30 Of The Greatest Rock n’ Roll Movies Ever Created
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It’s far simpler to name a rock and roll film than it is to explain it. Documentaries and biopics sit alongside concert pictures and musicals, films with groundbreaking and era-defining scores among others that have little to do with music at all. Still, everyone feels that they fit the classic rock shenanigans. And so, below is a list of the thirty best films about rock & roll ever made.
That Thing You Do! (1996)
Tom Hanks nails the ‘60s pop music era in his homage to “That Thing You Do!” The quick story of the one-hit wonders is painted with top-notch stage design and costumes.
Baby Driver (2017)
Baby Driver is not only a rock and roll picture, but it does have the uncommon modern cinema music that is the film’s driving force. Thanks to the expert editing and strategic placement of rock songs, the soundtrack becomes an integral part of the narrative.
Forrest Gump (1994)
Pop songs are often used to transport the audience to a certain era or setting in movies. With that, the songs from Forrest Gump’s soundtrack transport us across the years.
The Buddy Holly Story (1978)
The Buddy Holly Story may not be perfect, but being cool is more important than getting the details straight in rock and roll. Gary Busey’s portrayal of Buddy Holly was so good that he was nominated for an Academy Award, and he even sang the songs from the film himself.
High Fidelity (2000)
High Fidelity, adapted by Stephen Frears from Nick Hornby’s best-selling novel, demonstrates that one might have impeccable taste in music, an incredible record collection, and an abundance of ideas on pop culture, and still have no clue what they’re doing when it comes to love.
The Who’s Tommy was first released in 1969 as a daring double album. Although it has been called the first “rock opera,” the narrative is extremely thin and is based entirely on the wacky imagination of Pete Townshend.
The Man Who Fell to Earth (1976)
David Bowie’s performance as a bewildered alien in The Man Who Fell to Earth is more captivating than any of his earlier dramatic parts because it showcases all the qualities that have made him such a fascinating musical figure: his androgynous beauty, outsider appeal, and strangely aloof personality.
Jailhouse Rock (1957)
Despite its title, Jailhouse Rock does not romanticize life in prison. In imprisonment, Elvis Presley’s character finds his musical talent and decides to pursue it after his release; yet, the road to popularity proves much more difficult than his time spent in prison.
La Bamba (1987)
Ritchie Valens’s brief life and career, which included the rock and roll hits “Donna,” “Let’s Go,” and the rearranged version of the Mexican folk song, are the subject of the 1987 film La Bamba.
Sid and Nancy (1986)
Gary Oldman’s portrayal of Sid Vicious in “Sid and Nancy” is just one of many Oscar-worthy performances he has done. You won’t want to miss this movie, which stars the irresistible Chloe Webb as Nancy Spungen and is full of punk Sex Pistols, failed solo attempts, and unforgettable moments.
The Wedding Singer (1998)
The Wedding Singer is mostly about two things: music and love. Several allusions to ‘80s rock culture make this an entertaining read for anybody born in that period.
The Filth and the Fury (2000)
The Filth and the Fury is a film directed by Julian Temple that is an equally biting but proper delving into the history of the Sex Pistols. It features Pistol members at their most authentic selves; which highlights the true trajectory taken by the band, complete with all the scornful words and scathing performances that the film’s title suggests.
Monterey Pop (1968)
What took place onstage over three days in 1967 will be forever cherished because of director D.A. Pennebaker’s rockumentary Monterey Pop. Featuring performances by legends like Simon & Garfunkel, Otis Redding, Jimi Hendrix, The Who, and a teenage Janis Joplin, this weekend set the standard for future rock festivals.
End of the Century (2003)
End of the Century is the ultimate look at the groundbreaking New York punk pioneers, who despite their seemingly straightforward music, had complicated personal histories and difficult interpersonal dynamics. All hope for Dee Dee, Joey, Tommy, and Johnny is lost, but this uncompromising film offers a touching portrait that will live on long after they do.
School of Rock (2003)
Outcasts have always had an outlet in the form of bands and rock music. In Richard Linklater’s School of Rock, a down-on-his-luck local musician named Dewey Finn (Jack Black) enlists the help of a group of privileged elementary school students whom he pretends to be their teacher so that he can use his grade book to pay the bills.
Don’t Look Back (1967)
D.A. Pennebaker’s 1967 fly-on-the-wall documentary has the American director filming a two-week run of Bob Dylan performances in England in 1965. The documentary is sometimes cited as an early example of a concert film, the inspiration for the first music video, and a watershed moment in the development of observational cinema.
Wayne’s World (1992)
The “Bohemian Rhapsody” singalong in Wayne’s World is enough to prove just how much rock and roll this rock movie was. But the movie continues going, with joke after joke celebrating and making fun of rock ‘n’ roll’s greatest icons.
American Graffiti (1973)
American Graffiti isn’t a typical musical, but it is propelled by Wolfman Jack’s selection of classic rock & roll songs from the 1950s and 1960s.
24 Singles (1992)
Singles aren’t so much a rock ‘n’ roll thrill ride as it is a naive meditation on the turbulence of ordinary loves. Nonetheless, Cameron Crowe’s romantic comedy from 1992 also serves as an organic time capsule of Seattle’s alternative rock culture.
The Last Waltz (1978)
There has been a deluge of announcements recently from elderly musical superstars of farewell tours and last performances. Sure, they’ll give their fans something to remember them by, but few groups have bid goodbye with as much panache as The Band did with The Last Waltz.
Gimme Shelter (1970)
Even if the Hell’s Angels hadn’t stabbed a young black man named Meredith Hunter to death at Altamont Speedway at the end of The Rolling Stones’ 1969 US tour, Gimme Shelter would still be a fascinating record of the end of an era and an illuminating look at the greatest rock and roll band in the world when they were at the height of their powers on the road.
The Blues Brothers (1980)
The Blues Brothers, starring John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd, was a huge hit in 1980 and was based on a Saturday Night Live skit about two brothers on a divine musical mission to save an orphanage. Moreover, fewer people realize that The Blues Brothers were already a famous touring act and chart-topping sensation by the time the film was released.
Stop Making Sense (1984)
The direction in Stop Making Sense is what makes it such a great concert picture. The three-night shoot was put together without much flair from director Jonathan Demme since the Talking Heads are so enjoyable to see on their own.
Almost Famous (2000)
Even if the movie presents the decadent age of the recording business through rose-colored glasses, Almost Famous catches its highs and lows accurately. Almost Famous is a film about love, but it’s also realistic, and realizing that happiness is fleeting.
This Is Spinal Tap (1984)
When a joke is also true, it’s hilarious. These two components coexist in the 1984 rock mockumentary This Is Spinal Tap, directed by Rob Reiner. It’s hysterical, and it sums up everything important to know about rock music.
Purple Rain (1984)
It was a risky attempt to dramatize the rock star dream that may have bombed if not for the protagonist’s special brand of magic and musical ability. While Prince was already an icon by 1984, his shyness, sexual ambiguity, and apparent aloofness kept him somewhat of a mystery despite his enticing and sensuous mixture of funk, soul, and rock, which would cement his status with his album, 1999.
The Graduate (1967)
In contrast to the norm of cinema scores, this is one of the earliest examples of actual pop tunes. Some of the jazzy music is provided by Dave Grusin, but it is Paul Simon’s songs, as sung by Simon & Garfunkel, that make The Graduate an all-time classic.
Ladies and Gentlemen, The Fabulous Stains (1982)
Diane Lane and Laura Dern play two bored adolescents who join the tour of punk superstars “The Looters” and swiftly gain popularity and lookalike admirers. This cult favorite may be a riot of color and clichés, but it captures the excitement of rebellion better than others, especially for girls who dream of being rock stars.
The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975)
The Rocky Horror Picture Show is a rock and roll spectacle that has ruled the midnight hour around the world for over 40 years thanks to its combination of some of the grooviest rock songs and standout performances from Tim Curry and Meatloaf.
A Hard Day’s Night (1964)
The Beatles made one of the most famous and unforgettable tie-in movies of all time when they were charged with carrying Richard Lester’s screwball comedy during the height of Beatlemania. The film’s only purpose is to promote the Beatles’ name at a time when people would pay good money to see anything starring John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr. However, A Hard Day’s Night goes beyond this by introducing the Fab Four as accomplished actors.