28 September 2023
BEST ROCK MOVIES
There are loads of flicks about music but here we’re looking only at the movies that use rock music as a significant thematic driver. The quality and heaviness of the soundtrack is also a big factor. Because we’re making another epic playlist!
‘School of Rock’ (2003)
Jack Black was at the peak of his fame when he landed the role of Dewey Finn, a 30-something loser with huge rock & roll dreams. He winds up teaching a group of fifth graders and, after realizing they have actual musical talent, he enrolls them in a battle of the bands. Hilarity ensues and lessons are learned all around.
Best tracks: Iron Man Black Sabbath, Smoke on the Water Deep Purple, Highway to Hell AC/DC, Immigrant Song Led Zep, Moonage Daydream David Bowie
The story of the famous and influential 1960s rock band The Doors and its lead singer and composer, Jim Morrison, from his days as a UCLA film student in Los Angeles, to his untimely death in Paris, France at age 27 in 1971. Young rock fans were enthralled by Val Kilmer’s portrayal of the Doors frontman. Their music started selling in huge quantities once again.
Best tracks: Riders on the Storm, Break On Through, Light My Fire, L.A. Woman
Ken Russell had a very bold and bizarre vision for this movie. Roger Daltrey portrayed Tommy, and everyone from Tina Turner to Elton John to Eric Clapton took on supporting roles. Many Who purists despise the movie, but Ann-Margret was nominated for an Oscar for a reason. It’s a wildly entertaining movie, even if it isn’t the greatest possible adaptation of the album.
Best tracks: Amazing Journey, Acid Queen, Pinball Wizard, I’m Free, We’re Not Gonna Take It
‘This Is Spinal Tap’ (1984)
There was a lot of confusion when This Is Spinal Tap hit theaters in March of 1984. Audiences weren’t that familiar with the concept of a mockumentary, and some viewers even left the theater thinking it was a real documentary about an actual band. Spinal Tap did (sort of) become a real band; they have three legit albums and many other fictional ones. This Is Spinal Tap is a monumental movie that’s only gotten funnier with age.
Best tracks: Tonight I’m Gonna Rock You Tonight, Big Bottom, Stonehenge, Sex Farm
‘Almost Famous’ (2000)
Back in the early 1970s, some random rock magazine was crazy enough to let a 15-year-old write long features about the Allman Brothers Band, Led Zeppelin, David Bowie, Neil Young and many more of the biggest artists of the day. In 2000, Cameron Crowe decided to write and direct a slightly fictionalized account of his own time as a teenage rock journalist. The movie turned Kate Hudson into a star, made “Tiny Dancer” one of Elton John’s most beloved songs and caused Rolling Stone’s intern applications to skyrocket to record levels.
Best tracks: Search and Destroy The Stooges, Sweet Leaf Black Sabbath, Burn Deep Purple, Misty Mountain Hop Led Zeppelin
‘The Wall’ (1982)
A confined but troubled rock star descends into madness in the midst of his physical and social isolation from everyone. Roger Waters himself wanted to star in the film but, after a disastrous screen test, they gave the role to Boomtown Rats singer Bob Geldof. Who nails it.
Best tracks: Young Lust, Hey You, Comfortably Numb, Run Like Hell
‘The Runaways’ (2010)
Movies about hugely famous bands struggle to turn a profit, so it’s unclear why anyone felt a movie about the Runaways would be a success. Most people forget this punk band even existed, and members Lita Ford and Joan Jett have had far more success in their solo careers. The film absolutely tanked, but It’s actually pretty fun, even though it plays fast and loose with the facts.
Best tracks: The Wild One by Suzi Quatro, Rebel Rebel by David Bowie, Gimme Danger by The Stooges, Cherry Bomb by The Runaways, Pretty Vacant by Sex Pistols
‘High Fidelity’ (2000)
Rock music is integral to the story arc in 2000’s revered John Cusack picture High Fidelity. The main character owns a record store, and he uses music to navigate his relationships and life experiences. Meanwhile, rock songs are discussed passionately by the characters and feature prominently on the soundtrack, reflecting their emotions and personal growth. Not to mention, it features Jack Black in one of his early supporting roles.
Best tracks: Jacob’s Ladder by Rush, Get It Together by Grand Funk Railroad
‘Rock of Ages’ (2012)
A small-town girl and a city boy meet on the Sunset Strip while pursuing their Hollywood dreams.
Best tracks: Paradise City, Just Like Paradise by David Lee Roth, Nothin’ But a Good Time, Jukebox Hero, Hit Me with Your Best Shot, Bringin’ on the Heartbreak, Here I Go Again, No One Like You,
‘Beavis and Butt-Head Do America’ (1996)
Rock music plays a pivotal role in shaping the comedic and rebellious nature of the classic Mike Judd cartoon characters Beavis and Butt-Head, and that rocking musical atmosphere is only further amplified in the characters’ 1996 feature film, Beavis and Butt-Head Do America. Our intrepid adolescent heroes wake up to find their beloved television stolen, and embark on an epic journey across America to recover it, and, who knows, maybe even score.
Best tracks: Love Rollercoaster, Gone Shootin’
‘Wayne’s World’ (1992)
Party on, Wayne! Party on, Garth! Wayne’s World started the party in the early ’90s when the Saturday Night Live skit about two metalhead slackers near Chicago who make a cable access show from their basement, made its way to the big screen. The memorable Queen “Bohemian Rhapsody” car scene alone makes this movie a classic.
Best tracks: Fire by Jimi Hendrix, Loud Love by Soundgarden, Rock Candy by BulletBoys
‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ (2018)
Here it is — the whopper of all rock music movies, at least where overall global popularity is concerned. Since its 2018 release, the Queen biopic Bohemian Rhapsody has risen far above any other rock-based film in terms of worldwide gross.
Freddie Mercury, the lead singer of Queen, defies stereotypes and convention to become one of history’s most beloved entertainers. The band’s revolutionary sound and popular songs lead to Queen’s meteoric rise in the 1970s. After leaving the group to pursue a solo career, Mercury reunites with Queen for the benefit concert Live Aid, resulting in one of the greatest performances in rock ‘n’ roll history.
Best tracks: Somebody to Love, Keep Yourself Alive, Killer Queen, Fat Bottomed Girls, Now I’m Here
Moonage Daydream (2022)
A cinematic odyssey exploring David Bowie’s creative and musical journey. From visionary filmmaker Brett Morgen, and sanctioned by the Bowie estate.
Best tracks: Sound and Vision, Oh! You Pretty Things, Moonage Daydream, Diamond Dogs, Aladdin Sane
Metal Lords (2022)
Two friends try to form a heavy metal band with a cellist for a Battle of the Bands.
Best tracks: The Trooper by Iron Maiden, Hail to the King by Avenged Sevenfold, For Whom the Bell Tolls by Metallica, Blood and Thunder by Mastodon, Grinder by Judas Priest, I’m Broken by Pantera,
The Dirt (2019)
Based on the bestselling autobiography from Mötley Crüe, the film is an unflinching tale of success and excess as four misfits rise from the streets of Hollywood to the heights of international fame.
Best tracks: Live Wire, Shout at the Devil, Too Young to Fall in Love, Girls, Girls, Girls, Kickstart My Heart
Lords of Chaos (2018)
A teenager’s quest to launch Norwegian Black Metal in Oslo in the early 1990s results in a very violent outcome.
Best tracks: Fast as a Shark by Accept, Stand Up and Shout by Dio, The Return of Darkness and Evil by Bathory
Tenacious D in The Pick of Destiny (2006)
To become the greatest band of all time, two slacker, wannabe-rockers set out on a quest to steal a legendary guitar pick that gives its holders incredible guitar skills, from a maximum security Rock and Roll museum.
Best tracks: Holy Diver by Ronnie James Dio, Won’t Get Fooled Again by The Who
Detroit Rock City
In 1978, four rebellious teenagers try to scam their way into a KISS concert.
Best tracks: I Stole Your Love Kiss, Cat Scratch Fever Written by Pantera, Lights Out by UFO, Jailbreak by Thin Lizzy, Problem Child by AC/DC, Surrender by Cheap Trick, In the Hall of the Mountain King by Savatage
Rock ‘n’ Roll High School (1979)
Ramones fanatic and delinquent Riff Randell battles it out with the strict new principal of Vince Lombardi High School, Miss Togar, with help from the Ramones.
Best tracks: Smokin’ in the Boy’s Room by Brownsville Station, School’s Out by Alice Cooper, Blitzkrieg Bop, I Wanna Be Sedated, Rock ‘n’ Roll High School by Ramones
The Retaliators (2021)
An upstanding pastor uncovers a dark and twisted underworld as he searches for answers surrounding his daughter’s brutal murder.
Faded Out by Asking Alexandria, The Ending by Papa Roach, Darkness Settles In by Five Finger Death Punch, If Tomorrow Never Comes by Bad Wolves,
Three band members hoping for a big break head to a radio station to play their demo tape and wind up holding everyone hostage with plastic guns when the head D.J. refuses to play them.
Born to Raise Hell by Motörhead, Feed the Gods by White Zombie, London by Anthrax, Janie’s Got a Gun by Aerosmith