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25 Greatest Punk Rock Movies of All Time

From U.K.-to-L.A. scene rockumentaries to riot-grrl portraits and the Ramones’ fictional alma mater, our favorite portrayals of punk on screen

Punk started as a sonic flipped bird to the Rock Inc. industry who many said had become bloated beyond repair — and like its Elvis/Beatles/Stones ancestors, punk's scenes and subcultures would ended up leaving its mark on the movies. From seminal concert movies to rockumentaries, the underground shock cinema that found fertile ground in its DIY aesthetics to the mainstream movies that smelled an exploitable trend, we're counting down the 25 best punk-rock films of all time. 1-2-3-4!


‘Sid and Nancy’ (1986)

It’s tough to watch Gary Oldman portray Sid Vicious, the doomed bassist of the Sex Pistols, less than a decade after the iconic punk’s demise — but man, can that actor nod off! A classic biopic that chronicles the relationship of punk's original celebrity couple, Sid and Nancy achieved almost instant cult status due to its critical reception and gritty portrayal of addicts in love. Chloe Webb embodies eternal punk groupie Nancy Spungen, nailing her caustic squeal (though up-and-comer Courtney Love was originally vying for the role) and Oldman easily pulls off singing like Sid on covers like “I Wanna Be Your Dog” and “My Way.” But what makes the film a classic is the skill with which the leads are so believable as heroin addicts, pivoting from intense love to hatred and dope sickness, all while maintaining the couple's signature snarl. EGP


‘Ladies and Gentleman the Fabulous Stains’ (1982)

Revolutions have been started with less than hair dye, a few catchy songs and attitude to spare — so why shouldn't singer Corinne "Third-Degree" Burns kick off a mass rebellion? Lou Adler's look at a smalltime punk band who strikes a chord is filled with real-life musicians from the Sex Pistols, the Clash and the Tubes. But it's Diane Lane's portrayal of the Stains' frontwoman, all skunk-style 'do and first-rate sneer, that's turned this movie into a punk-cult classic. Everyone from underground-cinema legend Sarah Jacobson to Courtney Love have pledged allegiance to Burns; her quote "They have such big plans for this world, and they don't include us" could be a punk mantra, whether uttered in 1982, 1999, or 2016. DF


‘The Blank Generation’ (1976)

New York City, 1976: Bands like Television, Talking Heads, Blondie, the Ramones and Patti Smith are making CBGBs their home away from home, turning the downtown club into a musically experimental laboratory. Amos Poe and Ivan Král's black-and-white 16mm flick is essentially a home movie of the moment, with bands hanging out, palling around and occasionally playing, albeit without sync sound — which just makes it more punk. (Note: This should not be confused with the 1980 movie Blank Generation produced by Andy Warhol, which does feature a brief performance of the title song by Richard Hell and the Voidods.) DF


‘Repo Man’ (1984)

Wherein punk goes sci-fi. Perhaps the pinnacle of weird in Emilio Estevez's career, his antihero Otto is a L.A. hardcore kid for whom slam-dancing with his squatter friends no longer fills the void. So he reluctantly teams up to steal cars with a repo man named Bud (a perfectly grizzled Harry Dean Stanton), only to end up at the center of a government conspiracy involving aliens. Director Alex Cox makes the soundtrack as oddball and California-dystopian as the rest of the film, showcasing Black Flag, Suicidal Tendencies and Fear long before they hit the aboveground radar. But the best one, perhaps, is the Circle Jerks' head-tilting cameo — performing as a lounge act, they cover their own "When the Shit Hits the Fan" in sequin tuxes. Keith Morris even scats for a moment. EGP