From Whiplash to Black Swan: The best films about artists perfecting their craft
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From Whiplash to Black Swan: The best films about artists perfecting their craft
Ryan Gomez
Sep 21, 2021

The obsession of an artist is something that has captivated viewers of film and TV for years. The borderline eccentric portrayals of various characters have earned plaudits for the actors that essayed these roles, and critical acclaim for the movies. The following is a list of some of the best films, available on OTT platforms, featuring characters going to extreme lengths, at times even at the cost of their own sanity, to become the best at what they do.

Black Swan
8.5OTTplay Rating
This Darren Aronofsky classic is one of the most celebrated films of the 21st Century. The psychological drama focuses on ballet dancers Nina Sayers (Natalie Portman) and Lily (Mila Kunis), and their abusive director Thomas Leroy (Vincent Cassel). The film explores Nina’s descent to madness as she tries to oust her rival Lily to become the absolute best. Portman’s portrayal earned her an Oscar as well as a BAFTA.
8.6OTTplay Rating
The psychological drama revolves around a young jazz drummer (Miles Teller) and his toxic relationship with his instructor/bandleader (J K Simmons). Simmon’s character demands perfection and rages at anything less than that falls below what deems as acceptable. Teller’s character rises to the challenge, despite the constant mental trauma he is subjected to by his instructor, to fulfill his potential. The film was directed by Damian Chazelle who would go on to win an Oscar for the best director, the youngest to ever do so.
The Prestige
8.6OTTplay Rating
This Christopher Nolan masterpiece stars Christian Bale as Alfred Borden and Hugh Jackman as Robert Angier, two rival magicians willing to go unthinkable lengths to do better than the other to solidify their status as the very best. The film is widely regarded as one of the best films directed by Nolan. The film also stars Michael Caine, David Bowie, Andy Serkis, Scarlett Johansson, and Rebecca Hall in important roles.
The Perfection
6OTTplay Rating
The film is a dark psychological drama about a well-renowned music school. The plot revolves around Charlotte (Allison Williams), a former student, and her relationship with Lizzie (Logan Browning), a new ambitious and aspiring student at the institute. The Netflix original film tackles several issues such as trauma and sexual abuse.
6.9OTTplay Rating
Dreamgirls was the feature film debut for Jennifer Hudson. It also starred Beyoncé, Eddie Murphy, Jamie Foxx, and Danny Glover. The film won two Oscars, including the best actress for Hudson. The plot revolves around a group of singers rising to the very top in the ’60s in America, and the various challenges they faced.
8.1OTTplay Rating
The film showcases the power of human endeavour. Michael Keaton stars alongside Edward Norton, Emma Stone, Naomi Watts, and Zach Galifianakis, in the feature film directed by acclaimed director Alejandro G. Iñárritu. Keaton plays the role of a former film actor on his singular mission to revive his career by performing in his own Broadway production. The film won four Academy Awards including Best Picture, Director, Screenplay, and Cinematography.
A Star Is Born
8OTTplay Rating
The modern iteration of the 1937 film starred Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga in leading roles. The film was also Bradley Cooper’s directorial debut. The story revolves around how a veteran singer guides an aspiring star to achieve greatness. The central themes of the film involve mental health and alcohol abuse, told through a riveting story about two musicians trying to find their place in the world.
8 Mile
7.6OTTplay Rating
The film is a semi-autobiography of Eminem starring the man himself in the leading role. The story narrates the tale of how an aspiring rapper is forced to overcome several challenges in his life to become the best of the best. It mimics Eminem’s real-life rise to the very top of the industry. The film also stars Kim Bassinger, Michael Shannon, and the late Brittany Murphy.

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