26 Movies On Netflix That Musicians Will Love
When I was younger, I had dreams about being a pop star. Eventually, I realized I couldn’t sing and that dream died a slow and painful death, but that didn’t stop me from appreciating music and surrounding myself with brilliant musicians. What I’ve realized, though, is that while I consider everyone who has anything to do with music a “musician,” not everyone feels the same way. Some argue that pop music isn’t real music, some argue that the only real music is classical music, and some might say that indie music is the only music worth listening to. But I disagree, and as the many movies about music that are out there show, there are plenty of ways to be a "real" musician and express your love for any genre.
There's no one right way to be a musician. Whether you're loud and dramatic, quiet and temperamental, or somewhere in-between, all musicians know that there's nothing like connecting to your emotions and projecting them outward to create art. And while sometimes, musically-inclined folks channel their energy and emotions into dropping a surprise album like Beyonce or releasing a greatest hits record, they also sometimes just want to relax and watch a movie that will speak to their soul.
Without further adieu, here are 26 movies on Netflix that are perfect for musicians (and non-musicians) alike.
1. Almost Famous
Arguably one of the most classic "musician" films of all time. Almost Famous is ultimately a story about looking for a place to belong and finding where you fit in, despite what anyone else thinks. It's the perfect movie for anyone who has ever wanted to feel part of something, musician or not. Hold me closer, Tiny Dancer!
2. Across The Universe
A trippy, unique movie that incorporates the classic songs that made The Beatles a worldwide phenomenon, Across the Universe will make anyone laugh, cry, and smile over the course of its run. With songs so familiar, it's an instant sing-along classic, and will make any musician — young or old — smile.
3. What Happened, Miss Simone?
What Happened, Miss Simone? is a biographical documentary about legendary singer-songwriter Nina Simone. This one is sure to hit any musician right in the feels.
4. Muscle Shoals
There's a recording studio in Alabama called Muscle Shoals that is legendary for having been the birthplace of major hit songs we all know and love. This is the story of the little recording studio that could. And did.
5. Janis: Little Girl Blue
For the first time on film, Janis Joplin's story — one of her exciting rise and tragic fall — is told. Musicians and non-musicians alike know her name, but now you can know her life, too.
6. Begin Again
For any musician who knows what it's like to struggle but keeps on going anyway for the dream of one day having millions hear your sound, this is the movie for them. A dramatic comedy, it features Keira Knightley, Mark Ruffalo, and Adam Levine. There's plenty of music, some laughs, some tears, and most of all the familiar feeling of hope that one day you'll make it.
7. Keep On Keepin On
This heartwarming documentary follows legendary jazz musician Clark Terry and his mentorship with blind piano prodigy Justin Kauflin. It's the classic "odd couple" story that left my heart full and my head full of wonderful sounds.
8. Austin To Boston
Sometimes I wonder what would happen if I just packed my bags and hit the road. Well, Austin to Boston follows four bands who did just that, sort of, and began to tour around America in their old VWs.
9. Murder Rap: Inside the Biggie & Tupac Murders
What's fact? What's fiction? This documentary delves deep into the investigation about one of the most tragic stories in all of music. It might not be heartwarming, but it's an important story to know and an important movie for all musicians to watch.
10. Keith Richards: Under The Influence
Keith Richards is more legend than reality. This exciting documentary goes all-access with Keith to see his world from his perspective. Music isn't all about sex, drugs, and rock & roll.
11. Tony Bennett: The Music Never Ends
He's a legend. He's a star. And he's got the voice of an angel. This is a documentary that features new performances, old performances, and new interviews with the iconic crooner.
12. Of Mind And Music
Sometimes, when there aren't words, when there isn't anything, there's music. A heartbreaking and heartwarming movie about how we may age, and we may lose our memories, but music can stay with us forever.
His name is iconic. His music is a staple. But what's his story? What does he have to say for himself? Snoop Dogg takes you inside his mind, inside his world, to witness his reincarnation.
The iconic music venue may be gone, but its name and reputation live on. A dramatic comedy about the legendary music venue, this highlights how truly spectacular CBGB really was.
15. Saturday Night Fever
Sure, it's not a traditional "musicians" movie, but the disco classics that blanket this film, on top of John Travolta's stellar performance, can and will put a smile on any musician's face.
You can't appreciate where you're going until you appreciate where you've been. That goes for music, too. In order to love the future of music, you need to love the past. And there's nothing more classic, more beloved, more astounding than the music created by Richard Rogers and Oscar Hammerstein II.
17. State Fair
Another Rogers & Hammerstein classic. Sit back, relax, and enjoy.
OK, sure, this one isn't about musicians per se but there is no denying the impact that Grease has had on music and musicals and pop culture. Look past the nonexistent plot and focus on the incredible musical numbers that make this film a "must-see" for anyone who considers themselves a musician.
19. The Lady In Number 6
Sometimes, the world is awful. And sometimes, the world introduces us to a documentary about Alice Herz Sommer, the world's oldest pianist and Holocaust survivor. This is her story and this is her music.
20. Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers: Runnin' Down A Dream
Their music is iconic. But their story is untold. Until now. Take a look inside the world of Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers and learn their tale from the people who lived it.
Based on the beloved musical by Jonathan Larson, the movie depicts life for struggling artists in the early '90s, with a ton of excellent musical numbers. Maybe the lives of the characters aren't 100% relatable, but the struggle to succeed and have that "One Song Glory" is something that all musicians can relate to. Oh, and tissues are a necessity for viewing. Trust me.
22. We Are Twisted F*cking Sister
A band that no record company wanted to sign. A band that hustled and did their own thing. A band that became a giant sensation. This is the story of how they did it.
23. The Wrecking Crew
This documentary tells the story about The Wrecking Crew, aka the masterminds behind some of the biggest musicians and their mega-hit songs during the 1960s. Theirs is a story that was untold, until now.
24. Backstreet Boys: Show Em What Your Made Of
This isn't just the story of the Backstreet Boys, but a story of trying to make a comeback while the whole world is watching. The documentary chronicles their rise to fame, their subsequent fade out, and how they're trying to come back to the music world on their own terms, in their own way. This one made me cry, laugh, smile, and sing-along because I may not be a lot of things, but I sure as hell am a massive BSB fan. Thank God they're back.
I couldn't write an article about movies for musicians and not include, arguably, one of the most entertaining films featuring a musician. The Princess of Pop, Britney Spears, stars in this film about friendship, love, and loss. And most importantly, it features a karaoke scene that most people only dream of doing.
Classic music, for some, is the Dom Perignon of music. And Mozart is the rarest of bottles. A fictionalized biopic about the life of Mozart, Amadeus features his music extensively throughout. Whether or not you're a classical music fan, this is a story about a superstar musician told through the eyes of his rival, one who didn't achieve the fame he sought. The drama left me on the edge of my seat, and I couldn't stop listening to Mozart for the rest of the day.
Whether you're a pop lover, a crooner aficionado, or a hardcore rocker, there's a movie out there for every type of musician to enjoy.
Images: Giphy (8); Dreamworks