Enter your number to get our free mobile app

Musical biopics, often feeder films for a number of Academy Awards categories, personify the fascinating lives of the world’s most beloved musical legends.

The following performances – whether of an 18th-century classical composer, the rockabilly Man in Black, or even influential rap lyricists – brought the stories of these artists to life on the big screen.

Great Balls of Fire (1989)

Starring Dennis Quaid, Winona Ryder and Alec Baldwin, “Great Balls of Fire” follows Jerry Lee Lewis’ controversial rise to stardom as a rock n’ roll artist in the 1950s.

With fiery hands that seemed destined to play the piano and a voice for “the devil’s music,” Lewis competed with artists like Elvis Presley and Johnny Cash to top the charts with his rockabilly style of music in this American biographical film. While it does romanticize Lewis’ scandalous romance with his 13-year-old cousin, the film provides an interesting and entertaining insight in the country star’s wild lifestyle.

Selena (1997)

Jennifer Lopez plays Tejano music legend Selena Quintanilla in this musical biopic about the beloved singer’s short but successful career in the spotlight.

The film follows Quintanilla and her family as they began performing at local county fairs and ended up ultimately dominating the Spanish music charts. With fantastic vocal work from Lopez, stunning costumes and a close-knit family dynamic, the cast of “Selena” does great justice to the late pop star’s life and legacy on the silver screen.

Amadeus (1984)

This film may be a bit more dated in comparison to some of the other stories mentioned, but the plot is just as interesting and equally as outrageous.

Winning the Academy Award for Best Picture in 1985, “Amadeus” tells the tale of the great 18th-century composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. His undeniable talent and whimsical personality make him a fascinating character for viewers to watch come to life on the big screen.

Deviant schemes, poisonous obsessions, a theatrical plot and the striking musical compositions of Mozart himself make this movie a must-see!

Straight Outta Compton (2015)

“Straight Outta Compton” is a modern biopic set in Compton, California that will have music and movie lovers alike glued to their screens.

A thoroughly historic piece of hip-hop history, this film follows the rise of N.W.A. as one of the best and most influential “gansta rap” groups of all time. Not only does the cast bear an uncanny resemblance to the group’s actual members (Dr. Dre, Ice Cube, Eazy-E, MC Ren, and DJ Yella), but their musical performances and attention to detail make one feel as if they are being transported back to the early days of the wild west for rappers on the West Coast.

Through dynamic storytelling and deep character development, this movie is able to touch on important social issues like racism and police brutality while also educating the viewer on the lives of young Black hip hop artists who pushed social boundaries and changed the course of music history with their provocative, yet honest lyrics and innovative performance styles.

Bohemian Rhapsody (2018)

Stunning musical performances, an incredible true story and award-winning shots of Wembley Stadium during the iconic “Live Aid” benefit concert in 1985 make this biopic about rock n’ roll legend Queen one of this decade’s greatest films.

Following the sensational life of Freddie Mercury, “Bohemian Rhapsody” led with the most Academy Awards last year as it won four of its five 2019 Oscar nominations. Mercury, played by Rami Malek, is a whimsical and complex character that had audiences falling in love with him all over again as he was brought back to life on the big screen.

Much like “Straight Outta Compton,” the film’s editing style, musical mixing and character performances transport the audience back to the era of “sex, drugs and rock n’ roll.”  This film has all the elements of a standing ovation and, when viewed with surround sound, is an experience unlike any other.

Walk the Line (2005)

Undoubtedly one of Joaquin Phoenix’s most outstanding performances, “Walk the Line” follows the boozy, unruly life of rockabilly legend Johnny Cash. Reese Witherspoon also gives a sensational performance as Cash’s one true love, June Carter.

Earning Witherspoon her first Oscar for Best Actress in 2006, her portrayal of Carter created a charming chemistry between her and Cash during the movie. While the film focuses on many aspects of Cash’s wild lifestyle, it is mainly centered around his controversial concert for the inmates at Folsom County Prison.

Known for his lowly baritone voice and acoustic guitar strumming, ‘The Man in Black” was adored by millions in the 50s and 60s. However, Phoenix’s outstanding performance in “Walk the Line” reincarnated the rebellious spirit of Johnny Cash and solidified his legacy for generations to come, making him universally popular for fans of all ages.

Do you have a favorite musical biopic that didn’t make this list? Whose life would you like to see translated to the silver screen next? Tell us what you think on our Facebook page, or download our mobile app and chat with us.