Director Baz Luhrmann’s new biopic Elvis is being lauded as a visual and auditory success with Austin Butler’s memorable performance as The King of Rock and Roll. If you’ve seen the flick on the big screen and are left wanting to see more music movies or documentaries in your home theater, it can be hard to choose which comes next! Lucky for you, our team at Xssentials has compiled a few of our favorite flicks that will sound perfectly polished filtering from your surround-sound audio system.
The incomparable Amy Winehouse is remembered through a lens that respects her talent while giving viewers detailed insight into the reasons behind the addictions that took her life prematurely. This 2015 documentary details her incredibly swift rise to international superstardom; at 19 years old, she signed her first publishing deal with EMI. At 23, she released the award-winning album Back to Black, and at 27, she was found dead in her apartment. Amy focuses on the singular talent of Winehouse as a singer and songwriter without sparing the details of her tragic demise, as she tells us the stories of her life, in her words, through the songs she wrote. You’ll be unlikely to forget the sound of Amy’s melodic crooning through your speakers nor the sight of her black bouffant and larger-than-life presence on your cinematic screen.
Perhaps one of the most famous music movies to exist, director Cameron Crowe captures the heyday of the 1970s music scene through high school wannabe music journalist William Miller, who follows fictional band Stillwater on tour to write a piece for Rolling Stone magazine. A large 4K screen will do justice to the groovy color and splashy excess of the rockstar lifestyle. The soundtrack features plenty of 1970s rock’n’roll classics, including Bowie, Led Zeppelin, and Rod Stewart with soaring guitar solos that will explode through your music system. You’ll want to sing along with everyone on the tour bus as they belt the lyrics to Tiny Dancer.
What Happened, Miss Simone?
This documentary of the extraordinarily talented singer-songwriter Nina Simone follows her rise to fame, beginning with her life as a black girl in segregated North Carolina yearning to be a classical musician and continuing to her international fame with songs that expressed her personal outrage at the injustices of her day in a time of musical censorship. What Happened, Miss Simone is an intimate look into the life of a woman who often felt frustrated with life’s limitations and sought to forge new futures for young black people as seen through intimate interviews and letters to loved ones. Her haunting songs and elegant piano accompaniments that are sprinkled vigorously throughout will leave you with chills.
The iconic Broadway hit was turned into a musical movie of equally epic proportions in 2012 with a superstar cast led by Hugh Jackman as Jean Valjean. A high-quality projector image will transport you straight into the French Revolution with the colorful cast of characters trying to navigate the joys and sorrows of a life of resistance. As each character endures their personal trials and tribulations, Les Mis reminds us that life is always worth fighting for. Each multi-layered song, accompanied by an orchestra, will saturate you with emotion when emitted from a surround-sound system.
Summer of Soul
The summer of 1969 is known as the setting of the iconic Woodstock music festival. But that same year, the Harlem Cultural Festival took place over six Sundays in a park and brought together the biggest black musicians of the day, including Sly and the Family Stone, BB King, Stevie Wonder, The 5th Dimension, Nina Simone, and many more. These concerts were meticulously recorded and then forgotten in a basement for decades until Roots drummer Questlove Thompson brought the footage to life. The documentary includes some of the performance highlights with interviews of festival attendees and performers, who are joyful to see such a historic moment finally be seen by the world. You’ll want to turn up your sound system to hear legend after legend perform on that colorful outdoor stage.
The discography of Abba is reimagined on a Greek island in the days leading up to the wedding of Amanda Seyfried’s character Sophie. Without the knowledge of her mother Donna, played by Meryl Streep, Sophie secretly invites three men who may be her father. This romantic comedy is packed with lighthearted fun, ensemble dance numbers, and plenty of solos from famous faces in numbers that recreate Abba’s most famous chart-toppers, like Dancing Queen, Gimme! Gimme! Gimme!, Voulez-Vous, and of course, Mamma Mia!. It’s obvious the cast is having the time of their lives, and you’ll feel caught up in the wedding excitement as you watch their sun-drenched experiences on your very own big screen and sing along to your favorite tunes.
Homecoming: A Film By Beyoncé
This documentary reveals the full creative process and hours of dedication it took to produce Beyoncé’s 2018 headliner show at Coachella, from the singer’s strict attention to every tiny detail, to her efforts to highlight performers from HBCUs across America. As the documentary counts down the days to “Beychella,” you’ll see raw footage of rehearsals, interviews with young college student performers, and Beyoncé taking charge of her vision interspersed with the final show itself, with a full live band, dancers, and of course, Queen B herself strutting down the catwalk to all her greatest hits. We believe a large screen and a subwoofer are necessary to capture the literal gold and pink wall of sound from her live band accompaniment.
No matter who your favorite artists are, we believe these movies are all worth seeing on your home theater setup.