7 best music biopics streaming on Netflix, Roku and more

Austin Butler as Elvis Presley in Elvis
(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

As far as biopics go, ones about popular musical artists can be tough to get right. We’ve all seen movies about pop stars that end up in “Behind the Music” territory or are so rigidly focused on hitting every beat of the artist’s story that they lose any creativity they might have otherwise had. 

But when filmmakers get them right, well … they just sing. With narrative approaches that reflect the character of the musicians themselves, talented performers who throw themselves into recreating music icons of bygone years, and the rare ability to make famous figures feel fresh and new, these music biopics are the cream of the crop — and they’re all available for you to stream.


With all the camp and visual flair of Elton John himself, “Rocketman” tells the story of the legendary pop singer from his humble childhood as Reginald Dwight to the height of his musical success (and all the addiction issues that inevitably accompany such a precipitous climb). Taron Edgerton puts in the performance of his career as Elton John, not only singing his way through the role (eat your heart out, Rami Malek) but imbuing it with such a sense of vulnerability and desperation to be liked that it’s easy to see how things got out of hand once he had a taste of fame. The choreography and musical arrangements are electric, casting Elton John’s greatest hits in an autobiographical lens that offers us insight into him as both an artist and a person.

Watch on Paramount Plus

'Nowhere Boy'

For some reason, Aaron Taylor-Johnson ends up in a lot of fancasts for different projects. But the one person he was eerily able to channel is a young John Lennon in “Nowhere Boy.” This takes place before The Beatles were even an idea, back when Lennon was just a teenage boy being raised in Liverpool by his aunt, dreaming of one day becoming a musician. 

This is a music biopic that focuses on cultivating a mood and a sense of time rather than a strictly chronological exploration of his biggest career highlights, and it’s much stronger for that. Yes, we do still get the moment when Lennon first meets Paul McCartney (played by Thomas Brodie-Sangster), but it’s much less a story of how The Beatles got together than it is a window into the life of a teenage kid who will one day go on to become — in his own words — bigger than Jesus.

Watch on Pluto TV and Tubi


There’s only one real way to make a movie about Elvis Presley, and that’s just on the cusp of being too over-the-top to function. Baz Luhrmann’s depiction of Elvis’s career is maximalist and frenetic, with a roving camera that eats up Austin Butler in the lead role. There are elements of the film that are questionable (for example, every choice that Tom Hanks as the Colonel makes within the vicinity of a camera), but it nonetheless perfectly channels the energy and magic of Elvis in his prime. Many young audience members might only have an image in their heads of Elvis when he was over the hill and doing endless Vegas residencies — if nothing else, watching this film will help them understand the magnetic hold he had on generations of fans.

Watch on Hulu


It’s just not fair, is it? Sometimes, the dumbest person you know can be absurdly talented, and they show off their genius as though it costs them nothing, as though you hadn’t spent your entire life trying to accomplish half of what they’re able to come up with while nursing a prodigious hangover. That’s the story of “Amadeus” in a nutshell, told through the eyes of the envious Salieri (F. Murray Abraham), a learned but mediocre composer who watches the young, manic Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (Tom Hulce) achieve all of his greatest dreams. There’s a sense of justice in the reception of the film, though: Although Salieri is relegated to the role of a mere footnote in Mozart’s storied career, Abraham earned an Oscar for bringing his jealous saga to life.

Watch on Netflix

'The United States vs. Billie Holiday'

Sometimes the most effective biopic strategy is to zero in on a moment in a musician's life rather than trying to tell their entire life story. That’s what “The United States vs. Billie Holiday” starring the Oscar-nominated Andra Day does with the iconic singer. Set during the 1940s, it focuses on the secret battle between Holiday and the U.S. government over her refusal to cut “Strange Fruit,” a song about Black men being lynched in the South, from the setlist at her shows. Threatened by the overtly pro-civil rights song, federal agents arrest her on drug charges instead, effectively eliminating their problem while neatly skirting any freedom of speech arguments. Day is fiery in the lead role, not only performing Holiday’s songs with aplomb but also capturing the sense of injustice surrounding her career.

Watch on Hulu


Unlike many pop stars who eventually flew too close to the sun, destroying their careers with drug addiction and toxic behavior, the tragedy of Selena is that she never got a chance to — she died too young. With Jennifer Lopez in the lead role of the effervescent Tejana star (which is still probably her greatest work as an actress), “Selena” captures her meteoric rise to stardom, as she became the first Tejano artist to break through into the mainstream music industry. 

Unfortunately, it also highlights her tragic demise, as she was murdered by Yolanda Saldívar, a close friend and the president of her fan club when she was just 23 years old. Lopez imbues Selena with a vivacity and carefree innocence that makes her untimely end feel all the more devastating for viewers.

Watch on Tubi

'Weird: The Al Yankovic Story'

Many music biopics stick too close to the truth, at the expense of the film’s narrative integrity. “Weird” could never be accused of that. The Roku Channel original plays fast and loose with the story of Weird Al Yankovic (Daniel Radcliffe), beginning relatively close to reality and then veering wildly away from it, forcing fans to grapple with the revelations that (among other things) Weird Al dated Madonna (Evan Rachel Wood) and was single-handedly responsible for bringing down Pablo Escobar. In this way, “Weird” manages to be both a biopic that stays true to the spirit of its star and a comedy film satirizing the entire biopic genre. Daniel Radcliffe may not have been an obvious choice for Weird Al, but after watching the film it’s hard to imagine anyone else taking on the role.

Watch on the Roku Channel

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Audrey Fox is a features editor and film/television critic at Looper, with bylines at RogerEbert.com, The Nerdist, /Film, and IGN, amongst others. She has been blessed by our tomato overlords with their coveted seal of approval. Audrey received her BA in film from Clark University and her MA in International Relations from Harvard University. When she’s not watching movies, she loves historical non-fiction, theater, traveling, and playing the violin (poorly).