• Ray Charles, John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd in ‘The Blues Brothers’, airing Christmas Day on SBS World Movies. (SBS Movies)Source: SBS Movies
A season of music-minded films on SBS World Movies and SBS On Demand.
SBS Movies

15 Dec 2020 - 4:10 PM  UPDATED 17 Dec 2020 - 5:49 PM

Tune in to SBS World Movies on Monday 21 December at 9:30pm for a week of music-driven films. Whether it's unforgettable scores and soundtracks, stories of musicians or straight-up musicals, we have a line-up of movies guaranteed to get your spirits soaring in the lead-up to the holiday season.

And for an encore, we've also gathered a collection of music-related gems now streaming at SBS On Demand.


On SBS World Movies


Monday 21 December, 9:30pm on SBS World Movies

UK, 2019
Genre: Drama, Comedy, Crime
Language: English
Director: Brian Welsh
Starring: Laura Fraser, Lorn Macdonald, Cristian Ortega, Gemma McElhinney
What's it about?
1994, a small town in central Scotland. Best mates Johnno and Spanner, despite being total opposites, have a deep bond. Now on the cusp of adulthood, life is destined to take them in different directions. Johnno’s family are moving him to a new town and a better life, leaving Spanner behind to face a precarious future. But this summer is going to be different for them – and for the country. The two friends head out for a final night of partying before they go their separate ways in this coming-of-age story set to an electrifying soundtrack (featuring techno classics from The Prodigy, Orbital, Leftfield and more).

Now streaming at SBS On Demand:

Scottish indie film ‘Beats’ provides a soundtrack through rave history
Set at the height of the ’90s British rave movement, ‘Beats’ tells a coming-of-age story with one of the best film soundtracks of the year.


Walking on Sunshine

Tuesday 22 December, 9:30pm on SBS World Movies

UK, 2014
Genre: Comedy, Romance
Language: Italian, English
Director: Max Giwa, Dania Pasquini
Starring: Annabel Scholey, Hannah Arterton, Giulio Berruti, Greg Wise, Katy Brand
What's it about?
Set to a soundtrack of popular hit songs from the 1980s (including George Michael, Billy Idol and Huey Lewis), this musical film takes place in a beautiful coastal village in present-day Italy. After a whirlwind romance, Maddie (Scholey) is preparing to marry gorgeous Italian Raf (Berruti), and has invited her sister Taylor (Arterton) to the wedding. Unbeknownst to Maddie, however, Raf is Taylor's ex-holiday flame, and the love of her life.

Streaming after broadcast at SBS On Demand:



Wednesday 23 December, 9:30pm on SBS World Movies

Germany, Cuba, Spain, France, UK, 2018
Genre: Drama
Language: Spanish
Director: Iciar Bollain
Starring: Edilson Manuel Olbera Núñez, Santiago Alfonso, Carlos Acosta, Keyvin Martínez
What's it about?
A chronicle of the life and career of the first Black guest dancer in London for the Royal Ballet – Carlos Acosta (playing himself in the film's present-day scenes, and played by Edilson Manuel Olbera Núñez as a pre-teen in flashbacks), nicknamed Yuli. As a child, Yuli avoids discipline and education, learning from the streets of an impoverished and abandoned Havana. His father, however, has other ideas, and knowing that his son has a natural talent for dance, sends him to the National Ballet School of Cuba. Writing for Variety, Guy Lodge described the film as "part straightforward biographical drama, part interpretive dance piece", adding that it "resourcefully allows Acosta to narrate his story with movement rather than speech".

Now streaming at SBS On Demand:


Billy Elliot

Thursday 24 December, 9:45pm on SBS World Movies

UK, 2000
Genre: Comedy, Drama
Language: English
Director: Stephen Daldy
Starring: Jamie Bell, Julie Walters, Jamie Draven, Jean Heywood
What's it about?
This defining British feel-good film (which features needle-drops from the likes of T-Rex, The Jam and The Clash) tells the inspirational story of a boy from a coal mining town whose life is changed when he discovers ballet. Billy dazzles in energetic dance sequences set against the chaos of the 1984 coal miners' strike in Northern England, while Julie Walters earned an Oscar nomination for her role as his unorthodox instructor.

NOTE: No catch-up at SBS On Demand
Billy Elliot Review
A charming English film... with a twirl.


The Blues Brothers

Friday 25 December, 9:30pm on SBS World Movies

USA, 1980
Genre: Comedy, Crime, Music, Action
Language: English
Director: John Landis
Starring: Dan Aykroyd, John Belushi, James Brown, Carrie Fisher, Frank Oz, Aretha Franklin
What's it about?
Jake Blues (Belushi) is just out of jail, and teams up with his brother, Elwood (Aykroyd) on a 'mission from God' to raise funds for the orphanage in which they grew up. The only thing they can do is what they do best – play music – so they get their old band back together and they're on their way, while getting in a bit of trouble here and there, accompanied by an iconic soundtrack of R&B and blues classics, as well as cameo appearances from Aretha Franklin, James Brown, Cab Calloway, Ray Charles, John Lee Hooker and so many more.

NOTE: No catch-up at SBS On Demand
Ray Charles, John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd in ‘The Blues Brothers’, airing Christmas Day on SBS World Movies.



Now streaming at SBS On Demand


France, 2018
Genre: Drama, Horror, Music
Language: English, French
Director: Gaspar Noé
Starring: Sofia Boutella, Kiddy Smile, Romain Guillermic, Souheila Yacoub
What's it about?
From director Gaspar Noé (Irreversible, Enter the Void) comes a hypnotic and hair-raising depiction of a party that descends into delirium over the course of one wintry night. A troupe of young dancers, who have been rehearsing in a remote and empty school building before going on tour, begin a celebration that turns nightmarish when they discover the sangria they've been drinking has been laced with LSD.


Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon

Taiwan, Hong Kong, USA, China, 2000
Genre: Martial Arts, Drama, Romance
Language: Mandarin
Director: Ang Lee
Starring: Ziyi Zhang, Michelle Yeoh, Chow Yun-Fat, Chen Chang
What's it about?
When a politician's daughter steals a legendary warrior's precious sword, a sequence of events is triggered to recover the sword, which leads to a deadly encounter with the thief's witch-like minder. From renowned director Ang Lee (Brokeback Mountain), the film received four Academy Awards in 2001, including one for composer Dun Tan for the film's lush orchestral score.

Streaming until December 25, 2020 at SBS On Demand:
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon Review
Elusive but magnificent.


Donnie Darko

USA, 2001
Genre: Drama, Sci-Fi, Cult
Language: English
Director: Richard Kelly
Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Jena Malone, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Drew Barrymore, Patrick Swayze
What's it about?
During the presidential election of 1988, a teenage boy named Donnie Darko (Gyllenhaal) sleepwalks out of his house one night, and sees a giant, demonic-looking rabbit named Frank, who tells him the world will end in 28 days, six hours, 42 minutes and 12 seconds. Frank continues to turn up in Donnie's mind, causing him to commit acts of vandalism. This cult film showcases many '80s hits (including Echo & The Bunnymen, INXS, The Cure) as well as Michael Andrews and Gary Jules' cover of Tears For Fears' "Mad World", which was released as a single once the film's cult following grew into general popularity.


God Help the Girl

UK, 2014
Genre: Drama, Romance, Musical
Language: English
Director: Stuart Murdoch
Starring: Emily Browning, Olly Alexander, Hannah Murray, Pierre Boulanger
What's it about?
Life has never been easy for Eve (Browning), but this troubled young girl has a talent and songwriting becomes her way forward. Through her passion for music, she's led to Glasgow where she meets James (Alexander) and Cassie (Murray), two kindred spirits each at a crossroads of their own. Written and directed by Stuart Murdoch of Scottish indie-pop band Belle & Sebastian, the film takes its title from their 2009 album of the same name.

God Help the Girl: Stuart Murdoch and Emily Browning interview
Belle and Sebastian frontman turned director Stuart Murdoch tells how he came to make his first film and why he wanted Australia's Emily Browning for the lead.


The Proposition

Australia, 2005
Genre: Drama, Crime, Western
Language: English
Director: John Hillcoat
Starring: Danny Huston, Ray Winstone, Guy Pearce, Noah Taylor, Emily Watson
What's it about?
In the harsh outback of 1880s Australia, the brutal Burns brothers are wanted for a vicious crime. When Charlie Burns (Pearce) is captured, the arresting officer makes a startling proposition to end the cycle of violence: Charlie must hunt down and murder his violent older brother Arthur (Huston) to save his youngest brother from the noose. The film's score is by Nick Cave and Warren Ellis, who would collaborate later on films like The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, Hell or High Water and Wind River.

Why You Should Watch: The Proposition
John Hillcoat's searing Oz western is a must watch. Sandy George counts the ways.


Once Upon a Time in the West

Italy, USA, 1968
Genre: Western, Classics
Language: English, Italian
Director: Sergio Leone
Starring: Charles Bronson, Gabriele Ferzetti, Jason Robards, Henry Fonda, Claudia Cardinale, Frank Wolff
What's it about?
Morton (Ferzetti), the power-hungry owner of a railroad company, hires Frank (Fonda), a gunfighter without a conscience, to kill anyone who stands in the way of the completion of the railroad. After Frank murders land owner Brett McBain (Wolff), McBain's widow (Cardinale) hires two killers of her own to protect her and gain revenge: a mysterious, harmonica-playing desperado (Bronson) and his rogue sidekick (Robards). This classic spaghetti western from Sergio Leone (The Good, the Bad and the Ugly) features a legendary score from the late Ennio Morricone.

Once Upon a Time in the West Review
Leone, like all genius filmmakers, relied on images, not words, to tell a story.


Miles Ahead

USA, 2016
Genre: Drama
Language: English
Director: Don Cheadle
Starring: Don Cheadle, Ewan McGregor, Michael Stuhlbarg, Lakeith Stanfield
What's it about?
Inspired by events of his life, this is a wildly entertaining, impressionistic, no-holds barred portrait of one of 20th century music’s creative geniuses, Miles Davis, featuring a career-defining performance by Oscar nominee Don Cheadle in the title role. Working from a script he co-wrote with Steven Baigelman, Cheadle also makes his directorial debut with this unconventional biographical drama.



Vox Lux

USA, 2018
Genre: Drama, Music
Language: English
Director: Brady Corbet
Starring: Natalie Portman, Jude Law, Raffey Cassidy, Stacy Martin, Jennifer Ehle, Willem Dafoe (narrator)
What's it about?
In 1999, teenage sisters Celeste (Cassidy) and Eleanor (Martin) survive a seismic, violent tragedy. The sisters compose and perform a song about their experience, making something lovely and cathartic out of a catastrophe, while also catapulting Celeste to stardom. By 2017, Celeste (now played by Portman) is a mother to a teenage daughter of her own and is struggling to navigate a career fraught with scandals when another act of terrifying violence demands her attention. The film's original songs were written by Sia, while the score comes from the late, enigmatic '60s pop-star turned avant-garde composer Scott Walker.


The Broken Circle Breakdown

Belgium, 2012
Genre: Drama
Language: English, Flemish
Director: Felix Van Groeningen 
Starring: Veerle Baetens, Johan Heldenbergh
What's it about?
Nominated for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film, The Broken Circle Breakdown follows the romance between bluegrass singer Elise (Baetens) and banjo player Didier (Heldenbergh). As their success grows, the pair's relationship is transformed when Elise falls pregnant. Thanks to its non-linear narrative, we know early on that tragedy awaits the couple, as their daughter is diagnosed with cancer at age six. As the movie, which is based on a play, jumps from elation to despair, an appropriately varied range of bluegrass tunes evoke the emotions seen on screen.

The Broken Circle Breakdown review: A wildly emotional rollercoaster ride
Intoxicating rhythm lifts Belgian bluegrass tale.


Good Vibrations

UK/Ireland, 2012
Genre: English
Language: Biography, Drama
Director: Lisa Barros D'sa, Glenn Leyburn 
Starring: Richard Dormer, Jodie Whittaker, Dylan Moran
What's it about?
Not a Beach Boys biopic, this 2013 film brings the story of Irish record label owner Terri Hooley to the screen. A major player in the Belfast punk scene during the 1970s, Hooley's record store and label, both called Good Vibrations, introduced the world to Northern Irish bands like Rudi and The Undertones (known for their song "Teenage Kicks" and lead singer Feargal Sharkey). Set in the midst of The Troubles conflict that raged for decades in Northern Ireland, Good Vibrations brings the energy and urgency of the era to life, in no small part due to the vibrant performance by leading man Richard Dormer, who perfectly captures the enthusiasm and single-mindedness of Hooley.

Good Vibrations: Lisa Barros D’Sa and Glenn Leyburn interview
Music has often been said to be a saviour to many, but for Terri Hooley it truly was. Good Vibrations shows just why the record store owner and “colourful local character” was so important to Irish teenagers during the times of The Troubles.
Good Vibrations Review
A fine record of early Belfast punks.


Top movies to discover this Summer
SBS Movies managing editor Fiona Williams offers her pick of the movies coming to SBS World Movies and SBS On Demand this month, as part of the Summer Of Discovery.
The most watched movies of 2020 now streaming at SBS On Demand
Comedies, Greta Gerwig, cannibals and those classic SBS late-night movies – here are some of the most watched movies at SBS On Demand for 2020.
Legends of the Lens on SBS World Movies
SBS World Movies celebrates the art of cinematography with these five iconic titles.
Movies Leaving SBS On Demand: December
Don't miss your chance to watch these standout movies and documentaries leaving SBS On Demand throughout December.
10 Coming of Age films now streaming at SBS On Demand
"Well, I guess this is growing up."