Many musicians become actors (think David Bowie, Will Smith, Mark Wahlberg, et al., et al.) and many actors lead a double life as musicians. And there are also those who do the next best thing – play a real-life musical icon in a major film, sometimes winning an Oscar nomination or even award in the process. (These are 25 pop music stars who played dramatic roles in movies.)
Good music biopics offer much more than just good music. Many offer a great rags-to-riches story or include a near-death experience with a phoenix-like revival at the end.
To determine the 34 best music biopics of all time, 24/7 Tempo developed an index using average ratings on IMDb, an online movie database owned by Amazon, and a combination of audience scores and Tomatometer scores on Rotten Tomatoes, an online movie and TV review aggregator, as of August 2022, weighting all ratings equally. Only movies with at least 3,500 user reviews on either IMDb or Rotten Tomatoes were considered.
Click here to see the 34 best music biopics of all time
Music biopics have always been a popular genre in Hollywood, and there’s no sign that will change any time soon. In fact, they have been among the biggest movie hits of the year. Just think of the Oscar-sweeping “Amadeus,” about the rivalry between Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and the lesser composer Antonio Salieri – or, more recently, the NWA origin story “Straight Outta Compton,” or such acclaimed features as “Bohemian Rhapsody” (about Freddy Mercury) “La Vie en Rose” (Edith Piaf), and “Sweet Dreams” (Patsy Cline). (Musicians and otherwise, these are the best movies made about real people.)
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