Nothing beats relaxing after a long day by putting on a movie, but sometimes it’s tough to pick out which film may be best for yourself or your family. We here at Villa Musica have selected some of our favorites that streaming services currently have to offer ranging from movies revolving around music, musicals, documentaries, and more. Be sure to check out our hand-picked selection below that is sure to inspire students, instructors, and music lovers.
With the long history of Disney and Pixar creating movies to kids and families of all walks of life, it comes to great surprise that they took this long to visualize a film revolving around the rich history and culture of Mexico. Fortunately, the wait was well worth it considering the stunning animation, stellar cast of Mexican-Americans, and heartwarming tale. Coco follows the struggles and journey of Miguel, an inspiring young musician, despite his family’s wishes against such a career path. During the Day of the Dead holiday (Día de los Muertos), Miguel accidentally enters another world where he can interact with those who have passed on. Songs like the touching lullaby “Remember Me (Recuérdame)” and energetic crowd pleaser “Un Poco Loco” provide an even more memorable flourish to Miguel’s fantastical trek back to the Land of the Living and discovery of his family’s past. Coco won Best Animated Feature and Best Original Song at the Academy Award amongst heaps more. Considering the cultural impact and message, we absolutely recommend this movie for all.
Stream on Disney+ / Purchase on Amazon, iTunes, YouTube, etc. / Rated: PG (thematic elements)
The Sound of Music
Without a doubt, The Sound of Music is one of the most influential works of film to impact music. You can likely hear “doe, a deer, a female deer” emanating from any fundamental music class. Such lyrics map out an engaging memory trick for our standard Western music scale. The “Do-Re-Mi” song originated from The Sound of Music play by the Rodgers-Hammerstein composer-lyricist duo. Besides the creation and spread of the aforementioned quintessential tune, the movie also boasts other notable pieces such as “My Favorite Things,” “Maria,” “So Long, Farewell,” and “Sixteen Going on Seventeen.” The film received Best Picture, Director, and Sound by the Academy Awards in 1966 amongst other various accolades. If you haven’t yet, be sure to treat yourself to this musical movie filled with romance, religion, rebellion, and the power that music can have on all.
Watch on Disney+ / Purchase on Amazon, iTunes, YouTube, etc. / Rated: G
Pixar and Disney have always been successful in intertwining music with their gorgeous animation and storytelling. Yet, they have never tackled the concept of music education and performance so directly than here in Soul. Conceptually, the movie follows Joe, a middle school music teacher who serves as the role model for an unborn soul named 22. In their journey together, they both make significant discoveries about their own inner purpose. Alike other Pixar movies, there is one stand-out scene that will inevitably pull at your heartstrings with the piano piece “Epiphany.” Soul has won various awards since release including Academy Award for Best Animated Feature and Best Original Score as well as Best Animated Film and Best Original Score at the 78th Golden Globe Awards. Despite some deep philosophical moments, this film is perfect for all ages and will undeniably appeal to those passionate about music including students, teachers, and more.
Stream on Disney+ / Purchase on Amazon, iTunes, YouTube, etc. / Rated: PG (thematic elements and some language)
Fiddler on the Roof
Another iconic musical made into film, Fiddler on the Roof stems from the 1964 Broadway comedy/drama. Skimming the plot, you follow the life and family of a Jewish milkman named Tevye residing in Ukraine. When romances clash with religion, tradition, and politics, we see absurd, yet humorous chaos take the stage. You may recognize songs including “If I Were a Rich Man,” “Matchmaker,” or “Sunrise / Sunset” throughout the two acts. At the Academy Awards, Fiddler on the Roof won Best Original Score and Cinematography. Nowadays, the production may come off as a tad dated, but the story and character arc are wholly and historically important even today.
Stream on Netflix, Amazon Prime / Purchase on Amazon, iTunes, YouTube / Rated: G
Mr. Holland’s Opus
There’s been much praise recently for the film Sound of Metal (see below) for its ability to bring awareness and empathy to hearing loss in the music community. Mr. Holland’s Opus also strives to tackle this topic, this time with our main character being a high school music teacher who juggles his job, passion for composing, and family life, focusing on his deaf son. Throughout the movie, Glenn Holland (played by Richard Dreyfuss) makes efforts to connect with both his students and his son, shining a light on the struggles of deafness. Besides the compelling story, the composition “An American Symphony” featured is a notable climax and closure to the film. While perhaps not as engaging for younger kids, Mr. Holland’s Opus is worth a watch for music students and teachers alike.
Stream on Disney+ / Purchase on Amazon, iTunes, YouTube, etc. / Rated: PG (mild language)
You may only know her from her role as Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz, but Judy Garland’s acting and music career runs deep. Her discography holds her performances in films Meet Me in St. Louis, The Harvey Girls, Easter Parade, and Summer Stock as well as a multitude of traditional pop, vocal jazz, and show-tunes. The biopic movie Judy has Renée Zellweger as Garland and shows her story developing from a fifteen year-old singer/actor/dancer into a celebrity struggling with substance abuse and pressures in the limelight.
Stream on Amazon Prime, Hulu / Purchase on Amazon, iTunes, YouTube, etc. / Rated: PG (substance abuse, thematic content, some strong language, and smoking)
Sinatra: All or Nothing at All
Truly, there’s nothing comparable to the legacy of Frank Sinatra. The American singer/actor is one of the best-selling artists, boasting an iconic voice through eras of swing, traditional pop, and vocal jazz. With a musical career lasting over six decades, it’s difficult to summarize his lengthy stint shining in the spotlight, but the documentary series Sinatra: All or Nothing at All does a pretty darn good job. If you’re unfamiliar, lending your ear to “Fly Me to the Moon,” “My Way,” or “That’s Life” will most certainly provoke familiarity and nostalgia. Sinatra fans and those curious to walk down the trail of a vocal legend, should at the very least try this two-episode documentary series.
Stream on Netflix / Rated: TV-14
Re-Mastered: Devil at the Crossroads
Based on the legendary acoustic blues guitarist/songwriter Robert Johnson, Re-Mastered: Devil at the Crossroads is a documentary film that encapsulates his musical origins and impact on the delta blues genre. If you’re not aware of the myth, it is rumored that Johnson met the devil at a crossroads in rural Mississippi and traded his soul for mastery of the guitar, hence the documentary title. While a bit of a dark story, some argue that the tale is simply a facade to mask the unreal dedication and talent that Johnson had found in short time. In the film, interviews with many Johnson-inspired artists including Keith Richards and Taj Mahal help piece together the guitarist’s timeline and posthumous influence.
Stream on Netflix / Rated: TV-14
Initially emerging as a podcast in 2014, Song Exploder dives deep into the creative process of a variety of different artists ranging from U2 and Weezer to Metallica and Fleetwood Mac. Now, the concept has transitioned to a stellar show series with two seasons that focus on the likes of Lin-Manuel Miranda, Alicia Keys, R.E.M., Nine Inch Nails, The Killers, and more. If you’re intrigued by pop songwriting, production, and the behind-the-scenes aspects of hit songs, definitely give this show a shot.
Stream on Netflix / Rated:TV-MA
Sound of Metal
Don’t be alarmed by the heavy title, this movie is far more based upon the existential struggle of hearing loss for a drummer than his stint performing in a metal band. In the music community, there’s unfortunately a severe lack of emphasis on hearing health. Listening to music with headphones, performing in a practice space, or watching a live concert can all be detrimental to your ears if exposed to too loud noises at long durations of time. In this film, Riz Ahmed’s sincere acting and story of deafness will not only move you emotionally, but also push you to reconsider your own hearing health. It was nominated across the board in the 2021 Academy Awards, winning Best Sound amongst many other awards through other foundations. While the message of being wary, responsible, and respectful to your sense of hearing is universal, there still is an R-rating present, so we recommend this film for the adults first.
Stream on Amazon Prime / Purchase on Amazon, iTunes, YouTube, etc. / Rated R (language throughout and brief nude images)