4 Oscar-Nominated Music Biopics on Streaming!

Biopics are all the rage these days, as movies like Elvis and Bohemian Rhapsody have found a way to blend fantastic music with engaging plots. With Oscars season now in the rearview mirror, let’s look back on four biopics that received or won Academy Awards!

Maestro (2023)

Maestro was one of the more hyped up movies in recent Oscars memory and we can definitely see why. Bradley Cooper, who plays famed composer Leonard Bernstein, spent six years learning how to properly conduct, oftentimes under the wings of real life musical directors and conductors like Yannick Nézet-Séguin. The Cooper-helmed movie, which was discussed as far back as 2018, features strong support from Carey Mulligan, who plays Bernstein’s wife, Felicia Montealegre, and Matt Bomer, as clarinetist David Oppenheim. Cooper’s dedication on and off camera helped him earn nominations for “Best Motion Picture of the Year,” “Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role,” and “Best Original Screenplay,” which were three of the seven Oscars categories Maestro was up for. Reviews for Maestro have been generally favorable, and, if anything, the film will go down as an incredibly committed and spirited account of a musician’s life.

Where you can watch: Netflix

Elvis (2022)

Elvis, starring Austin Butler as the “King of Rock and Roll,” was a smash hit at the box office, raking in $288.7 million on an $85 million budget. Through Butler’s career breakthrough role, in which he earned a “Best Actor” nomination, Elvis was also nominated for “Best Motion Picture of the Year” and six other Academy Awards, mainly for behind-the-scenes work. Just like Elvis’ fast-paced life, the film starts off hot and keeps on building in the style of an epic. Variety’s chief film critic, Owen Gleiberman, described it as a “fizzy, delirious, impishly energized, compulsively watchable 2-hour-and-39-minute fever dream.” Tom Hanks and Olivia DeJonge also join the party as Colonel Tom Parker and Priscilla Presley, respectively, and their bold performances help add a sense of grandeur to the movie-watching experience.

Where you can watch: Netflix

I’m Not There (2007)

I’m Not There is different not only from most biopics, but also most movies, in that several different actors play one main character. A star-studded cast of Christian Bale, Cate Blanchett, Marcus Carl Franklin, Richard Gere, Heath Ledger, and Ben Whishaw each depicts Bob Dylan and his many phases. Blanchett in particular earned praise for her take on Dylan and was nominated for “Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role” at the 80th Academy Awards. The use of different actors really pushes the idea of Dylan as a shape-shifting poet who kept with the times by reinventing himself throughout his career. Even the title of the film – I’m Not There – is elusive and evokes an air of ambiguity, like the famed singer-songwriter and his work. I’m Not There and its experimental look back on Dylan’s career is “Certified Fresh” on Rotten Tomatoes with a 77% critic score.

Where you can watch: Prime Video, Tubi

Ray (2004)

2004’s Ray was all over the 77th Academy Awards, racking up six Oscars nominations, winning two – one for “Best Achievement in Sound Mixing” and the other for “Best Actor” (Jamie Foxx as Ray Charles). Foxx is a trained pianist, so he didn’t have to learn much about Charles’ main instrument, but he studied old voice recordings to nail the soul music pioneer’s idiosyncrasies and mannerisms. Foxx even went “blind” for the role for added authenticity, using prosthetics of the vision-impaired Charles’ eyelids on shoot days. Ray only follows Charles for about thirty years of his life, going from the 1930s to the ‘60s, but it still serves as a heck of a tribute to the late musician, who passed away a few months before the film’s premiere. Audiences have enjoyed Ray since its release, it seems, as evidenced by a solid 87% on Rotten Tomatoes and an 8.3/10 user score on Metacritic.

Where you can watch: Peacock, Tubi

About the Author

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Robert Hughes

Robert Hughes is a Junior at Iona University, majoring in media and strategic communications, and an intern at AfterBuzz TV. In his free time, Robert loves to spend hours practicing the bass guitar and hunting for his favorite artists at vinyl record shops.