Top Picks: Music Biopics

In the new hit film Bohemian Rhapsody, legendary rock star Freddie Mercury and the band Queen see a meteoric rise to international fame in the mid-1970s and face personal and professional strife through the 1980s. Like most musical biopics, there's a little truth, a little fiction and a whole lot of great music for die-hard fans and the newly introduced. 

Despite the movie's financial success, it's gotten mixed reviews from critics. The Chicago Tribune went so far as posting "10 biopics better than 'Bohemian Rhapsody.'" And, here at CPL, I've got my own recommendations of the best music biopics. There are films that focus on almost every possible genre, including jazz, country and classical. Here are a few to consider watching again or to discover for the first time. 

Get on up is a criminally overlooked film about James Brown, played here by Chadwick Boseman. Boseman is best-known for playing a cool and collected Black Panther, but he does an amazing job portraying Brown's energy, charisma and stage presence.

Control tells the short, tragic tale of Ian Curtis, singer and lyricist for the influential band Joy Division. Gorgeous black-and-white cinematography from director Anton Corbijn helps capture the mood of the music and Curtis' health struggles.

How could anyone forget Angela Bassett and Laurence Fishburne in What's Love Got to Do With It? As Tina and Ike Turner, they give their all to portray the couple's volatile relationship and some electric musical performances.

One of my favorite movies as a kid was La Bamba. The story of rock 'n' roll pioneer Richie Valens is sad and sweet, with a great early rock soundtrack from the 1950s. 

Maybe rock 'n' roll or soul music is a little too wild for you? Perhaps you'll enjoy the light, classical sounds of Liberace in Behind the Candelabra. The costumes, the hair and the performances are all top notch. Michael Douglas is absolutely transformed into one of show business' most over-the-top performers whose dramatic personal life rivals any tabloid story.

These are just a few of my top picks, but there are tons of biographical films I've yet to see. What's your favorite music biopic?

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