On the latest episode of What Do You Wanna Watch? Ashley was joined by Radio Watson’s Buddy Watson and Take My Tone’s Simon Blackburn. With them both hosting podcasts that talk about music, a music-related Top 3 made sense. Between the three of them, they provided a good mix of documentaries, biopics and stories of fiction musicians.

Let us know what your Top 3 Films About Musicians are in the comments below or on Twitter

Simon’s Top 3

3. Metallica: Some Kind of Monster

Directed by: Joe Berlinger, Bruce Sinofsky
Starring: Lars Ulrich, Kirk Hammett, Robert Trujillo, James Hetfield

After bassist Jason Newsted quits the band in 2001, heavy metal superstars Metallica realize that they need an intervention. In this revealing documentary, filmmakers follow the three rock stars as they hire a group therapist and grapple with 20 years of repressed anger and aggression. Between searching for a replacement bass player, creating a new album and confronting their personal demons, the band learns to open up in ways they never thought possible.

Simon said:

You don’t really need to be a fan, and I’m not a huge Metallica fan or anything. I like the whole journey of everyone waiting for a follow up album and the egos of Lars Ulrich vs James Hetfield and they have a councillor living in there with them and their long time producer wants to become the new bass player and they shun him. There are all these different things going on and I think it makes for a really intriguing documentary.

2. Walk The Line

Directed by: James Mangold
Screenplay by: Gill Dennis, James Mangold
Based on Man in Black: His Own Story in His Own Words and Cash: The Autobiography by: Johnny Cash
Starring: Joaquin Phoenix, Reese Witherspoon, Ginnifer Goodwin, Robert Patrick

Johnny Cash, an aspiring musician, receives a golden opportunity to tour with the famous June Carter. As Johnny’s musical career takes a flight, his marriage with Vivian starts falling apart.

Simon said:

I think this is one of those ones that across the board is quite highly regarded. I think it’s great. It’s one of those ones that draws you in despite myself only having heard a handful of Johnny Cash songs.

  1. School of Rock

Directed by: Richard Linklater
Written by: Mike White
Starring: Jack Black, Joan Cusack, Mike White, Sarah Silverman, Miranda Cosgrove

Dewey Finn, an amateur rock enthusiast, slyly takes up his friend’s job by posing as a substitute teacher. Bearing no qualifications for it, he instead starts training the students to form a band.

Simon said:

So rewatchable. You can watch it with the family, you can watch it with the kids. They just nailed that balance and it’s got all that Jack Black humour in there. Great film, check it out if you haven’t already.

Buddy’s Top 3

3. Artifact

Directed by: Jared Leto
Starring: Jared Leto, Shannon Leto, Tomo Miličević

Telling harsh truths about the modern music business, this riveting and award-winning documentary gives intimate access to singer/actor Jared Leto and his band Thirty Seconds to Mars as they fight a relentless lawsuit with record label Virgin/EMI and write songs for their album “This Is War.” Opening up his life for the camera during months of excruciating pressures, Leto reveals the struggles his band must face over questions of art, money and integrity.

Buddy said:

It’s part behind the scenes of making the album This is War, part a documentary on them getting sue by EMI and how that works. An inner look at the music industry and how monetisation has really changed, specifically when it comes to contracts and the 360 deals, and how music was struggling to make money and how that changed with streaming platforms. It’s also got the growing up of Jared Leto and how the band started and that journey as well. It kind of hits four different beats but intertwines it really well.

2. 8 Mile

Directed by: Curtis Hanson
Written by: Scott Silver
Starring: Eminem, Mekhi Phifer, Brittany Murphy, Michael Shannon, Anthony Mackie, Kim Basinger, Eugene Byrd

Jimmy ‘B-Rabbit’ Smith is an aspiring rapper with a messed-up life. He must use his rap skills to succeed in a rapping contest as this could be his last chance to get out of the ghetto.

Buddy said:

8 Mile is fantastic, it’s basically an autobiography. The self-depreciation in the last rap battle, it suits Eminem’s real-life persona and style and the nervousness behind that and what gets him big and out of the situation he’s in. I’ve only seen 8 Mile once but it was one that came to mind for this.

1. Foo Fighters: Back and Forth

Directed by: James Moll
Starring: Dave Grohl, William Goldsmith, Taylor Hawkins, Nate Mendel, Chris Shiflett, Pat Smear, Franz Stahl, Butch Vig

Exploring the 16 year history of the Foo Fighters. Dave Grohl recorded the first songs as demos alone in his garage and then enlisted some old friends and drummer Taylor Hawkins to form a band that could tour the world.

Buddy said:

It entails the Foo Fighters and how they rose as a band with Dave Grohl coming from Nirvana, the various different line-up changes they’ve had over the years. They intertwine this with them recording their album Wasting Light, which is my favourite album of theirs, from start to finish, as a complete package. This documentary is just fantastic.

Ashley’s Top 3

3. Sing Street

Directed by: John Carney
Screenplay by: John Carney
Story by: John Carney, Simon Carmody
Starring: Ferdia Walsh-Peelo, Lucy Boynton, Jack Reynor, Aidan Gillen, Maria Doyle Kennedy, Kelly Thornton, Ben Carolan, Mark McKenna, Percy Chamburuka, Conor Hamilton, Karl Rice, Ian Kenny, Don Wycherley, Lydia McGuinness

With the recession hitting people hard in Dublin during the 80s, Conor is moved from his private school to a tough inner-city alternative. As he tries to adjust to a new way of life, he decides to start his own band.

Ashley said:

A brilliant cast across the board, a lot of future stars amongst the kids. John Carney has done a few music-centric films, like Begin Again and Once, and Sing Street is the strongest one I’ve watched of his so far.

2. Almost Famous

Directed by: Cameron Crowe
Written by: Cameron Crowe
Starring: Billy Crudup, Frances McDormand, Kate Hudson, Jason Lee, Patrick Fugit, Anna Paquin, Fairuza Balk, Noah Taylor, Philip Seymour Hoffman

Fifteen-year-old William Miller accompanies Stillwater, a rock band, on their tour in order to write an article about them and learns about relationships along the way.

Ashley said:

An amazing cast. It is stacked. Great music and that seminal moment of singing Tiny Dancer on the bus, such a great moment. A classic Cameron Crowe film, probably the best work he’s done. A fantastic film.

1. Coco

Directed by: Lee Unkrich
Screenplay by: Adrian Molina, Matthew Aldrich
Story by: Lee Unkrich, Jason Katz, Matthew Aldrich, Adrian Molina
Starring: Anthony Gonzalez, Gael García Bernal, Benjamin Bratt, Alanna Ubach, Renée Victor, Ana Ofelia Murguía, Edward James Olmos

Despite his family’s generations-old ban on music, young Miguel dreams of becoming an accomplished musician like his idol Ernesto de la Cruz. Desperate to prove his talent, Miguel finds himself in the stunning and colorful Land of the Dead. After meeting a charming trickster named Héctor, the two new friends embark on an extraordinary journey to unlock the real story behind Miguel’s family history.

Ashley said:

A Pixar film about a young kid whose family hates music but idolises this musician and ends up meeting his great-grandfather in the afterlife. Music is such a central point to this film and if you don’t tear up when he sings Remember Me right at the end of the film, you don’t have a soul. An amazing film.

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