Skip to main content

15th February 2016

Top 5: Music Documentaries of the 2010s

The stories of many great musicians have been captured with excellence on film—here are our picks for the five best music documentaries of the decade so far

5) Cobain: Montage of Heck

Everyone knows ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’. Everyone knows the story of Nirvana. But before watching Montage of Heck, you don’t really know the real story of Kurt Cobain. Through open access to diaries and notebooks from throughout his life, there is an intimate insight into one of the most gifted—but ultimately tortured—individuals rock music has ever seen.


4) There Are No Innocent Bystanders

Nowadays, you can see The Libertines performing at your local arena, but rewind to the years before 2010 happened and the prospect of the Cockney troubadours performing together was completely inconceivable. Director and long-time band photographer Roger Sargent builds up to their big reunion show at Reading Festival. He provides an insiders account of past chaotic escapades about a band who could have been a major indie force, yet they imploded under internal conflicts and drug problems.


3) Amy

Despite Amy Winehouse’s meteoric rise around 2006, fame and the endless media scrutiny from tabloid was certainly not for her. Amy highlights the charismatic charm and undeniable creative talent of Winehouse, making her downfall—through the toxic influences surrounding her—a deeply devastating watch.


2) George Harrison: Living in the Material World

Take one look at the films of Martin Scorsese and it’s clear he resonates with a passion for music. The legendary director documents the life of arguably the most under-appreciated Beatle in George Harrison—putting his work in the band on a pedestal. More importantly, however, are the scenes devoted to his life outside of the Fab Four with his spirituality and good nature being focused upon. Three-and-a-half hours isn’t long enough.


1) Searching for Sugar Man

This is one of those films where the story will repeat over in your mind. Rodríguez was unknown in the US and UK, whilst in South Africa, he was as big as Dylan or Elvis. Living under the apartheid-era regime, the emotive, anti-establishment songs by Rodríguez offered hope to many. But still nobody knew anything about him other than the myths—until some fans search for answers. One of the greatest ever music documentaries.

More Coverage

An evening with CULTPLEX

This weekend I paid a visit to CULTPLEX, a small cult cinema hidden above a restaurant on Manchester’s Red Bank, and this is why you should go too

The Promised Land review: Man on the moor

This rugged tale of Danish frontier settlement is also a story of struggle – against the land, entrenched hierarchies, and within oneself

Opinion: Every Best Picture winner of the 21st century, ranked from worst to best

With the 96th Academy Awards looming, let’s look back at this century’s winners of the big grand prize of Best Picture

Do Unto Others review: A harrowing look into the unjust world of elderly care

A dissection of the choices we make and the motives behind them, Tetsu Maeda’s film analyses the state of elderly care in Japan through a whodunit thriller