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Readers’ Poll: The 10 Best Rock Biopics

‘Walk the Line,’ ‘The Buddy Holly Story’ and more musical action on the big screen

Readers' Poll: The 10 Best Rock Biopics

Val Kilmer being apprehended by the police in a scene from the film 'The Doors', 1991. (Photo by Carolco/Getty Images)

Carolco/Getty Images

It's incredibly difficult to make a great rock biopic. How do you cram a person's entire life into a two-hour movie? Even more challenging, how can actors convincingly portray iconic musical figures? That probably explains why long-rumored movies about Keith Moon, Mötley Crüe and Janis Joplin never seem to get off the ground. The new James Brown movie Get on Up, however, was a rare success, and we asked our readers to vote for their other favorites. Click through to see the results.

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Val Kilmer being apprehended by the police in a scene from the film 'The Doors', 1991. (Photo by Carolco/Getty Images)

2

‘Walk the Line’

Walk the Line is the rare rock biopic that was beloved by critics and earned a fortune at the box office. Director/co-writer James Mangold wisely focused the movie on the romance between Johnny Cash and June Carter, and Joaquin Phoenix was absolutely perfect as the Man in Black. The film starts backstage at Folsom State Prison, before flashing back to Cash's difficult childhood in Arkansas, his unhappy first marriage and his long battle with prescription pills. Phoenix won an Academy Award for Best Actor, and Reese Witherspoon won Best Actress for her portrayal of June Carter Cash.

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Val Kilmer being apprehended by the police in a scene from the film 'The Doors', 1991. (Photo by Carolco/Getty Images)

1

‘The Doors’

Oliver Stone's 1991 Doors biopic was so polarizing that even the three surviving members of the band didn't agree about it. Robby Krieger and Ray Manzarek tore it to shreds as ridiculous and wildly historically inaccurate, while John Densmore — who served as a consultant on the film — was far less critical and said he enjoyed parts of it. Still, little of this mattered to the hordes of young people that first learned about the myth of the Doors through this movie. It kicked off yet another revival for the band, with sales of their albums and merchandise spiking wildly in the months after the film hit theaters. And even the harshest critics were forced to admit that Val Kilmer did a pretty amazing job as Jim Morrison, even nailing his vocal style. Also, did anyone really expect Oliver Stone to stick strictly to the facts? What fun would that have been?

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