Back to Black: 10 Similar Biopics You Must Watch

The biographical film, ‘Back to Black,’ takes us through the life of Amy Winehouse, the singer with a voice that touched hearts worldwide. Starring Marissa Abela as the iconic singer, the biopic dives into more than just her music but also her personal life. Though the movie mainly covers Amy’s struggles with alcohol addiction and relationship troubles, it does give a peek into her moments of joy.

Exploring the challenges that came with her fame, the film is directed by Sam Taylor Johnson (’50 Shades of Gray’ film series). Named after Winehouse’s iconic album, inspired by her break-up with Blake Fielder-Civil (Jack O’Connell), the film chronicles her life from her North London roots to global fame. With a perfect balance of tragic and artistic, here are 10 movies like ‘Back to Black’ that we believe you’ll enjoy.

10. The Runaways (2010)

‘The Runaways’ tells the story of the former all-girl rock band of the same name. Directed by Floria Sigismondi and based on the memoir ‘Neon Angel: A Memoir of a Runaway’ by Cherie Currie, the film depicts the band’s formation in the mid-1970s and its rise to fame. It highlights the struggles and triumphs of the band members, particularly Joan Jett (Kristen Stewart) and Currie (Dakota Fanning).

Among the many internal conflicts shown in the movie are the romantic tensions between Jett and Currie, which divided the band’s fanbases. Michael Shannon appears as Kim Fowley, the controversial manager whose negative influence almost sabotages the band’s image. Similar to ‘Back to Black,’ ‘The Runaways’ depicts the challenges faced by young women in the male-dominated industry, tackling issues of exploitation, substance abuse, and the harsh realities of fame.

9. Jimi Hendrix: All Is By My Side (2013)

Based on the life of one of the greatest guitarists of all time, the Jimi Hendrix biopic explores his life’s most crucial year, 1966–67. Directed by John Ridley, the film stars André Benjamin as Hendrix and showcases his early life in London, from the formation of The Jimi Hendrix Experience to his breakthrough performance at the Monterey Pop Festival. The plot highlights the guitarist’s struggles to find his musical voice and establish himself in the competitive rock scene of London. While the film manages to focus on its musical premise by highlighting Hendrix’s innovative guitar techniques, like ‘Back to Black,’ it also emphasizes the various interactions and influences that were crucial to Hendrix’s development as an artist.

8. The Theory of Everything (2014)

This biographical drama features Eddie Redmayne in an Academy Award-winning performance as the renowned physicist Stephen Hawking. Directed by James Marsh, it chronicles the three crucial aspects of the scientist’s life: discovering the theory of black holes and their visibility, the diagnosis of the motor neuron disease called ALS, and his relationship with his wife, Jane Wilde (Felicity Jones). The film’s screenplay is adapted from Jane’s book, ‘ Travelling to Infinity: My Life with Stephen.’

‘The Theory of Everything’ highlights Hawking’s sensational persistence and determination to continue his work despite his physical limitations. Its themes of love, resilience, and the pursuit of knowledge form the basis for a unique yet successful drama. Showcasing the significance Jane had on Hawking’s groundbreaking career and the personal challenges they endured, the film’s structure somewhat parallels that of the Amy Winehouse biopic, defying the boundaries of art and music.

7. Bohemian Rhapsody (2018)

One of the highest-grossing biopics of its time, ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ was a massive affair and the first attempt at bringing the lives of the iconic band members of Queen, spearheaded by Rami Malek, who steps in the shoes of lead singer and guitarist Freddie Mercury. Directed by Bryan Singer and later Dexter Fletcher, the movie follows Mercury’s journey from his early days as Farrokh Bulsara to his transformation into one of the most celebrated artists in history. It captures the formation of Queen, their revolutionary approach to music, and their groundbreaking hit titular song.

The movie is not only a celebration of Queen’s musical achievements but also an intimate exploration of the personal life of its lead singer, his relationships, and his quest for self-acceptance. Mercury’s struggle with his identity and his battle with AIDS bring an emotional angle to the otherwise flamboyant tale. Much like Amy Winehouse’s biopic, ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ offers a balanced look at the personal and professional life of a music legend, an affair that likewise failed to impress critics.

6. The Danish Girl (2015)

This highly controversial biopic chronicles the life of painter Lili Elbe, one of the first known recipients of gender confirmation surgery. Adapted from David Ebershoff’s book of the same name and directed by Academy Award-winner Tom Hooper, the film begins with Elbe’s early life as Einar Wegener in 1920s Copenhagen. The plot promotes the psychological battles of her mind as Lili realizes her true identity and decides to undergo the transition.

Eddie Redmayne appears in his second consecutively acclaimed performance as Lili, and Alicia Vikander plays her wife, Gerda Wegener, in an Academy Award-winning role. Their relationship is a central element of the narrative, showcasing the love and support Gerda provided as Lili went ahead with her brave decision. Like the Amy Winehouse biopic, ‘The Danish Girl’ explores inner struggles and how a significant other may affect their life. Both films faced similar criticism for their historical inaccuracies.

5. Bob Marley: One Love (2024)

Released in the same year as ‘Back to Black,’ this biopic of Bob Marley was directed by Reinaldo Marcus Green. The movie explores the musician’s journey from his early life in Jamaica to becoming the biggest icon of reggae. It begins with the attempted murder of Marley, his wife Rita (Lashana Lynch), and his band, the Wailers. A distraught Marley then heads to England and successfully spreads the Rastafari movement while his personal life begins to deteriorate due to multiple reasons.

The singer constantly begins to have heated arguments with his wife, manager, and record producer over affairs and finances. Kingsley Ben-Adir plays the role of Marley as various people in his life begin to shape his music and his efforts to establish unity and peace. Named after Marley’s legendary song, “One Love,” the biopic mirrors an artist’s range of physical and emotional struggles, similarly shown in ‘Back to Black.’

4. Ray (2004)

The biopic of the legendary musician Ray Charles highlights his struggles related to being a person with visual impairment, a condition that began in his youth, and his determination to thrive through all odds to achieve greatness. Directed by Taylor Hackford, it stars Jamie Fox as Charles, a performance that earned him the Academy Award for Best Actor. The film showcases the pianist’s cigarette and heroin addiction and how he used music as a means of personal redemption and expression.

‘Ray’ also explores the singer-songwriter’s personal life; after marrying Della Bea (Kerry Washington), a pastor’s daughter, the couple’s life experiences mayhem because of Charles’ use of Christian music, his extramarital affairs, and drug addiction. The inspiring movie also presents Charles’ fights against exploitation and racism, depicting themes of perseverance and the transformative power of music. It also remained cinema’s rare love letter to soul music until the biopic of Amy Winehouse, also a soul singer, joined the roster.

3. Maestro (2023)

The magnum opus of Bradley Cooper, who directs, co-writes, produces, and stars as the titular conductor, Leonard Bernstein, the Netflix film highlights Bernstein’s passion for music and complex personal life. Chronicling his life from early success to becoming a cultural icon in classical music, this cinematic affair comes to fruition with Carey Mulligan, who co-stars as the maestro’s wife, Felicia Montealegre. This relationship offers a rollercoaster ride, marked by deep care for each other and moments such as Felicia having to suppress her inner emotions to make room for Bernstein’s extramarital affairs.

Bernstein’s struggle with his identity and the societal expectations of his time created sufficient obstacles in his life as a musician. Still, his breakdown only takes place after Felicia is diagnosed with a life-threatening illness. Like ‘Back to Black,’ this relationship drama descends into an affair or personal conflict, offering an intimate look at the man behind the music.

2. Priscilla (2023)

Directed by Sofia Coppola, ‘Priscilla’ offers a fresh take on the biopic genre, using a spouse’s point-of-view amidst the chaos of marrying a music legend. It revolves around Priscilla Presley and her relationship with Elvis Presley, as she hopes to preserve her self-identity while living in the shadow of Elvis’ fame. Cailee Spaeny and Jacob Elordi appear in the roles of the couple. Coppola adapted the screenplay from Priscilla’s memoir, ‘Elvis and Me: The True Story of the Love Between Priscilla Presley and the King of Rock N’ Roll.’

The film highlights Priscilla’s inner life and skepticism of fame as she seeks an independent identity without creating any hurdles for her husband, resulting in a sensitive and nuanced portrayal of marriage. Similar to ‘Back in Black,’ which offers insights into the life of a talented artist haunted by her relationships, ‘Priscilla’ provides a compelling tale of the effect complicated relationships may have on a person’s psyche and how to defy barriers.

1. Walk the Line (2005)

The story of legendary country musician Johnny Cash, ‘Walk the Line’ was the project that put director James Mangold in front of mainstream audiences. Adapted from Cash’s non-fiction books, ‘Cash: The Autobiography’ and ‘Man in Black: His Own Story in His Own Words,’ the film smoothly embodies a hand-in-hand musical romance. Starring Joaquin Phoenix in Cash’s role, the film covers his life, from his addiction to his early career as a musician, ultimately leading him to his wife, June Carter (Reese Witherspoon).

‘Walk the Line’ won Phoenix a Grammy award for delivering Cash’s songs in his voice, while Witherspoon, too, won the Academy Award for Best Actress. The relationship between Johnny and June takes center stage in the story, showcasing their connection and the support they provide each other, which prompts Cash’s redemption arc. Their love story, marked by mutual support and eventual marriage, presents the perfect case for the fans of ‘Back to Black,’ but with a contrasting tone.

Read More: Where Was Back to Black Filmed?