5 Oscar-Worthy Music Movies to Watch This February

It’s award season, snuggle up to these music films for an audio-visual feast.

Lambert and Stamp
Directed by James D. Cooper
(Sony Classics)

Aspiring British filmmakers Kit Lambert and Chris Stamp naively set out to make a film about the emerging youth rebellion in the early 60s. Using an unknown pop group as their centerpiece, the duo unsuspectingly discovered and launched The Who. This documentary gives the somewhat unknown pair their proper due, chronicles the birth of the UK youth-quake mod scene and details the origins of British rock royalty.

The Jam: About the Young Idea
Directed by Bob Smeaton
(Eagle Vision)

The Jam was the key band in the mod revival during the dawn of the UK punk explosion. The star of the story, singer-songwriter Paul Weller, went on to form the short-lived Style Council. But it was his subsequent solo career that sustained his notoriety. While Weller remains relatively obscure in America, in England he is a rock legend. This film spotlights his earliest musical breakthroughs and reveals why he has been turning heads since the 70s.

Mr. Dynamite: The Rise of James Brown
Directed by Alex Gibney

Produced by Mick Jagger and directed by Academy Award-winning documentary filmmaker Alex Gibney, this film eschews the usual parade of critics and talking heads and instead features infectious performances, rare photos and interviews with musicians who worked with Brown as well as those who felt his influence. Brown’s later life and many of his legal troubles are not covered, as this film is more about his explosion onto the music scene and rise
to stardom.

The Wrecking Crew
Directed by Denny Tedesco
(Magnolia Pictures)

Other than the Brill Building songwriters, no assembly of musicians contributed more to music history than this unique group. Session legends Hal Blaine, Carol Kaye, Leon Russell, Glen Campbell and countless others were the backbone of some of the biggest hits of the 60s and 70s. Superstar producers Brian Wilson, Phil Spector, Lou Adler, Jimmy Webb and many others could not have created their masterpieces without their assistance. The film captures some of the greatest music legends talking about the impact and caliber of this crew and their reshaping of their hits.

Directed by Paul Marchand and Stephen Kijak
(Passion Pictures)

Produced by Metallica’s bassist Robert Trujillo, this film focuses on the mercurial life of jazz virtuoso bass player Jaco Pastorius. Best known for his work with the Weather Report and collaborations with such artists as Joni Mitchell and Pat Metheny, his nimble and innovative brilliance defied musical categorization. The film also reflects on the freewheeling 70s music scene when jazz maintained an important foothold within American music.