50 AWESOME MUSIC MOVIES

 

To celebrate the launch of NME.COM/movies we've put together our pick of the greatest music films ever made.

And we're not just talking about rockumentaries and biopics – this list also encompasses any movie that is defined by its soundtrack. These are films for music fans to love.

Hence you'll find Trainspotting rubbing shoulders with Control, Almost Famous celebrated alongside Meeting People Is Easy.

So please, take your seat and grab an oversize tub of popcorn as we count down the 50 best music movies ever to grace the big screen.

What have we missed? Should 8 Mile be higher than 30 Century Man? Have your say now here.

 
 
 

Yeah Yeah Yeah’s frontwoman Karen O’s soundtrack to 2009’s fantastical Where The Wild Things Are got a nod in the Grammy nominations for ‘All Is Love’, a track written by herself and bandmate Nick Zinner.

O’s ex Spike Jonze directed the take on Maurice Sendak’s book for kids which combined live action, animatronics and CGI to tell the story of Max, a nine-year-old boy who discovers an island full of ‘wild things’ who make him their King.

Under the name Karen O And The Kids, the singer composed the soundtrack in collaboration with Carter Burwell – the man behind the score in Twilight.

Best music moment: Karen O And The Kids, ‘All Is Love’.

Abby Tayleure

 
 
 

An ode to excess and life on the road, this Saam Farahmand-directed documentary followed French brothers Soulwax as they took their dance music spectacular around the globe.

Using just one camera to capture the action on and off-stage over 120 shows on a vast worldwide tour, interviews and cameos include James Murphy, Klaxons, Erol Alkan and Peaches - making for a film that's chaotic, hedonistic, sexy and exhilarating.

Best music moment: The spine-tingling sight of thousands of gurning clubbers bouncing in unison at giant warehouse raves.

Abby Tayleure

 
 
 

Eminem’s first foray into film saw him playing ‘Rabbit’, a white Detroit rapper so closely modeled on himself as to be almost autobiographical.

A gritty, underdog tale in the Rocky Balboa mould, boxing is swapped for battle MC’ing as our man fights through poverty, prejudice and a broken home to reach the top of his game.

Kim Basinger ditches her trademark glamour as the embittered trailer-park mom, while Brittany Murphy is the factory-worker girlfriend who only adds to Eminem’s struggles. What really impresses though, is the freestyle rapping. If you’ve ever doubted that improvised rhyming was an intricate art form, watch this film and pick up your jaw on the way out.

Best music moment: The final rap battle versus Papa Doc: an Olympian clash of tongue-twisting insults and lyrical dexterity.

David Moynihan

 
 
 

For Pixies fans, the band’s 2004 reunion was a momentous event. The band themselves were a little less enthusiastic, and that tension comes through in this illuminating backstage documentary.

Featuring a dramatic moment in which the band confront drummer David Lovering over his rampant drug use, the film otherwise captures an often-overlooked truth about life on the road: musicians often don’t have a whole lot to say to each other.

Best music moment: The hits sound as mighty as you’d expect, but the live footage is not the most compelling part of the film.

Luke Lewis

 
 
 

There aren’t many films in which you can see a musical legend pondering the correct way to punch a joint of pork – but then Scott Walker is hardly your typical artist, and 30 Century Man demonstrates exactly why such flights of fancy make the pop idol-turned arty recluse so revered.

A-list stars queued up to get involved – David Bowie acted as executive producer, and interviewees include Radiohead, Jarvis Cocker, Damon Albarn and Johnny Marr.

Best music moment: The material from late-period avant-garde album ‘The Drift’ is powerful stuff, if you’ve got the stomach for it.

Luke Lewis

 
 
 

Hailed by its makers as “post-punk DIY bricolage”, this documentary of the bi-annual ATP festivals brought film-making into a new dimension.

Combining footage from the fans and the musicians attending the events, on a multitude of formats from Super8 to camcorder and mobile phone, it features everyone from Fuck Buttons to Belle & Sebastian.
Best music moment: Butlins’ security guards screaming at extreme noiseniks Lightning Bolt as they play an impromptu gig outside the resort’s pub.

Tim Chester

 
 
 

Depressive singer-songwriter Daniel Johnston is one of those artists who’s more interesting to read about, or watch a film about, than actually listen to (even if Kurt Cobain did call him the “greatest songwriter on earth”).

Fortunately, this documentary, while never exactly easy viewing, tells his unhappy story in sensitive style, in the process winning director Jeff Feuerzeig a Sundance award in 2005.

Best music moment: ‘True Love Will Find You In The End’.

Luke Lewis

 
 
 

A retrospective retracing of the band's life and times in the ever-so-slightly melancholic light of their 2009 reunion tour.

Trawlings of behind-the-scenes tapes are anchored by fresh accounts and witterings from the four band members, and artily diced with footage of the reunion gigs.

The faded picture of a rag-tag Essex art-punk outift called Seymour hoisted into some parallel stratosphere of unfathomable pop superstardom is painted well with a patchwork of dodgy out-takes, home movies and backstage banter.

Best music moment: Choice cuts include Alex trudging through reams of Japanese radio station idents ("Hi, I'm Alex, the stupid one from Blur... Stop eating whales, you cunts"), an inebriated Graham struggling with a wine bottle backstage on 'The Great Escape' tour (before his alcoholism was deemed anything but 'a laff') and Seymour's startlingly ace 'Superman' performed live in Harlow, Essex in 1989.

Jaimie Hodgson

 
 
 

It’s one of the great misfortunes in life that Bill Murray was never a songwriter. So music fans should instead make do with this slice of Wes Anderson movie magic that features wonderful David Bowie covers from Brazilian musician Seu Jorge and a golden soundtrack.

Murray plays an off-the-wall, Jacques Cousteau-esque oceanographer for whom murderous pirates and a killer fish are only the start of his troubles. His career is in tragic decline and his personal life is in disarray.

Musical highlights include the angelic strains of Sigur Ros as a magnificent shark cruises alongside Murray’s submarine, as well as Joan Baez, Scott Walker and tracks by Mark Mothersbaugh of Devo.

Best music moment: Seu George strumming a tender, lo-fi version of 'Life On Mars' in Portuguese.

David Moynihan

 
 
 

A teen coming of age movie at its core – Juno’s clear regard for its soundtrack and various band references within the film make it a must-see for anyone of an NME bent.

Juno herself loves Patti Smith, Iggy and The Stooges and Mott The Hoople. The adoptive-dad-to-be declares he once opened for Kurt Cobain-favourites the Melvins. Together they dig through old mix tapes, share songs and delight in cult horror flicks.

Alternative indie rock sits firmly at the heart of the film. And it’s a film with a huge heart.

Best music moment: Sonic Youth's cover of The Carpenters' 'Superstar'.

David Moynihan

 
 
 
 
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