Musicians and bands are among the best selection of folks to watch from afar — in any way you can. Reading about the details of their lives is fun, but so many juicy details get left out. The most exciting thing about biographic films is that viewers get to be a fly on the wall and get the true behind-the-scenes story (or, as true as they wanna tell it) for some of the most notorious personalities to ever walk this weird earth we all share. So we compiled a list of the 20 best music movies. Pick out a few of your own favorites here and spend a couple hours hanging out with the likes of Prince, Jim Morrison, and, the man in black himself, Johnny Cash.
Walk the Line
Johnny and June Carter Cash had one of the most romantic relationships ever, but it was a little less than storybook. Even their tumultuous times seemed cool and tragically dreamy though.
The Devil and Daniel Johnston
No one alive or dead could come anywhere close to making music like Daniel Johnston. Everything about him was 100% unique, and that unique brilliance came with a huge price. His battles with mental illness are explored in detail here, resulting in a heartbreaking and intimate movie from beginning to end.
Awesome; I Fuckin' Shot That!
This 2006 concert film about the Beastie Boys was made by handing out camcorders to fifty people in the audience at the band's sold-out show at Madison Square Garden in 2004. The people with the cameras were told to keep them rolling at all times, no matter what, and the end result is an energetic thrill ride unlike any other concert experience you've ever had, but from the comfort of your home.
A touching and bleak look at the life and death of Joy Division's Ian Curtis, this award-winning documentary touches upon a seldom discussed topic in the world of music — the difficulty of having epilepsy and being in a newly successful touring band.
Sid and Nancy
If you're not afraid of needles, and extreme hair gel, this Gary Oldman reworking of Sid Vicious is a must-see. Keep an eye open for a pre-nose job Courtney Love making a brief cameo as a (wait for it) junkie.
Great Balls of Fire
Winona Ryder plays piano legend Jerry Lee Lewis' gum-popping child bride in this look back at the life of the coolest guy to ever marry his cousin. Well, first cousin once removed...but still.
The chance to play Jim Morrison is probably the coolest role a male actor could ever land, and this is definitely one of the last good movies that Val Kilmer has done. If you can stomach the poetry parts, this will leave you wanting a pair of leather pants to call your own.
Lou Diamond Phillips plays Ritchie Valens, the superstar known for timeless hits like "Donna" and "La Bamba." He died in a tragic plane crash along with Buddy Holly and "The Big Bopper" in an event known to this day as "the day the music died."
What’s Love Got to Do With It
If you're still not sure what that Beyoncé lyric "eat the cake, Anna Mae" from Drunk in Love means, this will lay it all out for you.
Don’t Look Back
This 1967 documentary about Bob Dylan's 1965 UK tour was voted one of the ninth best documentary films of all time by a 2014 Sight and Sound critics poll. Even a few passing glances at it will prove why.
The Monkees were way WAY weirder than you'd think.
This animated film follows the Beatles through Pepperland, a cheerful, music-loving paradise under the sea. Get your vape face on for this one.
Coal Miner’s Daughter
Loretta Lynn made a career for herself out of nothing, coming from nothing, and she did it all herself.
There's something both hilarious and extremely cool about seeing Prince ride a motorcycle.
Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story
This actor-portrayed doc walks viewers through the last seven years of Karen Carpenter's life, and even though you're watching an actress, and not the real Karen Carpenter, seeing her waste away to nothing under the clutches of anorexia is incredibly difficult.
Truth or Dare
Hanging out backstage with Madonna, when that was still very much a thing that someone would want to do.
Get On Up
James Brown was, in his personal life, a pretty questionable individual. But damn, you really can't look away from him when he's performing. This actor-portrayed film goes over the majority of his life and shines some light on how James Brown became James Brown.
What Happened, Miss Simone?
The details of Nina Simone's life are so interesting, and such a mystery, that this movie could really be five hours long and watching it would still feel like five minutes.
Straight Outta Compton
Controversial well before it was even released, this semi-finger-pointy look at the rise and fall of N.W.A. will be talked about for many years to come.
Whether you were a fan of Amy Winehouse or not, it's nearly impossible to watch this over view of a ultra creative life that ended way too soon.