Best Punk Movies of All Time


Punk movies image. The best punk movies are among the most legendary films out there.

The best punk movies are simply legendary – Author Brad Ledbetter

The best punk movies are among the most legendary films out there. The essence of the punk rock counterculture is to resist the mainstream, and that often leads it to go deep underground. So, what was the first representations of punk in popular films? Many think it’s Bill Paxton’s character in “The Terminator.” He really embodies the attitude of spiked hair and rudeness. However, it really wasn’t the first. Punk rock and film untied almost 10 years earlier, beginning in 1976 with the release of the Sex Pistols’ first album. With that release, punk rock sparked a cultural revolution that influenced music and film. Let’s get into 10 of the best punk movies of all time, in no particular order.

Best Punk Movies of All Time

SLC Punk! (1998)

Although Matthew Lillard’s character Stevo may not be the most believable punk, the film effectively showcases how adopting this lifestyle can rescue you from the monotony of suburban life. The movie’s soundtrack includes the music of bands like the Exploited, the Adolescents and Minor Threat. Those tunes combined with writer-director James Merendino’s personal experience growing up in Salt Lake City as a rebellious musician really makes this film stand out. It’s one of the best punk movies out there.

Sid and Nancy (1986)

In order to play the tragic Sex Pistols bassist Sid Vicious, who died in 1979 from a heroin overdose, Gary Oldman lost thirty pounds by adhering to a diet of “steamed fish and lots of melon.” The film depicts the sad demise of Vicious’ romance with Nancy Spungen, his girlfriend who was found dead at the Chelsea Hotel from an abdominal stab wound. The movie also features cameos from musicians like Courtney Love, Nico and Iggy Pop. That’s total punk cred.

The Decline of Western Civilization (1981)

Of course this film is on here. Legendary bands including Black Flag, X, the Germs, and Circle Jerks are highlighted in Penelope Spheeris’ iconic documentary on the Los Angeles music scene. These bands were instrumental in making the city known as a hardcore and punk music hotspot. The Minutemen, who were also significant in the scene, are missed, although they are made up for it with their own in-depth 2005 video “We Jam Econo.” Many scenes stand out, including Chuck Dukowski’s inebriated hilarity, Fear inciting their crowd and fighting, Darby Crash cuddling up to a tarantula and making jokes about his injuries and interviews with frank teenage punkers. This is a no-brainer as one of the best punk movies of all time, if not the best.

We Are the Best! (2013)

Lukas Moodysson’s Swedish film “We Are the Best!” centers on three young ladies in Stockholm in the 1980s. Mira Barkhammar, Mira Grosin and Liv LeMoyne pick up instruments and create a beautiful cacophony with the very things they despise. “We Are the Best!” is a bold statement against mansplaining and a celebration of loud music’s healing properties.

Green Room (2015)

Patrick Steward was reported as saying his character in this film terrified him, but there are other elements in the movie that are also frightening. For one, the gripping and exciting narrative centers on a punk band that performs at a neo-Nazi pub, where they are later kidnapped and hunted down after seeing a murder. Throughout the film, Darcy is the mastermind behind the gory and violent scenes. His cool-headed and collected manner heightens the horror of what he’s doing.

Rock n’ Roll High School (1979)

At some point, someone thought, “What if we made a movie about The Ramones as high school students?” Good idea. There, “Rock’n’Roll High School” was born. Directed by Allan Arkush, the film is a lively combination of high school shenanigans and punk rock energy, featuring the legendary Ramones and capturing the rebellious and non-conformist spirit of punk culture. Originally titled “Disco High,” the film underwent a thematic shift to embody the punk rock movement, with the Ramones’ anarchic aesthetic being a central element.

Suburbia (1984)

Penelope Spheeris took on the role of directing this highly praised movie centered around runaway teenagers who take refuge in vacant tract homes near Los Angeles’ Interstate 605, identifying themselves as The Rejected and marking their arms with “T.R.” as a rite of passage. The cast consisted of actual punk youth, including a young Flea who would later join the Red Hot Chili Peppers. The film also features live performances from bands such as D.I., T.S.O.L. and the Vandals. It’s a super cool mix of musicians.

Valley Girl (1983)

Deborah Foreman plays the title role of a well-liked San Fernando Valley high school student in this original adaptation of Romeo and Juliet, which is set in Southern California. Nicolas Cage plays a rebellious punk from the other side of the Hollywood Hills in her first significant cinematic role. It’s certainly among the best punk movies of all time.

Ladies and Gentlemen, The Fabulous Stains (1982)

Under the direction of Lou Adler and written by Nancy Dowd under the pen name Rob Morton, this film tells the story of three teenage females who play in the punk scene and navigate it together as a band called The Stains. With the help of Laura Dern and Marin Kanter, Diane Lane dazzles as the brave lead vocalist Corinne Burns, capturing the spirit of punk feminism in a field that is largely male-dominated. Real punk legends like Paul Simonon (The Clash) and Steve Jones (Sex Pistols) appear.

That wraps up our tally of the best punk movies of all time. It’s worth noting that many of these films are available to watch on Max, Amazon Prime, Apple TV, Tubi and more streaming services. If you’re a punk fan, check out our feature on the best punk bands of all time.

Audio Ink Radio Staff
Posted by Audio Ink Radio Staff | Alternative, Features, Music