By Courtney E. Smith
There’s a specific kind of storytelling woven into the shape of some songs; the kind that goes from A to B to C, telling the story of a narrator. It’s not terribly popular these days, but the spine of songwriting was built on the idea of telling the capsule of a story that tapped into some greater idea. Songs can be a short story (or a long one), detailing the travails of a person. They can be funny, dramatic, heroic, whatever humanity’s got.
With those story telling songs in mind, we’ve picked out 15 that would make excellent movie adaptations. We’ve selected a director, some featured stars and given them a short plot. If you’d like to see them, put on the song, close your eyes and play the movie inside of your head. It won’t cost you $17 and the price point on store-bought popcorn is far more reasonable.
Starring: Scarlett Johansson, Viggo Mortensen
Director: Ang Lee
Synopsis: Mortensen plays an old man who Johansson has known and had a crush on all of her life. She’s young and inexperienced when they marry and move out West to his secluded ranch. What starts as a quiet love story turns dark when she finds he’s contemplating infidelity and she vows to stop it by any means necessary.
Tagline: If the ties that bind ever do come loose, she’ll tie them in a knot…like a hangman’s noose.
Starring: Michael B. Jordan (Friday Night Lights), Ice Cube
Director: Nicolas Winding Refn (Drive)
Synopsis: A surreal look at South Central Los Angeles set in the present day, eerily similar to the ’90s. We follow Jordan and his uncle Cube around for a day in which nothing bad happens, but a snapshot of the city and its implied menace is understood and tension is a palpable character. This love-letter to gang life doesn’t glorify the violent choices, but documents them and the city that breeds them.
Tagline: Nobody I know got killed in South Central L.A, today was a good day.
Starring: George Clooney, Michael Cera, Chelsea Handler, Penelope Cruz, Chloë Grace Moretz, Channing Tatum and Willem Dafoe as Lucifer
Director: Steven Soderbergh
Synopsis: A group of angels existentially wrestle with the end of days: humanity, time, space and their very being, on the night before Judgement Day. Their conversation encompasses the mysteries of humanity and the universe from beginning to what will happen when there is, once again, nothing. Do angels get unemployment?
Tagline: Even though it all went wrong I’ll stand before the Lord of Song, with nothing on my tongue but hallelujah.
Starring: Shailene Woodley, Bree Larson
Director: Amy Heckerling
Synopsis: Woodley and Larson play Romy & Michelle for millennials. This comedic Themla and Louise explore female friendship and what society makes of it during one wild night out in Toledo, OH where they “fall in love with strangers” and “keep dancing like they’re 22.” Instagram filters act as another character in the film, highlighting every emotional moment.
Tagline: We’re happy, free , confused, and lonely in the best way.
Starring: Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter
Director: Tim Burton
Synopsis: Depp plays The Spider Man, a black & white candy-cane striped force of evil whose motives are wildly misunderstood by the public. He is unable to stop himself from committing unspeakable acts nightly in the dreams of children. Bonham Carter is the heartless puppet master pulling his strings.
Tagline: It’s much too late to get away or turn on the light. The Spider Man is having you for dinner tonight.