20 Feet From Stardom


Backup singers live in a world that lies just beyond the spotlight. Their voices bring harmony to the biggest bands in popular music, but we’ve had no idea who these singers are or what lives they lead, until now.

The winning documentary from this year’s Oscar pack, with its crowd pleasing sensibilities edging ahead of ‘The Act of Killing’, which really should have won. That being said, this is still a really good documentary that provides a showcase for these influential yet unknown singers. The film is about the life and works of backing singers, and focuses on their importance to some of the most iconic songs of all time, as well as delving into the lifes of several prominent singers. It spends time with a couple of backing singers who tried to venture out on their own unsuccessfully, and it’s difficult to watch. Like Inside Llewyn Davis (which is not similar in any other way), this documentary is concerned with these nearly-women, great singers but not quite great enough to perform on their own.

Talking heads from various performers such as Sting, Bruce Springsteen and Mick Jagger provides extra perspective to the film’s viewpoint, and it’s clear that these men are hugely appreciative to the work of backing singers for boosting the quality of their output. The film is a story of shattered dreams, but it’s ultimately an uplifting experience, and provides some rich information about how some of the greatest songs of all time became so because of the work of unknowns.

Rating: 4/5

Directed By: Morgan Neville


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