Thursday Movie Picks: Musical Biopics

This week's theme from Wandering Through the Shelves is musical biopics. I think this genre tends to be more mediocre then amazing. Still, there's some excellent films out there. Here are three of my favorites. 

1) Walk The Line

This is easily my favorite music biopic of all time. It's so wonderfully acted by its leads and you can't go wrong with Johnny Cash's music.

2) Nowhere Boy

This isn't the most factual bio pic of John Lennon, the film takes a lot of creative liberties, but it still works so well. It's a nice little gem. 

3) Love & Mercy

The Beach Boys might not be the flashiest band out there, but I have to mention last year's film staring the wonderful Paul Dano. It does a nice job of showing the "Then and now" aspect of lead singer Brian Wilson. 

Bonus: Sid and Nancy - The reason this is a bonus is because it's been so many years since I've seen it, where as the rest I've seen recently or enough times to make them stick. I enjoyed this film, but it's one I need to revisit. 

20 comments:

  1. Walk the Line is good, but I'd always pick Ray over it. I haven't seen the other three.

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    1. Walk the Line was a bit more upbeat, I think that's why I prefer it over Ray, but they are both good films in their own right.

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  2. Interesting choices. Walk the Line would be my favorite of the ones I've seen, both Joaquin and Reese are tremendous. I thought Nowhere Boy was a bit diffuse though it held my interest and I loved Kristin Scott-Thomas in it. I finally caught up with Sid & Nancy this year and while I was prepared for it knowing the story I still found it depressing and soul sucking.

    Haven't seen Love & Mercy yet but it is on my list.

    Love this film genre which made it tough to narrow down to three. I did a theme within theme by choosing a trio where each performer faced a major physical challenge at some point in their lives. My three:

    Sweet Dreams (1985)-Tale of Patsy Cline’s ascension from honkytonk singer to queen of the Grand Ole Opry and beyond as well as her messy personal life, including a near fatal car wreck, until her death in a plane crash. Jessica Lange was Oscar nominated for her turn as Patsy, she’s given strong support by Ed Harris as Cline’s difficult husband and Ann Wedgeworth in a beautiful performance as her mother.

    The Joker is Wild (1957)-Crooner Joe E. Lewis (Frank Sinatra) works his way up through the racket run nightclubs of Chicago mob boss Georgie Parker. Once successful he tries to move on only to have his throat slashed in retaliation. His voice ruined he slides into alcoholism but his former accompanist and friend helps him reestablish himself as a successful stand-up comic. The road still has many rough patches ahead though. One of Sinatra’s better lesser known performances. The film features one of Sinatra’s signature songs the Oscar winning “All the Way”.

    With a Song in My Heart (1952)-Young singer Jane Froman (Susan Hayward) rises from staff artist on a small radio station in the Midwest quickly climbing the ladder of success to become a top radio and stage star. Along the way she enters into a marriage of convenience with her manager which soon hits the rocks, then America enters WWII. Like many performers she volunteers to entertain the troops and is on her way to do so when her seaplane crashes into the Tagus River off the Lisbon coast. She is one of the few survivors but is severely injured, most perilously her leg is nearly amputated. The remainder of the film follows her grueling treatment, difficult recovery and return to finish the job she started. Grim in parts but overall a story of someone with tremendous fortitude in the face of huge adversity. Loaded with great music both Hayward (whose lip-syncing to Froman’s vocals is impressively realistic) and Thelma Ritter, as her steadfast nurse, were Oscar nominated.

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    1. Sid and Nancy is very depressing. I haven't seen any of your picks. Thanks for sharing them.

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  3. Not sure why I never saw Nowhere Boy, but I think it's because I am scared of Beatles biopic. Truly. Walk the Line is wonderful as is Love & Mercy, which, as you know, I picked both. Great picks!

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    1. There's so much creative liberty with it, you don't need to be worried about being an offended Beatles fan. It's good.

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  4. Walk the Line is vwry good with two excellent performances. Haven't seen the other two, but I do plan to soon. Great picks!

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  5. Sid and Nancy! That's an interesting pick. I really need to see Nowhere Boy.

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    1. Sid and Nancy I need to revisit eventually. I think you'd like Nowhere Boy. It's different.

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  6. Walk the Line seems to be a favourite this week. It is a really good film and I think Joaquin should have won the Oscar over Hoffman. I really want to see Love and Mercy as I heard nothing but great things about it. I might see Nowhere Boy one day also. I have no desire to see Syd and Nancy even though I love Gary Oldman

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    1. Best Actor that year was tough. I was pulling for Heath Ledger or Joaquin. Hoffman was really good too though, so I'm fine with his win.

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  7. I keep kicking myself for never getting around to seeing Love and Mercy in theaters. Especially after all the good things I keep hearing about it. Phoenix and Witherspoon really elevate Walk the Line into something special.

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    1. I hope you get a chance to catch it on DVD.

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  8. Walk the Line is awesome while I really did like Nowhere Boy which was actually a bit more accurate than most bio-pics. Largely because the director actually talked to Paul McCartney about the film as he gave her some specific notes. Especially the ones about Aunt Mimi who was quite stern but really caring.

    Love & Mercy is the film that I really want to see as I am a fan of Brian Wilson's work with or without the Beach Boys. With the Beach Boys, they're magic but without him, they're just another nostalgic band with an asshole singer.

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    1. Paul Dano is so great in Love & Mercy, he was really robbed of an Oscar nomination. Nowhere Boy was directed really well. I hope Sam Taylor-Johnson gets to do more films like that and less like 50 Shades of Grey.

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  9. I love that Walk the Line is a favourite! Great picks!

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  10. Oh man, I wish I had participated in this as I'd most definitely put down CONTROL on my list! It's such an incredible biopic on Joy Division's frontman Ian Curtis and Sam Riley is truly a revelation. Glad to see Walk the Line and Nowhere Boy too, both are my faves. I'd consider RAY as well which was incredible.

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    1. I haven't seen Control, I think I saw it on another list last week though.

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