1. A Hard Day’s Night (1964)
It’s a movie about The Beatles and it has, possibly, the greatest opening scene in the history of cinema. Case closed.
2. Monterey Pop (1968)
This classic concert film directed by documentary master D.A. Pennebaker highlights some of the greatest moments in the 1967 Monterey Pop Festival. If you want to spend an evening with Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Jefferson Airplane, and The Who (only to name a few), then this is the movie for you.
3. The Muppet Movie (1979)
Surreal humor, so-bad-yet-so-good puns, countless celebrity cameos, and several amazing tunes all add up to give us this masterpiece, The Muppet Movie, featuring one of the greatest original songs of all-time, “Rainbow Connection.”
4. The Blues Brothers (1980)
Two brothers set out to reunite their old band and save the Catholic home where they were raised. Wholesome in a sense that the brothers are “on a mission from God,” Blues Brothers is also an action-packed comedy that features musical numbers by R&B, soul, and blues singers James Brown, Cab Calloway, Aretha Franklin, Ray Charles, and John Lee Hooker.
5. Amadeus (1984)
A gripping tale of rivalry that features some of Mozart’s greatest work, Amadeus is definitely one of the great music movies. Not only does Tom Hulce provide a hilarious yet tragic interpretation of the great composer, but F. Murray Abraham plays a deliciously bitter Antonio Salieri.
Fun Fact: Before there was Sex. Before there was the City. There was Lorl, Mozart’s housemaid played by Cynthia Nixon (a.k.a. Miranda Hobbs).
6. This Is Spinal Tap (1984)
On a scale from 1 to 10, This Is Spinal Tap will always get a solid 11. Forget that it’s one of the most quoted movies of all time, but it’s also a mockumentary that is just spot on when it comes to rock and roll culture.
7. Mystery Train (1989)
Over the course of one night, nine strangers - one played by the late (and great) Joe Strummer - are connected by a rundown Memphis hotel and the spirit of Elvis Presley. If that’s not enough, then the sites and sounds of the city will definitely get you hooked.
8. Wayne’s World (1992)
Wayne’s World explores the lives of two goofy, music-loving nerds as they try to make a name for themselves with a basic yet kick-ass cable-access program, and never has a movie done Queen, Gary Wright, and Alice Cooper so much justice.
9. High Fidelity (2000)
High Fidelity is unique in that it links the broken heart to the only known cure: music. After suffering a messy break-up, music-geek Rob Gordon - played by John Cusack - revisits old relationships and tries to figure out where it all went wrong - all while giving the viewer a lesson in music.
10. Almost Famous (2000)
“Experience it. Enjoy it. Just don’t fall for it.” Almost Famous is not only one of the best coming-of-age stories, but it also explores the unwritten rules of rock and roll and the lifestyle that comes with it. Also, Stillwater is one of the greatest bands that (n)ever existed.
11. School of Rock (2003)
It should come as no shock that Richard Linklater (Dazed and Confused, Before Sunrise) is responsible for this masterpiece - one that teaches us this inevitable truth: it’s a long way to the top, but - no matter what - you have to rock and roll.
Fun Fact: Led Zeppelin is notorious for not allowing their music to be licensed for commercial purposes. Linklater, in all his awesome glory, filmed a plea by actor Jack Black in front of 1,000 screaming fans, imploring the band to let the production use “Immigrant Song” in the movie. The plea worked and the request is included on the DVD.
12. The Devil and Daniel Johnston (2005)
This documentary chronicles the life of crazy, depressed singer-songwriter Daniel Johnston, the man behind the “Hi, How Are You?” culture. An honest portrait of a broken man, this documentary proves that troubled minds are sometimes the greatest and it will leave you a little heartbroken by the end.
13. Walk the Line (2005)
Featuring killer performances by Joaquin Phoenix and Reese Witherspoon, Walk the Line is an honest portrait that details the life of Johnny Cash and provides us with an in-depth look at his relationship with June Carter Cash. And although we know how the story ends, we can’t help but cheer when June - finally - says, “Yes.”
14. Marie Antoinette (2006)
Let’s face it: Marie Antoinette is more of a delicious music video than a biopic - and that’s absolutely ok because the soundtrack is killer!
15. Across the Universe (2007)
Although fans remain divided, I stand by Across the Universe because it’s visually stunning and it provides beautiful interpretations of The Beatles’s greatest hits, all while connecting them to create a storyline that is everything you hoped for - an ode to the spirit of the 60’s.
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