The best music biopics to watch on repeat (part 3)


Mis à jour le 7 December 2022.

Édith Piaf, Beethoven, Woody Guthrie, Johnny Cash, TLC and Mayhem… Many artists have inspired directors and movie producers. Whether it’s their private lives, the challenges they have faced or simply their talent, music biopics offer a fresh look at these musical virtuosos. In our first selection of the best music biopics to watch on repeat, we mentioned iconic artists like Elvis, Gainsbourg, Django Reinhardt and Céline Dion, as well as Ray Charles, Dalida and Claude François in the second part. For this third installment, discover 10 of the best music biopics to watch on repeat on your TV or, even better, on a big screen using a projector and HD Blu-ray player or AV network player.

The best music biopics: La Vie en rose, Walk the Line, Lords of Chaos
Édith Piaf, Beethoven, Woody Guthrie, Johnny Cash, TLC and Mayhem… Discover the artists that made a mark on their generation in this selection of the best music biopics.

Let’s take a look back at some of the greatest music biopics that explore the lives of famous artists and bands.

La Vie en rose, by Olivier Dahan (2007)

Movie poster: La Vie en rose
Directed by Olivier Dahan, La Vie en rose looks back at key moments in Édith Piaf’s life.

A major figure of French music, Édith Piaf is the author of many classics such as Non, je ne regrette rien, La vie en rose, Milord and La foule. To pay tribute to this famous singer and songwriter, the French title (La Môme) of Olivier Dahan’s film is a reference to the artist’s nickname – la môme piaf – given by Louis Leplée (the director of a famous cabaret) at the beginning of her career. This 140-minute feature film chronicles the different stages of Édith Piaf’s life, played by the incredible Marion Cotillard. The latter also received the Oscar for best actress for this role. The film La vie en rose was an international success and won two Oscars, four BAFTAs, five Césars, three Czech Lions and a Golden Globe.

Marion Cotillard in La Vie en rose
Marion Cotillard received the Oscar for best actress for her portrayal of Édith Piaf.

This movie begins with Édith Piaf’s childhood and her early singing career. While singing in the streets of Montmartre in Paris, she is spotted by Louis Leplée, played by the great Gérard Depardieu. From cabaret stages to the Olympia, from France to the United States, the artist’s success is skillfully depicted. La vie en rose also looks back at her tragic love affair with Marcel Cerdan, the death of her daughter, her various health problems, but also her personality, her passions and her incredible talent. In addition to making the spectator go through many emotions, La vie en rose makes you want to rediscover the entire discography of this talented singer, which you can do with the vinyl edition of Édith Piaf – À L’Olympia 1962.

AlloCiné: 3.8/5
IMDb: 7.6/10

Available on Blu-ray, Canal VOD, Apple TV and YouTube
Picture format: 2.35:1
DTS-HD High Res Audio et Dolby Digital 5.1

Immortal Beloved, by Bernard Rose (1995)

Immortal Beloved movie poster
Released in 1995, the biopic Immortal Beloved follows the journey of one of the greatest composers of all time: Beethoven.

Even today, Beethoven continues to inspire a great number of artists. He is considered to be one of the greatest names in the history of classical music. An extraordinary composer, virtuoso pianist and conductor, the German musical genius has inspired a dozen movies, including Immortal Beloved by Bernard Rose and starring Gary Oldman, Isabella Rossellini and Jeroen Krabbé. Anger, surprise, wonder… This 2-hour biopic manages to provoke countless emotions thanks to a remarkable Gary Oldman, a masterful script and a particularly touching story.

Immortal Beloved
After the death of Ludwig van Beethoven, his friend Anton Schindler (played by Jeroen Krabbé) goes looking for his “immortal beloved”.

The film Immortal Beloved presents the life of the famous composer Ludwig van Beethoven. More than a simple chronological story, this feature film begins with his death in Vienna in March 1827. A handwritten document by Ludwig is found by Anton Schindler, his faithful friend and secretary. It is written that he wishes to bequeath all his possessions to “meine unsterbliche Geliebte”, which translates as “my immortal beloved”. His friend then leaves in search of this woman. Naturally, the writer has made their own choices regarding this, which we leave to you to discover. Ludwig van Beethoven is presented as a man as well as an artist. His personality, his passions, his anxieties and his character are revealed to the sound of his music – conducted by the excellent Sir Georg Solti – which lends power to each scene. A soundtrack that allows us, much to our delight, to listen to his masterpieces once again.

AlloCiné: 4/5
IMDb: 7.4/10

Available on Blu-ray
Picture format: 2.40:1
Dolby TrueHD 5.1

Bound for Glory, by Hal Ashby (1976)

Bound for Glory movie poster
Bound for Glory looks back at the Great Depression in the United States through the eyes of Woodrow Wilson Guthrie.

Bound for Glory is a film about American folk singer and guitarist Woody Guthrie. Known as one of the iconic figures of popular music, Woodrow Wilson Guthrie focused on themes of American socialism and anti-fascism throughout his career. An excellent writer, Guthrie penned thousands of lyrics and poems from an early age. After a recording session with Alan Lomax, a musicologist and folklorist, Lomax advised him to write a biography. A few years later, in 1943, he published this book entitled Bound for Glory. This book served as the basis for the film of the same name starring David Carradine. This biopic won two Oscars, for best photography for Haskell Wexler and for best music for Leonard Rosenman.

Bound for Glory
Bound for Glory (with David Carradine) reflects on Woody Guthrie’s socially conscious lyrics. With his songs dedicated to the problems of workers, he sang for unions.

Bound for Glory returns to 1936 during the Great Depression in the United States of America. A time when unemployment and misery were commonplace. Woody Guthrie was a young Texan looking for a better situation for his family. At the time, California was considered to be the promised land. He did not hesitate to leave his wife and two children to make his fortune, with only a harmonica. Police, violence, protest songs, socially conscious lyrics… His harrowing and dangerous journey is skillfully written, with David Carradine delivering a top-notch performance. Bound for Glory condemns a lack of freedom through Woody Guthrie, an example of humility and generosity.

AlloCiné: 3.5/5
IMDb: 7.3/10

Available on Blu-ray
Picture format: 16:9 compatible with 4/3, 1.85
Dolby Digital 2.0

Jazz selection

Lords of Chaos, by Jonas Åkerlund (2018)

Lords of Chaos movie poster
Released in 2018, Lords of Chaos tells the story of guitarist Euronymous and the band Mayhem, which would become the epicenter of the 1990s Norwegian black metal scene.

Not for the faint of heart, the biopic Lords of Chaos released in 2018 is a dark and compelling retelling of how the aggressive and nihilistic image of a black metal band led to acts of violence. An adaptation of the 1998 book of the same name, this movie presents the Norwegian black metal scene of the early 1990s from the point of view of Euronymous (Rory Culkin), co-founder of the band Mayhem.

Lords of Chaos follows guitarist Euronymous as he creates the band and tries to instill Satanic values in its members. Along the way, he hires Dead (Jack Kilmer) as a singer and clashes with Mayhem’s leader and future bassist, Varg Vikernes (Emory Cohen). The film takes place during the most troubled period of this black metal band. Between 1987 and 1994, murder, suicide, cannibalism, church burnings and all kinds of morbid acts perpetrated by the members of Mayhem eventually overshadowed the band’s music.

Lords of Chaos
Vikernes and Euronymous were behind a series of church fires, and many other tragic events…

The dark musical biopic Lords of Chaos was directed by former Bathory drummer and Swedish filmmaker Jonas Åkerlund. Known for his acclaimed music videos, including The Prodigy’s Smack My Bitch Up, Madonna‘s Ray of Light, Lady Gaga‘s Telephone and Maroon 5’s Moves like Jagger, Åkerlund described the film as being based “on truth and lies.” But to make his film authentic, he was given access to police reports as well as detailed photos of Helvete, Euronymous’ record store. He also went to the house where the band was staying. The Hungarian black metal band Bornholm even served as consultants, teaching the actors techniques to make their performance believable. Incidentally, Jack Kilmer’s excellent performance as Dead was praised for its accuracy. 

The soundtrack of the film Lords of Chaos is a perfect accompaniment to this sinister story, with a selection of tracks from black metal legends, but also from the Icelandic band Sigur Rós. Overall, Jonas Åkerlund was able to create a biopic that is both fascinating and aversive, while adding a touch of humor. A must-see for metal fans as well as those who enjoy thrillers and horror movies!

AlloCiné: 3.4/5
IMDb: 6.6/10
SensCritique: 6.4

Available on Blu-ray, DVD and Canal VOD
Image format: 16/9 compatible 4/3, cinema format 1.85, BD-50
5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio

pop rock selection

CrazySexyCool: The TLC Story, by Charles Stone III (2013)

CrazySexyCool: The TLC Story movie poster
CrazySexyCool: The TLC Story is about an iconic female R&B group from the 1990s. 

Released in 2013, CrazySexyCool: The TLC Story is a musical biopic about TLC, the incredibly influential R&B girl band behind the hits Waterfalls and No Scrubs. This television film looks at the events that led to the meteoric rise of the three women and highlights their friendship. 

The biopic traces the group’s humble origins in Atlanta and tells the story of how Tionne “T-Boz” (Drew Sidora) and Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes (Niatia “Lil’ Mama” Kirkland) began making music together. They were eventually spotted by singer and record producer Pebbles and teamed up with Chilli (Keke Palmer) to forge an R&B and hip-hop style that would allow them to win awards and sell millions of records. But caught between their extravagant lifestyles and opportunistic managers, the three women find themselves forced to declare bankruptcy and have to redouble their efforts to finally claim a share of what is owed to them. In addition to the many facets of their professional lives, CrazySexyCool portrays the personal problems of the protagonists, especially T-Boz’s illness and Lopes’s sudden death.

Actresses Drew Sidora, Lil’ Mama and Keke Palmer offer an accurate portrayal of the three members of TLC.

CrazySexyCool is a simple yet effective biopic. Indeed, the band’s music and melodrama require no embellishment. Director Charles Stone III does an admirable job of recreating period music videos to create a visually dynamic whole. In addition, the three actresses in the roles of Lopes, T-Boz and Chilli deliver excellent performances that bring the intensity of this unique friendship to life on the screen.

Audiences who followed TLC in the 1990s will surely enjoy learning the stories of these three artists and listening to their music again with CrazySexyCool: The TLC Story. Despite the much-publicized problems and tragedies, TLC broke down barriers in a historically male-dominated industry and paved the way for many of today’s female hip-hop artists. A story worth telling.

IMDb: 7.4/10

Available on DVD
Image format: CinemaScope, NTSC
Dolby Digital 5.1

hip-hop selection

Walk the Line, by James Mangold (2005)

affiche du film Walk the Line
Starring Joaquin Phoenix, Walk the Line follows Johnny Cash’s early life, his romance with June Carter, his rise in the country music world and his struggle with drug addiction.

Directed by the talented James Mangold (Girl, Interrupted, 3:10 to Yuma, Logan, Ford v Ferrari…), Walk the Line gives an account of the life of country music legend Johnny Cash. This biopic, based on two autobiographies of the singer-songwriter, focuses mainly on his relationship with June Carter as well as his music, but does not bypass his problems. 

Walk the Line begins in 1968, as inmates at Folsom State Prison cheer for Johnny Cash (Joaquin Phoenix). As Cash waits to perform, he has a flashback to his childhood, which includes a tragic accident in 1944 and his very complicated relationship with his father (Robert Patrick). In 1950, Johnny leaves home and joins the U.S. Air Force. During his time in the military, he began writing songs and had a romantic relationship with Vivian Liberto (Ginnifer Goodwin). After his tour of duty, he moves in with Vivian and tries to start a music career. But Vivian finds it difficult to adapt to her husband’s ambitions. Cash signs a contract with Sun Records and soon finds himself on tour with future legends Elvis Presley (Tyler Hilton) and Jerry Lee Lewis (Waylon Malloy Payne). During this tour, he meets June Carter (Reese Witherspoon), singer and daughter of the famous Carter family. Cash becomes a star, in part because of the inspiration June gives him, but he is eventually caught up in his personal demons; his marriage collapses, and he falls into drug addiction.

Walk the Line
Walk the Line focuses on the relationship between Cash and June Carter, also a singer and songwriter, with whom he goes on tour.

Walk the Line was a huge success and was the highest grossing music biopic of all time until Straight Outta Compton topped it in 2015. The film won the Golden Globe Award for Best Picture and received several nominations. This success is largely due to the outstanding acting of the star couple, cast by Johnny Cash and June Carter themselves. Both actors took six months of singing lessons with T Bone Burnett, and all of Cash’s vocal tracks in the film and on the soundtrack are played and sung by Phoenix. For his incredible performance, Phoenix won the Golden Globe for Best Actor in a Motion Picture Musical and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actor. Witherspoon’s incredible energy and singing earned her the Oscar and BAFTA Award for Best Actress. 

The biopic Walk the Line succeeds in conveying the emotional subtleties of the legend Johnny Cash. This intense and insightful musical film about music, faith and redemption confirms the talent of director James Mangold and offers the perfect opportunity to rediscover Cash’s music.

AlloCiné: 4/5
IMDb: 7.8/10
SensCritique: 7.3

Available on Blu-ray, DVD, Canal VOD and Disney+
Image format: 16/9 compatible 4/3, cinema format 2.35, BD-50
DTS 5.1

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