2021 HAS SEEN A SLEW OF NEW DOCUMENTARIES ABOUT POP STARS NEW AND OLD—BRITNEY SPEARS, BILLIE EILISH, TINA TURNER—WITH MORE ON THE WAY.
Music documentaries are no longer the purview of legacy artists alone—longtime megastars and current chart-toppers alike are giving filmmakers intimate access to their lives on and off stage. Films featuring Taylor Swift, Bruce Springsteen, the Bee Gees, the Beastie Boys, Miles Davis and Frank Zappa were among 2020’s biggest hits, with new docs on Rihanna and The Beatles set to debut in 2021. Here’s a look at the year’s biggest music docs so far, plus a few highly anticipated upcoming films.
The New York Times Presents: Framing Britney Spears dives deep into Spears’ rise to fame and the repercussions of Hollywood.
THE NEW YORK TIMES PRESENTS: FRAMING BRITNEY SPEARS (FX)
Samantha Stark’s film is not a look at the pop star’s career, but rather a reexamination of the media coverage surrounding the singer’s rise, her downfall and the legal battle with her father over who should control her life.
BILLIE EILISH: THE WORLD’S A LITTLE BLURRY (APPLE TV+)
The 17-year-old phenom navigates life on the road, at stage and at home with her family while recording and releasing her debut album in this film from R.J. Cutler.
Billie Eilish: The World’s A Little Blurry takes a behind-the-scenes look at the 17-year-old singer’s journey to fame.
TINA (HBO MAX)
Oscar-winning directors Dan Lindsay and T.J. Martin chronicle 60 years of Tina Turner’s life and career, from her rise to early fame to the 2018 opening of a musical about her life—and plenty in between.
BIGGIE: I GOT A STORY TO TELL (NETFLIX)
Made in cooperation with the late rapper’s estate, friends and family give a fresh look at The Notorious B.I.G.’s rapid ascent and tragic death, complemented by rare footage filmed by one of his childhood friends.
The Boy From Medellin, available on Amazon Prime Video
DEMI LOVATO: DANCING WITH THE DEVIL (YOUTUBE)
The singer’s docuseries, released in pieces on her official YouTube channel, recounts the trauma and events that led to her near-fatal overdose in 2018, and her road to recovery.
THE BOY FROM MEDELLIN (AMAZON PRIME VIDEO)
Political unrest rages in Colombia as reggaeton superstar J Balvin prepares for the most important show of his life: a sold-out concert in his hometown of Medellín.
PINK: ALL I KNOW SO FAR (AMAZON PRIME VIDEO)
The Greatest Showman director Michael Gracey follows the singer on her 2019 “Beautiful Trauma” tour as she balances family and life on the road.
Tina, available on HBO Max.
UNTITLED RIHANNA DOCUMENTARY (AMAZON PRIME VIDEO)
Director Peter Berg has been filming the singer and fashion mogul on and off for four years, and he told reporters in late 2020 that the project is finally set to come out this summer.
THE BEATLES: GET BACK (THE WALT DISNEY STUDIOS)
Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr and the widows of John Lennon and George Harrison enlisted Peter Jackson to restore footage from the recording of The Beatles’ final album, Let It Be—including the full 42-minute rooftop concert that became the group’s final public performance. It hits theaters Aug. 27.
THE VELVET UNDERGROUND (APPLE TV+)
Carol director Todd Haynes documents the art rock band’s career via interviews with surviving members and never-before-seen footage from performances and Andy Warhol films. It’s due out later in 2021.
Photography by: PHOTO COURTESY OF GEORGE DUBOSE; PHOTO COURTESY OF: FX; PHOTO COURTESY OF APPLE TV; PHOTO COURTESY OF AMAZON PRIME VIDEO; PHOTO BY RHONDA GRAAM/COURTESY OF HBO