Top 10 Greatest Movies About Fictional Musicians

Updated on July 12, 2016

There have been many, many movies and documentaries made about real life musicians. Some of them have been critically acclaimed (Ray, Amadeus, This Is It, A Hard Day's Night) while others have been universally panned (Spice World, Justin Bieber's Believe).

Only a handful of cinematic tales have graced the silver screen (and your local Redbox) involving make-believe musicians and singers. The idea has given birth to some great original music itself, and has also replicated some songs that had enjoyed prior success by the artists that the movie paid tribute to or expanded upon.

Below is a list of the must-see films from this genre in descending order. If you haven't seen any of these flicks, get them today - or you might even get lucky and find them streaming on Netflix! So fill a bowl with popcorn, get comfy on the couch, and settle in for a full slate of pretend musical entertainment.

Gwyneth Paltrow in Country Strong
Gwyneth Paltrow in Country Strong

10. Country Strong (2010)

Actress Gwyneth Paltrow, ex-wife of Coldplay's Chris Martin, can actually sing. But if you've seen her in the film Duets or as a guest star on Fox's hit TV show Glee, you already knew that.

Okay, so it may not be one of the best movies ever made (It received a 4.5 out of 10 rating on Rotten Tomatoes), but it does feature some good music. The song "Coming Home" was nominated for an Academy Award in 2011, and the title track also received some accolades.

Country singer and Grammy winner Tim McGraw lends some credibility to the cast, along with Paltrow and co-star Garrett Hedlund, who both took guitar lessons to contribute some authenticity to their respective roles. See if you can also spot Chris Robinson Brotherhood's guitarist Neal Casal in Gwyneth's back up band.

Best Songs: "Coming Home" "Country Strong"

9. The Commitments (1991)

The dialogue is a little hard to follow at times with the characters' thick Irish accents, but this 1991 film based on a novel by Roddy Doyle features killer musical performances of some of the most popular classic Motown and R&B hits. Although the cast was chosen for their musical abilities over their acting skills, the film has received mostly positive feedback from critics and fans.

Best Songs: "Mustang Sally" "Do Right Woman, Do Right Man"

The Dude abides
The Dude abides

8. Crazy Heart (2009)

As a musician myself, I thought that this movie had a real-feel with the main character Otis "Bad" Blake's down-and-out story. Jeff Bridges plays a has-been, alcoholic country music star, and really brings some heart to the character by playing guitar and singing himself. Bridges also won the 2009 Academy Award for Best Actor for the role.

The music is composed by industry veteran T Bone Burnett, among many other various skilled songwriters. Musical performances by Colin Farrell, Robert Duvall, Waylon Jennings and Lightnin' Hopkins add to the charm of this heartwarming film.

Best Songs: "The Weary Kind" "Hold on You"

The Oneders
The Oneders

7. That Thing You Do (1996)

Academy Award winner Tom Hanks wrote, directed and starred in this fictional tale of a Beatles-esque band that rose to quick success in 1964 with a catchy, one-hit-wonder song. The film (also starring Aerosmilth front man's daughter Liv Tyler), grossed over 34 million dollars worldwide, and even spawned a Billboard hit - reaching #41 on the Hot 100 with the title track.

Actor Johnathon Schaech as the lead singer of The Wonders didn't actually sing on any of the faux band's tunes in the film, but rather, lip-synced to Candy Butchers' vocalist Mike Viola's recorded tracks. Another interesting note is that the bass player is never given a character name in the movie, and referred to in the credits as T.B Player. Strange. I thought that bass players ruled?

Best Songs: "That Thing You Do" "Little Wild One"

Chris "Izzy" Cole
Chris "Izzy" Cole

6. Rock Star (2001)

Inspired by the true story of Tim "Ripper" Owens, who was plucked out of a Judas Priest tribute band to sing with the real deal, Rock Star stars Mark Wahlberg as Chris "Izzy" Cole, a young and talented singer in a band that honors the fictional group Steel Dragon.

Wahlberg doesn't really sing any of the vocals, but the film does feature some killer real life musicians such as Zakk Wylde (Black Label Society), Jeff Pilson (Dokken, Foreigner), and Steelheart's Miljenko Matijevic providing the actual vocal track for Wahlberg's character.

Best songs: "We All Die Young" "Colorful"


Kate Hudson in Almost Famous
Kate Hudson in Almost Famous

5. Almost Famous (2000)

Set in 1973, this film follows an aspiring music writer who gets hired by Rolling Stone magazine to join the tour of the fictional band Stillwater. Although there aren't many original songs featured in the movie by the band, the soundtrack includes some great classic rock tunes, and the film gives a fly-on-the-wall insight to what it was like to tour in the early 70's.

Among the songs highlighted are "Sparks" by The Who, "I've Seen All Good People" by Yes, and an iconic scene with the main characters singing Elton John's "Tiny Dancer" on the tour bus. Not included on the soundtrack, but are still heard in the film, are such legendary artists as Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, and Led Zeppelin...as well as many others.

Best Songs (by Stillwater): "Fever Dog" "Love Thing"

Jack Black with a Gibson SG
Jack Black with a Gibson SG

4. School of Rock (2003)

Singer/guitarist Jack Black of the rock duo Tenacious D looks right at home in this film about a struggling musician who takes over a substitute teaching job with a class of talented band kids. The enthusiasm that Black brings to the role comes across as really genuine, and the kids are no slouches on their instruments either.

The fictional band School of Rock is made up of real child musicians who are proficient at their respective instruments, as well as being talented actors. The story follows Black transforming the students from band nerds into rock stars, with the goal of winning an upcoming "Battle of the Bands" competition that offers a $20,000 prize.

The movie takes you on a journey of what it's really like to learn a song when you're first starting out. It accurately captures the true nature of what it's like to be inspired by music, to practice, and to deliver a passionate performance.

Best Songs: "School of Rock" "Edge of Seventeen"

3. Dreamgirls (2006)

Based on the 1981 Broadway play of the same name, Dreamgirls follows the career of the female Motown singing group Dreams, who are primarily based on 1960s icons The Supremes. Comedian Eddie Murphy and American Idol alum Jennifer Hudson were both nominated for an Acadamy Award, with only Hudson taking home the golden trophy.

The movie features over two dozen songs, with the standouts performed by Dreams' members Hudson, Beyonce' Knowles, and Anika Noni Rose. Murphy and actor/singer Jamie Foxx both lend some musical credibility to their roles as well.

Best Songs: "And I'm Telling You I'm Not Going" "I Am Changing"

Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi
Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi

2. The Blues Brothers (1980)

With quite possibly the greatest cast of musicians ever assembled in one film, The Blues Brothers ranks among one of the best movies ever made. The characters were taken directly from the popular Saturday Night Live skit with Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi, who also contributed to the writing and the music of the film.

Such legendary artists as Aretha Franklin, Ray Charles, Cab Calloway, and James Brown all make appearances in a cameo role, and offer up classic, one-of-a-kind performances that have gone down as some of the greatest musical moments in movie history.

Best Songs: "Soul Man" "Think" "Rawhide"

Nigel Tufnel
Nigel Tufnel

1. This Is Spinal Tap (1984)

With a slew of catch phrases ("These go to eleven" "None more black" "What's wrong with being sexy?"), Rob Reiner's brilliant take on the rise and fall of a stereotypical 80's metal band is the holy grail of movies about rock stars. Musicians universally adore this flick, and have even been known to say that the further that you get in your music career, the more the elements of this fictional tale become reality.

Best Songs: "Big Bottom" "Tonight I'm Gonna Rock You Tonight"

Questions & Answers

    Comments

      0 of 8192 characters used
      Post Comment

      • profile image

        deanbean317 2 years ago

        Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story is number two on my list!

      • profile image

        Db 3 years ago

        Another great one is "BandWagon", available on NetFlix.

      • poppyr profile image

        Poppy 3 years ago from Tokyo, Japan

        You forgot about "Airheads", one of my favourite movies. Definitely agree with School of Rock though - that one is great!

        Do you ever find that you watch a movie like these and wish the band was real?

      • kotobukijake profile image

        kotobukijake 3 years ago

        Great list, and an informative hub. I fully agree with most of these films making the list (have not yet seen The Commitments or Rock Star), but you did overlook the one film that easily ranks with both Spinal Tap and Almost Famous in this genre--Woody Allen's loving tribute to jazz, Sweet and Lowdown. Not only did this tale of Emmet Ray--the world's "second-greatest" jazz guitarist ("There's this gypsy in France")--manage to net well-deserved Oscar nods for Sean Penn and Samantha Morton, it also is one of Woody's best films, and rocks a soundtrack that'll almost put Almost Famous to shame. Also, one can't go without mentioning the Coen Brothers' recent Inside Llewyn Davis--both of the above films were not only much better than Country Strong but more deserving of inclusion here. Also, though it was not about the band, the Coens' earlier film O Brother, Where Art Thou? did have in the Soggy Bottom Boys one of the more entertaining fictional bands in movie history, and did feature both some great performance sequences and a truly awesome soundtrack--the film is worthy of mention here. Anyway, once again I enjoyed your hub, and strongly recommend that if you missed my two picks you give them a look--I shall try to do the same.

      working

      This website uses cookies

      As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, reelrundown.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

      For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: "https://reelrundown.com/privacy-policy#gdpr"

      Show Details
      Necessary
      HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
      LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
      Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
      AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
      Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
      CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
      Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
      Features
      Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
      Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
      Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
      Marketing
      Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
      Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
      Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
      Statistics
      Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
      ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)