Honorable mentions go to the Ritchie Valens tearjerker La Bamba. The inspiring What’s Love Got to Do with It, and the unflinchingly brutal masterpiece that is Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story.
Number Five: I’m Not There (2007). You either love this movie or you can’t stand it, but you sure as hell can’t forget it. This unorthodox biopic divides Bob Dylan’s life into six segments in which Christian Bale, Heath Ledger, Richard Gere, Marcus Carl Franklin, Ben Whishaw and an incredible Cate Blanchet take turns with the legendary songwriter’s shifting persona. Many gambles are taken with mixed results, but the film deserves praise for boldly defying the conventions of the biopic.
Number Four: Ray (2004). Jamie Foxx is the reason this film succeeds. There are moments where the film loses focus or becomes a bit too ‘artsy” for its own good but Foxx commands attention every moment he’s on screen. The consistent presence of Charles’s mother adds an intriguing twist that levitates this film above the standard fare in this genre. Before liver disease took him a few months before, the real Ray Charles was set to attend the premiere. A shame, as he really would have enjoyed it.
Number Three: Amadeus (1984). Anchored by powerhouse performances by F. Murray Abraham and Tom Hulce as Salieri and Mozart, respectively, it is no wonder why this epic film snagged 8 Academy Awards including Best Picture. It’s a must see for any fan of classical music and the Baroque culture. The main thing that stops this entry placing any higher on the list is its historical inaccuracy, which would make it a rather inappropriate number one pick. Still, it not only ranks in the list of greatest musical films of all time but also in the list of greatest films period.
Number Two: Sid and Nancy (1986). Few films have succeeded more in nailing the chemistry of a wildly abusive relationship. Gary Oldman’s Sid Vicious and Chloe Webb’s Nancy Spungen are fire and gasoline every time they appear together. The wild and surreal rock world of the 70’s is on full display here, making it something out of a psychedelic nightmare. A young Courtney Love shows up for a scene, making a very eerie instance of life imitating art imitating life.
Number One: Walk the Line (2005). And here’s our number one. With a tight focus and two impressive lead actors, Walk the Line stands heads and shoulders above the rest when it comes to telling a compelling story while accurately conveying the message of the man behind the music. The worst thing one can say about the film is it leaves you wanting more. We’ve explained before why a sequel would be even more incredible, but for now we’ll be more than content with this endearing tale of two musicians caught in a ring of fire.