10 Movies like Whiplash you must watch

By Kieran Burt
Published: March 15, 2023 (Last updated: 4 weeks ago)

We discuss 10 movies like Whiplash you must watch. Add these well-recommended movies to your watch list.

Whiplash is a 2014 film starring Miles Teller as jazz drummer Andrew as he tries desperately to impress his harsh teacher Fletcher, played by J.K. Simmons. It’s a brilliant film, as Andrew is pushed in a manner that is hard to watch but also shows the problems of pushing for success at all costs, something that’s rarely acknowledged.

Here are ten films similar to Whiplash, with a mix of jazz movies and ones emphasizing the reality of dropping everything for success.

10 Movies like Whiplash you must watch

Nightcrawler (2014)

Nightcrawler is an intense film, with Jake Gyllenhaal fronting it as Louis Bloom, a journalist desperate to succeed at any cost — even the lives of others. It’s an uncomfortable watch, as Bloom will go to any length to get the perfect shot of crime and then sell it off to the highest bidder. It bears the same intensity as Whiplash, which is why it’s on this list.

Babylon (2022)

Babylon is a film that depicts Hollywood as it was back in the mid-1920s as it moves from silent films to incorporating sound. It shows the debauchery and decadence at the time, with drug-fuelled episodes leading to the rise and fall of many ambitious dreamers. The hectic and chaotic atmosphere bears a resemblance to Whiplash,

The Drop (2014)

The Drop stars Tom Hardy as Bob Saginowski, a barman who becomes entangled in an investigation as the mafia-run bar he works for is robbed. It’s a high-intensity film, high on guilt and fear, with the latter especially coming into play for Whiplash.

Rush (2013)

Rush is a biographical F1 film depicting the rivalry between Niki Lauda and James Hunt during the 1970s. Daniel Brühl plays Lauda, and Hunt is played by Chris Hemsworth, as their competition pushes them both to take unnecessary risks. The film shows the dangers that competition can pose to yourself and those around you, something that Whiplash also focuses on.

La La Land (2016)

La La Land is the musical that took the world (not the Oscars) by storm, and its similarities to Whiplash extend beyond jazz. It follows Ryan Gosling’s Sebastian Wilder and Emma Stone’s Mia on their journey to achieve their dreams, explores what they have to give up to get them, and shares this similarity with Whiplash.

Soul (2020)

If you’re looking for a jazz film, you’ll do no better than Pixar’s Soul. The film follows Joe, a band teacher who is an aspiring jazz pianist but is killed before he can make his dream a reality. He therefore must seek to reunite his soul with his body, helping others reach their passion along the way.

Bird (1988)

In Whiplash, Fletcher repeatedly berates Andrew, mentioning that he is there to push people beyond their limits. Otherwise, they are depriving the world of the next Louis Armstrong, the next Charlie Parker. Well Bird tells the story of Charlie Parker, with Clint Eastwood’s film directing this heartfelt exploration of the saxophonist’s life.

Perfect Blue (1997)

This pick is inspired by Whiplash’s focus on success no matter what, which this film depicts in anime form, something a bit different for this list. Perfect Blue follows Mima, a young schoolgirl who one day quits her place in the school band and sheds her good-girl persona to focus on her acting career. While the film is naturally heightened due to its anime form, it still shows the dangers of success and the mental health toll that can take.

Miles Ahead (2015)

For the final jazz film on this list, Miles Ahead is one that is worth a watch. It’s the directorial debut of Don Cheadle, recognizable for playing the character of War Machine from the Marvel Cinematic Universe, who also stars as Miles Davis. The film is a biographical tale of jazz artist Miles Davis and tells the story of him and a music reporter setting out to recover stolen tapes.

You can watch Miles Ahead by purchasing it on Amazon Prime.

The Wrestler (2008)

Becoming an elite musician has parallels with being an elite athlete, which is why The Wrestler makes the final pick. This film is about  Robin Ramzinski, a professional wrestler past his prime. Despite his failing health and falling fame, he refuses calls to resign, clinging to the success he once had. This ultimately shows the end of the path that Andrew is on in Whiplash, someone that, once he has achieved this success, will go to any lengths to retain it.

Do you have any other recommendations for movies like Whiplash? Let us know in the comments below.

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