some very turbulent times. Throw in some of the talented ladies from the George Clinton, Sly Stone and James Brown revues, or perhaps even a few of the fellas, and you have yourself a foundation for an insightful film.

The movie also fails to explore what it was like performing on some of the most famous recordings of our time and have little to show for it. Nothing is done to investigate whether these artists were fairly compensated. It was great that they were able to get Mick Jagger to sit down and talk about his backup singers, but it would have been interesting to ask him if he thought they had been properly remunerated for their work. Just a bit of a look into the mechanics of the industry in that regard would help us better understand what being in that occupation was like from a financial standpoint and what kind of life that affords.

At the end of the film's airy 90 minute running time, one does walk away with a new appreciation for the role of the backup singer (for at least the next little while) and perhaps that's all this documentary ever aspired to be. But an Oscar nominee should strive for something greater than that. While being entertaining, the film is hardly insightful and leaves one with the distinct impression of wanting more. Perhaps we can get a miniseries on this one day.


10 of 14 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
Judith Hill moviejaysin
just saw it and it rocked vickysounusual
I can't wait to see this movie!!! baidoasomalia
Phil Spector and Ike Turner AZINDN
Please stop comparing this with all the other documentaries barrs6
Great solid documentary! wa7483
Discuss Twenty Feet from Stardom (2013) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page