If you are looking for a great movie to watch with your family, special someone or all by yourself, here is a list of films about pianists that is sure to impress any movie connoisseur. Many of these movies have won Academy Awards and are considered to be classic, artistic films. The movies listed are inspirational and uplifting, and if you are a pianist or musician, they will have special meaning to you.
This period drama film is a 1984 variation of Alexander Pushkin’s play Mozart as well as an adaption of the Broadway hit. Amadeus was directed by Milos Forman, and concerns the death of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart in the 18th century. This film boasts a clever script, a beautiful soundtrack, and eight Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture and Best Actor for F. Murray Abraham, who plays Mozart’s nemesis Antonio Salieri.
Roman Polanski directed this 2002 biographical war drama that is based on a World War II memoir of a Polish-Jewish pianist. Adrien Brody portrays the main character Wladyslaw Szpilman, a gifted classical pianist who goes into hiding to avoid deportation to a Nazi concentration camp. Szpilman spends years running from German occupation troops. Brody won an Academy Award for Best Actor for this heartbreaking film.
Great Balls of Fire!
Dennis Quaid plays pianist Jerry Lee Lewis in this biopic from 1989. The movie follows the early career of Lewis as he rises to the top as a teen idol and then falls. It also stars Winona Ryder as his 13-year-old cousin/wife. Great Balls of Fire’s soundtrack include many of Jerry Lee Lewis’ hits, such as “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On” and the title track.
Starring Geoffrey Rush and Lynn Redgrave, the film Shine is an inspirational story of and determination. This 1996 Australian film is based on the life of David Helfgott, a pianist who had a mental breakdown and spent years in an institution. Years later, Helfgott falls in love with a woman who inspires him to redevelop his talent on the piano. Rush won an Academy Award for his portrayal of Helfgott.
The Piano is a beautiful film about a mute pianist named Ada McGrath who expresses herself through the piano. Her father sells her into marriage to a New Zealand frontiersman in the 19th century. Ada, played by Holly Hunter, is stranded in the wilderness with her daughter, played by Anna Paquin. Hunter played her own piano pieces in this film. The Piano won Hunter an Academy Award for Best Actress, and 11-year-old Paquin won the award for Best Supporting Actress.
Jamie Foxx plays legendary rhythm and blues musician Ray Charles in this 2004 biographical film. Ray focuses on 30 years of Charles’ life as he becomes an icon in the music industry. The movie depicts Charles’ as he finds his calling behind the piano, despite losing his eyesight at age six to glaucoma. Foxx earned a Best Actor Academy Award for this independently produced movie.
This amusing film from 1991 stars Hugh Grant as Frederic Chopin in 1830s France. Chopin is pursued by George Sand, a bold woman who dresses as a man to scorn the sexual customs of the time. An enjoyable and funny movie, Impromptu also stars Emma Thompson and Judy Davis as the controversial George Sand.
Five Easy Pieces
Jack Nicholson stars in this 1970 Academy Award-nominated film about a drifter who dreams of being a classical pianist. However, his character Robert Dupea enters impossible and tumultuous relationships as he continues to feel alienated. Nicholson’s character is intense as he puts his dreams of playing classical music aside as he searches for independence and emotional freedom.
Mr. Holland’s Opus
1996’s Mr. Holland’s Opus is an earnest film that features Richard Dreyfuss as an aspiring composer who takes a job teaching music to high school students in order to save money. He dreams of composing his own music, but his dreams take a back seat when he learns that his son is deaf. Dreyfuss gives an unforgettable performance in this heartwarming movie.
The Fabulous Baker Boys
Beau and Jeff Bridges play Jack and Frank Baker, two brothers who play a twin-piano act and are stuck in a music rut. They play in a club every night and are bored with their performances. They hire Susie Diamond, a gorgeous singer, played by Michelle Pfeiffer. The trio becomes a success, but problems arise among the beauty and the brothers. A great soundtrack accompanies this entertaining movie.
So the next time you are looking for something to watch, find one of these great movies, grab something healthy to eat, and enjoy!
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