Rockumentaries aka films about real life singers and musicians

by sadfilmophile | created - 10 Aug 2012 | updated - 20 Feb 2013 | Public

Straight up documentaries, plus some fictionalized biographies.

Thanks a lot to morrison-dylan-fan and elanor, who suggested a lot of these names when we were discussing Velvet Goldmine in the Filmi Club.

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1. Funny Girl (1968)

G | 151 min | Biography, Comedy, Drama

89 Metascore

The life of Fanny Brice, famed comedienne and entertainer of the early 1900s. We see her rise to fame as a Ziegfield girl, subsequent career, and her personal life, particularly her relationship with Nick Arnstein.

Director: William Wyler | Stars: Barbra Streisand, Omar Sharif, Kay Medford, Anne Francis

Votes: 15,261 | Gross: $0.22M

About singer/comedienne Fanny Brice. Cant recommend this enough.

2. Shine a Light (2008)

PG-13 | 122 min | Documentary, Biography, Music

76 Metascore

A career-spanning documentary on the Rolling Stones, with concert footage from their "A Bigger Bang" tour.

Director: Martin Scorsese | Stars: Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Charlie Watts, Ronnie Wood

Votes: 10,256 | Gross: $5.36M

3. Shine (1996)

PG-13 | 105 min | Biography, Drama, Music

87 Metascore

Pianist David Helfgott, driven by his father and teachers, has a breakdown. Years later he returns to the piano, to popular if not critical acclaim.

Director: Scott Hicks | Stars: Geoffrey Rush, Armin Mueller-Stahl, Justin Braine, Sonia Todd

Votes: 46,641 | Gross: $35.81M

4. Worried About the Boy (2010 TV Movie)

Not Rated | 87 min | Biography, Drama, Music

The story of Boy George, the famous androgynous lead singer of the band, Culture Club.

Director: Julian Jarrold | Stars: Douglas Booth, Jonny Burt, Mathew Horne, Dean Fagan

Votes: 1,116

5. Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll (2010)

TV-MA | 115 min | Biography, Drama, Music

57 Metascore

A biography of Ian Dury, who was stricken with polio at a young age and defied expectations by becoming one of the founders of the punk-rock scene in Britain in the 1970s.

Director: Mat Whitecross | Stars: Andy Serkis, Tom Hughes, Clifford Samuel, Joseph Kennedy

Votes: 3,624

6. Stoned (2005)

R | 102 min | Biography, Drama, Music

41 Metascore

A chronicle of the sordid life and suspicious death of Rolling Stones co-founder Brian Jones, who was found in the bottom of his swimming pool weeks after being let go from the band.

Director: Stephen Woolley | Stars: Leo Gregory, Paddy Considine, David Morrissey, Ben Whishaw

Votes: 3,629

7. Telstar: The Joe Meek Story (2008)

R | 119 min | Biography, Drama, Music

A music-infused drama about Joe Meek, the flamboyantly gay, tone deaf, songwriter-producer behind the '60s hits "Have I the Right," "Just Like Eddie," "Johnny, Remember Me" and "Telstar."

Director: Nick Moran | Stars: Con O'Neill, Kevin Spacey, Pam Ferris, JJ Feild

Votes: 1,415

8. Amadeus (1984)

R | 160 min | Biography, Drama, History

93 Metascore

The life, success and troubles of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, as told by Antonio Salieri, the contemporary composer who was insanely jealous of Mozart's talent and claimed to have murdered him.

Director: Milos Forman | Stars: F. Murray Abraham, Tom Hulce, Elizabeth Berridge, Roy Dotrice

Votes: 314,338 | Gross: $51.97M

9. Ray (I) (2004)

PG-13 | 152 min | Biography, Drama, Music

73 Metascore

The story of the life and career of the legendary rhythm and blues musician Ray Charles, from his humble beginnings in the South, where he went blind at age seven, to his meteoric rise to stardom during the 1950s and 1960s.

Director: Taylor Hackford | Stars: Jamie Foxx, Regina King, Kerry Washington, Clifton Powell

Votes: 121,509 | Gross: $75.33M

10. Nowhere Boy (2009)

R | 98 min | Biography, Drama, Music

67 Metascore

A chronicle of John Lennon's first years, focused mainly in his adolescence and his relationship with his stern aunt Mimi, who raised him, and his absentee mother Julia, who re-entered his life at a crucial moment in his young life.

Director: Sam Taylor-Johnson | Stars: Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Kristin Scott Thomas, Anne-Marie Duff, David Threlfall

Votes: 31,379 | Gross: $1.45M

11. Selena (1997)

PG | 127 min | Biography, Drama, Music

67 Metascore

The true story of Selena Quintanilla-Perez, a Texas-born Tejano singer who rose from cult status to performing at the Astrodome, as well as having chart topping albums on the Latin music charts.

Director: Gregory Nava | Stars: Jennifer Lopez, Edward James Olmos, Jon Seda, Jackie Guerra

Votes: 21,238 | Gross: $35.42M

12. The Runaways (2010)

R | 106 min | Biography, Drama, Music

65 Metascore

A coming-of-age biographical film about the 1970s teenage all-girl rock band The Runaways. The relationship between band members Cherie Currie and Joan Jett is also explored.

Director: Floria Sigismondi | Stars: Kristen Stewart, Dakota Fanning, Michael Shannon, Stella Maeve

Votes: 42,460 | Gross: $3.57M

13. The Doors (1991)

R | 140 min | Biography, Drama, Music

62 Metascore

The story of the famous and influential 1960s rock band The Doors and its lead singer and composer, Jim Morrison, from his days as a UCLA film student in Los Angeles, to his untimely death in Paris, France at age 27 in 1971.

Director: Oliver Stone | Stars: Val Kilmer, Meg Ryan, Kyle MacLachlan, Frank Whaley

Votes: 74,156 | Gross: $35.18M

14. Sid and Nancy (1986)

R | 112 min | Biography, Drama, Music

76 Metascore

The relationship between Sid Vicious, bassist for British punk group The Sex Pistols, and his girlfriend Nancy Spungen is portrayed.

Director: Alex Cox | Stars: Gary Oldman, Chloe Webb, David Hayman, Debby Bishop

Votes: 25,854 | Gross: $2.83M

15. Last Days (2005)

R | 97 min | Drama, Music

67 Metascore

A Seattle musician's life and career are reminiscent to those of Kurt Cobain.

Director: Gus Van Sant | Stars: Michael Pitt, Lukas Haas, Asia Argento, Scott Patrick Green

Votes: 19,984 | Gross: $0.45M

16. Cadillac Records (2008)

R | 109 min | Biography, Drama, Music

65 Metascore

Chronicles the rise of Chess Records and its recording artists.

Director: Darnell Martin | Stars: Adrien Brody, Jeffrey Wright, Beyoncé, Columbus Short

Votes: 17,220 | Gross: $8.20M

17. 24 Hour Party People (2002)

R | 117 min | Biography, Comedy, Drama

85 Metascore

In 1976, Tony Wilson sets up Factory Records and brings Manchester's music to the world.

Director: Michael Winterbottom | Stars: Steve Coogan, Lennie James, John Thomson, Paul Popplewell

Votes: 29,171 | Gross: $1.13M

18. What's Love Got to Do with It (1993)

R | 118 min | Biography, Drama, Music

The story of singer Tina Turner's rise to stardom and how she gained the courage to break free from her abusive husband, Ike Turner.

Director: Brian Gibson | Stars: Angela Bassett, Laurence Fishburne, RaéVen Kelly, Virginia Capers

Votes: 14,694 | Gross: $39.10M

19. Beyond the Sea (2004)

PG-13 | 118 min | Biography, Drama, Music

46 Metascore

A swooning study of "Mack the Knife" singer Bobby Darin specifically, and his relationship with his wife Sandra Dee.

Director: Kevin Spacey | Stars: Kevin Spacey, Kate Bosworth, John Goodman, Bob Hoskins

Votes: 13,677 | Gross: $6.32M

20. Coal Miner's Daughter (1980)

PG | 124 min | Biography, Drama, Music

87 Metascore

Biographical story of Loretta Lynn, a legendary country singer that came from poverty to worldwide fame. She rose from humble beginnings in Kentucky to superstardom and changing the sound and style of country music forever.

Director: Michael Apted | Stars: Sissy Spacek, Tommy Lee Jones, Levon Helm, Phyllis Boyens-Liptak

Votes: 14,323 | Gross: $67.18M

21. Copying Beethoven (2006)

PG-13 | 104 min | Biography, Drama, Music

59 Metascore

A fictionalized account of the last year of Beethoven's life.

Director: Agnieszka Holland | Stars: Ed Harris, Diane Kruger, Matthew Goode, Ralph Riach

Votes: 11,898 | Gross: $0.35M

22. Vivaldi (II)

120 min | Biography, Drama, History | Announced

A biography of Antonio Vivaldi's early life, when the young priest became the music teacher at a school for the illegitimate daughters of Venice's courtesans.

Director: Boris Damast

23. The Buddy Holly Story (1978)

PG | 114 min | Biography, Drama, Music

The story of the life and career of the early rock and roll singer, from his meteoric rise to stardom, to his marriage and untimely death.

Director: Steve Rash | Stars: Gary Busey, Don Stroud, Charles Martin Smith, Conrad Janis

Votes: 7,041 | Gross: $14.36M

24. Cloclo (2012)

148 min | Biography, Drama, Music

A biopic of French pop star Claude Francois, most famous for co-writing the song 'My Way'. Tracing his life from childhood in Egypt through success in France to his untimely death in Paris in 1978.

Director: Florent-Emilio Siri | Stars: Jérémie Renier, Benoît Magimel, Monica Scattini, Sabrina Seyvecou

Votes: 2,336

25. Sweet Dreams (1985)

PG-13 | 115 min | Biography, Drama, Music

The story of Patsy Cline, the velvet-voiced country music singer who died in a tragic plane crash at the height of her fame.

Director: Karel Reisz | Stars: Jessica Lange, Ed Harris, Ann Wedgeworth, David Clennon

Votes: 3,558 | Gross: $9.09M

26. Bound for Glory (1976)

PG | 147 min | Biography, Drama, Music

The early life of Woody Guthrie as a vagabond folk singer.

Director: Hal Ashby | Stars: David Carradine, Ronny Cox, Melinda Dillon, Gail Strickland

Votes: 4,096

27. The Glenn Miller Story (1954)

Approved | 115 min | Biography, Drama, Music

Biography of bandleader Glenn Miller from his beginnings to his death over the English Channel in December 1944.

Director: Anthony Mann | Stars: James Stewart, June Allyson, Harry Morgan, Charles Drake

Votes: 6,877

28. Lady Sings the Blues (1972)

R | 144 min | Biography, Drama, Music

The story of the troubled life and career of the legendary Jazz singer, Billie Holiday.

Director: Sidney J. Furie | Stars: Diana Ross, Billy Dee Williams, Richard Pryor, James T. Callahan

Votes: 3,155 | Gross: $9.60M

29. La Bamba (1987)

PG-13 | 108 min | Biography, Drama, Music

65 Metascore

Biographical story of the rise from nowhere of early rock and roll singer Ritchie Valens who died at age 17 in a plane crash with Buddy Holly and the Big Bopper.

Director: Luis Valdez | Stars: Lou Diamond Phillips, Esai Morales, Rosanna DeSoto, Elizabeth Peña

Votes: 23,568 | Gross: $54.22M

30. Control (2007)

R | 122 min | Biography, Drama, Music

78 Metascore

A profile of Ian Curtis, the enigmatic singer of Joy Division whose personal, professional, and romantic troubles led him to commit suicide at the age of 23.

Director: Anton Corbijn | Stars: Sam Riley, Samantha Morton, Craig Parkinson, Alexandra Maria Lara

Votes: 55,562 | Gross: $0.87M

31. La Vie en Rose (2007)

PG-13 | 140 min | Biography, Drama, Music

66 Metascore

Biopic of the iconic French singer Édith Piaf. Raised by her grandmother in a brothel, she was discovered while singing on a street corner at the age of 19. Despite her success, Piaf's life was filled with tragedy.

Director: Olivier Dahan | Stars: Marion Cotillard, Sylvie Testud, Pascal Greggory, Emmanuelle Seigner

Votes: 73,730 | Gross: $10.30M

32. Walk the Line (2005)

PG-13 | 136 min | Biography, Drama, Music

72 Metascore

A chronicle of country music legend Johnny Cash's life, from his early days on an Arkansas cotton farm to his rise to fame with Sun Records in Memphis, where he recorded alongside Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Carl Perkins.

Director: James Mangold | Stars: Joaquin Phoenix, Reese Witherspoon, Ginnifer Goodwin, Robert Patrick

Votes: 203,355 | Gross: $119.52M

33. The Day the Music Died (2010)

25 min | Short, Biography, Drama

Inspired by the trailblazing music and tragic end of Buddy Holly, a modern-day depiction seeks after the same success in a surreal Los Angeles.

Director: Bruno Miotto | Stars: Guy Kent, Paige Segal, Jon Morgan Woodward, Anastasia Leddick

Votes: 364

34. Almost Famous (2000)

R | 122 min | Adventure, Comedy, Drama

90 Metascore

A high-school boy is given the chance to write a story for Rolling Stone Magazine about an up-and-coming rock band as he accompanies them on their concert tour.

Director: Cameron Crowe | Stars: Billy Crudup, Patrick Fugit, Kate Hudson, Frances McDormand

Votes: 225,423 | Gross: $32.53M

35. Departures (2008)

PG-13 | 130 min | Drama, Music

68 Metascore

A newly unemployed cellist takes a job preparing the dead for funerals.

Director: Yôjirô Takita | Stars: Masahiro Motoki, Ryôko Hirosue, Tsutomu Yamazaki, Kazuko Yoshiyuki

Votes: 42,592 | Gross: $1.54M

36. This Is Elvis (1981)

PG | 110 min | Biography, Music

The life and career of Elvis Presley are chronicled in home movies, concert footage, and dramatizations. Subjects include early performances, army service, Ed Sullivan Show appearance, marriage, 1968 comeback, health decline and death.

Directors: Malcolm Leo, Andrew Solt | Stars: Elvis Presley, David Scott, Paul Boensch III, Johnny Harra

Votes: 955 | Gross: $2.03M

37. Love Me or Leave Me (1955)

Passed | 122 min | Biography, Drama, Music

A fictionalized account of the career of jazz singer Ruth Etting and her tempestuous marriage to gangster Marty Snyder, who helped propel her to stardom.

Director: Charles Vidor | Stars: Doris Day, James Cagney, Cameron Mitchell, Robert Keith

Votes: 3,077

38. Your Cheatin' Heart (1964)

Not Rated | 99 min | Biography, Drama, Music

The story of the country and western singer Hank Williams.

Director: Gene Nelson | Stars: George Hamilton, Susan Oliver, Red Buttons, Arthur O'Connell

Votes: 560

39. Marvin: The Life Story of Marvin Gaye

Biography, Drama, Music | Announced

The real Marvin Gaye Jr. as only his entire life story can reveal.

40. Taylor Swift: American Beauty (2012)

G | 52 min | Biography

A biography on the rise and fame of Country Superstar Taylor Swift.

Director: Jason Boritz | Stars: Kathie Bostian, Holly Burns, Reid Cox, Jonathan Donahue

Votes: 14

41. Vivaldi (I)

Biography, Drama | Announced

A drama focused on Antonio Vivaldi's struggle between his devotions to music, his faith, and the woman he loves.

Director: Patricia Riggen

42. Untitled Keith Moon Project

Biography, Drama, Music | Announced

A look at the life and death of Keith Moon (Myers), whose innovative drumming and penchant for destroying his kit made the Who one of the most influential, rebellious bands of the 1970s.

43. Love Is a Hurtin' Thing

Biography, Drama | Announced

A rags to riches story about a man who overcame inner demons to become one of the most successful and beloved entertainers in history. Part love story, part tragedy, this is the true story of Lou Rawls. Family man. Entertainer. Legend.

44. Deep in My Heart (1954)

Approved | 132 min | Biography, Comedy, Musical

Biographic movie about the American composer Sigmund Romberg.

Director: Stanley Donen | Stars: José Ferrer, Merle Oberon, Helen Traubel, Doe Avedon

Votes: 597

45. Words and Music (1948)

Not Rated | 120 min | Biography, Comedy, Musical

Fictionalized story of the songwriting partnership of Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart.

Director: Norman Taurog | Stars: Mickey Rooney, Tom Drake, June Allyson, Perry Como

Votes: 987

46. Leadbelly (1976)

PG | 126 min | Biography, Drama, Music

The life of Blues and folk singer Huddie Leadbetter, nicknamed Leadbelly is recounted. Covering the good times and bad from his 20s to 40s. Much of that time was spent on chain gangs in the... See full summary »

Director: Gordon Parks | Stars: Roger E. Mosley, Paul Benjamin, Madge Sinclair, James Brodhead

Votes: 408

47. The Harmonists (1997)

R | 115 min | Biography, Drama, Music

Comedian Harmonists tells the story of a famous, German male sextet, five vocals and piano, the "Comedian Harmonists", from the day they meet first in 1927 to the day in 1934, when they ... See full summary »

Director: Joseph Vilsmaier | Stars: Ben Becker, Heino Ferch, Ulrich Noethen, Heinrich Schafmeister

Votes: 2,914 | Gross: $0.48M

48. The Five Pennies (1959)

Approved | 117 min | Biography, Drama, Music

Loring "Red" Nichols is a cornet-playing country boy who goes to New York in the 1920s full of musical ambition and principles. He gets a job playing in Wil Paradise's band, but quits to ... See full summary »

Director: Melville Shavelson | Stars: Danny Kaye, Barbara Bel Geddes, Louis Armstrong, Harry Guardino

Votes: 1,393

49. Young Man with a Horn (1950)

Approved | 112 min | Biography, Drama, Music

A young trumpeter enjoys highs (musical success, fame, and fortune) and lows (sour marriage, death of his mentor, bout with alcoholism).

Director: Michael Curtiz | Stars: Kirk Douglas, Lauren Bacall, Doris Day, Hoagy Carmichael

Votes: 2,331

50. Night and Day (1946)

Approved | 128 min | Biography, Drama, Musical

A fictionalized biopic of composer Cole Porter from his days at Yale in the 1910s through the height of his success to the 1940s.

Director: Michael Curtiz | Stars: Cary Grant, Alexis Smith, Monty Woolley, Ginny Simms

Votes: 2,305

51. The Pianist (2002)

R | 150 min | Biography, Drama, Music

85 Metascore

A Polish Jewish musician struggles to survive the destruction of the Warsaw ghetto of World War II.

Director: Roman Polanski | Stars: Adrien Brody, Thomas Kretschmann, Frank Finlay, Emilia Fox

Votes: 587,863 | Gross: $32.57M

52. The Filth and the Fury (2000)

R | 108 min | Documentary, Biography, Music

82 Metascore

A film about the career of the notorious punk rock band, the Sex Pistols.

Director: Julien Temple | Stars: Paul Cook, Steve Jones, John Lydon, Glen Matlock

Votes: 5,181 | Gross: $0.61M

53. 8 Mile (2002)

R | 110 min | Drama, Music

77 Metascore

A young rapper, struggling with every aspect of his life, wants to make it big but his friends and foes make this odyssey of rap harder than it may seem.

Director: Curtis Hanson | Stars: Eminem, Brittany Murphy, Kim Basinger, Mekhi Phifer

Votes: 213,396 | Gross: $116.72M

54. Pirate Radio (2009)

R | 117 min | Comedy, Drama, Music

58 Metascore

A band of rogue DJs that captivated Britain, playing the music that defined a generation and standing up to a government that wanted classical music, and nothing else, on the airwaves.

Director: Richard Curtis | Stars: Philip Seymour Hoffman, Bill Nighy, Nick Frost, Michael Hadley

Votes: 97,803 | Gross: $7.99M

55. De-Lovely (2004)

PG-13 | 125 min | Biography, Drama, Music