Musicians lead some of the most colorful lives. Between crazy stories of living in tour buses and playing sold-out stadium shows to thousands of fans, it’s no surprise that these artists also have the best stories to tell — and they’re just as fun to watch onscreen.
Indeed, musicians’ biopics have become interesting resources for fans and anyone who wants to take a closer look at the lives of these artists. With so many biopic releases over the years, it’s difficult to pick the good ones from the not-so-good ones. To help you out, we’ve put together a list of recommendations for you!
Rocketman – Elton John
Rocketman, directed by Dexter Fletcher, is one of the more fun biopics in this subgenre of movies. While it might not be the most accurate, it takes a style-over-substance approach that perfectly captures Elton John’s larger-than-life persona. Now, this doesn’t mean the film lacks depth or deeply personal moments.
Behind all the glitter and glamor, it does a pretty good job of exploring one of the most entertaining and eccentric figures in modern music. Another exceptional aspect of the film was the amount of time and effort they put into recreating John’s iconic outfits. Variety reveals that costume designer Julian Day even visited the musician’s personal archives to study the clothes closely. They also made use of real jewelry from Chopard and diamonds that amounted to a whopping $1 million.
I’m Not There – Bob Dylan
There have been quite a few films and documentaries about Bob Dylan — from the 2005 No Direction Home, to the 2017 musical film Trouble No More. This isn’t at all surprising, as Bob Dylan is a cultural force that has impacted the lives of millions of people all over the world — with his influence extending well beyond the realm of music. Although he never reached the top of the Billboard charts, a feature by Gala Bingo explains how Bob Dylan did win the Nobel Prize for Literature. The awarding committee credited the singer and talented lyricist for “having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition.” Given this, it’s normal for people to want to know more about him and his personal history. However, this isn’t what you’ll get from his Todd Haynes-directed biopic, I’m Not There.
Haynes takes on a more experimental approach when tackling the subject of Dylan’s life. One fascinating choice he made was to make use of six different actors (Christian Bale, Cate Blanchett, Marcus Carl Franklin, Richard Gere, Heath Ledger, and Ben Whishaw) to play the celebrated musician. This choice helps audiences distinguish the vastly different personas that Dylan has adopted throughout his legendary career. Fans who are looking for even more Dylan films would be glad to know that there’s another upcoming Bob Dylan biopic starring Timothée Chalamet, which revolves around the artist’s move from folk to rock music.
Jimi: All Is By My Side – Jimi Hendrix
Lastly, we can’t have a list of the best films about musicians without mentioning the Jimi Hendrix biopic Jimi: All Is By My Side, directed by John Ridley. Hendrix is undoubtedly one of the most influential figures in rock music — so much so that concerts like Experience Hendrix, which celebrate his music, remain very popular to this day.
Unfortunately, you won’t hear any of Hendrix’s music in this film, as the production failed to secure the rights to use it. Nevertheless, Jimi: All Is By My Side does a spectacular job of fleshing out Hendrix’s human side. This is in large part because of the stellar performance of Andre Benjamin (better known as André 3000) as Hendrix. This film doesn’t portray his character as the rock legend but instead shows audiences a more vulnerable Hendrix who was new to the scene and hungry to make something of himself.